Friday, 23 October 2009
Those Crazy French
Ah the glorious (root: gloire) absurdity of the French never ceases to amuse. Now they're celebrating the 50th anniversary of a clapped-out cartoon character with a costumed pageant, a seminar at the Sorbonne, a musical, a flypast, que sais-j'encore - oh and, for good measure, a bitter squabble among several villages over which of them inspired Asterix's home. Only in France would the anniversary of a cartoon character who, even in the fans' estimate, long ago ceased to be any good, and was never funny (except perhaps to the French, whose sense of humour is no laughing matter), spark such a frenzy of self-congratulatory brouhaha. He may be rubbish, is the French line, but he's our rubbish. Asterix is held to stand for the plucky, wily, sturdily independent French nation, holding out against the forces of US cultural imperialism, or whatever is the latest threat to precious French identity (not much holding out in the Last Spot of Bother, if memory serves)... Not that I'm knocking it - the reason France is still France is precisely this inflated sense of her own importance. It's just that I can't see any other nation on earth celebrating 50 years of an unfunny cartoon character on quite such an absurdly grandiose scale. Vive la France!