Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cross-Cultural Clips 1

I tend to save up way too many links to "articles of interest," so I have decided to take action and present an occasional link list. If you are an expat in France, a Francophile or simply enjoy comparing cultures, you may enjoy reading one or more of the following:

The New York Times Movie Review of La Vie en Rose: “'La Vie en Rose,' which Mr. Dahan wrote as well as directed, has an intricate structure, which is a polite way of saying that it’s a complete mess," writes A.O. Scott. I agree. Do you?

Is Maman mean or magnifique? from I won't comment on this one yet, but I suspect some of you might.

Hillary Equals France by Bill Maher. "What's there to say about a country that was too stupid to get on board with our wonderfully conceived and brilliantly executed war in Iraq?" Several expat blogs have already linked to this great article -- don't miss out on it. Hilarious and terrifying.


Sarah said...

Holy Moly...I just read the Maman article. I definitely hadn't noticed French moms being that mean but I do think they see things differently than Anglos. I agree with what one of the Anglos in the article said about creativity though. I think the French system on a whole (schools and parenting) tend not to see things, interpret things, or try things in creative ways. It makes me a bit nervous about sending my son to French he going to be a wild child because I let him be so free right now? Honestly, I kind of thought the story about the little boy doing his hip-hop routine was kind of cute....oh no! On the other hand, I hope they don't stifle his creativity!

Thanks for the links. They are great!

Betty C. said...

Sarah -- I wish your profile were available on Blogger so I could see something about you. Oh well.

I do think the article overstates the case -- British articles tend to do that in my opinion but that makes them funny too. "Mean" is putting it far too strongly, but the writer does get to the point on some interesting differences.

Sarita said...

Hmm - no one has ever asked me that before! It is available to the public now...I think!

I think the writers points are very strong, in fact, they scare me a little! I hope I can find a balance with my loose, free, and creative parenting style in France!

Vix said...

The reviewers here in California have fallen over themselves raving about the amazing actress who plays Edith Piaf in la Vie en Rose, with naught but a sideline describing the story-telling as confused.

We Californians are so shallow; we're not expected to follow the story anyway. After all, our contributions to this summer's cinemas are Pirates of the Carribean and Ocean's 13. Plots? We don't need no stinkin' logical plots!

BTW, my blog is at I've been pretty active lately, since I'm trying to get into a paying site.

roger said...

Hi Betty - thanks for sharing the articles. I loved Bill Maher on the French. They are a mysterious and marvellous people - I love 'em!

Papadesdeux said...

I haven’t see anything like the degree of severity implied in the article and I can’t help but believe there is a little creative license going on there. (Ever paid attention to what the British read on the underground in London?) Andmaybe a touch of regional difference between the more frenetic urban lifestyle of Paris and the slightly calmer atmosphere of les provinces.

As the only American in our family, it is true that I am less strict, but I think that has more to do with rejecting my own strict upbringing than a reflection of American parenting philosophies. I don’t think America’s “earth mommy type” existed in the 1950’s! In many ways the French kids that I see would appear to be closer to their families than the American kids I was used to seeing. I was just at an art opening and there were a dozen 3 to 10 year olds racing around screaming and laughing and people didn’t bat an eyelash. I can’t ever remember seeing the same in the US.

There is absolutely a definite emphasis on learning social manners of courtesy that many Americans don’t think about until later, if then. But I’m not convinced that this translates into stifled creativity. And you can find some pretty interesting comments on "proper British children" if you look around.

Neither am I convinced that the French school system is going to squash most creativity or ability to think outside of the box. Personally I think that may have more to do with culture and parents.

No doubt each system has it’s strong points and weak points. But I am reminded about an American physician’s comment about the US health system. “We spend most of our medical dollars on the most extraordinary technologically advanced medical equipment and facilities to save the life of a handful of children, but at the same time we let thousands die from a lack of basic preventative medicine.”

I think the French system is more concerned about trying to get the most education to the largest percentage of students. And (in spite of old slogans about “leaving no child behind”) the American education system is more about providing the tools that an extraordinary student can use to excel to his full potential. There is a different basic social premise working somewhere under those philosophies.

Theoretically the result would be a stronger broad education in the general populace in France, but more brilliant individuals in the US. Hard to say, but...

No doubt if a child has a privileged background and involved parents he is going to overcome the shortcomings of either system. But for the majority of the others... where do you think they have the best chance of getting a quality education.

PS: Watering down film scripts... Hey the French definitely have a problem recognizing their own hypocrisies. Well any shortcoming at all, for that matter. :)))))

Betty: you don’t have to let this comment post. It was ridiculously long!

Betty C. said...

Papadesdeux -- I posted it anyway! I was hoping to get some debate going...

tica said...

La Moma, I enjoyed it. I thought the filming/sets and acting was brilliant.

I'm off to read the other two links you have here;

Bill Maher always is a good read!

Jann said...

I think I better start reading the other links,too~enjoyed reading the comments above! I love a healthy debate!

Betty C. said...

I'm glad to get so many comments on this post - -I think I'll repeat the concept from time to time. I like opening up discussion.

cigalechanta said...

Marion C. has Piaf's body languge down pat and the incredible three hour make-up, including shaving her forehead has her looking so like the Little Sparrow. Her lip sync is perfect. You would never know that this is the tall beauty, Russell Crowe's love interest in A GOOD YEAR or the prostitute who kills the German officer in A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT. The script lcked, ther were gaps, no mention of her contributions during the war years or her famous lovers, but yet, it's worth seeing.

Aralena said...

Thanks for posting the mean Mom article. I found it incredibly biased, exaggerated, and offensive! And I'm American, raised by hippies in Big Sur, California! If that's what passes for journalism at Telegraph, all I can say is, yikes.

I have seen examples of these military mamans, but usually in Passy or Parc de Monceau. Just as I've seen abusive, negligent, insane parenting in the U.S. Stepping out of these wealthy areas, however, one can very easily come upon doting, mellow French mothers who wouldn't dare kick their children or let them eat sand in the name of teaching them a lesson. I know a few of them, and while they are strict and understand that the role of a parent is to impart good behavior to their child so that they won't run around terrorizing the world, they aren't "mean."