it's 1 2 3 4, what are we fighting for?
July 25, 2003 9:09 PM   Subscribe

112 Gripes About the French One of the best selling books in France today is about why Americans seem to hate the French so much (well hated them 60 years ago). The book, originally published by the US military to teach GIs in France how to get along with the natives, was translated into French and is now flying off the shelves. Now you too can hate the French (en anglais, naturellement).
posted by m@ (35 comments total)
les mots justes. Je vous remercie, m@.
posted by psmealey at 9:39 PM on July 25, 2003

France Surrenders
posted by shadow45 at 9:42 PM on July 25, 2003

or, reason no. 112 why I've neglected to plaster my car with "Power of Pride" stickers.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:53 PM on July 25, 2003

55. "French women are easy pick-ups."

and this is a bad thing?
posted by birdherder at 10:04 PM on July 25, 2003 [1 favorite]

Thank you m@!!!

"5. "I'll never love the French.." "I hate the French!"

- You don't have to love the French. You don't have to hate them either. You might try to understand them."

Truer words never spoken ...
posted by Jos Bleau at 10:06 PM on July 25, 2003

Great, another list of simplistic chauvinistic over-generalizations.

This topic is DOA.
posted by signal at 10:25 PM on July 25, 2003

and the best reason yet, Groundskeeper Willie ain't a big fan of 'em!
posted by badzen at 10:39 PM on July 25, 2003

[This is stupid.]
posted by interrobang at 10:54 PM on July 25, 2003

"The French can't drive a car. They can't keep it up. They ruin vehicles."

The French, on the whole, certainly do not drive as well, keep a car up as well, or protect their vehicles as well as we do. Neither do women, compared to men.
posted by mrbula at 12:20 AM on July 26, 2003

(That was #66, by the way.)
posted by mrbula at 12:21 AM on July 26, 2003

"Beware the people who do not criticize. Beware the country where criticism is verboten. Beware the country where men obey like sheep."

At long last, useful advice from the government.
posted by mosch at 1:21 AM on July 26, 2003

I wish this "HEH FRENCH ARE BAD" meme would die already. it's making the rest of us americans, who on the whole are not racist stooges, look bad.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:46 AM on July 26, 2003

Excellent post m@. One of the best I've seen since the all freedom fries quasi-political spin distractor started.
posted by elpapacito at 4:58 AM on July 26, 2003

How funny that 60 years ago, the government took the position of defending the French.
posted by jennak at 5:43 AM on July 26, 2003

Another French bestseller (from last year) is this, which says that the americans were behind 9/11. I wish this "AMERICANS ARE BAD" meme would die already.
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 5:53 AM on July 26, 2003

I wish this "HEH FRENCH ARE BAD" meme would die already. it's making the rest of us americans, who on the whole are not racist stooges, look bad.

Hmmm. Don't you think its interesting that its been 60+ years and this 'meme' is still going? Or that, during WWII, the US government felt so strongly that the whole "French are bad" thing was wrong, misguided, and detrimental that they felt they had to put out a pamphlet that is essentially a propaganda tool in order to combat it?

Would that our government now would do such a thing, combating the problem rather than perpetuating it. This booklet, I think, speaks volumes about the ethics and values of the Roosevelt/Truman administrations vs. the ethics and values of the current administration.

Also, I wonder if there is anything similar being produced today for our troops posted in, say, Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Saudi Arabia. I bet not.

m@, this is a superb post. Thanks for sharing it with us!
posted by anastasiav at 7:44 AM on July 26, 2003

what anastasiav said. if people would read the linked articles then maybe you wouldn't see this as just another list of 'french bashing' generalities.

from the bbc link:

While the grunts moan about the smells, the perfidy and the laziness, the authors betray a Francophile instinct that would sit ill in Washington today.

"Why should we care about the French? They have no weight in the post-war world," reads gripe 21.

The reply: "Beyond questions of honour and simple decency, it would be diplomatically and politically stupid to cut ourselves off from a nation of 40 million allies. One day or another, we may need their help again."

posted by poopy at 9:19 AM on July 26, 2003

Indeed poopy that little excerpt from the BBC article struck me as being highly pertinent given the diplomatic shenanigans which have been on-going between the bush administration and 'old' europe. I have thought that the french would be rather pleased to have their name disassociated with a food that could not be described as the pinnacle of gastronomie, may as well permanently name them freedom fries. A very interesting link, thank you!.
posted by johnnyboy at 9:55 AM on July 26, 2003

The post was well worth it forth the terse (or turgid) BBC summary: "The French are corrupt, lazy and hypocritical. They run away at the first sign of danger and eat revolting cheese. They are unscrupulous cheats and bad drivers; their women are immoral; and they smell."

I'm neither unscrupulous cheats or a bad driver - I guess I'm not French.

Meanwhile, "The Americans are violent and uncouth Bible-verse spouting con men. They like to drop cluster bombs on people from B-52's flying at 50,000 feet. They are brainwashed first by their own advertising, then by politicians, and then by preachers; they are gullible, and usually seem dumb when travelling outside of America. They are not; this is actually the result of a shriveled development of their collective social intelligence which is due to a lack of social interaction, especially with people from other cultures.

They are very good drivers, and spend most of their extra time - time not spent watching TV, that is, or shopping in giant malls (or shooting each other) - simply driving endlessly around in huge vehicles resembling tanks which they call SUV's. These vehicles use an enormous amount of petroleum and so the Americans must continually wage war to control the Mideast oil supply so they can continue to drive and pollute the global atmosphere.

Their men are self righteous, violent gobblers of fast food whose colons puff up with putrescent meat until they die of digestive disorders and cancer. Their women american. They are anorexics as teens, until they become adults. Then they become fat. Americans are mostly obese and obsessed with issues of toileting and personal hygiene, perhaps out of shame about the obesity, or because their preachers tell them that their bodies, and also sex, are bad and even evil. They take constant showers and then smear their pores with a special type of grease they call "antiperspirant" which prevents sweating.'

When in foreign lands (which are not presently garrisoned by US troops, that is. There are a few of those places in the world.) They talk loudly, travel in self protective herds, and say rude things and are constantly flashing their money, which is not worth nearly so much as it once was due to their addiction to debt which they seem to believe can be cured by Ponzi-style pyramid get rich quick schemes rather than by simple frugality and saving. Some of them chant for money. Others seek to become famous and wealthy by eating repulsive substances, and by doing exhibitionistic tricks like trained circus animals, on national television.

They make an awful lot of trash - which they export to the rest of the world - and an awful lot of weapons. Their prisons are the finest in the world, their prison population the largest. They believe in Christian precepts except when their politicians declare that the poor are evil. They like to execute children and the retarded. Their elections are all rigged now, and are controlled by the rich."
posted by troutfishing at 9:56 AM on July 26, 2003

Could someone translate this comment, artfully please, into French (my French is poor, as I am an American) and circulate it via email to French friends so that I can become the subject of collective hate by the American people?

Yours truly, masochismfishing
posted by troutfishing at 10:03 AM on July 26, 2003

"Beyond questions of honour and simple decency, it would be diplomatically and politically stupid to cut ourselves off from a nation of 40 million allies. One day or another, we may need their help again."

So how does the equation change when a popular French government stands against us in the war on islamism?
posted by techgnollogic at 10:09 AM on July 26, 2003


is that anything like islam?
posted by mcsweetie at 10:40 AM on July 26, 2003

Hmmm. Don't you think its interesting that its been 60+ years and this 'meme' is still going?

It's been going on for far, far longer than 60 years. Since the Hundred Years War+, more like it. Certainly in Shakespeare's time it was already rampant.

It's an emnity between France and England that we inherited that causes this weird, almost instinctual need to dislike the French. It's a really old, tired meme that needs to die. There aren't two countries in the industrialized world with powerful potential ties than America and France, nor really two countries that owe more to each other, but for some reason we have to villify them and, to a lesser degree it seems, they villify us. It's stupid.
posted by Hildago at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2003

Please disregard all errors in previous post and treat as brilliant, adjusting for the fact that 11am for me is 5am for you.
posted by Hildago at 10:55 AM on July 26, 2003

Also, I wonder if there is anything similar being produced today for our troops posted in, say, Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Saudi Arabia. I bet not.

They still eat French fries in Kabul, because the French are helping to rebuild Afghanistan.
posted by homunculus at 11:24 AM on July 26, 2003

One day or another, we may need their help again.

Coleen Rowley pointed out in her famous memo to Mueller that the French Intelligence Service warned us about Moussaoui's affiliation with al Qaeda before 9/11, but she couldn't get her superiors to listen.
posted by homunculus at 11:34 AM on July 26, 2003


is that anything like islam?

Daniel Pipes (and say what you want about him) discusses the difference.
posted by kurumi at 11:50 AM on July 26, 2003

Parfois, parfois je dois dire, les relations américo-françaises sont vraiment pitoyables.

Voire indigestes.


C'est ridicule :)
posted by Sijeka at 1:59 PM on July 26, 2003

I think that those who categorized this as another French-bashing meme, are either don't get it or else didn't bother to read that post. I rather got a kick out of the direct debunking of the idiotic-in-the-first-place reasons to hate the French. I thought it was timely and amusing.

As a whole, French society is as polyglot as American society is (given the celtic, gallic, germanic, latin, norman origins of most folks, in addition to its large 2d, 3d, 4th and 5th generation immigrant populations of Central and North Africans, Asians, etc). Therefore, hating the French, is not racist, per se; it's just plain stupid.

I also think that troutfishing deserves special kudos for the list of dead on stereotypes of Americans her provides. Just for laughs... a minor point, however, I may have to take exception to Americans being good drivers. As a long time motorcyclist, I can't even count the number of times per year I am cut off or sideswiped by some idiot American driver talking on the cell phone, reading the paper, doing make up, eating breakfast, etc. Worst, most distracted drivers on the planet, IMO. I have never seen anything close to this level of carelessness and disregard in all the riding I've done in Europe.
posted by psmealey at 2:35 PM on July 26, 2003

now if we're gonna talk good drivers, Germans win, or rather, all them folks on the autobahn do, man they read the traffic well at ludicrous speeds.
posted by dabitch at 3:37 PM on July 26, 2003

I didn't think I needed to put <humor> tags around this but, on reading these comments, I see I overestimated my audience.

It had nothing nothing to do with war, nothing to do with religion and very little to do with politics. It's tangentially French-bashing to post it but since it's a piece written 60 years ago and, as has been pointed out, debunks a lot of the reasons behind French bashing. So we can see who reads the articles and who doesn't.

I heard this on the BBC World program that is run here on Colorado Public Radio in the afternoons and late night. I thought it would be something fun to share, I'm glad more than half of the readers understood that.

Oh, by the way, I'm a Francophile, I molest the French.
posted by m@ at 7:33 PM on July 26, 2003

I really enjoyed this post, m@ (although I didn't like your final joke). A touch of Lonely Planet travel guide to France and a touch of Jiddu Krishnamurti for liberating/occupying forces: that when you project your opinions/experiences/values/expectations onto others, you will be disappointed when they don't live up to your standards and likely blame them. (Also phrased, earlier in history, as: judge not, lest ye also be judged.)

I suppose the new edition changed the phrasing in number twenty-five.
posted by philfromhavelock at 9:24 PM on July 26, 2003

quite a few of you did not bother to read the post but instead acted on your own assumptions and said stupid things :/
posted by firestorm at 3:34 PM on July 27, 2003

yeah remember the thing about us being better drivers was only that we had better roads then and more technical experience and what not

nowadays it has been generations since cars have been invented, instead of being merely a parents' invention

and I believe European countries as well as Asian countries have much more rigorous training programs for their drivers, such as their drivers are indeed better than ours, and more risk taking, where ours once seemed to them, now we cannot hold a candle
posted by firestorm at 3:39 PM on July 27, 2003

I love the French, I really do. I love France as a country. It's beautiful, warming and good for the soul.

However it's just the done thing to hate them.

Bloody French.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:45 AM on July 28, 2003

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