Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Shrewd Producer

I didn't watch all of the Sarko Show with Jean-Pierre Pernaut last night (life is short), but I did catch the beginning, the colloquy with "Nathalie" and "Monsieur Le Menahes." The difference in mode of address with the two interlocutors spoke volumes. With the unemployed young graduate in marketing, Sarko was avuncular, familiar, reassuring--and abstract in his answer: I will bring growth, he promised (this time he omitted to say that he would fetch it with his teeth), and some day you will find work. With Monsieur Le Menahes, the angry cégétiste in leathers and sporting earrings in both ears, he avoided familiarity, tapped his virile instincts, yet held his anger presidentially in check despite M. Le Menahes' dogged efforts to rattle him, and Pernaut's interventions to keep the conversation moving forward, which Sarko merely brushed aside. Indeed, the made-for-TV confrontation was so effective that one can imagine Sarko or his media advisors begging TF1 to find an angry trade unionist and deck him out in combative costume (the leather jacket and earrings--an inspired touch!) in order to provide the president with the répondant he has expressly found lacking in his face-offs with credentialed newsmen.

As reality TV, I would rate this show several notches above Jersey Shore. Even the rather moche setting--a few café tables strewn about a set made to resemble a classroom, with Pernaut strutting around in the rear like an anxious teacher while the mayor conducted his civics lesson in the front of the room--contributed to the overall effet de réalité. What many French viewers don't appreciate, I think, is how good Sarkozy is at this kind of performance. His tonal range as an actor is much better than one finds in even the most practiced American politicians. The failure to appreciate his gifts as a performer is perhaps because the staginess is in the end rather wearing. One has heard all the lines before in a variety of other "sets," and the whole show has the dated feel of one of those efforts to make, say, Le Misanthrope relevant to modern times by changing the actors' dress and body language to look more contemporary and setting the action in a Métro station or hospital waiting room rather than a château.

Here and here are two other takes.


Unknown said...

Le dernier paragraphe m'a fait éclater de rire tant il est juste. Dommage que tout cela ne soit pas seulement une comédie.

Dan said...

Excellent analysis. Does anyone know where one might be able to find video of this event online? I tried searching around tf1.fr and its video section (where i usually watch le téléjournal) but i couldn't find any links.