Myths about France

1. The French are extreme cultural protectionists.  Not true.  The French do spend large amounts of money pretending they are cultural protectionists and making noise in various international arenas.  And the language restrictions are binding on audiovisual media.  But for the most part France is quite open to foreign cultures.  Just trying seeing a foreign film in Paris, you’ll hardly find a better place. 

2. French labor productivity is about as high as that of the United States.  Call this one a half-truth.  The measured average productivity is close, in part because French labor law discourages low-wage, low-productivity jobs.  A better test is if a French-English bilingual person moves from one country to the other, where is productivity higher?  I’ll put my money on the United States. 

3. Within fifty years, France will be half Islamic.  Very unlikely, read this sober assessment of the demographics.

4. Frenchmen hate the United States.  Personally I’ve never found this to be true.  I’ve spent maybe three months of my life in this country, and I can’t recall one time that anyone was ever rude to me.  Can I say that about any other country?  Remember that many peoples distinguish between citizenries and governments more than Americans do.  In this regard the French are more libertarian then we Americans are.  Here is one look at the poll evidence on whether the French hate Americans.

5. French culture dried up after World War II.  OK, French painting has not been impressive, though I am fond of Yves Klein.  But try Georges Perec, Robert Bresson, or Olivier Messiaen, or Yves Nat for some brighter moments.  Let’s not forget the key role of Paris in supporting music from Africa and the Arabic world.  (America isn’t the only country which should get credit for the culture of its immigrants.)  Nor is French rap a total wasteland.

The bottom line: France, like the United States, is very good at confounding our expectations.


Comments for this post are closed