curious as to what you all think of what i consider to
be a pretty original and bold idea... the role that
money plays in the american society & the role that
seduction plays int the french society... money
generates envy and hatred but it also serves as the
main engine of social mobility. carroll plays with the
idea that the french equivalent to the socio-economic
dynamics catalyzed by money in the american society is
seduction. seduction, or a seducer (seductress?) also
generates envy and hatred, but also desire and power.
"Innocence", especially of children, usually suggests
purity and goodness. We often talk about the loss of
innocence as children witness the reality of corruption,
lies and pretense.
I wonder if the reason why the French associate
innocence with ignorance and irresponsibility is because
it is an adult centered society.
In terms of consumer culture as well, it seems as though
the Americans tend to target younger population (perhaps
because American parents are more likely to buy whatever
the children want). Also, in terms of education,
creativity and unique opinion is treasured at an
American elementary school. I feel as though such
freedom to express is somewhat suppressed under the
I don't think that's a plausible idea at all. Certainly
love affairs may bring people of different social
bakcgrounds together, but since they are often secret,
the person of the lower class is not introduced, not
accepted into the higher class. And when the affair is
over, things return to the way they were (and
cross-class marriages still rarely happen). Money, on
the other hand, trully is an equaliser, at least in
America. One automatically becomes part of the upper
class when one makes a fortune, and this "moving up" is
aknowledged by everybody.
In response to Aiko's comments:
I think that many American parents are much more
protective over their children than many other cultures.
Some can often be too paranoid about exposing their
children to reality thus resulting in the loss of their
"innocence". The attitude of keeping the children from
experiencing what is out there in the world that may
potentially "corrupt" them can lead to over sheltered
Furthermore, I think the point that Aiko mentioned was
extremely interesting. Maybe the French tend to leave
their children to their own resources more so than in
For example, mothers here have the image that they
organize their children's lives, bringing them from one
activity to another, and from one group to the next, and
trying to expose them to the good things in life.
Whereas the French let their children explore more on
their own, so they are supposed to learn on their own.
If they don't learn, we would say they are just
innocence and naive. But I suppose one can also say that
the child is ignorant and isn't learning what he or she
is supposed to be learning.
In french the word innocence has got both meanings. It
may mean purity but also in a derogatory way, ignorance.
But this ignorance is also closely related to
purity...I don t know if i m clear but it s kind of hard
to explain cos the word conveys an idea more than a
Moreover i don t understand why you suggest that the
french society is adult-centered. What made you think
that? Because on the countrary that French people really
want to come back to that initial situation of
innocence. There s a huge phenomenon nowadays in France
where grown-ups want to be child again and act like them
(dress like them, listen to the same music, go in the
same places...). That s why i think the French society
is not adult-centered.
Je ne crois pas que la seduction en france et l'argent
aux etats-unis puissent reellement etre mis en relation.
La seduction a des buts bien plus limites que l'argent
et n'a de toute facon pas la meme fonction. Peut-on en
effet dire que la seduction est un moteur de la societe
au meme titre que l'argent l'est dans les societes
americaines et europeennes? Et meme si argent et
seduction generent toutes deux envie, desir et
puissance, leur portee est de toute facon totalement
differente, ce qui empeche de faire un parrallelisme
entre eux 2.
Je ne sais pas si tu as raison, mais il est vrai que
l'on ne retient bien quelque chose que quand on l'a
testé soit même. Alors il ne suffit pas de dire à
l'enfant que le feu brûle, il faut qu'il se brûle un
jour pour réellement comprendre (c'est imagé mais très
De toutes façons, si l'enfant est trop couvé, un jour ou
l'autre ça finira mal pour lui: il ira de désillusions en désillusions.
Je ne sais pas où tu as entendu dire ça mais je sais que
pour ma part c'est totalement faux. En effet, les cours
étaient très ouverts et on nous sollicitait souvent, on
ne nous demandait pas seulement d'être des
consommateurs. Maintenant, je parle pour moi et je ne
fais en aucune manière de mon cas une
Je ne comprends pas trop la fin de ta réponse François.
A quelle phenomène fais-tu référence? La France est plus
perçue comme une société centrée sur les adultes, car
les enfants, les adolescents et les enfultes ne sont la
cible des commerciaux que depuis quelques années. Les
publicitaires français n'ont pris la mesure du pouvoir
d'achat de cette tranche de la population que récemment.
Contrairement aux USA où ce phénomène existe depuis plus
longtemps. Et personnelement je ne pense pas que vouloir
retrouver une certaine innocence se traduise par le fait
de s'habiller comme un enfant, mais plutot retrouver une
jeunesse d'esprit que les années ont ternis. Le film "le
fabuleux destin d'amelie poulain" est à mon avis un
excellent exemple de la quete de l'innocence perdue.
Vive l'education a la dure et l'apprentissage par
l'experimentation. Un petit stage commando devrait
permettre a tout enfant de s'endurcir et d'apprendre la
dure realite de la vie dans une athmosphere de franche
camarraderie. Aurais-je eu vent des nouvelles reformes
que Mr Raffarin prepare pour l'education nationnale???
olivier pour que l'education soit toujours un plaisir
Je ne vois pas en quoi la France serait une société plus
adulte que la société américaine. Le mot innocence a
plusieurs significations en france, aussi bien au sens
de purete que d'ignorance. Ce dernier sens est peut-etre
celui qui revient le plus mais cela ne signifie pas pour
autant que les francais sont une societe plus adulte, du
moins de mon point de vue. De plus, concernant les
habitudes de consommation, il n'y a pas qu'aux
etats-unis que les jeunes representent un marché
important, et je ne pense pas que les parents aux
etats-unis soient plus disposes qu'en france a acheter
ce que les enfants veulent.
A propos de l'amitié.
Je n'aurais jamais imaginé qu'il puisse y avoir tant de
différences dans l'application d'un tel "concept
Que ce soit au travers du livre ou au travers des films,
la même chose ressort: vous, les américains, il faut
tout vous expliquer; alors que nous on ne se base que
sur l'implicite. Il semblerait également que le français
à l'art d'anticiper et de prévenir les besoins d'autui,
alors que l'américain saura aider mais seulement si on
Caricature implicite ou réalité
J aprécie ta réponse mais il ne faut pas s'arr^éter à
l'idée que la France est une société tournée vers les
adultes parce que les publicitaires ne s'interessent que
depuis peu au enfants et adolescents, cequi me paraît
être le cas depuis au moins une quinzaine d'années.
D'autre part si tu n'as pas conscience de ce phénomène
des "adulescents" comme on les appelle c'est peut être
que tu n'observes pas assez autour de toi. Mais ce
retour à l'enfance d'un grand nombre d'adultes est à
mettre directement en relation avec lo volonté de
retrouver l'innocence et l'insouciance de la jeunesse.
Pour revenir à ta trés bonne référence à Amélie Poulain.
Ne penses-tu pas que Amélie représente justement un
personnage enfantin? Ne te fait-elle pas penser aux
poupées de ton
Je ne sais pas d'ou tu tiens ces informations, mais, je
ne pense pas qu'ele soient vraie...
On ne bride pas la liberté d'expression des enfants
francais (preuve en est surement notre charmante
réputation internationale de "Mr-Je-Sais-Tout"), ni des
enfultes (pour Olivier)...
Je pense d'ailleurs que nos dirigeants prefererais que
nous utilisions parfois un peu moins notre liberté
En ce qui concerne l argent et la seduction , je pense
qu ils jouent tous les deux un rôle très importants et
équivalents dans la société américaine : en ce qui
concerne la seduction , il me semble qu elle repose
essentiellement sur l image . La chirurgie plastique
par exemple est très demandée aux Etats-Unis , même par
des adolescents : se faire opéré des seins ou des levres
est devenu presque trivial aux Etats-Unis n est ce pas ?
Il ne me semble pas que cette notion d image soit aussi
presente en France .
J'avoue que ton idée me paraît un peu simplifiée mais il
est vrai qu'il existe une différence entre l'implicit et
l'explicit dans les relations humaines entre la France
et Les Etats-Unis. Cette différence dans l'emploi de
l'implicit et de l'explicit est d'ailleurs visible dans
les deux films que l'on a étudié. Il paraît être plus
naturel pour les Français de "sentir" l'autre et de
l'aider sans pour autant aborder le phénomène de
front.Les Américains semblent pluôtôt enclin à attendre
que l'autre sollicite de l'aide ou un conseil et sont
dans ces cas là trés direct dans leur propos. Cela
m'amène à penser que les relations humaines entre
Français sont plus basées sur une sensibilité accrue
d'autrui tandis que pour les Américains on n'intervient
pas tant que l'autre n'en fait pas la demande. Serait-
ce à votre avis à mettre en relation avec la notion
d'individu et d'individualisme que l'on a déjà abordé
dans l'association de mots?
Le personnage d'Amelie est un personnage enfantin par
son attitude, ses regards et ses mimiques. Mais ce qu'il
incarne n'est pas une enfant. Elle rappelle à ceux qui
ont deja oublie qu'il faut savoir rester simple et
garder la capacite de s'emerveiller de choses simples.
Le message passe plus facilement avec amelie Poulain,
mais il reste valable avec un autre personnage. Je pense
que le cote enfantin est lie à l'univers
cinematographique de Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Olivier qui retourne joue à la barbie
Tu es donc d'accord pour dire que le succès D'Amélie est
dû au fait que les adultes ont besoins de s'emmerveiller
comme des enfants.C'est étrange mais ça me rappelle
quelque chose que j'ai déjà dit,
Quand je dis emerveiller je ne veux pas dire s'habiller
comme un enfant et ecouter le dernier tube de jordy!!!!
implicite et explicite quand tu nous tiens Olivier qui a
fini de coiffer barbie. Je vais chercher Ken je reviens
Emmerveiller d'accord mais certaines personnes ont
besoin de créer un contexte propice à cette
emmerveillement, une sorte d'univers imaginaire.D'après
toi pourquoi des films comme Harry Potter ou The Lord of
The Rings ont eu un tel succès?
>In terms of consumer culture as well, it seems as though
>the Americans tend to target younger population (perhaps
>because American parents are more likely to buy whatever
>the children want).
Je crois que de façon générale , les jeunes occidentaux
sont devenus des consommateurs .
>Also, in terms of education,
>creativity and unique opinion is treasured at an
>American elementary school. I feel as though such
>freedom to express is somewhat suppressed under the
>French system .
??? Je ne comprend pas d ou tu tiens ca . Les cours en
France ne se résument pas à Le prof dicte , et les
Raphael, I think you're describing, like we always do,
just the middle-class tradition of child rearing.
Probably all those children in inner cities, from poor
homes, where the parents often hold more than one job,
don't get pampered much. However, when it comes to that
middle class, I agree with you. Even looking at TV
shows for little children, with Barney, Little Bear,
etc, where (increasingly) everybody loves everybody else
and never has to face any even remotely realistic
situations, even those which occur in the life of any
Sorry to interrupt your conversation, Francois and
Olivier, but you mentioned Harry Potter and Lord of the
Rings. You attribute their success to the desire of
adults to return to childhood. Well, I can't speak for
everyone, but for me at least, those two movies had a
particular attraction last year because of the events of
that year. I just wanted to forget war, terrorism, the
bombing in Afghanistan for a while. It was like a
respite from worrying about those events all the time.
Maybe that's the way it was for other people too. I'm
not sure that those movies were successful because of
some nostalgia for childhood.
Aiko, I'm not sure that creativity and uniqueness are
treasured, as you say, in American elementary schools.
Sure, there is the tradition of making "posters" or
little "plays", while schools in other countries may
concentrate more on math and grammar, but 6 years of
posters and plays, 6 years of nearly identical posters
and nearly identical plays, which don't teach you
anything for the last 5 years of the 6, and from which
your mind just stagnates and regresses, that's not too
creative. That's just the attempt of often poorely
qualified teachers, albeit nice and beloved, to avoid
the material that they cannot teach. One cannot be
creative without having the knowledge with which to be
Francois, I agree that Anne-Charlotte's idea was
oversimplified, but I also agree (with both of you) that
the relationships of Americans are much less implicit,
much less based on guessing and anticipating other
peoples' feelings. Actually, I was talking about this
with my parents just this weekend, and they pointed out
that in older American literature, for example in
stories by O. Henry or in Hemingway or Mark Twain, that
implicit, unspoken understanding between people,
American people, is clearly present. I wonder why this
is no longer the case. Is it the modern times, is it
the marketization of everything, including human
feelings, is it perhaps that those writers lived and
wrote of other parts in America, where life is slower,
where people depend more on each other?...
Going back to the subject of "innocence" in french
children vs. american children, I think part of the
difference (if any difference does really exist) might
be the result of film and television. American movies
almost always depict idealized situations and almost all
of the time have happy endings. I cant speak for all
French movies, but many of the ones I’ve seen have been
harshly realistic and only sometimes have happy endings.
American children are raised expecting life to be like
a movie and can often be sorely disappointed when its
not. Perhaps this happens to a lesser extent for French
olivier, i am interested in what you mentioned as your
reasons for why the France is considered an
adult-centered society: "car les enfants, les
adolescents et les enfultes ne sont la cible des
commerciaux que depuis quelques années." are you saying
that you consider France's national identity to be, in a
sense, determined by commercialization? this seems very
contradictory to the traditional french point of view.
Your comment on the lack of implicit understanding
between people in America relates to what I drew from
the Baudrillard reading. It seemed to me that he was, on
the one hand, praising America for its unsurpassed
"modernity", then later undercutting his praise by
claiming that ironically, America has lost the ability
for imagination, for intuition.
Perhaps this response should go in the Baudrillard's
I was intrigued by his lament or criticism of America
because I felt that what he said could be applied
directly to France at the turn of the 20th C. In fact,
his discussion about the obsession of Americans with
statistics and science leading to the lost of
imagination related so closely to what intellectuals
wrote about Europe and France at that time, especially
with the rise of consumer culture with the beginnings of
world fairs and department stores.
At the beginning of the Baudrillard reading, he narrated
how a photo cannot capture the heat and highways(?). I
felt that this was almost a direct reference to when
Henri Bergson wrote about the failure of a photo to
capture an image in Paris because one cannot feel the
atmosphere of the place. The reason why I'm bringing
this up is because Bergson wrote about intuition, the
failures of empiricism and the need to imagine, to feel,
rather than to analyze or rationalize something -- which
is what I think Baudrillard is also writing about.
It seems that Baudrillard is assuming the role of
European intellectuals who critiqued Europe at the turn
of the 20th century. However, he is shifting that
criticism onto America, almost a century later.
Does what I say make any sense? I'm not questioning his
appropriation of content/style/thinking but the fact
that he is applying a similar method of thinking about
culture to a different historical period
I I agree, it does seem restrictive because of the rules
and the "set" responses a student should have etc.
However, I hope that doesnt mean we assume freedom of
thought is repressed across the board for young
students. In fact, I think that, to some extent, being
restricted in one's expression can engender more
creative thinking because of the many ideas that one
produces on one's own which one is focred to re'think
and evaluate in the solitude of one's own mind, hence
creating multiple routes from one idea.
On another topic, what do people think about how the
highly structured upbrining of a child effects their
notion of independence? It seems that while american
kids are giving a bit more freedom in decision making
and interpretation at a young age and french kids are
subject to more strict guidelines of interpretation
there is something about the rigidity of raising a
french child that gives them a certain kind of
confidence and thus independence. Perhaps it is in the
fact that they have direct, clear guidelines of
comportment which establish an understanding of behavior
which they master later on. I bring this up because I
was intrigued by the little girl who corrected the
barefoot woman in the park.
Francois I am a bit confused, are saying that the French
know when to act or help as opposed to Americans who
wait for a direct request that is explicit? I think
there are examples of implicit and explicit action in
both cultures. Yes, a reason is often given for a
certain action here in the US, but there are many
actions that people take because they simply feel that a
situation requires it. I find it hard to give examples
in for either country, could you give some?
In the reading there is reference, in the
parents-enfants section, to the fact that the american
student was upset, for the most part, by the fact that
she had been yelled at(in front of her friend)for being
late. There then is the reference to the idea that
American children more than French chuldren hate to be
chastised by elders, especially in front of friends.
However, it seems that in the forum the french students
are more inclined to become angry if critiqued or mocked
by parents. Why do you think Caroll said this?
What implications does it have for the differences in
French and Amrican adolescent independence? Perhaps,
after an early childhood of being raised by strict
rules, french children/teenagers take on much more
self-assurance and independence because the rearing
period is essentially over? Thus, a critique is possibly
a disrespect of their independence etc
Francois, In discussing the nature of human
relationships, I think it's important to be specific
about the types of relationships you are referencing.
Perhaps it is true that Americans are more direct in
their behavior towards others with whom they have a more
formal rapport. But I strongly disagree with your
statement that this kind of explicitness is present in
any and all relationships between Americans. When it
comes down to a most intimate level, such as husband and
wife, siblings, best friends, etc, I don't think there's
any basis to say that these relationships are founded on
any less of an implicit mutual understanding in American
than in France. You can't rely on one film, aimed at a
younger population as well as adults, to support such a
sweeping generalization as the one you expressed.
I have another question on the "parents-enfants"
For our last presentations, Jennifer and I were
researching on this issue and also, how and if parents
look to the state/religion/themselves to
teach/educate/restrict their children.
On the American side, from looking at opinion polls and
data, 95% of Americans interviewed say that parents play
a primary role in preventing violence in schools. And
83% of Americans say that the lack of attention given by
parents to their children is a huge social problem. In
addition, almost 1/2 of the Americans interviewed said
that religion plays a role in bringing up their
On the French side, there wasn't anything which
correlated directly. However, 84% of the French
interviewed said that it was necessary to have rules to
limit violence scenes/images on TV because it would have
an effect on children.
I'm wondering whether Americans tend to look to the
parents as the educators. And if the French look to the
state, also, as playing a role in the care of children.
How would religion factor in?
Since each one of us would have a different upbringing
and come from different families, it would be nice to
hear personal experiences also.
Matt, I completely agree with you. American movies
really do depict idealized situations, and many American
children probably do expect life to be the same as a
movie. I, myself, make references to movie scenes all
the time, when they apply to my life. American movies
(which are idealistic) have perpetuated this
"innocence". Here is proof: In filling out the
questionnaire, I think the American responses were very
idealized (a neighbor bakes fresh pies and brings them
to your door, a good student learns for learnings sake,
etc). The French responses on the other hand, were more
realistic. With that, I think it is clear that mass
media affects our lives greatly. And this ties into the
issue of innocence because American mass media portrays
this innocence, and then Americans ultimately strive to
live these "ideal" lives.
I think that the difference in attitude in education
goes beyond creating posters and plays. From what I
have observed, there is a whole movement to make public
education more interactive and hands on. The format of
the teacher lecturing and the student taking notes is
something that is less and less common. Interactive
group projects are abundant and other formats that try
to get students to develop an understanding of
information on their own instead of being told verbatum
what they should know.
I hear about this often from my mother who is a high
school science teacher. She used to teach back in the
70s and early 80s, and then she started teaching again
about 5 years ago. She always tells me how different
the attitude is now. Simply preparing lectures for
class is no longer acceptable. Lessons need to be
interactive, multi-media and project-oriented.
I know that this is only my personal experience. Does
anyone else feel this way? Is there a similar movement
in France? I get the impression that there is
not...but who am I to say... What do you all think?
Maria, although making education more interactive is a
good idea, like all good ideas it becomes abused and
deformed by most people. There are some good teachers,
one of whom your mother undoubtably is, but most
teachers are neither smart enough, nor enthusiastic
enough, nor patient enough to make group projects,
presentations, etc anything more than bs, if you excuse
the expression. In my high school that was very popular
with some teachers, who demanded that 10th, 11th, 12th
-graders dress up in little costumes, make posters with
crayons, or "teach" the class for a few days. That was
supposed to "release our creativity", enable us to
"express ourselves," but the result was that we didn't
learn anything, were extremely bored, and felt idiotic.
yo Matt. that's a pretty bold statement to say that
American children grow up expecting their lives to be
formatted along the lines of Hollywood "Happy-ending"
Cinema. Are children really so dopey, non-critical
consumers of television and movies? might we give them
some more credit? perhaps not.
But Natalia, it seems from your response that have
learned something after all. Whatever methods were used
in your highschool to motivate creatively certainly
failed. But you have obviously internalized these
experiences and learned from them. At least learned
what is not effective. One's education is certainly a
transitive, mobile experience, and the benefit of
educational experiences can not always correlate to
specific periods of time. Sometimes the learning comes
after the learning experience: like it has for you in
college. Do I sound obtuse?
Im pretty sure I was that dopey
I would rather not have learned that at the expense of
many, many wasted years.
Natalia, I don't entirely agree with your statement
that money is truly the equaliser in America. I think
that money is an equaliser to a greater degree than
perhaps it is in other countries. This probably has a
lot to do the American idealization of the "self made
man" (or woman!) However, There are definitely class
associations that don't go away just because you amass
a fortune. The concept of "old money" certainly still
exists though we are not as conscious of it as we were
in previous decades/centuries. I'm from Boston, and
there are still certain families there who belong to an
upper class that is not accessible through money alone.
Of course, these families form a pretty small segment
of the population, but nevertheless these out-of reach
social groups do exist. -sayumi
Hey Hieu, Although plastic surgery's popularity has
been increasing, I still think there's somewhat of a
stigma attached to it. I can't exactly explain it, but
there a kind of subtle disdain or mockery of the
industry in general. However our society certainly
finds other ways of tying together seduction and beauty
(through magazines, commercials etc). While money does
play a role in obtaining this seductive image, I think
a much greater segment of the general public has the
means of obtaining the image promoted by marketers. So
while plastic surgery and Botox may be beyond reach for
many consumers, others means of gaining the right image
are available. -
Hey Francois When you say that nowadays French people
really want to come back to the intiail state of
innocence, doesn't that suggest that they are trying to
escape the current state of society? I'm just going on
what you posted, but it seems to me that the desire to
move towards a more childhood/ innoncence oriented
world indicates that these terms do not describe
current society. Maybe dressing up in children's clothes
etc is how people are reacting to the more serious/
adult-centered state of French society. This is all just
conjecture, since I don't know very much about this
aspect of French society. I'm just theorizing based on
your comments. What are your thoughts on this kind of
Hey Francois Ok, so I guess my last post didn't go up.
To repeat . . . When you say that nowadays French people
really want to return to the initial situation of
innoncence/childhood, doesn't that suggest that the
current state of French society is not one of
innocence? I'm just going on your comments, but it
seems to me that adults dressing like children etc is a
reaction to a current serious/ adult-centered French
society. Perhaps people, unhappy with the rules and
serious considerations of adult society want to escape
into their childhoods. Since I don't know much about
this aspect of French society, I'm just theorizing
based on what you've said. What are your thoughts on
this interpretation of the trend you mentioned? -sayumi
I often wonder about the quality of American elementary
school beause my cousins in Sri Lanka (which has more of
a British educational system) definitely cover more
material during those first five or six years. The
trade-off however is that they seem to have a lot more
homework, are more stressed out, and generally don't
seem to have a care-free childhood. This brings us to
the question of how worthwhile the American low-stress
childhood is (of course, speaking here of the
stereotyped middle-class view of things). There seems
like there should be a balance somewhere between the
American system and the more intense educational systems
in other countries. However, it seems that we either
spend four years learning how to add and subtract or we
learn multiplication and division by grade 3. -sayumi
I completely agree with Darrin on the topic of American
relationships. You certainly can't base your views of
our relationships on a film that was intended for
children who might not understand everything unless it
was explicity spelled out. Natalia, I'm not sure what
you're basing your statement, " the relationships of
Americans are much less implicit, much less based on
guessing and anticipating other peoples' feelings" on.
Our closest relationships are all about anticipating
how other people are feeling! Friends anywhere, whether
in the US or France, develop an understanding of each
other which has nothing to do with explicit dialogue
and overt behavior. Figuring out the intentions of
others is crucial in any society, whether it be french
or american! Although the formal interactions of french
and american society may not outwardly appear similar,
there is no basis for assuming that we are all not
using the same kinds of inherent, intuitive, analytical
social skills! For humans are a social species, and we
all share basic skills of social interaction despite
the fact that we create widely varying cultures using
those skills. -sayumi
i couldn't agree more with you, sayumi. understanding
the other is understanding one Self. and understanding
one Self is understanding the other. a conversation, a
dialogue, involves at least two people. the overlapping
of two monologues (where each person speaks to hear
himself speak) does not constitute a true coversation, a
true interaction. and regardless of the culture from
which one comes, goes, and develops within one, it is
part of the maturing process of the human being, (which
is a social animal, i.e. living in a society and not
alone, to becom more and more attuned to reading that
which is not said but felt...