More European v. American humor
: Media Digest, a German weblog, quotes the monolog of Harald Schmidt, the German David Letterman (they act alike, they talk alike, at times they even walk alike, they’re clones, identical clones…).
A U.S. congressman said, “If America didn’t exist, Germany would be just a Soviet republic.”
And Schmidt replies: “If Europeans didn’t exist, Americans today would all be Indians.”
Frogs, snails, and sissies
: The Aardvark, a Viennese weblog, points to a story in the Frankfurther Rundschau about anti-French sentiment rising in America like the creeks in my neighborhood after our latest storm. He translates:
Local newspapers are even worse [than the Murdoch press]: Gordon Dillow wrote in the Orange County Register: “I hate the French. I really hate the French.” The Orlando Sentinel writes: “If the Eiffel Tower had been destroyed on 11 September, France’s new Vichy government would currently be searching for someone to surrender to.” Only the talk radio stations surpass this. In front of a Las Vegas radio station a 14-ton truck squashed a framed picture of Chirac, a French flag, cups of French yoghurt, French bread, wine, vodka and Perrier, all to the cheers of a large audience. Irate callers ask if France even remembers what the USA did for them in World War II: “Who are they anyway? Cheese-eating rats?”
The story points out that mainstream media is also pissing on France, quoting the New York Times twice.
And then it makes fun of a Florida restaurant for renaming French fries — even though the story is quick to point out that fries came from Belgium — “freedom fries.”
Under all this is a German awareness that they may not be far behind. The story reminds its readers that in World War II, we renamed sauerkraut “liberty cabbage.” And it says that France is providing a windscreen for Germany against American retaliatory hostility.
Why are the Germans getting an easier time of it? Simple: The French make better punchlines. Americans don’t like snobs (though we are more snobbish than we care to admit) and Americans consider the French snobs: an amusing but generally irrelevant nation, the appropriate butt of National Lampoon jokes in the best of times. Add to that vestigal WWII disapproval. Add to that French determination to weaken our position and thus the world’s position of strength v. Saddam. Add to that Chirac acting like a self-important boob even to his fellow Europeans. And it’s open hunting season for frog jokes.
Supersize my order of freedom fries, please.
George & Tony: A love song
: Watch this brilliant little video snippet: George Bush and Tony Blair singing a love song. [via Buzz]
The People’s Blatt
: Matt Welch has a fine analysis of the snobbification of American media and the vast audience of the people lost to newspapers. Of course, it strikes near my heart, media populist that I am.
I’d say that advertisers are also at fault. When I was the Sunday editor of the New York Daily News, I was desperate to get Ikea as an advertiser (not that I was going to go on a sales call; it was just one of those often-ignorant editor’s wishes) because I thought that Ikea’s target was ours as well: New New Yorkers, we called them (immigrants, we used to call them).
But then I compared Ikea’s advertising with its customer base and there was a huge disconnect. Ikea’s advertising was all Yuppie aspirational: witty, wise, urban adults. But walk around the store and you hear more languages than you do on the Security Council (or better said, the New York cab drivers’ union): Ikea was the store of immigrants (plus a few thrifty pieces of Wonder Bread like me). But immigrants are not a desirable demographic. So Ikea advertises to a “higher” plane.
Snobbification is a disease not just of news but also of commerce (not to mention entertainment, religion, and education).
Matt is right: Snobbification leaves out huge swaths of the population, which is bad for business.
The price of life
: It probably is true that we need to corral jury awards for pain and suffering so we can also corral costs of health insurance and care. But how much is enough? How much is too much? Look at the tragic stupidity of the doctors who gave this girl the wrong transplant — she is now brain dead — and ask whether $250k — the proposed limit — is enough for this family’s pain and suffering. Ask whether it is enough to compensate for killing a girl. Ask whether it is enough for the idiot doctors who did this to pay for their stupid and fatal carelessness. A limit, yes. But just $250k? Ha!