• France's news in English

French bashing: Why the hatred towards France?

Ben McPartland · 10 Sep 2015, 17:10

Published: 10 Sep 2015 17:10 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French Bashing: A combat sport invented by Anglo Saxons to criticise the lazy, striking, effeminate, cowardly, unfaithful, seducing, impolite, unhygienic, arrogant, cheese-munching French.

This definition of the popular sport played by both Americans and British is given at the start of “French Bashing", a documentary by filmmaker Jean-Baptiste Péretié, which was aired on Canal Plus on Wednesday

The programme captured the attention of a French public ever keen to understand what those Outre-Atlantique and Outre-Manche think of them.

During Wednesday night’s screening the hashtag #Frenchbashing topped the trending charts on Twitter in France, as viewers discovered why exactly the Brits and the Americans love to bash them so much.


The programme explains the origin of many of the derogatory clichés mentioned above.

Apparently much of the anger from the other side of the Atlantic apparently originated in the 18th Century when France and the US competed to be the country that most upheld the principles of freedom and the rights of man following their revolutions.

Much has happened since then of course that has only fueled resentment from across the seas and helped confirm the unfair clichés of the French that many Americans and Brits still hold dear.

There was Charles de Gaulle pulling France out of Nato and the President Jaques Chirac's refusal to join the Iraq War of 2003 that lead to Tricolore flags being burned in America and French Fries to be renamed or Freedom Fries.

That stance, which even those who backed the war would find hard to fault now, was taken by many Anglos as proof of the legendary French cowardice dating back to the surrender in World War Two.

Then there was Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s sordid hotel sex scandal that led to him being dubbed “Le Perv” and taken as evidence that all French men are cheaters and unable to control their ravenous sexual appetites.

Then there’s the cartoon version of DSK - Pepe le Pew, a smelly French skunk that is desperately seeking to find l’amour” with a cat and won’t take no for an answer.

Then there’s the constant strikes, the struggling economy, the apparent refusal to reform, the pessimism, Fox News's famous 'no-go zone's in Paris and even the dog poo on the pavements.

The programme however ended on a moment when the eyes of the Anglo world looked to France with a certain degree of respect, when millions took to the streets in the aftermath of the January terrorist attacks.


SEE ALSO: From Nelson to Newsweek: a brief history of French bashing

But if the reaction from the viewers who took to Twitter are anything to go, the journey through the tired clichés of the French has simply reaffirmed their Gallic pride rather than jolted them into more soul searching and pessimism.

French international rugby player Benjamin Kayser was one of hundreds who took to Twitter to express their pride at being French.

“Nothing as good as French Bashing, the documentary from Canal Plus, to make you feel proud to represent France, before crossing the Channel on Saturday,” said Kayser, who is on his way to England for the Rugby World Cup.


Other viewers simply tweeted along the lines of “Good reasons to feel proud to be French”.


“We are watching French bashing on Canal and instead of feeling shame we are almost proud,” tweeted Les Tonton Flingues.


Others took the opportunity to partake in a little “Yank Bashing”, with one tweeter mocking the fact that some Americans still think the Iraq war was a good idea.

"Funny to see how Americans still think that the war in Iraq was a good idea. What a load of idiots," tweeted Lucio.

Story continues below…

Another joked about the cliché of French spending their days drinking coffee, yet Americans probably spend more time in Starbucks. 

“We learn the French spend all their day in a café… but who invented Starbucks?” tweeted D4DO_greg.

While the French may understand the origins of the sport of French bashing a little better, they should probably be prepared for it to continue.

But for the sake of balance it's worth pointing out that it's not always been bashing from across the pond. Just watch this video from US comedian and commentator Bill Mayer.


Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available