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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Marianne Noire

What would you do if your country were engulfed in the worst racial riotting in its history? Well, France has awoken from her nightmare, and said:

Liberté ? Egalité ? Fraternité ? Réalité !

Marianne, the beautiful female symbol of France, whose face is chosen by the 420 mayors around France, modeled after such Frenchwomen as Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, and Inès de La Fressange, is scheduled to be "anonymous" in the year 2006.

And word has it, she'll be black.

As shown on France2's newscast Tuesday, the ideal of French womanhood could well fit this description:

"Et pourquoi pas, en 2006, une Marianne au teint ébène et aux cheveux frisés?"

(And why not, in the year 2006, an ebony-complected Marianne, with frizzy hair?")

Why not indeed.

Not that it'll solve jacques, of course.

Read Wednesday Blogpost 2: Woman's Day

IN THE COMMENTS: Commenter XWL asks a not-so-left-field question about these future Mariannes.

"(and will Marianne be wearing a hijab and cover both her breasts?)"

Which immediately brought to mind that no wonder they're going for a black Marianne first.

A Berber Marianne might be more problematic, precisely along those lines.

Yet another reason why the French are playing a mean, but not very well thought-out game of tokenism in this matter. And badly thought-out multi-culturalism always comes back and bites you in the culottes.

9 Comments:

  • So they are addressing the appearance of racism in the selection of past Mariannes.

    What about lookism and fatism?

    All the Mariannes I recall have been hotties and fit, are there no plain, zaftig women in France?

    (and will Marianne be wearing a hijab and cover both her breasts?)

    By Blogger XWL, at Wed Nov 23, 08:13:00 am GMT-5  

  • And why couldn't Marianne be a man, that's sexist in and of itself! and why a human being, there must be dozens if not hundreds of cat and dog lovers everywhere who would gladly give up their animals as models. I think the future Marianne should be a transexual buddist fat bald gay vegetarian lesbian person with latino ancestry, who dosn't speak french, but dislikes the term freedom fries. But that's just my opinion.

    By Blogger patricio lopez, at Wed Nov 23, 11:33:00 am GMT-5  

  • So they are addressing the appearance of racism in the selection of past Mariannes.

    Eggzackly.

    France is a nation of exteriors -- which is not to say they are a Potemkin Village. Not that. But they do care about appearances more than most.

    You know the kind.

    "Never mind that you haven't bathed since Lent. You smell divine with Chanel N°5, cherie!"

    What about lookism and fatism?

    Or agism!

    Why not an 70-year old bare-breasted Marianne? Wasn't Madame LaFarge a patriot too??

    All the Mariannes I recall have been hotties and fit, are there no plain, zaftig women in France?

    Well you see, here's the deal.

    The 420 mayors of France decide every 3 years (IIRC -- check the Fr. Wiki link to confirm) to elect a new face for the Marianne.

    The thing of it is, they have chosen in modern times, a beautiful, and usually renowned Frenchwoman, because the bust of Marianne has to sit in every one of their desks, by law!

    And who would you rather stare at? Bibi Bardot or Edith Bunker? You know?

    Although if you ask me, the lady mayoresses are getting shafted...

    ...unless they go there, NTTAWWT.

    (and will Marianne be wearing a hijab and cover both her breasts?)

    Hey, you might've meant this as another hilarious aside, but that's a darn good point, XWL.

    No wonder they are going for a black Marianne first, and say, not a Berber Marianne.

    I will update that with your comment.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Nov 23, 01:20:00 pm GMT-5  

  • And why couldn't Marianne be a man, that's sexist in and of itself!

    Nice post as your comeback, Patricio. ;)

    BTW, is there a symbol for Mexico? You know, like John Bull for us in Britain or Uncle Sam in the US?

    (Johnny Canuck for Canada, yes Renato?)

    and why a human being, there must be dozens if not hundreds of cat and dog lovers everywhere who would gladly give up their animals as models.

    I would! Take my poodle, please.

    I think the future Marianne should be a transexual buddist fat bald gay vegetarian lesbian person with latino ancestry, who dosn't speak french, but dislikes the term freedom fries. But that's just my opinion.

    You are Professor Buchanon of Magdalen, and I claim my free weekend in the island of Kos.

    ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Nov 23, 01:25:00 pm GMT-5  

  • A black woman? I suggest the beautiful and heroic Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    By Blogger JSU, at Wed Nov 23, 02:09:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I forgot to add agism.

    It's so hard to keep up with all the -isms you are supposed to rail against, I'll have to go back to anger mismanagement school.

    I wasn't aware that all of French officialdom has to have this bust on their desks, in that case if I was French Dictator for a day I'd make President George W. Bush Marianne for life (along with forced daily baths, of course).

    (imagine the pleasure all those gauls would feel staring at their favorite person in the world every work day (or what about 90 days a year?))

    (and the hijab and covered breast was in jest, I even thought of extending to those wonderfully bare shoulders, naked neck, and exposed ankles, but that would have been a bit much and wouldn't make sense since the most common portrayal is a bust rather than the full portrait, so I stuck with short and hopefully witty (hilarity wasn't the goal))

    By Blogger XWL, at Wed Nov 23, 06:06:00 pm GMT-5  

  • It would seem there is nothing Wikipedia won't answer.

    In the entry on Marianne they mention that in 2002 they tried to use an anonymous beurette as Marianne only to have the decision overthrown the following year to replace her with a popular (and 39 at the time, so they almost took on agism) talk show host.

    I guess they figured that fewer will object to a PC choice in the aftermath of all the recent youthful indiscretion.

    (maybe they will do a full bust and have Marianne with a Molotov in hand)

    By Blogger XWL, at Wed Nov 23, 06:16:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I should probably wait until my train of thought reaches it's final destination before first posting.

    Anyway, obvious choice for Marianne, drum roll please, Oprah Winfrey.

    (they could follow talk show host with TALK SHOW HOST, and after the Hermes incident, France owes her, plus it address to some degree fatism and agism, but not really lookism cause Oprah at whatever weight has always had an attractive face)

    By Blogger XWL, at Wed Nov 23, 06:20:00 pm GMT-5  

  • There is no official mascot like Uncle Sam in Mexico. There's the eagle and serpent and not much more. We do have a kind of french-like liberty figure but its rarely used.

    I was thinking of the Marianne thing and of simbols in general on my way to work today. I think most national symbols do need to have a kind of magical irrational quality for them to work. They usually celebrate deep seated semi-historical myths that no one can quite pinpoint or define, but which almost anyone can sense in an image of a national identity. And the moment you try to rationalize or explain symbols you end up killing them.

    I think it would be far better for the mayors to retire Marianne than for them to offer this PC crap of "let's not offend anyone ever". This artificial tokenism will only destroy the symbol.

    By Blogger patricio lopez, at Thu Nov 24, 01:25:00 am GMT-5  

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