The French Don't Always Know

photo: rue st julien le pauvre

This photo is not distorted - this is how the
Rue Galande looks.

What Americans Think

Paris, Monday, 18. February:- I never imagined that events in Utah, about which I knew nothing, would produce so many impassioned emailed comments about the 'French.'

The first to arrive came last Wednesday out of the blue. It more or less blamed the French for the ills of mankind - including all ills that the French have received from mankind - and I didn't know what it was about.

In a way, this is 'part one' of the answer to the question of what the 'French think' as posed by George Broadhead below.

The incident of the French judge's dubious score accorded to the figure skating by the Canadian couple in the Olympic competition was not seen by me in any detail until Thursday night's national TV-news here.

The report I saw on French TV showed a short video-clip of the Canadian competitors doing a flawless turnphoto: institut oceanographique and this was followed by another video-clip of the Russian competitors making a fumble - which was, I guess, about what 100 million TV-viewing Olympic figure skating fans had already seen.

Paris' Institut Océanographique in the Rue Saint-Jacques.

So then, last Thursday, the 'French' media showed news viewers in France the difference between the two performances, and attributed the unusual 'score' to the 'French' judge of the event.

It took until Saturday for Le Parisien to put the incident on its front page, and then devote the next two inside pages to the affair.

But back in the edition of Tuesday, 12. February, Olympic news was in the 'sports' section, on page 20. A small report said the Italian champions, along with the French, were criticizing official directives by the skating officials in Salt Lake City - to cut out any movements that might be construed in Utah, as sexy.

This was also noted by TV-news here, which cheekily showed viewers in France exactly what Olympics fans and Olympic officials were not going to see during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

I didn't see Wednesday's paper, but Thursday's editions of Le Parisien still had Olympic news in the 'sports' section where one could think it belongs.

The first paragraph of the skating report mentioned that there was some question concerning the power of judges, and this was specifically related to the Russian win over the Canadian ice skaters, apparently on Monday, four days or nights earlier.

What Do the French Think?

Email from George Broadhead. Sent via the Internet on Saturday, 16. February:-


Normally, the first comment from the mouth of an American ignorant of the nuances of being among the French, is, "I have been told not to go to France, because they are rude to Americans."

Even with my limited knowledge of the language - limited to greetings, I might add - I have never found this.

This past week while watching the Olympic figure skating, I joined with the many voices in America with anger at the results of the finals. There could be no question the Canadian couple won the Gold medal hands down.

A band-aid solution has been arrived at by presenting a 2nd Gold medal. The current atmosphere is one of revulsion with the French for having sold out to the Russian judge and the French Ice Skating Committee/ Association.

Granted, the French people may not care what the Americans think, but I can tell you that the American people do not have a single kind word for the French at present.

I do hope you will report on what the attitude is in France. That's it.

I thought the Café Metropole Club's composite group photo was far superior to 'most' of the group pics in the past. I would give it a 5.9.


What the French Think About What Americans
Think About Them

Bonjour George and all Olympic Fans -

It seems as if neither the International Olympic Committee nor the press in France are particularly aware of the fact that the Winter Olympic games in Salt Lake City are being broadcast live on TV.

Both groups also seem to be also unaware that a great many TV viewers around the world actually watch Olympic events on TV, and have access to the Internet, with which they can even get more news more quickly, plus express their opinions at will, just as quickly.

This means it is possible that a public outcry over an unfair score can be broadcast extremely rapidly on a worldwide scale - even very much more quickly than as recently as five years ago.

One thing is certain - no fault can be attributed to residents of France who do not watch TV-news, who do not follow Olympic events, who do not have access to the Internet and who do not know what Americans think about them.

Ordinary French residents are also not responsible for the failure of French news organizations to evaluate a near-instant reaction to a minor sports event and to react swiftly to it.

Therefore, what the French may think about something they've never heard of - is moot.

But there are many residents of France who are passionately interested in the Winter Olympic'sphoto: pont notre dame, hotel de ville events, and are watching TV at 03:00 every morning in order to see them. Most of these people are supporters of the competitors or ordinary fans. They do not run news organizations.

Paris' Hôtel de Ville, as seen from the Pont Notre-Dame.

Most people I know here in France do not realize that they are individual participants in a constant popularity contest in the United States and would be completely bewildered if they knew.

Therefore, asking what the 'French' think about what the Americans think about them, is pretty nonsensical. In fact, I continue to be bewildered by constant reminders of how fragile France's popularity seems to be in the United States - even with good-natured people who know France fairly well.

The first notice I received concerning this Olympic business more or less blamed France for getting invaded three times within a century, and causing the deaths of so many Americans who 'defended' it. Before I could reply to this stunning notion, the writer wrote again - and recalled that the Statue of Liberty in New York's harbor was a gift from donations made by ordinary French people.

France and the French are not at the root of the world's problems. Stop and think about this a bit. If you must write a protest in the 'heat of the moment,' do so and then put it on 'hold' for 24 hours. If it still seems reasonable after that, send it.

The question you didn't ask - and more to the point is, 'What did French figure-skating fans think of the result of the judging of the competition in question?'

The French, whether they know it or not, get accused of being a lot of things. Blindness isn't one of them.

Nobody Asked - Some More

Aside from the fact that the modern Olympics came into being during the heyday of rabid nationalism, I findphoto: crypte, notre dame it odd that figure skating is even classified as a 'sport' when it clearly seems to be a form of mild recreation, somewhat like ballroom dancing or the 'Eurovision' song contest.

Racing across country or downhill on skis - is racing. Whoever is faster than other competitors and beats the clock - is clearly the winner. As other competitors are eliminated, the final result is three persons or three teams sharing the winners' podium.

One place to meet antique Parisians is in the Crypte in front of Notre-Dame.

To win in sporting competitions, the requirements are determination, physical fitness, skill and luck. In most cases, elegant style is not even considered.

All Olympic Games do have four elements of style though. These include the carrying of the Olympic flame from one Olympic location to another, the games' opening ceremony, the winning competitors' ceremonies, and the closing ceremony. All the rest is supposed to be sports.

Sport is a part of real life, but is not real life itself. When sport is over, real life resumes - for an average of 103 weeks between each set of Olympic Games.
signature, regards, ric

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