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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Mercedes Benz disco groovin' chicken commercial

Nothing whatsoever to do with France except that the commercial featured below can be seen here if you have access to German television channels.


What do you get if you mix German car manufacturer Mercedes Benz with a couple of chickens and the 1980 "Upside down" hit from Motown legend Diana Ross?


Well, if you're a smart creative executive in an advertising agency working on the Mercedes Benz account, it's a 45-second commercial promoting "Magic body control", the system in the S-class which is apparently "capable of detecting road surface undulations in advance" and thereby providing you with a smoother drive.

(screenshot from Mercedes Benz commercial)

The commercial is currently airing on German telly (no comment on whether it's better than the scheduled programmes) and a reason not to pop off to the loo during the break.

And the chickens - in so far as they are able to - don't look too fazed by the experience.


Saturday, 28 December 2013

TF1's phallic weather warning

Tempête Dirk came, lingered like the most unwelcome of guests over parts of France, and caused Christmas misery for many.

Brittany was perhaps initially the hardest hit part of France with, for example, residents in the town of Marlaix "celebrating" the festive season quite literally under water.

They weren't alone.

Far from it, as back-to-back news reports showed, giving journalists something "real" to report other than the usual last-minute shoppers, preparations for Santa's arrival, ideas for the perfect meal and the like.

Granted, those items still provided more than their fair share of the bulletins, but Dirk was understandably, the lead item.

And once it had left, along came Erich to cause added misery.

In the midst of all the bad news though, there was a lighter - if somewhat unintentionally lewd moment.

And it was provided by, of all people, one of the country's most recognised television weather forecasters (or as some presenters on BFM TV seems to have decided to call them "climate specialists") TF1's Evelyne Dheliat.

The prime time evening news in France on both TF1 is preceded by and followed by a comprehensive national weather forecast.

But when there's a predicted extreme of one sort or another, the weather forecaster is invited into the studio to beef up the report.

Such was the case on the eve of Christmas Eve with Dheliat joining anchor Julien Arnaud in front of the cameras complete with a state-of-the-art (ahem) diagram to show the likely progression of Dirk.

Except Dheliat seemed not to have checked her graphics before the show because, in the tradition of the very best (or worst) of Benny Hill-type smuttiness, the storm appeared to take on phallic proportions as it move eastwards and southwards.

Evelyne Dheliat on TF1 (screenshot from Gentside's zapping)

As the image hit Twitter (of course) some bright sparks came up with comments such as "Evelyne Dheliat seems to have confused  'Dirk' with tempête...well work it out yourselves.

TF1 : La carte météo du 23 décembre a bien fait rire les internautes par Gentside

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas shopping - look at the labels carefully

A few last minute offers at the local supermarket and the labels on the packaging , quite frankly, must leave you wondering, "why?" and whether anyone actually buys them.

There's nothing like fresh slab of game for Christmas dinner - and this is nothing like fresh!

Clearly there aren't enough boar in France

And finally, if you're too lazy to make it yourself, you can always by it in a packet...but why would you?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

François Hollande' cheese coup

He came, he saw and he...well achieved very little.

The French president, François Hollande, completed a two-day trip to Brazil last week, during which he "touted" France's technology, and came away with what could hardly be called the coup of the century.

Hollande had hoped to return home with a multi-million euro signed contract for 36 Rafale fighter jets made by a consortium led by the French giant Dessault - after all it has been a painfully ongoing matter of negotiation for the past four years.

Instead he secured an agreement that, as of immediate effect, Brazil would lift its three-year ban on Roquefort cheese!

Yes talks with his Brazilian counterpart, Dilma Rousseff, saw Hollande achieve what has been described as "striking a blow" for the French cheese industry.

Somehow though "Cheese ban lifted" doesn't quite have the same ring to it as "Multi-million euro fighter jet contract signed".

Yes, yes, "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow" and all that.

But the news, while it'll undoubtedly please the ewes in Aveyron, is hardly one that'll provide a real boost to the French economy in general and kick start the long-promised recovery.

At least the news should please the ewes in Aveyron

All right already, so Hollande also sealed a pledge to "double trade" between France and Brazil.

But that's all rather wishful-washy targets (with the exception perhaps of the purchase of a French "supercomputer" and an undertaking from France to help fund a new metro in São Paulo) which, as the whole Rafale experience has shown, can in the end, come to nowt.

Back in 2009 under Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, it was announced that Brazil would buy 36 Rafale fighter jets.

Four years later the deal still hasn't been done with reports now circulating that the contract is dead in the's doesn't quite sound right does it? - "will be shot down for cost reasons" - that's so much better.

Still, when the history of Hollande's presidency is written, he can at least be remembered as the French statesman who brought Roquefort cheese back to Brazil.

Baaaaa, hurrah.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

"Confessions" of a former French minister Laurent Wauquiez - well hardly

It's all well and good trying to project an image of "normality" (whatever that might be) but do we really want or need to know the sexual appetites and/or preferences of our elected representatives?

Well former minister and (perhaps) a potentially wannabe - along with many other members of his party, the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) - presidential candidate Laurent Wauquiez, would seem to think so.

Laurent Wauquiez (screenshot "On n'est pas couché" France 2, November 16, 2013)

The 38-year-old member of the National Assembly and (clearly he's not a politician who has a problem with the French habit of holding more than one elected office at a time) mayor of Le Puy-en-Velay has revealed...wait for it...that SHOCK he "likes sex" and HORROR "just like everybody else" has watched YouPorn from time to time.

The "disclosure" - if that's what it can be called - came during his appearance on Thierry Ardisson's "Salut Les Terriens" on Canal + on Saturday evening.

It has to be admitted that Ardisson's question was rather a leading one and came during the far-from-serious segment "Psy" following Wauquiez's party political broadcast on behalf of himself and others belonging to his centre-right "club" La Droite Sociale" whose goal is to "defend the interests of the middle classes."

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

It was without doubt meant to be a moment of television light entertainment, and we all know how some politicians, especially those with populist ambitions, strive to appear just like Monsieur et Madame Tout le Monde.

Reactions (on Twitter of course) to Wauquiez's "admission" (apologies for all these inverted commas) were mixed with some praising him for his openness while others pompously accused him of "seeking to push the limits of demagogy so far as to ridicule politics" - as if those who practise the métier needed any help.

Still at least Wauquiez answered a question without trying to beat about the proverbial.

Florian Philippot (screenshot FranceTV info)

Look how slithery and almost begrudging another party vice president (Wauquiez is one of several at the UMP) over at the far-right Front National, the very, very bright Florian Philippot was, when asked to comment on  Flora Coquerel's - the newly-crowned Miss France, comments that with a mother who was from Benin, she was "proud to represent a cosmopolitan France".

Saturday, 7 December 2013

French politicians and their moments of mendacity - it's all the media's fault

Don't you just love (French) politicians. They're all so honest and sincere, fiercely upstanding in their efforts to represent and serve those who've elected them.

Furthermore, they refuse outright to deceive the public, especially when they're in front of a camera.

What you see or hear when they pop up on your TV screens (and boy, do they pop up) is the Coca Cola "Real Thing", the genuine article.

Cue corny commercial...

Er "Non, mais allô quoi" to quote one of the great French thinkers of our time.

If only.

But it's not their fault at all.

When politicians are caught out apparently trying to use the very same media of which they're often so critical to swing public opinion in their direction they're not to blame.

Rather, it's all the responsibility of the dreaded and dreadful media.

This past week there have been two examples in France which illustrate perfectly just how (some) politicians think the media really is out to "get" them.

First up there was Paul-Marie Coûteaux, founder and president of the Souveraineté, indépendance et libertés (SIEL) movement which has close ties to the far-right Front National (FN).

Paul-Marie Coûteaux (screenshot France 3 debate, May 2013

Indeed Coûteaux, a former member of the European parliament, campaigned for the FN's, Marine Le Pen, in the 2012 French presidential elections and he has joined forces with the her to help recruit new members especially those who might be disillusioned with the centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP).

He was also the subject of a report on last weekend's edition of the weekly news magazine  "Le Supplément" on Canal +.

Accompanied by a reporter and a camera team, Coûteaux went off at one point for a working breakfast in Brest where he claimed afterwards he had secured the promise of membership from a prominent local political figure who had been active in the 90s and his wife - both of whom had previously backed the UMP.

Getting back into his car to return to Paris, Coûteaux seemed to forget that he was still hooked up to the microphone  and smugly told his fellow passengers that he had "fooled the journalist by pretending that he had managed to recruit two new high profile members".

There had, as the programme pointed out, been no meeting with former UMP members interested in joining the FN, and Coûteaux had made the whole thing up.

An unrepentant Coûteaux spoke out in defence of his of er...stretching of the truth saying that Canal + had been "out to trap him, that's what the channel was good at and it was all part of (the media) transforming politics into a circus."

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

Of course.

The media was and is to blame for politicians not sticking with the truth and that's the line Le Pen took when she was asked for her reaction.

"I know Paul-Marie and he always tries to do his best," she said.

"He believes he can never do enough and he wanted to prove how much he could do because there were cameras around," she continued.

"And you know, the presence of a camera sometimes makes you say the craziest thing."

Politicians and sincerity 1 - the media 0

Ah yes those cameras. Not only do they apparently make politicians say something that isn't necessarily accurate, they can also make them do what they don't want to.

Just ask - and here for the sake of balance is the second example of how the media is responsible for the lies politicians don't tell -  Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Now Mélenchon probably needs as much of an introduction as (Marine) Le Pen.

During his years in politics the former Socialist party member has been a government minister, a senator, a member of the European parliament and a French presidential candidate.

Right now he's co-president of the Parti de Gauche, (Left party, PG) and all round pain in the backside of (among others) the French president François Hollande.

When there's a demonstration to be led against government policy especially in the fields of social and economic reform, you can bet your bottom centime that somewhere in the crowd (and usually at the head of it) you'll find Mélenchon.

He also has a love-to-hate relationship with the media.

Last weekend Mélenchon was living up to he reputation as a pain in the gluteus maximus with a rally in Paris against "the injustices of tax increases" (well nobody likes having to pay more taxes now, do they?) and, ahead of the official demo, was interviewed "live" by Claire Chazal on TF1's lunchtime news.

And there he stood in front of what appeared to be hundreds of flag-waving supporters, a "fact" that Chazal pointed out when introducing him.

"I just want to correct you Claire," he said. "This is a movement against the tax increases not just supported by my party but by a number of parties from the left of the political spectrum as well as the unions ," he added, seeming to forget momentarily the other mistake Chazal had made and the impression viewers might have had from the camera angle - namely that there was indeed a mass of people behind him.


Because you see, Stefan de Vries, a correspondent in France for the Dutch channel RTL and a contributor to both France 24 and La Croix, just happened to live across from where the interview was taking place and took a photo of the scene - something TF1 viewers didn't see.

He posted it on the Net and it quickly entered the Twittersphere accompanied by claims that TF1 and Mélenchon had been in cahoots to fool viewers.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon interview TF1 - street scene from Twitter

Mélenchon saw red (naturally), choosing his often preferred method of defence by going on the attack and writing on his blog that he had been asked to take part in what he considered to be a ridiculous interview before the rally began.

"It was just more interesting to have some supporters around rather than appearing in an empty street," he wrote, adding that a member of his party and not the so-called "journalist" had actually taken a photo and posted it on Twitter.

And he didn't stop there, laying into Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA) - rant rant rant, Europe 1 - rant rant rant, journalists in general - rant rant rant, the media - rant rant rant, the government - rant rant rant and rant rant rant...

Why choose a dozen or so words when several hundred will do?

In short, Mélenchon considered that he wasn't to blame for anything and it was all the fault of (paraphrasing) the media conspiring with the government to discredit him.

It must be exhausting being so angry with everyone all the time.

Politicians and sincerity 2 - the media 0
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