Monday, December 7, 2009

Le Roi des Cons



Would that life were so simple.

Trashissime

So it turns out, according to Charles Bremner, that the Miss France contest is not really about feminine pulchritude but rather about French national identity:

Part of the reason is nostalgia. Miss France symbolises a stable, rural golden age that figures in the collective imagination -- and which President Sarkozy sees as the key to French national identity. Miss France is supposed to carry French elegance to the four corners of the world but much of her job consists of travelling the country awarding prizes at agriculture shows and village fêtes.


The boss lady, Geneviève de Fontenay, is outspoken:

She does not mince her words, drawing a contrast between her wholesome pageant and the sexual exhibitionism of the age. "I have never shown off my fesses (bottom) and I will never do so," she said recently. (Her contestants' swimsuit parades are presumably for showing off character). Last summer, she took a swipe at Carla Bruni over her celebrated former love life and changing politics. Bruni, she said "sleeps left at home and on the right at the Elysée Palace, and embodies a 180 degree turn from former first ladies."


But there is also high-level commercial intrigue:

In the Saturday extravaganza, Fontenay denounced "Secret Story", a popular TV reality show, as "trashissime" -- ultra-trashy, and warned the new Miss France to stay away from it. The show in question is produced by Endemol France -- the same company which now owns Miss France. Her tension with Endemol explains why Fontenay was only allowed brief remarks in the ceremony.


Indeed, it seems that le banalissime and le trashissime have now merged to produce le dégueulassissime. And for the icing on the cake, there are allegations that the new MF was chosen for her Arab-sounding first name, Malika, even though she is actually une Française de souche.

Today there are claims on the internet that the contest was loaded in favour of Miss Normandy, partly because she has an Arab first name. Fontenay said before the contest that she hoped that a woman of Arab background would win one day. Miss Menard is, it turns out, pure Norman. Her parents just liked the foreign name.

The best of both worlds, quoi!

As Many Parties as Cheeses?

How many political parties are there in France? The answer is surprising: more than 230. The explanation is less surprising: loopholes in campaign finance laws make it expedient for candidates to rely on numerous small parties to receive donations.

The Contentious French

Apparently the French have never heard of Doctor Johnson's adage that "in lapidary inscriptions no man is upon oath." Excesses in the adulation of the late Claude Lévi-Strauss have drive a few commentators around the bend. The latest is Luc Ferry.