1. Their Presidents have no problem showing how they really feel about the dirty plebes they were elected to serve.
A few years back, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy was mingling with the paupers at an agricultural convention. Never known to be a humble man of the people, it was expected to be a superficial meet-and-greet like any other. (Fun fact about Sarkozy: Because of his complex over his short stature, he often insisted on only short people around him for the photo-ops and speaking engagements when he would visit factories, military bases, or other places of note.)
Anywho, on this particular day, he fielded a couple of boos and a disgruntled constituent telling him “Don’t touch me!” Sarkokonut’s response? “Then get lost, you asshole!” Hahaha, what an awesome leader of the people!
2. Francky Vincent’s “Tu Veux Mon Zizi [You Want My Wiener]”
Yes, Francky Vincent’s music should be appreciated tongue firmly in cheek. But even if this were a parody of something (which it’s not, really, except maybe just of human sexual dignity), nothing would excuse this train wreck of a chorus:
You want my wiener?
Yes yes yes yes!
I’m going to give it to you.
Yes yes yes yes!
The verses are just him describing various living situations (apartment, cabana, tipi, castle), and all of the various ways he’s going to give it to you sexually. It’s much more graphic than you would want it to be. And while we’re at it, we should also address the clip-art fever dream that is this music video. Don’t spend that 80 dollar budget all in one place, Francky.
3. Their national anthem’s lyrics are… well…
Despite our constant jokes about the French’s penchant for surrender, weakness, and retreat, they have one of the most absurdly violent national anthems in current use. Here’s a little sample of the cultural bloodbath that they sing at football games and other such family-friendly events:
Arise, children of the fatherland!
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody banner is raised,
The bloody banner is raised.
Listen to the sound in the fields,
The howling of these fearsome soldiers!
They are coming into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and wives.
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
Let impure blood
Water our lands!
Impure blood, though… whoa, bro. Whoa.
4. No one was surprised by DSK’s antics because he’s been the Friendly Neighborhood Perv for decades!
It was really fun talking to French people during the whole DSK scandal, because not a single one of them was shocked that he was capable of violently sexually harassing a woman in a hotel room. “Oh, he’s a total creep! He’s been molesting women and cheating on his wife forever!” was the general sentiment. (The fact that he continued to be an incredibly important politician, and even the potential President, didn’t really seem to upset anyone.) There was even an episode of a late-night talk show in which a journalist, back in the early 2000s, told her story of narrowly escaping being raped by DSK. The table — this particular show was held at a dinner party — was naturally taken aback at the story, but no one really made a big deal of it. He’s just a lil’ pervy, nbd! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
5. This guy represented France in the Eurovision a few years ago.
Just do yourself a favor, and skip ahead to 1:20.
6. Their drinking songs are absolutely insane.
One of my personal faves, this gem tells the story of a young woman (we’re not sure how old, but let’s just say over 18 and give French people the benefit of the doubt), who has given up on men and is masturbating in her bed with a carrot! Eventually, from vigorous use, the carrot breaks off and leaves about half of it up in her vagina, which leads her gynecologist to encourage her to give up on vegetables, and find a nice man!
I appreciate that the maker of this video decided to use an image of Strawberry Shortcake — named Charlotte in French — to illustrate the lyrics.
7. Fatal Bazooka.
Even if I were given a 2,000-word essay on nothing but explaining exactly what Fatal Bazooka is, I don’t think I would ever be able to fully convey it to someone who didn’t know him already. Essentially, he’s a rap star character of comedian Michaël Youn’s creation, and from the years of roughly 2005 to 2010, he took on a life of his own. His videos have tens of millions of views — some of the most popular on Francophone YouTube — he had his own blockbuster movie in 2010, and his sense of humor is… well, let’s just enjoy this video of him essentially making gay jokes to a Sean Paul-esque beat for 4 minutes:
8. Their television is, to a large degree, our television.
Turn on any French television in the morning/early afternoon (even primetime, depending on the channel), and you’re guaranteed to be inundated by nothing but American television — this includes reality television — dubbed in French, and occasionally changed slightly for regional tastes. You can watch Les Simpson, Futurama (pronounced foo-too-rah-mah), ‘Ow I Met Your Muzzer,” or any of your other favorites at nearly any time, as long as you don’t mind having to deal with terrible French versions of all the voices.
For what it’s worth, though, most young people in France now just watch the American versions, either with or without subtitles.
9. And while we’re at it, some of their movie title translations are just too good for words.
“No Strings Attached” became “Sex Friends.” “The Hangover” became “Very Bad Trip” (I’m not sure if anyone explained to the French studios that they were not, in fact, taking Peyote in that desert.) “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” became (in French) “Without Sarah, nothing works!” It’s embarrassing.
10. This is a real French breakfast item, sold in real stores, in real 2013.
11. Jean-Marie Le Pen is a politician, and one popular enough that he came way too close for comfort to beating Chirac for President, even though he is batshit insane.
There is no way that anyone could list all of the absurd things far-right National Front leader Le Pen has done, but let’s just take a look at his Greatest Hits album, for funsies:
- He accused Jacques Chirac (former President of France) of being on the payroll of the Jews.
- He repeatedly danced around downplaying the Holocaust, and was convicted of hate speech.
- He called Sarkozy a “foreigner,” in that way.
- He proposed that all people with AIDS be quarantined, and referred to them with a super-diplomatic slur (Sidaïque), which can only be translated as “AIDSters” in its flippancy.
12. Speaking of Chirac, the politicians get super bitchy with one another during debates, and it’s actually kind of awesome.
During this debate between incumbent President François Mitterand and nominee Jacques Chirac, there was this exchange:
Mitterand: I have seen you working for two years, and you have shown me a very bad example — but I’m not making any particular observation in calling you Mr. Prime Minister, I’m only calling you that because that is how I have known you for the past two years, and that is what you are. And as Prime Minster I feel, and it is right to say, that you have many qualities — but not impartiality and sense of justice for the direction of the State. [Swaggy smile]
Chirac: Allow me just to say that this evening, I am not the Prime Minister, and you are not the President of the Republic. We are two candidates, equals, who are submitting themselves to the judgment of the French people, the only ones who count. Therefore you will allow me to address you as Mr. Mitterand.
Mitterand: You couldn’t be more right, Mr. Prime Minister! [Even swaggier smile]
Needless to say, Mitterand won. But omggggg they are so bitchy! I love it! Fight! Fight! Fight!
13. They have their own terrible reality shows.
Such as this one, Les Ch’tis à…. [The Rednecks in…] where they basically just take a bunch of white trash and send them to random locations to make enormous asses of themselves. Here they are in Vegas!
14. A song called “When He Farts He Rips A Hole In His Underwear” overtook “Get Lucky” at the top of iTunes earlier this year.
I wish there was some sort of joke to make about this, but I think it’s poignant enough to observe that this happened, and that this is the same country we usually associate with Édith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg, when it comes to musical tastes.
15. Peeing in the metro, on the street, pretty much anywhere, is a thing.
People don’t have to be drunk, but it makes you feel a little more civilized if they are. Essentially, spend enough time in any decent-sized French city (or even smaller ones, depending on the time of the year, wouldn’t want your dick freezing and falling off), and you’re guaranteed to cross a few people answering nature’s call when the mood strikes them. At a certain point, you get used to being overwhelmed with the odor of human urine when you enter any unit of public transportation, but it’s never an acclimation you feel good about.
16. Sexion D’Assaut is one of the most popular musical acts in France right now.
And they’re an incredibly cheesy rap group whose name is like Section, except it’s spelled Sexion because, you know, sex! It’s really edgy and cool and badass, and they make videos where they ride around on the above-ground section of the line 6 in Paris and look really menacing, even though that part of the line 6 is usually populated by little old ladies with their groceries going to the 16th (the equivalent of the Upper East Side of Paris).
17. Hundreds of thousands of people came out to anti-gay marriage protests this year, routinely obstructing traffic and clogging city infrastructure.
Because bourgeoise people have nothing better to do than come down from their pristine suburbs wearing silk scrunchies and oxford shirts to yell at randoms in the street whilst holding up signs about having one mommy and one daddy for every child. You can’t get them to care about the economy, but you can get them to march en masse to prevent Jacques and Pierre from tying the knot.
This Tumblr is a collection of all the strangest photos from Paris’ Belleville neighborhood which is, to put it nicely, up-and-coming. While they haven’t quite gotten their act together yet, they do make for an interesting anthropological study.
This sign says “We thank you for not peeing in this flower pot. -The plants”
19. In case we forgot about it — and this was before he ditched France for the high taxes — Gerard Depardieu peed on a plane.
Here is Anderson Cooper completely losing it while trying to explain what happened:
20. One of their standard sandwiches consists of a baguette, a couple chunks of cold butter, and some ham. And maybe a couple of gherkins.
And while each of these items individually is completely legitimate and delicious, there is no reason to limit your sandwich’s potential in such a crippling way. It’s not snails or frog’s legs or fattened goose liver (delicious, delicious fattened goose liver) that should offend you. It’s this sad, limp excuse for a lunch experience that French people consume on a regular basis.
Have you ever wondered what it was like to see 60 million people make the same joke while holding up their hand to their head for the better part of a year? Well, you should have been in France recently, because it literally devolved into an incoherent mass of imitating this woman from a Bad Girls Club-esque reality show making a stupid comment about another housemate’s shampoo. “Hello? You’re a girl and you don’t have shampoo? It’s like if I said, “you’re a girl and you don’t have hair!” (No, it doesn’t make more sense than that.)
I think I have now heard this joke more than I have heard my own name, and even my boyfriend’s mother was not immune to breaking this humorous gem out across the dinner table. No list of trashy French culture would be complete without Nabilla’s falsely-breasted words of wisdom — and just so you all can join in the fun, here she is in all her glory. Enjoy.