Wednesday, 10 February 2010

#22 - Paris

“We’ll always have Paris.”

Ah Casablanca, a cracking if pretty sinister movie in that it’s in black-and-white, romantic and therefore just the kind of thing you put on if you invite a girl back to your room to watch a DVD and snuggle (a high SnI – see later)… I think we’ll always have Paris on a list of things that are sinister. But can a place be sinister? Maybe it’s best to work up from a few different angles on this one.

Books and Films

For this I’d like to introduce the Snuggling and the Starbucks indices as indirect markers of sinistry. The Snuggling index (SnI) is exemplified above and works for films. Paris has several that score in the high 9s – Before Sunset; Paris Je T’Aime, Amelie; Moulin Rouge to name just a few that I have used. Ok, maybe La Haine less so but it’s set in the banlieues anyway, and I’m not man enough to call anything there sinister. The Starbucks index (StI) is pretty similar in concept – how likely are you to read a book in Starbucks in the hope of looking intelligent/wordly to onlookers? Well any book in French scores damn high on the StI and books involving Paris like Tale of Two Cities probably do if you’re 11.

Tourist Destination

But is it just books and films that make Paris sinister? I’d argue no. Look at the number of couples who go there for romantic getaways, to bask in the glamour and romance of it – probably paying a passing poet on the Left Bank to compose a few witty lines about their love. Could there be anywhere more sinister and less original to go? It’s just the sort of place I’d pick if I wanted something from someone. Like anal. Or the students on Modern Languages / History of Art courses who go there in the hope of picking up a sophisticated French boy/girl, but end up getting drunk in English bars instead. That’s just a less successful and probably more expensive form of sex tourism than going to Thailand for lady boys, and probably with hairier armpits. Sinister? I think so.

Finally, the other group who go to Paris, are the sinister boring old farts who actually want to be French and drive over in their Jaguars on their way to the Dordogne, and always have a favourite restaurant that you absolutely must try as it’s the best in Paris but no one knows about it… I’ll trust the fat bloke made of tyres to find me the best restaurant. Thanks.

The French

The people are sinister in their dislike for but reliance on tourists. The landmarks themselves are so clichéd from films etc that they’ve developed a sinister edge. The French, and particularly Parisians, hold haute-cuisine as the pinnacle of their art: a sinister foodstuff dripping with morceauxs of this and that. Look at some of those Paris idolizes – Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasse, Nicolas Sarkozy, Napoleon. Sinister, sinister men.

In Conclusion

Finally, Les Miserables is about Paris. And it’s the longest-running musical. Which means the most popular example of the most sinister art-form is about Paris. Sinister.

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