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Rude and obnoxious? Simply blame your Frenchness

Rude and obnoxious? Simply blame your Frenchness

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Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

“You absolute idiot! What the hell gives you the right to be reading this? How about you piss off and do something else instead!” I’m so sorry, please keep reading. You see my surname has French origins (the Dallisons come from Alençon in Normandy) and my Frenchness can sometimes come across as rudeness … you prick! 

That was basically the excuse given this week by actress Eva Green, who is fighting a case in the British courts seeking a $1 million payment for an aborted film project. The production company is countersuing, alleging that Green derailed the project by making “unreasonable demands.”

Green told the court that her “Frenchness” led her to call the film director “weak and stupid” as well as calling a producer “inexperienced, pretentious,” “pure vomit” and “a fucking moron” (incidentally, all phrases used in my latest work performance review).

This all came days after the Associated Press Stylebook kerfuffle, in which the U.S. newswire said that news articles should avoid using “dehumanizing” labels such as “the French.”

“We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated,” AP Stylebook tweeted.

Journalists rushed in to offer their own, tongue-in-cheek alternatives to “the French,” ranging from “people who are French” to “people experiencing Frenchness,” before AP removed the offending tweet and apologized for the whole sorry episode.

Being rude in France is a lot less risky than it used to be. It was only in 2013 that saying rude things to the French president stopped being an offense. The change came after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that France had violated a demonstrator’s right to freedom of expression by fining him for holding a banner up to former President Nicolas Sarkozy reading: “Get lost, jerk.” Sarkozy used those very same words — “Casse-toi, pauv’ con!” — in 2008 to insult a man in a crowd who refused to shake his hand.

Emmanuel Macron is generally less offensive than that, although he did get in trouble last year for saying he was pursuing a deliberate policy of “emmerdement” — literally of “pissing off” or, more politely, “bugging” those French people who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 


“World’s worst ventriloquist double-act poses for the cameras.”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

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Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

“I fully understand what it means to govern a country in such difficult times because I wrote a book about Winston Churchill,” by Libor Kudláček.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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