Parisians have a bit of a different physiology. Things like a certain inability to smile are quite well known expressions of this phenomenon. Some are much lesser known: an interesting experience when chatting with a Parisian is to place the words ”Les Américains” in a sentence. These two words put together - in any imaginable sentence - immediately trigger a chemical reaction in the Parisian’s brain. When hearing the phrase “Les Américains“, the Parisian will implacably lose track of his previous ideas to just be taken over by one overpowering thought. That is: ”Oui, mais les Américains, ils sont cons“.
There is no exception to that rule. Americans are all stupid. End of the story. The fact that America is the most successful and probably the most creative country in the world should come as no argument. The fact that all Parisians deliberately wear American clothes, watch American movies, listen to American music, use American words or fantacize about American celebrities either. Americans are fat, stupid and ugly. Period.
Parisians who have traveled to the US might have a more moderate opinion: they will view Americans as ”superficial”. Traveling surely makes Parisian more in touch with foreign cultures. ”Les Américains, ils sont hyper superficiels” is a sentence it is impossible not to hear when having a discussion in Paris about America or Americans. Parisians of all classes see every interaction entailing a person from the US as irremediably fake and empty.
The immediate friendliness most Americans display at once sends Parisians insane. “Mais pourquoi ils sourient? Ils sont cons ou quoi ?!” Friendliness, enthusiam and optimism are very American qualities. In Paris, these characteristics are marks of gentle intellectual decay. You do the math. In the Parisian’s mind, Americans are incapable of refinement. Capital Parisian sin. The fact that their vision is based on reality or not has no relevance: of course it is.
Parisians know for a fact that Americans’ exclusive interests are money, sports, war and religion. Americans have no other points of interest in life. No other aspirations. That is good enough a reason for Parisians to concentrate most of their scorn for the opulence of Western life on America. It’s all America’s fault. It is true after all that Parisians by no means partake in this Western lifestyle.
When bringing to the table that not everyone in a country like America can possibly be stupid, the Parisian usually pulls out the culture card. “Ok, peut-être, mais ils sont complètement incultes, c’est grave quand même“. People saying this fall into two categories - that go across the board. On the one hand, people whose favorite after-work occupations consist of watching CSI , Grey’s Anatomy or Sex and the City. On the other, people who worship Woody Allen and Philip Roth. Parisians are avid consumers of American culture and at the same time fiercely convinced that such a thing does not exist. For as Parisians put it, “Woody Allen, il est pas Américain, il est New-Yorkais”.
It would be impolite at that point to bring to the Parisian’s attention that he starts to sound like the stupid American he despises so much. Plus, despite his obvious in-depth knowledge of America, chances are he might not get the joke…