PARIS (Herald de Paris) – “Merde”, “Putain”, “Fait chier”… You have probably heard or seen those words, even though you may happen not to speak French (no one is perfect). They are not recent, and part of our everyday life. Yes, people, yes: we the French swear a lot.
Nicolas Sarkozy is in that perspective an excellent representant of our nation: he brings rudeness to a whole new level. Texting while he was with the Pope was nothing compared to the “Casse toi, pauvre con” (i.e. get lost, you loser) he threw in the direction of a man who refused to shake his hand in 2008.
Other people extremely efficient in conveying the French values: our football team. (and no, I won’t say soccer. The name of this game is football. Get used to it). Those intelligent, educated and delicate youngsters have little presence in the media, excellent playing, and natural modesty.
Player Nicolas Anelka said Friday evening to coach Raymond Domenech “Va te faire enculer, sale fils de pute”. Let us not fear words: I shall translate what he said. “Va te faire enculer” literally means “go get fucked” and while it does sound a bit strange in English, it flows very naturally in French. “Sale fils de pute” is more classical, has equivalents all over the world (out of the blue, I can tell it in Italian, spanish, arabic, japanese and korean): “son of a bitch”.
Sports daily newspaper l’Equipe instantly quoted Anelka in their Saturday morning edition. And what followed represents exactly the reason why you should insult like the French when in France. It breeds chaos. Complete, utter chaos. We love it. It gives us stuff to complain about.
Three playgrounds are more blood-thirsty than the rest. Just a few words from Anelka and they woke up Saturday – and are still energetic a few days later. These three central areas will always be the first to react to anything: media, concerned people and politicians.
Let us begin with the media: twittersphere exploded with comments from journalists and bloggers on Saturday morning. Some funny and intelligent, most not. What the gist of them seemed to agree on was that l’Equipe had failed with that frontpage. For Vinvin, who wrote an entire article about it in Rue89, L’Equipe (which used to be his “favorite newspaper”) becomes “feces”. And this is one of many examples.
In short, as soon as something a bit trashy happens, journalists judge, destroy, and troll their own.
Second playground, the socioprofessional category concerned by the polemic. In that case, the world of football. And I love it when they speak publically. It’s always pure poetry. Like the cops, they have a vocabulary of their own, which is like a highly contractable mental disease. I swear that prolonged exposure to most footballeurs, coaches or sports journalists can cause permanent damage.
What shocked them wasn’t the vulgarity. Neither did the obvious disrespect of authority. Being typical French, they don’t have any issue with either of these minor details. They were astounded, though, to discover there was a traitor amongst them. Anelka’s words were said in the relative privacy of the locker room, and only players or staff could have given the information to a journalist. Now they’re out to get the “traitor”. “One does not betray the locker room,” stated former coach Aymé Jacquet. Let’s guillotine the traitor!
Last, but not least, the politicians. They always have the most entertaining reaction. Of course, not to be outdone by his Secretaries of State, Nicolas Sarkozy himself stated “those words are unacceptable…Unacceptable.” Yes, twice. Because the words are “very unacceptable”, which is more than “simply unacceptable”. Actually, the matter was so “unacceptable” that Sarkozy said those words in the middle of a joint conference with Russian president Dimitri Medvedev, who I’m sure felt extremely concerned.
The point of all this? ‘Tis but a simple illustration of French everyday life. Something falls on your foot, say “merde” or “putain”. You fail to catch the last métro, growl “fait chier” (or the super-combo “putain, fait chier”). Nicolas Sarkozy did it. Nicolas Anelka did it. Both are role models. I do it too (and my name isn’t Nicolas – and I am no role model). Be French: be vulgar. And then insult those who have been rude and create some chaos.