Celebrate French Stereotypes Today

07/14/2009 11:26 AM |

So it’s Bastille Day. And sure, it’s nice to go to Smith Street and hang out with elegant French ex-pats and their well-dressed enfants, playing petanque in the street, drinking pastis, taking in all the nicely pressed Agnes B. and APC… But really, Bastille Day on Smith Street has the same connection to France as St. Patrick’s Day on Fifth Avenue does to Ireland. Look, I’m not trying to be a party pooper here, but contemporary France is a really pretty fascinating, complicated, fucked-up society that exists somewhere between the snooty waiters and burning cars. For some (and I’m rooting for them) it’s a creaky model for what a multicultural Europe could be, while for others, it’s a nightmare scenario of race-mixing and religious conflict unfolding right in front of us. Whichever the case (again, I’m pulling for the former), Mathieu Kassovitz’s 1995 movie La Haine is pretty much the Do the Right Thing of France, exploring the complexities of race and class with neither dogmatism nor sentimentality. You should watch it tonight and think of France.