The "right kind" of foreigner
This past Sunday, I went to see "Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu?" with two friends. If you haven't seen any trailers for it, the basic storyline is about a good Catholic (white) French family who very unhappily ends up with four "foreign" son-in-laws. It's not something I would normally see, but both my friend's in-laws and my in-laws raved about it (and my in-laws rarely rave about anything besides the anti-gay marriage protests - maybe that should have been my clue??), so I decided "Why not?"
I'm no movie critic, and these are just my thoughts on the film, but I spent most of the movie feeling fairly uncomfortable with the audience's reaction. The entire 90 minutes were basically just one racist joke after another, under the guise of "humor", and the audience's constant reactions to them really kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I'm having a hard time putting it in words, but it was like they weren't laughing because the film was funny, but because they really thought the racist jokes were funny and like it was validating their opinions. It just seemed so telling of the state of France today, with the anti-immigrant sentiments and so many people voting for extreme right candidates. Like one of the worst things that could happen to a good français de souche family is having your children marry non-white spouses.
And speaking of the "foreign" son-in-laws - three of whom were actually all born in France in the film, so they were technically French I'd like to point out - they totally played up the stereotypes for their origins. The Arabic guy with the hot temper and who fights with the Jewish guy, the Chinese guy who just smiles and sucks up to everyone. It's like - why would you even agree to play that role? Maybe the way the script was written and the way it actually ended up weren't what they expected? Or maybe I'm just sensitive to it because the comments I get as a white, middle-class American strike me as so unfair and hypocritical - ie I am an "acceptable" type of foreigner and I "don't count" when people are making racists or derogatory comments about immigration in France. I don't know. It's been a couple of days since I've seen the film and it's still sort of niggling at me. Maybe I'm just overreacting because the foreigner card is a hot button topic for me, and it's not really a big deal. Has anyone else seen the film?