Is This Racist?

film image 2Recently I went to see “Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu?” with two friends.  If you haven’t seen any trailers for it, the basic storyline is about a good Catholic (white) French family who very unhappily ends up with four “foreign” son-in-laws.  It’s not something I would normally see, but both my friend’s in-laws and my in-laws raved about it (and my in-laws rarely rave about anything besides the anti-gay marriage protests – maybe that should have been my clue??), so I decided “Why not?”

I’m no movie critic, and these are just my thoughts on the film, but I spent most of the movie feeling fairly uncomfortable with the audience’s reaction.  The entire 90 minutes were basically just one racist joke after another, under the guise of “humor”, and the audience’s constant reactions to movie postrthem really kind of rubbed me the wrong way.  I’m having a hard time putting it in words, but it was like they weren’t laughing because the film was funny, but because they really thought the racist jokes were funny and like it was validating their opinions.  It just seemed so telling of the state of France today, with the anti-immigrant sentiments and so many people voting for extreme right candidates.  Like one of the worst things that could happen to a good français de souche family is having your children marry non-white spouses.

And speaking of the “foreign” son-in-laws – three of whom were actually all born in France in the film, so they were technically French I’d like to point out – they totally played up the stereotypes for their origins.

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2 Responses to “Is This Racist?”

  1. Comment by Laure | 05/14/14 at 7:26 am

    You’re reacting like a typical American.

    I think the movie is great because it’s able to treat sensitive subjects with humor — something Americans can’t do. I’m a Parisian who’s been living in the US for 15 years, and I personally cannot stand the political correctness and ensuing hypocrisy surrounding racial issues here.

    Talk about cultural dissonances…

  2. Comment by Elaine | 05/14/14 at 8:31 pm

    I saw this with a white French friend and we BOTH laughed (I am not white). The reactions I got in the US when I was with white men were actually MORE racist than the ones I get here in Paris; one example is that Parisians are always happy I speak French, whereas some Americans were shocked that I spoke English at all because I am Asian, even though I was born in the US.

    People who can make fun of themselves and their own stereotypes are people who have at least made the steps to be honest about themselves and know there is more work to do.

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