Archive for September, 2010

Edith-ing history

September 12, 2010

La Vie en Rose is a French film about Edith Piaf. Though a tad miserabilist to qualify for a ‘Two Jako Thumbs Up’ rating, it was still fairly good.

My chief complaint, however, was that Edith Piaf lived 1915 and 1963 and yet La Vie en Rose totally missed out the Second World War.

Piaf’s conduct during WW2 is controversial. She remained in occupied France and entertained German troops. A whiff of collaboration, for sure, but Piaf later argued that she had used her position to aid Jewish friends and the resistance.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the film regrettably avoided the issue altogether. This was surprising in some ways as it was happy to portray Piaf as a complex, flawed heroine. So why not look at what she got up to during WW2 – a vital period in French history?

Drug abuse and a child being raised in a brothel is apparently manageable but perhaps French history between 1940 and 1944 cannot be stomached. Whilst there was of course some admirable resistance to the Nazis, there is no denying that many accepted the occupation and their conduct does not leave them smelling of roses.

Better to face up to this than pretend it did not happen, IMO.


French dressing

September 4, 2010

In France at the mo. President Sarko is getting tough on gypsies and the left has been organising some protests against this.

Whilst I dislike Sarkozy and his crude populism, I’m not sure how successful these marches will be. Sure, they are a welcome opportunity for the Socialist Party to unite together on an issue, but there is little correlation between the French left enjoying energetic demonstrations in the streets and electoral success.

Opinion polls suggest that although Sarko is not personally popular most people agree with his anti-Roma policies. The President’s stance appeals to people who are convinced that all gypsies are criminals and who dislike the idea that foreigners can come to their country to claim benefits.

Sarkozy’s indiscriminate anti-Roma measures should be opposed. However, instead of simply decrying Sarko’s ‘racism’ the left must also formulate a message on this specific issue and on the wider question of immigration that simultaneously i) upholds socialist values and rejects prejudice and ii) addresses people’s concerns rather than dismissing them.

Useful fact: Anti-ziganism = Hatred of gypsies.