I ran across this ad a couple of months ago and promptly curled up on the sidewalk in a fit of uncontrollable laughter, just to show my enthusiastic appreciation. Recently I came across a picture of it at AltLondon, London's own agitation forum for flavour-of-the-month reductionist progressives, whose mirthless sniff in response to the ad campaign fits in nicely with their anti-capitalist critique-accompli. The contrast with my own response occasions the question — am I "right-wing" because I don't care, or do I not care because I am "right-wing?"
The Subway restaurant chain is promoting a cordon bleu sandwich by portraying a chicken dressed in a 19th century French military uniform with the caption, "France and Chicken. Somehow it goes together."The author's distaste for the ad is apparent in an peripheral sense, perception abetted in part by previous experience of the standard AltLondon angle, yet obscured by the unconnected reference to the French government's position leading up to the Iraq war — which, by the way, does nothing itself to dispel any stereotype about French lily livers. The historical antecedents of France's reputation for cravenness long precede the Iraq war or Subway's propaganda efforts.
A slight acquaintance with them will suffice to show you that, under the most imposing exterior, they are the weakest and worst part of mankind.The third paragraph provides the conjecture that AltLondon's true indisposition toward the ad campaign — and I recite now from the residual public education conditioning in my head — is that Subway is perpetuating a stereotype that is, if not harmful, at least disrespectful to the French. Which brings me to the question raised above, because I simply couldn't care less whether offense is presumed by the collective consciousness known as the French, or the Anglos, Metis, Swahilis, Martians, or whatever for that matter. I have often been accused of lacking a sensitivity gene, or something similar but less polite, but I can't see how Subway, or my appreciation of their clever appropriation of the stereotype, can be responsible for a Frenchman's reduction of himself by a generalization — which, by the way, that Frenchman ought really to understand as such like the rest of us. Nor, in the unlikely event, can Subway or myself be responsible for a non-Frenchman's acting upon such a reduction upon encountering a Frenchman — although what manifestation of this particular stereotype that could be inflicted upon individuals is beyond me. Nor, I think, do Subway or I have the power to perpetuate a stereotype or belief upon independant adults. (I very much doubt the ad campaign is extended into Quebec or France, by the way, but only because the humour would not market well there.) I will acknowledge that there is something culturally objectionable about playing upon more nefarious stereotypes — for example, that blacks are stupid or that Indians are lazy — but that is because those stereotypes are reminiscent of actual harm visited upon individuals and are, as such, in bad taste — but even then, an ad campaign that takes advantage of those stereotypes is only more ugly than accountable for those harms.
I guess it amounts to a question of aesthetics, much like any possible answer to the question whether I am "right-wing" because I don't care, or I don't care because I am "right-wing." What interests me is that my aesthetics so consistently conflict with those of modern "liberals" — the Subway ad is but one example. I suppose aesthetics are subject to that same inversion that collectivists apply to every field of human action in their quest to sublimate reality into ideology — where individuals do not possess or create culture, but instead are possessed by or created by culture. The question of how culture is determined is answered by default — it is by the ones who are telling you it must be so.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Posted by MapMaster on Thursday, September 29, 2005