Saturday, February 21, 2004

A Hollywood Love Affair With Paris

Last night I saw "Something's Gotta Give." I'm not a big fan of either Jack Nicholson, or Diane Keaton (although I hope my teeth look as good as hers when I'm that age), but overall I enjoyed the movie. I couldn't help laughing whenever Keanu Reeves, who played an ER doctor, was on screen because he's just so stiff and Theodore (Ted) Loganesque.

The most interesting thing about this movie was that I thought it was a perfect advertisement for vacationing in Paris. Hollywood seems to have a thing for Paris, exhibited by its use in romantic comedies and the stars that live there (e.g. Johnny Depp?). After the whole Freedom Fries and boycott France uproar last year, I though this was a more subtle and therefore effective vehicle for trying to convince people to go to Paris than Woody Allen's condescending and creepy ("I want to French Kiss my step-daughter/wife") ads. I actually caught myself wanting to visit Paris. On screen, it seemed romantic and sophisticated. The waiters and doormen were charming and polite (the "smile campaign" must have been on then), the food was delicious, and the streets were snow-covered and magical.

I took 4 1/2 years of French in school and always dreamed of going to Paris and visiting the Louvre, the Arc de Triumphe, and the palace of Versailles. But lately, reading the French press, I don't think I'd feel comfortable there. Parisians seem to hate Americans. I was especially hurt by a poll taken during Operation Iraqi Freedom where the majority of French did not want the U.S. to win. To lose means U.S. soldiers are slaughtered and until recently, I thought the French and the U.S. were on the same side. It was somewhat of a shock to me to realize that the French government is actually an adversary of the U.S. Well, I reacted the way someone does whose best friend has stabbed them in the back: snarky French jokes, and boycotting French yogurt ( can't boycott wine since I don't drink.

I think a lot of Americans felt and still feel the same way. Perhaps we Americans were naive to think that the French would think well of us since we were on the same side in two World Wars (three if you include the Cold War). But to me and others it was a genuine shock to have our European "friends" protesting the "imperialistic" USA and our President "Bush-Hitler" after 3000 of our citizens had been slaughtered in one day on our own soil. I mean I expected Russia to oppose anything we proposed in the UN and also sell anything to anybody for a quick buck because Russia has always been like that, even after the Cold War. But coming from the French and Germany, it was the ultimate betrayal. I don't know if the relations between our countries can ever be repaired.

So, I briefly considered visiting Paris under the influence of the "magic" of Hollywood, but on second thought I'd much rather visit Italy.

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