Sunday, November 26, 2006

American Art Superior to French Art

Via the web page of Reason Magazine, a discussion of French culture versus American culture, coming (of all places) from France.
Eric Le Boucher
Le Monde

The French have underestimated America’s cultural richness, said Eric Le Boucher in Paris’ Le Monde. We’ve long dismissed the U.S. as a place where the market alone decides what gets written, filmed, painted, or choreographed. Our own system, “which rests largely on public subsidizing of the arts and on massive unemployment insurance for artists,” seemed intrinsically superior—even morally superior. Yet a new French study of the American culture industry says this caricature of the U.S. as McHollywood is way off the mark. The U.S. has 2 million people professionally employed as artists. Not only is that figure nearly three times the number employed as police in the U.S., but it’s also proportionately much larger than the artist population in France. Even more surprising, to French sensibilities, is “the diversity of the American art scene.” Spurred by competition and lacking the complacency that government funding imparts, American artists have created independent theaters, studios, writing workshops, and alternative dance groups, even in small towns. The result is not a cultural scene ruled by money but one that is “profoundly democratic.”
Some of the comments posted on the Reason blog are priceless.
french cinema will never be equaled by us. first, they call movies “cinema,” which seems ever so intellectual. second, they have marguerite duras. third, they have absolutely perfected the two hour understated exploration of the innermost angst suffered by pretty 14 year olds who smoke.

then there’s french rap music. because of their local content laws, it’s impossible to listen to french radio without being subjected to this. as lame as the idea of french rap might seem, the reality is far worse.
And then:
News item: American culture is better than the French think it is, and is, in fact, better than French culture.

In other news: Experts say oceans go up and down with the tide. Also, water is wet.
And further:
There is an annoying irony about an artist who spends their days railing against society’s conformist squares, styles themselves an anarchist, and then goes and picks up their government handout of the square’s hard earned money at the end of the day.
While we aren’t keen on chauvinistic bragging — American or French — this sort of information is a worthwhile counter to Europhile arrogance.

Thus we would not recommend you use it as part of an offensive against your liberal friends. But by all means keep it available for a counterstrike!

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