[Let me preface this article by saying I haven't seen the film in question, am curious about the discourse surrounding it.]

The film ‘Intouchables’ is a hit in France. The film, about a young black man of Senegalese descent from the projects in Bondy (a Paris suburb) who takes a job caring for a rich white quadriplegic, has drawn in millions of viewers. The film has been breaking box office records across the country and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, loved it so much he reportedly wants invite the cast to the dinner at Elysee Palace.

But while many hail the film as a feel-good film, others are criticizing it for playing on tired racist stereotypes.

Devorah Lauter of the LA Times writes:

Yet even as the Cinderella story has audiences applauding, a few critics scolded its unrealistic take on the struggles of France’s poor, as well as its “easy stereotypes” of minorities, shown through the fun-loving hero, Driss. Driss is of Senegalese origin, and with his charming wit — but also unabashed ignorance of fine French foods, art and music — he livens up the stuffy world of his wealthy counterpart, Philippe.

“This film dates to the 1930s, when it was thought the black man has no culture and spends his time laughing at everything,” philosopher Jean-Jacques Delfour said after reviewing the film for the French daily Liberation.

Although most French critics have given the film good reviews (and French audiences LOVE it), American critics haven’t been so kind. One particularly harsh review came from Variety writer Jay Weissberg, who said the film dabbled in the worst sorts of stereotypes.

He writes:

Driss [the main character] is treated as nothing but a performing monkey (with all the racist associations of such a term), teaching the stuck-up white folk how to get “down” by replacing Vivaldi with “Boogie Wonderland” and showing off his moves on the dance floor. It’s painful to see Sy, a joyfully charismatic performer, in a role barely removed from the jolly house slave of yore, entertaining the master while embodying all the usual stereotypes about class and race.

The nadir comes when Driss dons a suit and Magalie tells him he looks like President Obama, as if the only black man in a suit could be the president; what’s so distressing is that the writers mean for the line to be tender and funny. (For the record, Sy and Obama look nothing alike.)

Perhaps the differences in the critiques have to do with the differences in the French and American cultures and how race is view in each.

Is France much more inclusive and accepting of diversity, or are they practicing the soft racism of a colorblind society? Or are Americans overly sensitive when it comes to issues of race and racism?

Soon American audiences may have the chance to see ‘Intouchables’ (‘Untouchables) for themselves and decide. The film’s production company, Gaumont, has sold it worldwide.

  • http://nocturneadagio.blogspot.com LainaLain

    Sad to say, but I think I’m getting so used to these kinds of things that it isn’t even that big of an outrage anymore.

  • Kai

    France is NOT much more accepting of diversity (burqa ban anyone?) than the United States, however the way racial issues are manifested in both countries vary. So for example, when I go to France, I am always hit on by men of all ethnicities…and this is in a more overt way than when I visit any part of the States. So France must be more open, right? Wrong! I am accepted due to an obvious class bias, where I am a good black woman because I am clearly a Western foreigner (and presumably, well educated and well off to be travelling). And to be honest I’ve never met a white French person who claimed to be colour blind, but I have met white French people who are more comfortable with acknowledging race, whereas white North Americans may be uncomfortable even if YOU acknowledge your blackness! This is definitely something I like about France, but it also can cause problems too.

    Anyways, many French people are xenophobic, especially against Africans. The tensions are definitely rooted with France’s colonial involvement in Africa and current issues in poverty, illegal immigration, racism etc. All in all I can say that French people will like you if you dress a certain way, look like you are at least middle class, and speak the language (this is pretty much key…). You will still experience the odd ignorant comments, but really, that’s the same for pretty much everywhere. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but I will…my thinking though is that movies like this one are key to changing the mentality people in France have about African immigrants. It may not be perfect, but hey…America has “The Blind Side” lolll.

  • http://talesfromtheurbansocialite.com Amber(The Urban Socialite)

    In the video, did I see Driss pass Philippe a blunt while they’re being rubbed down by two scantily clad women? Count me out.

  • sli

    This movie looks like something that Will Smith would do. Or maybe the guy reminds me of him–idk, Will Smith just popped in my head when I saw the clip, don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I do think, though, that it’s best to see the entire movie before making any comments about it.

  • QON

    @Kai

    “So for example, when I go to France, I am always hit on by men of all ethnicities…and this is in a more overt way than when I visit any part of the States. So France must be more open, right?”

    Thats a strange way to rate the level of racism in one particular country. Men are far more forgiving of the women of other racial groups than they are the men of other racial groups.

    “Wrong! I am accepted due to an obvious class bias, where I am a good black woman because I am clearly a Western foreigner (and presumably, well educated and well off to be travelling).”

    And you are right. That American passport and those American dollars make all the difference in the world. I’ve had some black women talk about how much more racially egalitarian European countries are. I had to laugh. You are saying that as an American tourist, not as a gypsie in Italy, or an African student in Russia, or a third generation Arab in France. As I have mentioned before countries like the UK, the US, and Canada are far more accepting of non whites than any of the other Western countries. I know my experiences as a black woman in the UK is far better than a black woman in France but not as good as a black woman in the US. The US is still the best country on matters of race.

  • Isis

    lmaoooo a mess

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    I think you are still viewing racism in France through an American barrier. For example, the white french men don’t hit on you because they view you as a ‘ good black woman because I am clearly a Western foreigner’, a lot of french men are just not hung up on race and will hit on any woman they deem attractive; there doesn’t have to be any class attached to it. If you are observant, you’ll notice it is very hard to see black-black couples walking around Paris. All those black women are not American.

    The french are more hostile to African and Arab immigrants, but that has less to do with wealth and more to do with access. They see more of them in what they perceive to be their space and they are resentful. Issues of class as it relates to french racism are overrated. I actually think black people are treated better in France than people of middle eastern or north African descent.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    The movie sounds horrible, but I am waiting for the slew of comments asking us to lighten up….

  • Angel

    Honestly, I can’t comment on this film as I haven’t seen it. I am just learning french at l’université, and my understanding of what’s being said in this trailer is limited.
    But it seems amazingly like other movies I’ve seen in the USA; a “Driving Miss Daisy”
    sort of film, that I don’t think is necessarily “bad” as it leaves some people with warm and fuzzy feelings and perhaps it promotes a better understanding of race relations when we see that we are not so different from one another.
    It’s a comedy. Lighten up.

  • LemonNLime

    I would have to agree with @TheBestAnonEver, Part 2 and @QON. I think many times we look at race and racial issues in other countries through an American lense. Just because France is western doesn’t mean it is the same as the US – they have a very different history with their people of color.

    I would agree that if you are getting hit on chances are it’s because they find you attractive and if they know you are American many will hit on you thinking you are a easy lay. Most aren’t so hung up on race because they don’t have the level of political correctness that we have here.

    Your American citizenship grants you many more perks than some people of color experience. France has issues with unemployment, immigration, and people abusing the social system which is why many francophone beurs and blacks deal with discrimination. I would also argue that with the growing visibility of Islam in France and “Islamic” terrorism in the west, beurs do have it worse.

  • Echo

    If the opportunity arises, I’ll definitely see it. I agree with the previous posts about the differences in which race, color, and class play out in France versus the US (I, too, have lived in France and traveled the country, and never experienced overt racism personally but observed it being targeted at Africans and Arabs), but without seeing the film I personally can’t determine whether or not it is “racist” or intending to bring these issues out front and center.

  • Clnmike

    Ahhh yes the Magical Negro French style I wonder what type of wine they serve with this? Europe is the home of the Color Blind Society, they think because they dont call you a nigger to your face and that they jump at the chance to go to bed with you they are progressive.

  • Sulaina

    Its the Magic Negro/Spirited Servant stereotype that livens the white “rational” upper class individual.

    However, I am very shocked and surprised that Britni Danielle frames France as a “colorblind and inclusive” society. Its far from it. This comes from personal and familial experience. Maybe because my family hails from Haiti so Afro-Caribbeans, Africans (North and Western) are designated differently in France (second class citizens as immigrants and born French citizens) compared to being African American from America…just visiting of course. Every country has its way of dealing with various -isms but you don’t have to look far to see how France is enforcing secularism to its Muslim and Arab citizens, a high percentage of Blacks and Arabs are unemployed and uneducated in the arondissments, and that the Far Right government is still blaming immigrants for high unemployment.

  • QON

    @TheBestAnon

    “For example, the white french men don’t hit on you because they view you as a ‘ good black woman because I am clearly a Western foreigner’, a lot of french men are just not hung up on race and will hit on any woman they deem attractive; there doesn’t have to be any class attached to it.”

    @LemonnLime

    “I would agree that if you are getting hit on chances are it’s because they find you attractive and if they know you are American many will hit on you thinking you are a easy lay.”

    Just because you get hit on doesn’t mean that these men don’t have racial animus. The two aren’t mutually exclusive interestingly enough. The French are probably among the most hung up on race in Western Europe. They are a lot better than Eastern Europeans but compared to the countries I named before they have a long way to go.

  • QON

    Of course. Europeans would never call you a nigger to your face. Just in the pages of their magazines. This idea that Europeans arent “hung up on race” is a bit disingenuous because they have never, except until recently, had to deal with other races.

    The United States is unique in that it his been a multi racial society for all of its history. European countries are just now seeing a considerable influx of non whites. Their contact with non whites have been mainly through colonization. They have never, in their history, had huge populations of non whites. In the UK for instance only 3% percent of the population is black and they just started coming in the 20th century. Compare that to blacks who are 13% of the US population and have been here since its inception. Its one thing to travel to Europe as an American tourist, visiting the touristy parts of the country that are a lot more cosmopolitan and tolerant than the rest of the country.

  • QON

    As a fellow Haitian I agree with you.

  • Robbie

    I am french and I have to say that my country has issues like any other countries. I heard about this movie and I am aware of how succesful it has been at the box office back home.

    I know about the issues that black Africans are dealing but despite these issues, many of them are still coming in every year looking for a better life. I guess there must be something about my country that they love. Otherwise, they will be going somewhere else. I don’t like racism and hate movies that depict black people in a racist way. No matter how much we want to complain about this, it is the world in which we live in. These stereotypes will always be there. The media owned by rich and powerful people whether in France or here in the US will continue to portrait blacks the way they want it.

    Racism is everywhere including here in the US. No matter how racists some think the French people are, I personally love my country and will chose it over any other country.

    By the way, not all white French men will hit on a woman just because she is American or educated. Most French black and white women ( including myself)are educated. It often has to do with the fact that many of them simply love their black women or black women in general. I am proof of it. I encountered more racism since I have been living in the US then in France. I have been look down more by the brothers and the white men here than in my country. I experienced the light skin versus black skin here. The good hair versus bad hair here. I have seen many of my former African American male friends chasing the white women just because they don’t like black women. Just because I am French, I had to listen to them telling me how much they hate AA black women and their attitude. Sad for me to hear because at the end of the day, even though I am not AA, I stand up for black women. I had to get rid of them.

    If France is racist so be it, but let’s not forget that this country (US) has just as much racism as france. I am speaking from my own experiences. And Yes, I plan to go back home and if I die, my body will have to be buried there and not here. I will pick any French men over any men here.

  • fuchsia

    This reminds me more of “Bringing Down the House” and Queen Latifah movies than anything else. With the forced feel-good type nonsense that is being pushed. I saw the previews for “A Joyful Noise” and I knew instantly that I wouldn’t be interested for the same reason. People need these types of movies to feel like the world is becoming a better place.

  • Amy

    I saw the movie and I loved it. Yes, there were some racial stereotypes but you’re missing the point of the movie. They portrayed two people we could say are socially rejected. While everybody treated Philippe with pity, Driss treated him like a normal human being. He looked further than Philippe’s condition. They created a bond over the smallest things. Before, Philippe was only a stuck-up and rich quadraplegic but Driss taught him to appreciate life. Of course, the movie’s not perfect!

    And I don’t understand how you can judge a movie before even watching it and valuing the sole opinion of one person. Plus, the trailer’s in french.

  • Amy

    Er… Sorry but there are a lot of black women that are educated, that work and travel a lot in France. Some French people are just obsessed with Americans, that’s all.

  • D-Chubb

    “I would have to agree with @TheBestAnonEver, Part 2 and @QON. I think many times we look at race and racial issues in other countries through an American lense.”

    Of course we do, we’re American. We’re indoctrinated as Americans. It is impossible to view race through any other kind of lens, even when we try to be inclusive. If you weren’t raised in a society, you can never completely understand the racial dynamics of that society.

  • D-Chubb

    @Cinmike

    LOL. I think some people have forgotten that the French were slave traders, too.

  • http://www.realtalk123.com AlesiaMichelle

    Agreed…
    Sad but true.

  • Simone

    I think it portrays more classism than racism. Heck, it could have been reversed where it was a wealthy black parisian and a poor white/european. Take for example the movie BAPS. I loved the movie…very funny, but it had a racial background story…but elements of the movie were very much about class.

  • apple

    why are you in america? (honest question, like school or work or something?)

  • apple

    did it say based on a true story?
    looked like a nice trailer but i would have to see the movie

  • Kai

    Lol you guys, I’m CANADIAN. We read this site too. And a lot of you missed my point. I’m answering the question about whether or not France is more open to diversity. I’m saying that it may APPEAR that way (hence the example of men hitting on me), but it’s not. Because at the end of the day, I know that if I appeared to be from a different social standing, I would be treated differently. And we all know that class issues intersect with race issues, no?

    Obviously many people still have their assumptions of black womanhood, this exists everywhere unfortunately. I’ve had my fair share of sexual propositions, but I’ve also had serious requests for dinners/dates. This was surprising to me when I first started travelling because it was drastically different from my experiences in the States.. If I was silly, I’d take this for France being more open to diversity…and trust me, many people do! But like I explained earlier, it is NOT more open. The racism simply manifests itself differently.

    I’ll give you guys an example: One time I was in a French city that shall go unnamed and I was having lunch w/ a French woman who was showing me around town. A Sudanese man was outside and he was visibly poor. She said a rude racial remark and I was surprised that she said it to ME. She explained that she doesn’t see me “that way” because I’m not “like them.” This was an obvious class bias connected to racist ideology that I chastised her for.

  • haffie

    @Qon I dont understand why you have a problem with us French, I am black and French and i am proud of it, the movie is what it is a movie. its funny and tells a story that’s it. Enough with the stereotyping. I love France till the day I die, I love my French islands, i love the fact that we are a big nation, that we are European and that I can travel anywhere in Europe. My French men love their women and they don’t care about where you from. In America how many white men you see dating black and/or marrying AA women? Not that many and if they have money forget it. France has a lot of issues, England has issues with race, remember the riots, Canada has issues with race as well. Named a country that does not have issues with race. I agree in France we have too many immigrants, who come and live on the system and abuse it. Some Africans are taking advantage of us, where in Africa I can go and tell them to take care of me for free. But when Arabs anf their african brothers come to France we should welcome them oh come on. France is the 1 country when it comes to immigration, the US is second. I am both a French and American citizen, I love the US, I love France but everyone deals with their immigrants differently. In the US they dont want any more immigrants and I agree too many leave their countries and they come to France or the US and expect the gvt to take care of them that’s wrong. America is full of racism, black men are in prison, some of them lack education, unemployment is so high and most are living from paycheck to paycheck so dont act like in the US life is all peachy cuz it aint. At least France has good schools blacks and whites we all go to school together while in America how many black kids have access to a good education? You have to be rich for that. Drugs and violence are all over, no wonder AA women can’t find brothers to marry.

    U mentionned that u are Hatians I know a lot of Haitians hate on the French because of what happened with slavery and all I love my Haitian people but come on, stop hating on us for what happened in Haiti, stop haiting on us because we were born in France and that we love it. Yes we have problems but life can be worst and if France was that bad why all those immigrants are coming here and that includes the 1,000 or more Americans who are living there illegally and who are doing everything to stay there or those who have moved there and married French. Just the other day one of my Swedish girlfriend beautifu blonde with blue eyes married this brother from Alabama and brother was smart enough to realize that life in Sweden will be better than his hood, she has a good jod and they aint gonna live in the ghetto, violence city of alabama so stop the bashing I see too many Americans in Paris looking for French wifes as well so at the end of the day if you dont like France stay home. At least our men treat us better than African American men do towards their females.

    @Clnmike, u r are ignorant as you may look, u just hate us thinking that we are colorblind but you are the racist one. Stay in the US, cuz with your accent there’s no doubt that we will deport you back to your hood… IAt least we have good healthcare no matter the color of your skin, I beg you to say that America gives you that. Especially when u look aaround and see oall of those people who work but dont have coverage, its a shame. In france I live the good life and i love every minute of it. I will take any european men( blacks, whites, asians, latinos etc… over any American men, period.

  • Robbie

    @Apple Both but will soon be headed back home. Meet some nice people, experienced a new lifestyle, discovered some new cuisines,meet not so good people, encounter my first ever experience with racism here and not back home. It is time to go home. I will never disrespect anyone here because overall it was a learning experience that I shall take back home with me. Hope that answers your questions.

  • Clnmike

    Man I read some ignorant comments on this site before but this one takes the cake I find it hard to believe your black period.

    ” Stay in the US, cuz with your accent there’s no doubt that we will deport you back to your hood… ”

    My hood, huh? And what would you about where I stay? And while you at it turn in that American Citizenship and frog jump your butt back to France.
    You got the unmitigated gall to throw African and Arab immigrants under the bus for wanting a better life and paint them as welfare hoods while you hold onto an American Citizenship? Really?
    You think the short comings of th US is enough to ignore the soft touch racism in France and over all condescending attitude of which by the way you gave such a lovely example of in your post here. Why don’t you go back to France and tell them to cough up all the billions of dollars they made off those colonies that wrecked there culture and economy thus leading to migration in the first place. And make sure you put Haiti on top of the list we want ours off the top.

    ” I will take any european men( blacks, whites, asians, latinos etc… over any American men, period.”

    Is somebody’s feelings supposed to be hurt here? What you think American Men are going to cut there wrist over you? Really? The only thing you have accomplished is prove me right.

  • Girl

    the barqua ban isnt about France being against diversity, They just wanna be completely secular.

    anyway I will see the movie for myself although the storyline seems predictable/played out. anyway La Haine is still one of my fav French movies.

  • Girl

    For once I agree with Clnmike

    Haffie you sound like a fool. so confused. one min you’re making sense, next min you’re spewing gibberish

    whining about immigrants, maybe if the French didnt phuck up Hiati and several african countries, Cote De Ivoire especially maybe they wouldnt be running to France so much. Ive been told many times that countries that were colonies by English are 100% better than the ones colonized by the French. It’s so bloody true. Can you compare any country colonized by France to Ghana?
    why is Hiati still paying for it’s freedom from you maniac.

    You arent black. Bloody fraud. Only a brainwashed slave would feel the need to bash Africans in support of a white country. what a phucking twat. WAKE UP.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    So

    black people fighting over whose “massa” treats them better.

    The measure of racial amity is how many whites want to have sex with you.

    sigh!

    smh

    How do people become so bereft of any sense of self worth?

    As for the film – aint seen it, but going by some of the comments so far, I’d say that the films message about black/white relations in France (and America) is accurate – that Black people are happy in subordination.

    Kinda like Gone With the Wind for today’s generation of ‘post racial’ mammies and toms.

    On a positive note I don’t think film would be recieved with such approval among blacks in the UK.

    We retain strong ties to our various motherlands in the Carribean and take too much pride in our history of successful Anti-Slavery Uprisings, to feel anything but scorn at being depicted as anybody’s “pet” African in a film intended to massage the “superiority” ego of whites.

  • Robbie

    @Cinmike
    You must be jocking. Haffie is entitled to her opinion. If France has to give back billions so is America and many other European and South American countries. Because all benefited from the slave trade at one point or another. How about our motherland chiefs that did not hesitate to sell us into slavery too?

    We all know that racism is well alive here. Let’ s be real, you point the finger at France but let’s not forget the situation of many other black people living elsewhere. The Dutch magazine article written recently in the Netherlands is proof that outside of France, racism is well alive.

    If there is one thing I learned is that the grass is definitely not greener here. That is why few French people immigrate to the US. There is good and bad here and I was happy to have experienced both and will do so until I leave. I cannot tell you how many Americans that I meet in France when I go to visit that do not want to come back.

    I see African American men those that can afford to travel there with white French women on their arms, and they seemed to enjoy it pretty much. They always ask me what am I doing here? You left that for the US? They will do anything to stay. I even heard them saying that French women are easy. This is something up to be debated.

    Like I said, I am here for both work and school. I did most of my education in my country, and came here to experience a new lifestyle. I don’t hate this country because obvioulsy it is where I learned how to speak and write English, and got my first gig working in the fashion industry. All I am saying is that racism is everywhere, and It is time for people to stop constently looking down on France.

    By the way, in case you did not know it, France is the number one destination for Americans. Don’t get me started on the rappers that as soon as they start making money go vacationing where else? Paris, South of France, The French Riviera, and Cannes just to mention a few or ski in the French Alps. On top of that, they loved to pop the bottles in their videos and wear the expensive French brabds. It means that France must be doing something right. I experienced racism here from whites and African Americans, (mostly men). And not in my home country. It took me by surprise because when I came here, I came wth an open mind, I did not let that break me because for every racist person you meet, there is always some great people to meet. You may have some issues with France, I respect your opinion but France is not as racist as any other countries. Let’s stop wth this foolishness.

  • Girl

    Lol @ this deluded white clown

    You keep mentioning how people keep trying to go to France. and there are millions who have DIED trying to come to the US, wtf is your point?

    as for “not as racist” tell that to Haiti and the numerous African countries they colonized that are trash compared to English colonized.

    They’re all phucking racist. GET OVER IT.

    Infact get the phuck off a black website you twat

  • African Mami

    I am not very in tune with race and race relations in France to comment intellectually on this, what I will say is dude has some kissable lips! I would watch it in a heartbeat!~

  • Clnmike

    @Robie

    No I am dead serious I am not “joking” this post was about France so that’s the topic. When you see another country’s name pop up than that will be the subject of discussion. Yeah she is more than entitled to her opinion as I am entitled to mine. That how it works here. And this right here, “If France has to give back billions so is America and many other European and South American countries.” That is a childish response of “well they did it too” Your right though they should pay up but that still does not make France free of critique.

    “We all know that racism is well alive here.”

    Who denied that?

    ” Let’ s be real, you point the finger at France but let’s not forget the situation of many other black people living elsewhere.”

    Who denied that?

    You see here is the problem I am seeing here with you French on here, apparently y’all entire defense seems to be to point out the flaws in other country as if to say well this is normal, we should just let it be, we should focus on the good and ignore the bad or well why are we not picking on other countries. No its your turn and its been long over due. You could have gotten up here and acknowledge the flaws and offered solutions but instead you and the others became defensive. Apparently it is OK to shake your hear at the the short comings of others but God forbid someone point out the mess you all sweep under the rug.

  • fuchsia

    Your comment actually made me want to see it now. Thanks!

  • Vee

    yes, it did!

    (haha, s/o to my French teachers!)

  • LuvIt289

    France is a funny country. I think the French moreso are just die hard patriots, but in the end anyone w/ ties to the Black Diaspora should’t side w/ racist thinking. IMO.

    Sending Blessings2Haiti…

  • QON

    @Haffie

    Please stop it. I hate these myths about America where people die in the streets. Are oyu crazy? When have you been in America and seen people die in the streets going without medical treatment? Stop telling lies. I have experiences private insurance in the US and the NHS in the UK and I have to say that the private medical insurance is miles away ahead of the NHS which is a system similar to France. Question: how many times does the French medical system advise a woman to have a pelvic exam? In the UK they say once every two years. In the US they say once every year. Do you know why? Because the NHS CANT afford to perform pelvic exams on women every year. In the US where you have private and even public care we can afford to test women every year. I was even told by a locum when I had my last medical appointment that the NHS is broke. Forget about Americans who lack insurance. You are talking about immigrants who are illegal or people who have more than two cars, flat screens TV in the home, and cable and expensive clothes who refuse to even pay $50.00 a month for basic medical coverage. Dont be hoodwinked.

    BTW America has the best educational system at every level.

    And Haffie be real. You ask any of those immigrants in France where they would rather go, the US or France, I am sure they will say the US. Now suck it.

  • Kacey

    @ Robbi – I agree completely. I think racism is definitely more overt and ingrained in American society. I’m not French but my family comes from the Caribbean. I grew up here but some of my relatives, visiting for extended stays, have remarked on how much racism they’ve experience when they travel to various parts of the US. I guess because I grew-up hear I’m accustomed and somewhat oblivious to certain things (unless it involves a real “incident”, which I have experienced several of). So I can see your perspective.

  • QON

    @Socially

    “So

    black people fighting over whose “massa” treats them better.”

    Hardly. Just stating some simple truths about race relations in both America and a few European countries. No country is perfect. Some countries have come a long way and we should acknowledge that. It will never be perfect but no one here is or should be asking for a perfect society. Just basic, enshrined in the law, inaliable rights to our life and property and dignity. Personally, I’d rather deal with a Frenchmen or even an American than with a Hutu or a Tutsi.

  • QON

    @Girl

    You are so right. When I moved to the UK non English (Asian-Pakistan, Indian, Bangledeshi, Africans, Eastern Europeans, other Europeans) would ALWAYS ask me why I would come from America to the UK. Muslims would ask because even they know the US is a better place with more opportunities. You give anyone in the world a choice between coming to the US or any country in Europe they would choose the US hands down.

  • http://labsolutepitch.wordpress.com Anna

    Hey everybody! Time to let the drama go, it is about Intouchable right?
    I’m french (from the suburb of Paris), from camroonian descent if anyone needs to know.

    I just saw the movie and let me know that it deserve it’s succes! It is defenitely a drama comedy. Why? Who can you easily be comfortable with the idea of a tetrapligic man’s condition. Well, the laugh about handicap is something questionable but Intouchable did achieved something we usually try to ignore: handicapped people ARE people, they are humans.

    Let’s just say this:
    First of all, this movie is based on a TRUE STORY!
    Philippe Pozzo di Borgo is an businessman/artistocrat who has we can see in the film (and you gotta see it to know it) has a certain way of life and he’s an art lover and a warned lover of classical music. It’s a part of his identity and his politic. Driss on the other hand his from the projects (like me) he’s the type of “big” as i like to call them in my block who prefere to take life as education than school. He’s smart and he did it the right way (now he is an entrepreneur). He might know a lot about contemporary culture or urban culture but I don’t blame him for not being interested in classical culture (at the start of the movie but like I said you have to see it) and not knowing EXACTLY who Vivaldi or Bach is. Like he said in the movie he likes music which make him dance and who doesn’t?! That’s why the dance moves on Boogie Wonderland didn’t offended me (there was more parts in the movie in reference to his love for funk music as well so).
    PLUS, the real Driss who’s name is Abdel is from algerian (arabian) descent. Let me tell you that Omar Sy, the black comedian/actor who plays his caracter is an appreciate comedian of french people. We’ve known him through TV for maybe 10 years and he’s one of our rising figure in french cinema. So I bet he was the best to play this caracter even if he hisn’t from the same etnicity than Abdel(real Driss). That means the writer had to make some changes. Although, it migh seams stereotypical but I can tell you that french arabs in my area (and maybe others) have an ADORATION for funk music so the Earth Wind and Fire references didn’t made me cringe, no I was very please that they keep that for Driss caracter. I bet Omar Sy likes Disco Funk too (you could tell by his moves lol)

    Then, yes the “you look like Obama” sentence was an error, yes I agree with that. Why? 1st, he surely dosn’t look like Obama, then, the way it camed off wasn’t the best. If Magalie had said “you make me think of Obama OR Will smith” it wouldn’t have been a big of a deal but how he camed off was a reducing way of saying “you look just handsome like the most known and charismatic blackman in the world”.

    Problem is, we don’t have a lot of black important figures in France, you can count them in one of your hand: Yannick Noah (Joakim Noah’s father), big tennisman and singer who has been for years the personality preferred of French, Harry Roselmack who is the 1st black journalist to present the 8 pm News in the channel 1 (since 2006), and actor Mouss Diouf that we don’t see in TV anymore but who was the only black back then in TV (he played in a police series called Julie Lescaut).
    So yes thats makes 3 of them that everybody can name and remember. We have athletes and singers, a bunch of comedians but no Denzel Washington nor Will Smith nor Barack Obama (even as a senator) so…

    So yes, French has a lot to do with the exposure of more people of every etnicities. It was a step forward by putting Omar Sy as the other half of the 1st caracter of the movie.
    But this was not to color blind picture a reference such as the jolly house slave of yore even if it unintentionally make you think of it (as americans I guess).

    Don’t be to serious.. This is actually the message that the movie tends to show, share and enhance.
    You surely must to know a little bit of a country’s culture to be able to embrace a movie like intouchable without being distracted by some dance moves and some comments.
    I hope has a French resident I helped you to know and understand a bit much of our look on the movie and the situation here.
    Be well

  • Socially Maladjusted

    qon

    Personally, I’d rather deal with a Frenchmen or even an American than with a Hutu or a Tutsi.

    I can see how a creature like you would feel that way, why deal with the puppet when you can deal directly with the puppeteer?

    What about Nazis though, which set of Nazis would you rather deal with – the ones who “lost” WW2 or the ones who won it?

    Not even close.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Well if I’m understanding you correctly, it seems French blacks are still at that stage, in their advance through French society, where they’re simply happy to see a black face on a big medium such as film.

    Well you have a little bit more work to do to “catch up” to where blacks in countries like the UK and US have positioned THEMSELVES – as far media presence. A few more well known black names in pop culture and youre there. .

    But even for that insignificant payoff you have much work to do and it’s that’s work you’ll have to do yourselves.

    Contrary to impression being given by the crack heads in this discussion, the treatment blacks recieve in one white country vs another isn’t due to the generosity or better nature of whites, it’s due to the work that blacks themselves have put in.to improve their situation.

    You may come to England and say, racism isn’t as bad in the UK as it is in France, and that may be true, but it’s not because we have nicer whites, it’s because we blacks (in the UK) refuse to tolerate the the level of racism you may endure in France.

    You have to fight for yours.

  • QON

    @Socially,

    Which “massa” are you talking about? The only “massa” American blacks should be concerned with are the financial oligarchs who are the masters of the global economy. Not sure a white man who lost his home in during the housing crash, or lives up in Detroit living off of his serverance package from the now downsized auto industry, is the “massa” of anyone in this country. Your mentality is passe, homie!

  • apple

    I don’t know why people are judging how the French do things when most of you never been to france and the most of you will never go . I’m not French but you should let the French blacks judge there country since they know better than we would. We see things through American view we really can’t make a non bias judgement.

  • iQgraphics

    When the trailer first began, I thought about DISOrderlies. Remember that comedy starring the Fat Boys… The movie did explore issues on differences between class and that was like the 80′s or something.
    I don’t think the French are practicing “soft racism”, not with respect to this movie which was based on a true story.
    America does this all the time.

  • iQgraphics

    @ClnMike
    LMAO @ “The Magical Negro”
    That made me think of Will Smith in Bagger Vance.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Just because a film is based on a true story doesn’t make it racism free. It depends how the story is treated, Are the characters portrayed as dignified human beings who meet each other as equals in all the comedic and dramatic elements of the film?

    Or is one character the high functioning straight man and the other (usually the black one) merely the buffoonish side kick – there to be laughed at and belittled to appease the racist expectations of the audience?

    Orderlies followed the later form, I’m afraid, and it was made almost 30 years ago. Sadly not much has changed since then. Black side kick roles are still dominant.

    In non-comedy roles the black man never does anything in his own interests or in pursuit of his own goals, he’s always a component in someone agenda and he only ever lives long enough to see his white companions safely home.

    That’s why i don’t watch the s hit.

  • haffie

    Its always the people who have never been to France who always have something to say. I love France, i love everything about it..Life is good and i have no comnplaints. Its not my fault if you are an immigrant in France and you have a bad time remember u are always free to go back to where u came from but then again y’all rather milk the cow and complained about us French. We know our country better than you so lets us enjoy our movie,our culture and good healthcare.

  • Girl

    get out of the US first you twit

  • Socially Maladjusted

    You seem to be taking things a little bit too personally luv. it’s just a discussion about a stupid film.

    Btw – who hasn’t been to France?

    Door to door it would take about me 1hr 30min to get to Calais and most of that would be the drive to the tunnel. Furthermore as a European citizen I could move there tommorow and stay for as long as I like.

    So let’s not get all wet over boring France. Maybe the Yanks think France is special, but nobody black on this side of tunnel, that I know, of is breaking their necks to go to France.

    Lastly, I’m sure you don’t speak for all blacks in France, you just speak for you, which means we’re stillnow waiting for an intelligent black Frenchmen to show up and give us his take on the silly film.

    plus tard

  • http://labsolutepitch.wordpress.com Anna

    @ Socially Malladjusted
    let me tell you… you are right: from the position of a black person, we are glad to see a ‘black face on a big medium such as film’. not because he’s only black but also because he’s talented and he deserve his succes.

    on an other hand, when you say that french black people have to ‘work for THEMESELVES’ and that they are waiting for nicer whites to put them in the front screen , I feel like you are delusional. There are plenty of educated blacks folks in France, well known blacks (men and women), I just told you about the most known of them. It is growing slowly but surely. Everybody loves a Hypocrite but, this is how France work. The country is really attached to their oldest personalities (Jonny Haliday anyone??) and what it is representing and today it is changing: the youth in general and ‘minorities’ are breaking boundaries to let their talent shine because it is a fight for change.

    I tried to explane (from my point of view) why Omar Sy was the right person to play this caracter, and why for us it is not about ‘the help’ or the master-slave relationship that US critics speaked about. We are more interested about the reality of this movie based on a true story and the talent of these actors. And I can easily say that we don’t have the same historical story than americans nor british people so our background is totally different. This is why I understand that americans can be offended by dance move and comments but again, this is not what the movie is about.

    to answer CLUTCHMag quote, I kinda feel like americans are advanced but oversensitive and that french are slow but realistic.

    Then I’ll just say one more thing : Wait for an opinion till you see the movie!

  • Socially Maladjusted

    “on an other hand, when you say that french black people have to ‘work for THEMESELVES’ and that they are waiting for nicer whites to put them in the front screen , I feel like you are delusional. “

    When I made that point i wasn’t trying to imply that French blacks are lazy, it was to say that blacks in some white countries may not have achieved the same level of participation in the society and culture as their counterparts in other white countries.

    If that is the case in France, it’s because blacks there not yet organised themselves at a collective level to combat racism.

    And please remember I did begin my comment with the qualification “IF I UNDERSTAND YOU CORRECTLY” – so don’t get all hurt.

    Most of the French Blacks i’ve met seem to feel that racism is in the UK as bad as it is in France and I tell them the same thing I’m telling you – it’s because we fight racism.

    Your emotional defence of France is unexpected, s hit even the worst uncle tom Yanks are critical of America’s race relations history, but if you’re content to be treated as inferiors to whites then that’s your business.

    But please don’t delude YOURSEFLF that France has no history of Slavery and Colonlalism,

    The French colonial map covers half of West Africa and parts of North and Central Africa. Its “Slave” colonies include Haiti Martinique St kitts, St Vincent Grenada etc etc rar.

    So you was right there with the rest of us “slaves”

    Joker.

    I am the child of Jamaicans, a nation that prides itself on its history of anti-slavery resistence. We aint nobody’s BWOY and we don’t wet ourselves coz whitey put us in a stupid film. .

    And with that I’m through with you too,

    plus tard

    So we’re still waiting for an intelligent black frenchman to come and breakdown this foolish film and give us a better picture of race relations in France.

    Kiss teet.

  • http://labsolutepitch.wordpress.com Anna

    Also, don’t get me wrong, when I said that “we don’t have a lot of black important figures in France” I should have add that we can relate on.
    Goal is not to go on the ‘you don’t work for yourself’ road, goal is to tell the truth and admit that the girl says ‘you look like obama’ because she couldn’t say you look like yannick Noah for exemple who has locs, wears camroonians shirts a lot and like to walk barefoot so…

    And you are right to say that black french ‘may not have achieved the same level of participation in the society and culture’ but it is half the truth for culture wich i think is one ‘dominant’ aspect of France. This country really is into culture and the west indian, the african and the other ones are contribution to France.

    I like the fact that you’re an “analyst” and that you looove contrariness but because you’re talking about a movie that you just didn’t saw and that you kinda have a small idea of it make it seams like you are damn narrow-minded.
    The simple idea of ‘the black caracter is the funny one’ seams disgusting to you (even if real driss was arabian), and I can blame you on that one because some US films (and maybe british ones?) are so stereotypical oriented.
    Maybe that’s the difference in Intouchable because the caracter aren’t predictable.

    I wish you see the movie, then if you don’t like it you are entitled to your opinion.

    “please don’t delude YOURSEFLF that France has no history of Slavery and Colonlalism” LOL I said we don’t have the SAME historical background that’s it and was especially thinking about the US on that one.

    “I am the child of Jamaicans, a nation that prides itself on its history of anti-slavery resistence.” GLAD TO KNOW

    ” We aint nobody’s BWOY and we don’t wet ourselves coz whitey put us in a stupid film” GROW UP and GO SEE THIS FILM

    “And with that I’m through with you too,
    plus tard” still…GROW UP

    “we’re still waiting for an intelligent black frenchman to come and breakdown this foolish film and give us a better picture of race relations in France.”

    so at the end you want a better picture?? REALLY? come on, you made your conclusion base on what you know and think and what I told you and now you want somebody to lie to you. Damn it you made me lose my time!
    if at the end you are looking for a smart rastafari bwoy then go to flirtbox or meetic.
    Good luck gyal!

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Most of the French Blacks i’ve met seem to feel that racism is in the UK as bad as it is in France

    should read

    Most of the French Blacks i’ve met seem to feel that racism in the UK <b<isn't as bad as it is in France.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    @Anna

    didn’t was my time reading your last post, I try not to repeat my mistakes. But the last sentence caught my eye.

    I’m not a girl.

    Me’s a man,

    a full throttle kick ass too black too strong black man.

  • linda

    If UK Blacks are so proud and so connected with their caribbean backgrounds then why are more than half of Uk black men married to non Black women? Uk Blacks(maybe more so UK black men) have alot of issues!Isnt it estimated that there will be no more Blacks in the Uk in a generation or so.They will all be mixed;mainly because of UK black men.Please.

    @Robbie: You are right in everything you say and thak you for standing up for Black women here.Maybe the Black women in america (and other parts of the world?) will get a clue! Get educated and leave the Black man alone!!!

  • Bunny

    @ Clnmike: BOOM. Someone just got served. (lol, was that lame?) Anyway, I heartily agree with your comment

  • Bunny

    @ Socially: You had me till you evoked Godwin’s Law…

  • Me

    So what if the film has racial characteristics. Therefore, it should not be filmed?. Should we close our eyes to racism. Racism has become part of life. The question is how do you deal with it.
    Everything what is “stereotype black” is for the most African Americans negatively and should be banned. Americans thinking too must in boxes, and putting people in boxes. You are always talking about black and white. Although nobody is black or white.
    Secondly, if you want to talk about Europe, you name the country and not say Europe. Europe is a continent not a country like U.S., where the states form a land. That’s why Europe can not compare with U.S. A Belgian is not a Greek and an Irishman is not Swiss.
    Furthermore,the French are known to be rude, if they have to speak English. And many of them say that French is an international language, not English.
    I have been in France a few times and generally all white and black people were rude. It does not matter what nationality they had but the most brutal were the West Africans.
    The U.S. is still the best country on matters of race. LOL. Have you been in all countries in the world to make this conclusion?

  • jean

    As an African-American woman who has conducted research on race and ethnicity in France, I think this issue is more complex than previous commentators have mentioned. France as a country emphasizes colorblind ideologies over multiculturalism and seeks to view people as individuals rather than as members of groups, however the problem is that this doesn’t work that great in practice. Racial and ethnic minorities are marginalized in multiple ways despite the state masking the importance of race and ethnicity. In some ways, France could be seen as more accepting of diversity, etc – i.e. the large number of interracial marriages, for example – but there still lacks a common discourse or language with which to tackle issues of race, ethnicity and marginalization. until that happens, nothing in France will change.

  • darydrea

    I love your passion and commentary!!! All i saw was this trailer and i can’t wait. I’m sorry that American newspapers only see race and have no clue as to history. I saw nothing racist about this.

    This is what the trailor produced to me. An old white (French) man who is severly handicap. In a fuck, prolly wants to die and then comes a person to make him laugh and reclaim his life. I care nothing for the fact that his new caretaker is black and ghettofied. this only adds dimensions to the story. Come on people, why would a weatlhy man hire a ghetto black. Arent they scared of them- guess only in america huh.

    ne ways can’t wait for it to hit netflix, since that’s how i view all my foriegn movies.

    Sorry bout the misspellings

    peace

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Sadly – it seems we’ve been unable to find anyone who can give us an intelligent analysis of this film about an interacial relationship. It may contain some valuable insights on race relations in France, but NO ONE has had the brains to tell us what those are.

    And since we can’t find someone who can give us an intelligent and dispassionate critique of the film, without getting on a french nationalist high horse – that tells us that our assumptions about the film are probably correct.

    That it is crudely and old fashionedly racist, and has nothing new to say about race relations to audiences outside of France.

    So no need to waste good money paying to see it.

    The film is trash and those who see any merit in it are backwards and behind the times.

    :-)

    plus tard

  • Jenesia

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Anna! Lighten up people. It’s based on a TRUE STORY. American Blacks make everything about race even though it is truly not. We are all human beings. That’s all. How can we expect everyone else to see past race when if we cannot see past it ourselves? It’s a FRENCH film with French people directly from Africa. They have never been SLAVES in AMERICA. So stop looking at the movie like it’s The Help…it’s not. The movie looks wonderful. I look forward to seeing it.

  • Tweed12

    “PLUS, the real Driss who’s name is Abdel is from algerian (arabian) descent.”

    This line made me hate the film. I don’t even want to see it. I cannot UNDERSTAND why screenwriters change the ethnicity of characters when recreating a real-life story. The main question of this film should be, “Why the change in ethnicity?”

  • Mous

    I’m a senegalese guy who live in Paris and I saw the movie last week. I’ll be short. I didn’t feel any racial issue in it. Omar Sy and the other actors are good. The movie wouldn’t be a success without OS. Ok there were clichés with black folks, and clichés with rich caucasians, etc.. Just “one moral of the story” : Life is beautiful. Life deserved to be lived fully, completely, with passion. No frustrations & no regrets. Wether you’re :
    A black coming or living in suburbs,
    A tetrapligic who likes to fly..
    A very feminine lesbian
    Etc.. The list would be long.

    The movie goes way beyond the racial caracters, etc.

    People

  • Mous

    (I finish..) people who live in France will fully appreciate it.. But you will love it if u’re generous, optimistic, non judgemental, colorblind in any terms..any.

    Happy new year anyone and spread love, love.

  • Sara

    This debate is so passionate. Come on, we’re not here to give a prize to the country where the Blacks are best treated and feel the most comfortable.

    - First, about the Black ethnic issue in France:
    I am a young Black woman of African descent living in Paris and I think that Jean’s comment sums up the situation very well:
    “As an African-American woman who has conducted research on race and ethnicity in France, I think this issue is more complex than previous commentators have mentioned. France as a country emphasizes colorblind ideologies over multiculturalism and seeks to view people as individuals rather than as members of groups, however the problem is that this doesn’t work that great in practice. Racial and ethnic minorities are marginalized in multiple ways despite the state masking the importance of race and ethnicity. In some ways, France could be seen as more accepting of diversity, etc – i.e. the large number of interracial marriages, for example – but there still lacks a common discourse or language with which to tackle issues of race, ethnicity and marginalization. until that happens, nothing in France will change.”

    - About the film
    I am very sensitive to ethnic stereotypes but the point of the film goes beyond all those issues. I discussed about this film with many Black French people- most of whom are very concerned/conscious about the racist issues and among whom some know/have already lived in the US-UK. We all agreed about the stereotypes (the Black thief, all Blacks look the same with a suit: like Obama, etc) and the kinda edulcorated vision of our society but the way the film is made overcomes that. We all loved it.

    A word about Omar Sy’s -who plays the black caregiver. His popularity here in France may make a difference when watching the film. He is famous for his daily show with his friend Fred Testot (a white man) where they point out with humour and caricature political, social, ethnic issues. In that show, through different figures, Omar often draws attention on racist stereotypes about Black people. We known Omar thanks to that show and his role in the movie matches very much who he is in reality. He is naturally a funny, lively, nice guy who likes dancing, singing and making jokes. Will any movie with a black actor in a comedy role and involved in an interethnic relationship be tagged of racist?

    It’s sad that this movie has such a biased interpretation in the US critics. Anyway, it’s only the opinon of some critics. I never read critics’ reviews when I want to watch a film. I prefer the audience reviews.

    This film is first of all a comedy which shows two men who are from totally opposite social backgrounds. They are filmed in an equal, very human way. In spite of their differences, they form a fabulous duet, a more than real friendship where their strengts and weaknesses eventually complete. The magic between them on the screen exsudes truth. To me, this film is about universal values which adress anyone, excepting some critics… It is about humanity and love, about how human beings can make great things together and how life can surprise us. It’s full of energy and hope. Go and watch it!

  • Dav

    I am a french living in the US. One thing important to understand is that we play a lot with stereotypes and self derision in France. And yes we are not as oversensitive. I myself have a physical condition and I enjoy making rough jokes on myself because derision makes my burden easier to carry. One problem is really that many people in the US are not used to what we call second degree “humor” and irony. It’s something very european that requires some practice.

  • Nac

    Exactly!When I’ve watched the movie,I havn’t thought about racism or whatever,I just saw a really nice movie about a friendship about 2 guys who are different but need each other.

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