I didn’t obviously expect that I would write this article, a piece about New Year’s wishes was planned. #BTW Happy New Year. But who would imagine such a scenario?
In 3 days, daily life routine was torn apart and a legendary crowded Sunday raised hope in our hearts. Globally. Then, day by day, former « friends » became aliens, oppositions and « wanted us alive or dead » because « we were Charlie ».
Well, to be or not to be Charlie is now as questionable as being the Stones or the Beatles (I pick the Beatles).
« How dare you being so trivial! Some people did die ».
Yet these days, I also attended the play ‘Femme non rééducable‘ (non re-educated woman) about Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaïa, tortured then killed for her view over Chechnya conflict, before I’d realized that George Brassens was right twice, singing Mourir pour des idées (To Die For Your Ideas) or La Mauvaise Réputation (Bad Reputation). That’s why I was not so surprised to hear Quand les cons sont braves (when stupid people are brave) soundtracking the tribute TV spot on France televisions – almost putting smile on lips. These « stupid people », the Charlie’s angels who put a strange hat on the prophet Muhammad’s head were not average people, you heard of it. In this country where « Mockery is a national weapon », the very low circulation magazine stands as the symbol of anarchy and leftism in French newspapers. Who was surprised to hear l’International anthem during some burials? But French people didn’t need that to be seen as over-social figures.
« But how about the new front page? It is very shocking. »
Provocation for reactions but not incitement. These guardians of « laïcité » followed more or less the lines: « No god, no master but French fries ». Yes, French secularism which strangles to cut kings’ heads is sometimes odd. Nevertheless French people did remain flabbergasted discovering Sister Cristina at The Voice Italy. The will of « laughing at everything but not with everyone » by Pierre Desproges lasts in Voltaire’s and the Lumières’ country mad about freedom of speech.
« And do you have a clue about bollocks on the new front page? »
Ah that … Never mind the balls! The paper keeps its « irresponsible » by-line and sometimes « foolish and mean », like the Hara Kiri’s father motto and its cartoonists were still children. From sexual satirist drawings with rough lines to French Redneck slightly male chauvinist by Cabu, « le beauf », the niche magazine surprised its first readers who bravely queued during hours in front of NewsStands.
Early birds had to squeeze themselves into a long queue at 7am for a paper. But the good feeling blurred sometimes when pissed off and annoyed, some exceptional “Charlie” quit the line after checking if THE magazine was sold out or not. Coming back home with arms dangling but with the hope of getting the golden newspaper later sounds good for them. But following the “Je suis Charlie” trend as the brainwashing Ice Bucket Challenge game, did they get really it? Demonstrations here and there for the freedom of speech were a first great step. But who is still rushing at newspaper standsnews at daybreak ? Much ado about nothing.
« But How could such a sophisticated country have this crude sense of humor? »
Oh that’s French – picture a pun with a saucy tone, secular habit, typically French humor, apparently still influenced by Mediterranean « eros and thanatos » ; Frenchiest like Briton or Yankie.
Talking about and with my generation, deeply moved like every single French person, emotion wasn’t fading away but was still deep, strong and violent. Violence for the acts but also for the situation. The disillusioned young totally dreamt about getting their own Central Perk pub, flown over a weird funny giant Totoro animal, wanted to embrace their despair of New Wave atmosphere, but never got their big own trauma. They live with the clear wish of living and working abroad instead, sometimes digging ancient archeological values. Then marching around the Place République, and glancing children demonstrating for the first time, « freedom of speech, secularism and brotherhood » were on every lip; but which feeling was the strongest? Guilty, regrets, nostalgia, strength, hope? A patently French burst.
Since then, I laugh watching Gaspard Proust, listening to François Morel, singing Tryo and it feels good to laugh. On top of that, I smile hearing mea-culpa of Pope Francis, watching people singing the Marseillaise anthem during demonstrations instead of the Nabucco Slaves chorus. And saying to these one-day Charlie people: Thanks for trying not to be French for once, but typically French, Frenchiest, I may say, following the big lines without compromises and sharpness. A caricature.