Monday, July 16, 2007
The Politics of Puppets
A very popular and long running television show, "une emission" in France (there are only a few of these) is GUIGNOLS DE L'INFO. This ingenious puppet show is taped live and is a parody of an actual news show and therefore they take the piss out of real news and real people. Les Guignols, its nickname, is starred and mc'ed by PPDA (the real anchorman Patrick Poivre d' Arvor) as he recounts the days' events and interviews characters.
A few comments:
1. The mechanics, choreography, and utter wit of this show are incredible. Often, they bring these life size puppets out onto the street, they ride the metro, they ride cars... - the engineering itself is top-notch.
2. There seems to be no limit for what they can say - one episode included then presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy burying alive the then president Jacques Chirac.
3. The most versatile and chameleon character is none other than Sylvestor Stallone - who alone represents the U.S. and goes from being a military man to wall street tycoon to the average American. He is always referred to as Mr. Sylvester.
4. On the macro level, I think that this says a lot about the average French persons connection with politics - one must be up to date with local, national, and international politics to join along in the laughs while watching the show. This shows appears prime time and again on Sunday afternoons and is known by everyone. One can only conclude that the average French person is quite learned about their country's political activities and key players. Even the young know enough to watch and then understand the jokes. It is not that this show dumbs down politics rather it is a reflection of the political knowledge level and interests of the "francais moyen", in my opinion, and says something about the civic and political prowess of the average "hexagon" inhabitant - remember 85% of eligible voters turned out for the presidential election in 2007.
To watch - go to www.canalplus.fr; then go to EMISSIONS and LES GUIGNOLS. You will have to register to watch (free of charge).
Many an American political figure, pop star, and the like have graced the Guignols - from Madonna to GW Bush.
Picture Source : CANALPLUS (Les Guignols)