Friday, November 21, 2014

French Objectification of American Culture

Popular French singer Jena Lee created a music video that objectifies American high school culture quite brilliantly:

video

The lyrics:
Une situation "bal du lycée"
Le quarterback m’emmènerait danser et la reine nous ferait (chut... hein)
Décor à la Desperate Housewives, s'il te plaît
Je vivrais là-bas juste pour l’engager comme jardinier
Ce sont des bads boys de LOST, Sawyer
La beauté de Nate de Gossip Girl
Le coté chanteur-danseur de Ju-Ju-Justin
Un humour à la Friends et le mystère de Fringe

(refrain)
US boys sont le rêve des French girls
On veut un American boyfriend forever
US boy, U-US boy, US love, U-US love
Un seul "baby" et je touche le bonheur
Je veux mon American boyfriend forever
US boy, U-US boy, US love, U-US love

Ça me rend folle, j’aime l’écouter parler
Pour toutes les filles, il est l’idole, le plus beau du quartier
Pour le séduire, je lui donnerai des cours de français
Même si cet idéal existe que dans mes pensées
Il a un soupçon du charme d’Ashton Kutcher
La folie de Barney dans How I Met Your Mother
Le coté romantique d’Edward dans Twilight
Le talent d’Eminem et la voix de Brian McKnight

(refrain)

French kiss sous les étoiles de la Californie
Or a US kiss, le dernier avant que je retourne à Paris
(yeah yeah)
US Boy (x8)

(refrain)
And here is an English translation:
It would be like in a high school dance.
The quarterback would take me on the floor and the Queen would say "hey, hush!"
A decor like in Desperate Housewives, if you please.
I would live there just to hire him as my gardener.
They are the bad boys from LOST, Sawyer,
Nate's beauty in Gossip Girl,
The singer-dancer side of Ju-Ju-Justin (Timberlake),
A sense of humor like in Friends and the mystery of Fringe.

(chorus)
US boys are the dream of French girls.
We want an American boyfriend forever.
US boy, U-US boy, US love, U-US love.
Just call me "baby" once and I'll be happy.
I want my own American boyfriend forever.
US boy, U-US boy, US love, U-US love.

I like listening to him talk, it drives me crazy.
All the girls think he's an idol, the neighborhood's most handsome man.
To seduce him I will give him French lessons,
Even if this is only a dream in my head.
He has a touch of Ashton Kutcher's charm,
Barney's craziness in How I Met Your Mother,
The romantic side of Edward in Twilight,
Eminem's talent and Brian McKnight's voice.

(chorus)

French kiss under California's stars
Or a US kiss, the last one before I go back to Paris
(yeah yeah)
US Boy (x8)

(chorus)
Miss Lee seems to be more much more au courant about American popular culture than I am, and to watch a heck of a lot more American television than I do. I've never watched any of the television programs that she mentions, and I've never heard of most of the men whom she names as objectifying American-male charm, craziness, and other characteristics.  With her allusion to Eminem's "talent" (I looked him up on YouTube, and, bleah), I thought that she might have been deploying a touch of sarcasm.  Perhaps most French people watch as much American television as most Americans do these days, and would get Miss Lee's references.  A lot of French chicks may imagine American men to be an amalgamation of the various television and popular-music characters in Miss Lee's song.  Which, wouldn't seem necessarily to work to our advantage.  The odd American who was interested in courting French chicks might be the highly unusual fellow who had an appreciation for the fine arts, fine wines, fine cheeses, etc.  And, French chicks may be operating from the preconceived notion (based upon American television shows) that we're all a bunch of dolts.  But, if it is indeed true that we can make a French girl experience happiness merely by calling her "baby": well, that could potentially be a valuable piece of intelligence. 

Whoever did the production work for Miss Lee's video US Boy had to have been an exchange student in an American high school, to be that familiar with American high-school culture.  The boy athletes with their jacket-uniforms.  The ridiculous snottiness and extreme cliquishness of American girls (especially those of the cheerleader class): brilliantly captured and conveyed.   That snottiness and cliquishness, unfortunately, remain lifelong features of American broads.  Which tends to make them decidedly unappealing.  At least for the non-quarterbacks.

As for Miss Lee's dream of seducing the quarterback, with French lessons: that would be highly unlikely.  The quarterback enjoys the highest status of anyone in the school.  He is the alpha males of alpha males.  Even the principal kowtows to him.  In some Southern towns, he is even more important than the mayor.  The quarterback's appendage is, in principle, the property of the captain of the cheer-leading squad (assuming there is no-one hotter).  Miss Lee might be able to arrange an occasional tryst with the quarterback, but every other girl in the school (as well as a lot of the teachers) is fantasizing about the same thing.  If the cheerleaders ever suspected anything, then Miss Lee would be in deep, deep shit.  Seducing the local mayor (or a local millionaire) would entail considerably less risk, and could potentially be quite remunerative.  Girls often figure this out some time after high school.  

Moving on: a second noteworthy French music video is Jenn Ayache's L'Américain:

video
 
This lady literally wraps herself in our flag, although the ending seems a tad gruesome.  Here are the lyrics:
T'as la coupe de James Dean
Le sourire de Marilyn
La guitare de Springsteen
Une attitude de copine
T’as pas commencé que j’ai déjà fini
Comment ça? Tu sais
Mais j’en ai pas tant dit
Comme si j’te connaissais bien
Comme si j’t’avais vu
Dans les films américains
Où les héros se tuent
Le genre Petite Frappe
Les cheveux en arrière
Dans une Cadillac
Le teeshirt plein de poussière

(refrain)
T’as une blonde entre les lèvres
Une brune par les mains
Le désert, le désert te va bien
Hollywood Malibu Sunset
Et les sirènes résonnent dans nos têtes
T’étais pas si loin
Mais t’étais pas prêt
Sur le Pacific Coast Highway
J’ai pris l’avion pour te voir
Marcher le long des boulevards
Hey l’Amérique, hey l’Américain
Le pacifique n’est pas si loin
Hey l'Amérique, hey l'Américain
Comme les déserts te vont bien

T’as le look de Josh Homme
Et du sex-appeal
J’aurais voulu que tu m’ vois
Que sous mon bon profil
 J’ai beau dire
Que j’ai pas que ça en tête
Y’a pas à dire
L’accent ça m’entête
Tu mets à l’aise
Et you understand
(Oh là là)
J’ai la langue qui traîne
Invite-moi dans la Cadillac
Vite vite, et je fais mon sac

(refrain)

Le vent dans nos cheveux
Les pneus qui crissent
Nos Wayfarer sur les yeux
Sous le solstice
Et je tremble et je vacille
Tu fais battre plus fort mon cœur de fille

(refrain)
Translation:
You have James Dean's haircut,
Marilyn's smile,
Springsteen's guitar,
And a girlfriend's attitude.
You do not start until I've finished.
How is that? You know.
But I have not said much about it.
As if I knew you well,
As if I had seen you
In American movies,
Where the heroes kill each other.
The Petite Frappe type of literature.
Hair combed back,
In a Cadillac,
Your t-shirt full of dust.

(chorus)
You have a blonde between your lips,
A brunette by the hands.
The desert, the desert suits you:
Hollywood, Sunset, Malibu,
And the sirens echo in our heads.
You were not so far away,
But you were not ready,
On the Pacific Coast Highway.
I took the plane to see you,
To walk along the boulevards.
Hey America, hey American,
The Pacific isn't so far away.
Hey America, hey American,
The deserts really suit you.

You have the look of Josh Homme
And sex appeal.
I would have liked you to see me,
That under my nice profile,
I say in vain
That I don't have only that in my mind.
It goes without saying
That your accent gives me a headache.
You put me at ease,
And you understand,
(Oh là là)
I speak clumsily.
Invite me into your Cadillac.
Quick, quick, and I'll prepare my bag.

(chorus)
The wind in our hair,
The tires squealing,
Our Wayfarer sunglasses on our eyes.
Under the solstice,
I tremble and wobble.
You make my girlish heart beat harder.

(chorus)
 Basically, this French woman flies to California for a private, romantic rendez-vous with an American man whom she considers to have sex appeal, and about whom her preconceived notions had been shaped by popular media representations.  She is initially turned on sexually, but he isn't ready, and he either falls asleep or dies in the back seat of the car.  Then, she leaves him lying on the highway in the desert.

To be fair, in America, we tend to maintain certain ideas concerning the French.  For example: all Frenchmen look and behave exactly like Serge Gainsbourg:

video

Which is to say that you are all drunk and horny, all of the time.  And, French girls are all perfectly delightful Lolitas:

video

And, all adult French women are just as gorgeous as Emmanuelle Béart was in 1991, and just as willing to remove their clothing for us.

video

Not at all a bad impression, although we might be setting ourselves up for a disappointment similar to that experienced by the protagonist in Miss Ayache's music video, if we took our impressions too seriously. On the other hand,

video

if break-ups with French chicks are as pleasant as Miss Manson rather emphatically suggests, then, what the Hell?  They'd be worth a shot, at the very least.


video


1 comment:

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