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September 29, 2010

The stereotypical Frenchman appears....he's wearing stripey jumpers (blue and white), talking like Pepe Le Pew, and riding a bicycle.

During my IB (International Business) lecture today our professor talked about intercultural communication and about stereotyping.  He explained that when we try to do business with other cultures a lot of our focus is on how we are different but in actuality we are very similar.  Using the French as an example, we have borrowed a lot from their culture and they from ours.  This post is going to be dedicated to exploring the stereotypical Frenchman and stereotypical American, the similarities in our culture, and our differences.

Stereotypical Frenchman:
You may wonder, where does that image of the stereotypical Frenchman (you know; the one with the striped shirt, curly mustache, carrying a baguette, wearing a beret, with a red scarf tied around his neck, and has a bottle of wine in his hand) come from.  The origin of the typical Frenchman comes from the farmers in Brittany.  They would grow and sell onions (Onion Johnny) and ride bikes. h Other stereotypes of the French is that they are lazy, dirty, arrogant, stuck-up, rude, anti-American, and communists.  My least favorite due to a certain people from my past (aka high school) are that the French give up and are quitters due to the fact that they always surrender.

Stereotypical American:
What is the stereotypical American like??  Other cultures might answer with words like fat, loud, and complain a lot or loves guns, or my personal favorite, says oh myy gooodd all the time.  They might describe us as wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots, holding a camera and handbag, having messy hair with an extremely wide mouth chewing gum.  They might even go so far as saying we wear safari clothes and Jesus sandals.  They think we eat junk food 24/7 and are lazy, just looking for the quickest way to get things done.  They think we are greedy and power obsessed.

Personally I find this analysis of Americans insulting but that's the way it goes and that's why they call it stereotyping.  People take a small sub sect of the group they are looking at (usually one that represents a negative side) and automatically assume that everyone is like that without even getting to know average every day people.  Personally the French people I have met are not rude, arrogant, or any dirtier than you and me.  They are different from us because of they way they are raised and they way in which they choose to live their lives but we should not look down on them for that.

Moral of the story: Don't just assume what you think you know about a culture is true until you get a chance to know them. In the words of kindergarten teachers everywhere, don't judge a book by its cover!

A tout a l'heure!

September 18, 2010

You Think You Know a Story...But You Only Know How it Ends.

So not only do I love all things French and the French history but I also love the history of the English monarchs.  I especially like watching movies that give you an inside look at their lives and explain what their life was really like.

I think my love of English History began when I took British Literature in high school.  We had to read books like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.  It got me hooked on this way of life that is so different from ours in modern America.  I love the glamour, the society, and the turmoil that they had to face back then.  How simple and yet complex their lives were compared to ours without all the modern technology and worries that we have to deal with, yet of course they had plenty of their own problems.
I enjoy the movie versions of these books.  I love Kiera Knightly's version of Pride and Prejudice (2005) and will watch it any time I can on TV.  I also enjoy Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway.  It takes a look at Jane Austen's life and points out some of the similarities between her life and the life of the characters in her stories.

One of my favorites is the Showtime series "The Tudors".  It gives an inside look at the life of Henry VIII.  It shows him at the time when he was growing unhappy with Catherine and becoming more interested in Anne Boleyn.  "This historically loose but visually lush Showtime series toasts the world of the Tudors in the days when King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) was a handsome and charming 25-year-old with athletic abilities and sexual prowess. The young king indulges his voracious taste for ladies-in-waiting, hangs out with his entourage of nobles and makes momentous political decisions." (   I started watching this series last summer when I had to work overnight shifts at work and was immediately hooked!  Of course I realize that the drama and such is magnified in order to get TV ratings but I still love it!  It helps that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is extremely easy on the eyes ;)

In keeping with the theme of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  The first movie I think that got me really hooked on this was "The Other Boleyn Girl".  This movie takes a spin on the story that most people don't know, exploring the love affair between the King and Anne's sister Mary Boleyn.  "Director Justin Chadwick's opulent historical drama stars Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Scarlett Johansson as her sister, Mary -- both beautiful, ambitious and vying for the heart of powerful but intemperate King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). Though both women are the monarch's mistresses, only one can become his queen consort -- but at what cost?". (  Again this is probably an exaggeration of real life but its a great twist on the story and it would be an awesome story if it was true. 
Others that I enjoy are Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Young Victoria, The Duchess, and Vanity Fair.

I would highly recommend any of these movies or books to anyone who asks.  My roommates think I'm crazy but I think I was just born in the wrong country and the wrong century!

A tout a l'heure!