Overreactions to Simona Halep in Charlie Hebdo  

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@Simona_Halep’s win is an amazing victory and an event we’ll be remembering and talking about at least until her next Grand Slam.  Sadly, it was only hours before all those hungry to for publicity started to throw shade, claim ownership and speculate it for their own nefarious ends.

2018-06-14-charlie-hebdoThis can be interpreted in several ways. The dumbest one is that CH is trying to insult Simona Halep and/or the Romanian people. But even if that were the case, I’d argue that the many reactions in mass-media are unwarranted.

What is “ferraille”? From Larousse:

  • Débris de pièces en fer, en fonte ou en acier ; pièce de métal hors d'usage : Un tas de ferraille.
  • Familier. Menue monnaie ; mitraille.

(I grew up with a “Petit Larousse” and a “Quillet Flammarion” so checking the online one out is a geeky guilty pleasure.)

When growing up in Romania, I could hear until 1989, and a bit after, the loud and somewhat sad lamentations of “traveling recyclers”: “Sticle goale cumpaaaaaaar” meaning “I buy empty bottles”. In the communist era there were no PET or plastic bottles. People bought milk, yogurt, wine, champagne (“vin ars”), mineral / sparkling water, sunflower oil and Pepsi in (relatively heavy) glass bottles which could be taken to a neighbourhood recycling center and turned into token cash. Most people didn’t bother , preferring to give it to these poor people who would do the carrying and selling instead. As plastic bottles were introduced, such people switched to “fier vechi” or what the French call “ferraille”. Often times, they wouldn’t collect old material but would steal high-voltage cables or machines from factories. This is also part of the reason why Romanian railways (CFR) is in such a bind.

It is possible that some of these poor people went to France and are collecting Fe debris there; alternatively, they may be the “Romanian organized crime ROGs” that Canadian MP “Immigration Critic” Michelle Rempel fears (gn-rorgcrime). Even more likely, France has its own large Roma (aka Gypsy) minority that it had long kept at the periphery of society as well as  of its cities and these people have found no other chance to making a living than collecting “ferraille”.

je_suis_simonaOne response comes from Times New Roman (a Romanian satiricalpublication) which pretends that CH have drawn Brigitte Macron (tnr-bmacron). In Romanian, that would be an expanded “ba p-a ma-tii” or “your mom’s instead”. Kamikaze republished their old cover in response to the “salut roumain” joke plus a bunch of new stuff that is actually relevant and funny (kmkz-olguta).

Unfortunately, most of these jokes are not new and have been nicely summarized by the postwar American administration (112 gripes about the French). The French will keep making fun of Romanians at least as long as Romanians continue to be “in their faces” in the metro or street corners.

The intent of this caricature is quite obvious, but even if it wasn’t, one still has a choice in how he interprets it and how (s)he reacts. Take the article on Halep’s internal struggle (decat1r-dor30). An illustration showing her shade, could be easily interpreted as negative toward Halep, though most people who’d bother reading it would certainly not see it that way. The idea that there is only one way to interpret a work of art (and yes, I do consider caricatures to be in that set) is, quite frankly, scary.

Many Romanians have been commenting on Facebook, considering this to be an insult. Some claim to see a crow (Fr: corneille) in the CH drawing, complete with feathers and beak; incidentally, “crow” or, in Ro, “cioara”, it’s a pejorative term for the Roma (Gypsy) minority. Keeping with the birdie-num-num (ornithological) theme, the Kmkz cover has drawn the eagle with a cross – the Romanian heraldic symbol – forcing the French coq on the eagle’s cock.

Even some who should’ve known better, didn’t get it: Daniel Funeriu, whom I’ve mentioned in Bac Factory and Let’s pay Roma kids to study (fb-funeriu) and Ilie Nastase, on whom you can always count to disappoint (gsp-nastase).  I’m not surprised at Nastase’s reaction, but I’m surprised at Funeriu’s. Does he really not get it, or does he feel it’s more politically useful to pretend he doesn’t and use the opportunity to throw shade on PSD?

One who gets it is Mihai Sora (fb-sora).

To me it seems quite obvious that the target is the French public. In the article on the Roland Garros win I wrote:

I suspect a big part of it is the fact that she is a symbol of grit, hard work and determination, in a country where most people are genetic determinists believing in a [miraculous, God-given] “talent” that you are born with. When they see someone like Halep repeatedly winning and prevailing against all odds, such idiots don’t see the work and sacrifices she had to put in, but rather a criticism of their worldview, a criticism they are unwilling or unable to consider.

France has its own rigid-minded idiots, who think in “collective” terms, incapable to distinguish between individual Romanians any more than Romanians who never see individuals among the Roma / Gypsy. It is this blindness that is challenged by Simona Halep’s success and its reflection in CH.

imageIf you’re wondering why they haven’t similarly made fun of Nadal, they actually did, in June 2015.

But even if this were a joke in bad taste, free speech is sacrosanct, and responding officially to a caricature is something at Donald Trump’s level of idiocy. I hope no Romanian official lowers to that.

Except, of course, that Romanian “officials” have already used Simona Halep’s victory for their stupid partisan reasons: a PSD aparatchik, George Harabagiu, started spreading “fake news” on Simona Halep having been booed by the stadium rather than Firea, and was fired by Dragnea as a result (mf-harabagiu).

LE: All this got started by our favourite narcissist according to him (vice-alexe). His story is demiurgic. It sounds like he completed some kind of Hero’s Journey, by posting a photo scan of the cartoon on his Facebook page. While those who echoed it committed plagiarism or violated copyright, he has the right to post it on his Facebook page without permission because he bought Felix (the author) coffee or something like that.

My hope is that Simona Halep doesn’t let any of this affect her and finds a way to keep going, untouched and unabated.

LE: Which is what she did, refusing to comment when asked by a reporter. Meanwhile, the French Embassy in Bucharest issued a press release on how CH does not reflect the French public opinion, how free speech is a fundamental principle of the French Republic and how they’re looking forward to collaborating [pun intended] (tksr). The Romanian ambassador, Luca Niculescu, asks to “not let a little caricature mess such a great joy”. Personally, while I’m happy that the ambassadors are worthy of their positions, I’m ashamed that these steps was necessary.

Sources / More info: bi-changers, ch, vice-alexe, gn-rorgcrime (ro:hn), tnr-bmacron, fb-ch, decat1r-dor30, kmkz-olguta, fb-funeriu, gsp-nastase, fb-sora, mf-harabagiu

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Thursday, June 14, 2018 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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