What's so bad about the French?

I’ve always wondered why so many Americans seem to hate the French. They’re not a threat to our security, culture, economy, etc. etc. and yet most Americans I’ve spoken to about France either respond with contempt or slight distain.
Any scientific or cultural insight on this burning question would be much appreciated.

There was a quite ferocious pit thread about this a while back.


I’m British, and we’re hardly renowned for being friendly with the French, and yet I regularly end up fuming and some other idiot who subscribed to the “surrender-eating cheese monkeys” myth. I think the history of France in World War II has a lot to do with it, despite the performance of the Free French, and some see the French as having a particularly aloof attitude. But then again, every nationality I can think of has some kind of stereotyped negative personality trait, so why the French are singled out I’ll never fathom.

That should be “at some other idiot”. D’oh.

I have been to Paris and it is different than my little hometown in California. I liked a lot of things I saw and didn’t like some things I saw. Some Frenchmen were very nice, others very rude, others totally indifferent to me. I can only surmise that the reason some people verbalize animosity toward the French is that they are different from the people in their hometowns.

Silly Wabbit, Trix are for kids! (Welcome to the board!)

The hostility is mutual, I think. The French used to be one of the dominant cultural forces in the world. Now they are a third-rate power, with a lot of tradition that is fading fast, even in their own country. They are constantly railing against anything American, because it is replacing their (in most cases) pretty glorious culture.

When an American hears the French ranting about ugly ‘merkins, the knee-jerk reaction is to rant right back. We see a nation of ingrates who don’t know how to show appreciation for having their fat pulled out of the fire. Twice. We see a bunch of people who substitute fancy perfume for good-ol’ soap and water. We see insecure farmers who burn down McDonald’s restaurants because they see them as a threat to French cuisine (If you don’t like it, don’t go there. Vote with your Franc or Euro. Convince everyone you know to do same. Don’t be a terrorist.). We see indecisive politicians, who can’t decide whether or not they want to be a member of NATO. We see a country that is always in a hurry to do business with the bad guys (Libya, Iraq, Iran, etc.- we do it, too, but the French are ALWAYS trying to sell the bad guys armaments, etc.). The list goes on and on…

All valid points, but I’m wondering if perhaps the reason folks get all riled up is that they’re so similar to the States. Lets face it, America isn’t exactly renowned for it’s humility and, even if we haven’t been trounced in a war since Vietnam, that sometimes seems to be more of a function of our geography than any sort of military genius on our leaderships part. This is an overstatement, obviously, but I’ve always thought the similarities between the two cultures might have a lot to do with this too.

Well, Vietnam was a tricky beast. I don’t think we would have lost, if we would have allowed ourselves to win. And that implies that we had any business there, which we almost certainly didn’t. But that whole mess was also started by the French. (Damn troublemakers!)

My own personal favorite reason for hating the French right now is the whole Yahoo!-Nazi memorabilia/relic mess. IANAN (I Am Not A Nazi, for the new guy), but I have a REAL strong belief in freedom of speech. Much stronger than it is applied in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I really admired Yahoo! for standing up to the Frogs. Now that they have caved, I am wrasslin’ with myself over whether to stop using Yahoo! in any way shape or form (and I am currently pretty dependent on them).

Nothing is wrong with the French except:

  1. They don’t use deodorant.

  2. They piss in the streets

  3. The women are extremely overrated

  4. Celine Dion (French-Canadians)

  5. They outlaw many thing written in English in order to protect their dying language

  6. Did I mention that they actually piss in the streets? I mean c’mon.

  1. They have an independent foreign policy, in contrast to the rest of the European continent, which repeatedly ruffles the US’s feathers. (If the Italians or Portuguese were as assertive, I trust US attitudes might evolve along similar lines.)

  2. Many American tourists limit their travel in France to a stop in Paris. Large metropolitan areas often have irritable inhabitants; just as New York City is not wholly representative of the US, so Parisians are perhaps not the greatest ambassadors for France.

While I’m sure that the Dreyfus Affair and occupied France have their place, I’d have to put the brunt of the blame on the “Pink Panther” movies. How could one NOT laugh at the French after seeing those?

Here’s my take on it:

Because of a combination of geographical and cultural factors, Americans travel abroad much less often than people from other countries. We also tend to have little education about the world beyond America’s borders and little contact with foreigners in our daily lives. Therefore, many Americans are not very knowledgeable about cultural differences or experienced in dealing with them.

For many of us, Paris is THE quintessential European city, the first stop on our very first trip outside of North America. So you get a large number of jet-lagged, inexperienced travelers with imperfect language skills trying to make their way through a large city full of busy people. The Parisians, understandably, tend to be brusque with them. The Americans, who are not used to seeing themselves through other people’s eyes, feel justified in being rude right back. Then everybody goes home and tells their friends and relatives how horrible Those People are. It’s a cycle that perpetuates itself and leads to hostility on both sides.

(I’ve specified Paris because people in other parts of France, in my experience at least, are much more patient with foreigners. But then, they don’t have to deal with nearly as many of us.)

I have ever known at all well was very steroetypically French, at least if you are talking about the negative stereotype of being rude, abrupt, elitist, self-involved…that kinda stuff.

But lots of people are that way. My experience with her happened to conform to the stereotype, that doesn’t mean I hate French people. I know a whole lot of Americans who conform to the American stereotype, ugly as it is.

And of course, Eddie really sums it up:

“the French are so, well, French!”

Who hopes to acheive Frenchitude in her eating habits someday: lush, delicious, yet portion-controlled. Sans wine.

Strange, though, that we don’t act that way towards the rest of Europe which also got aid. Quite a few of which also show distinct dislike for Americans.
France, at least, provided significant aid for America in its time of need (although their motives may have been questionable).

I think you are misinformed. The complaint isn’t so much with the MacDonalds per sé, but with the fact that the taxation is significantly lower on the fast food chains as opposed to family restaurants, resulting in failure of the latter. This is seen as a conspiracy between the government and the chains, hence the protests and vandalism against both.
The came up top of the list in a quick search on the subject, obviously you’re expressing an opinion not uncommon to American journalism.

Now I find these two particularly amusing because the other culprit in both NATO ambivelance and arms dealing is… well. Pot/Kettle/Black.

Erm. Occurs to me that I should ask you to clarify on the arms dealing bit since you were aware of the hypocrisy of your statement.
To what degree and based on what evidence would you claim the French (or, for that matter, Russian/British/Brazilian/<insert reasonably productive world power here>) arms dealing exceeds that of the U.S.?

Overall, it seems to me the list of French sins are chosen after the fact.
I think, like school yard bullying, a victim is chosen, and thereafter it becomes traditional to pick on them. A meme passed from grade to grade, or in this case, generation to generation.

National pride and disdain for Americans are traits shared by countries around the world. Britain is just as bitter about having lost its world power status, in no small part to America, yet American attitudes to the British are considerably different.

Originally posted by Studoggie:

Heh. Remind me to take you on a tour of Philly sometime.

Stoid, I didn’t know you were French! :smiley:

:: fleeing ::

Yer pal,

Ten months, two days, 20 hours, 25 minutes and 50 seconds.
12354 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,544.46.
Extra life saved: 6 weeks, 21 hours, 30 minutes.

See my Sig File FAQ: http://pages.prodigy.net/briank.o/SigFAQ.htm

Well. Funny thing is, I don’t like it much when the main demonstration of national pride is saying “F*** America!” That goes for Germans, Spanish, every Latin American country, English, etc. Don’t even get me started on those damn Canadians :D.

Well, seems there is some controversy about the motives of these jackasses. The guy I was talking about is Jose Bove. According to CNN and the AP:

Sorry if I choose not to listen to some French diplomat trying to explain a different incident, which killed an employee. I guess I’m just an idiot, who’s been reading too much American Journalism :rolleyes:.

Yeah. That’s what the

was all about :rolleyes:.

Re: France and Iraq, France joins China and Russia as being in favor of slackening sanctions on Iraq. Here is a cite. As I recall, the motivation was the desire to get in there and sell some more arms to Iraq, in addition to oil-production equipment, machine tools, etc.

As for the other two, I’m going from memory. These go back to the pre-internet days and a lot of the stories I remember reading aren’t archived, that I can find. However, a search for “arms France Iran” and “arms France Libya” sure did bring up a lot of hits that I don’t feel like wading through.

Yeah, the American sins aren’t chosen after the fact :rolleyes:.

Well, the Brit’s don’t make America-bashing a national pastime. And they let us use their real estate when it’s once again time to invade France to clear out Germans.

My whole initial response was a tongue-in-cheek explanation of some of the reasons why Americans (in general) don’t like the French (in general). [note to mods/administrators: I’ve seen it proposed before, and would like to concur that we need a t-i-c smilie.] My second post was my own, honest-to-God, personal reason for despising the Government of France (i.e. the Yahoo! affair). That the government is full of stinky French people is just another reason all together :D. I admit to spraying my monitor with coffee a couple of times when reading the pit thread.

Well, seems there is some controversy about the motives of these jackasses. The guy I was talking about is Jose Bove.

Yea, but he’s a sheep farmer and we all know what THEY’RE like… <insert whatever perversions you think sheep and the men that love them are capable of here>

What Mr. Bove and the people that subscribe to his beliefs don’t realize is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to feed the world’s population using traditional methods of agriculture. My problem with France (and French farmers in particular) is that they seem to be mired in pre-industrialized agricultural techniques and get offended when the rest of the world wants to modernize. Quite frankly, I don’t think most of the world has the luxury of refusing genetically engineered food.
Anyway, I seem to be in danger of hijacking my own thread here (is that a first?) so I’ll quit.

I didn’t quite make it all the way through the paper this morning, so I missed this gem (which will only work right for a week or so): http://www.austin360.com/statesman/editions/sunday/editorial_4.html .

After that, you will have to just take my word for it that it is a story about those darn Frogs complaining about US influence.

I’m going to excerpt a few choice gems (fair use of copyrighted material from the Austin American-Statesman, Sun. Feb 11, 2001 edition, page H1)

Yeah. Prepare to be assimilated, Monsieur.

Well, I think it should be the Finns who get to play the role of Linux, since that’s where it came from.

Gee, I knew there was something I liked about GWB. He pisses off the French. (And a hearty F*** You, Virginie, from Deep in the Heart of Texas.)


Gee. The French have a very superior culture, big weapons, and want a pan-European military force. Is this guy a Vichy holdover? This has shades of 1930’s German talk to me (and I’ve been reading Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich).

Not if you count BO as a greenhouse gas. “I didn’t come here to blame anyone, but I blame the Americans.” EXCELLENT f***in’ logic. And one Frog is responsible for (some multiple greater than one) as much high-level nuclear waste as a single 'merkin.

Another breakthrough. Something Ms. Albright said that I can agree with wholeheartedly.

Hear hear.

Hmmm. SIlly me, I thought I missed you. If I’d only known you were part of the Stoid Sucks coalition, I wouldn’t have bothered.

Thanks for clearing that up.