According to American actress, Scarlett Johanson, the French are particularly rude. She thought their aggresion was exotic until she moved in Paris to live with her French fiancé a year ago. Interviewed by David Letterman, in his « late show »[1], she describes walking in New York like a magic « choregraphy », whereas wandering in Paris sounds like an uphill battle. Not only the French do bump into Miss Johanson, but they don’t say they are sorry. It is difficult to blame them...

How could they miss this occasion of close contact with beautiful actress and how could they be sorry for that ?

Parisian arrogance

If one should not put all the French under the same umbrella, Miss Johanson has a point with Parisians. They are always in hurry, impatient, not always polite, very often grumpy for no reason. When they look at you with a blasé attitude, you will notice a slight movement of the upper lip : this is the French arrogance of the  man or woman who has seen it all. A distinctive characteristic that one should not confuse with the English stiff upper lip.

If walking in the Latin quarter, as a foreigner, you are smiling or looking for eye contact with a big naive smile on your face, you will immediately be identified as… an American. In his show « How to become a true Parisian in one hour » Olivier Giraud recommends to look stoned face to mystify your origin. (read the article in the column « what to see »).

Can this aggressive behaviour of the Parisians, be excused or explained by the gloomy atmosphere of the economic crisis ?

The age of disillusion.

According to Free Thinking opinion Poll, for French advertising agency, Publicis issued in May 2013, the French are the most pessimistic Europeans. 97% of the French are afraid of the future, compared to the British ( 89%). 66% of the subjects of her Majesty think the future is open against only 49% of the French, whose main worry is not to be able to get old in dignity (47%) whereas overseas this major concern affects only 31% of the population.

72% of the French think that their children will have a harder life than they had at their age, compared to 45% of the British people.

To be happy or to pretend not to be ?

But if you look at the number of children per woman, 2 in France, that looks like a contradiction. The birth rate 2,00 children per woman in 2013 is a significant indicator of the fact that the French, second after Ireland (2,01), and before England (1,96) child per woman are much more optimistic than they pretend to be. Actually in Paris, the fertility rate is 2,02…

The narcissistic wound

The French negative stance has little to do with the crisis, says Philippe Galliet, professor of psychology at the Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris, for the inhabitants of France have been pessimistic for the last 20 years, much before the 2008 crisis. For managing director of Ipsos Poll and political scientist, Brice Tinturier, the depressive feeling is much more deeply rooted "Crusades, the colonial empire, 1789 principles, Napoleon : with this prestigious and glorious past, France has long showed the image of a leader in the the world. Today France is no longer this great power which the French were so proud of  and they have not recovered from this. The French pessimism is linked with this wounding of one’s self regard »

Public and private happiness

As sociologist Jean Viard writes : «  France is the country of public unhappiness and private happiness ». May be the French have found a way to heal their public wounds with their private lives ? For sure this applies to our French president…

Lets hope with this small article, Miss Johanson, will show some empathy for the French public gloomy feelings of decline and enjoy her private happiness with her French boyfriend !



[1] January 8th


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