26 December 2004

De la frivolité

Last week, I was in front of the French TV, as I usually do when I come to Paris on holidays and treat myself to some couch potato days. The mid-day show was "Arrêt sur images" ("Pause on images") that analyses and comments on a weekly basis the TV images produced on a specific subject, usually a piece of news or recent media focus. I usually like to watch the show because I like to watch TV eat itself.
That week's subject took me by surprise: "Friends", yes, the sitcom. I had dreamt of Arrêt sur images making a subject on Friends since the beginning of the show because I always thought there was a lot to say about it. And there it was, 10 years after. But the result was rather disappointing. Because maybe they didn't try to go beyond what has been said already 100 times, a mixture of clichés and old information. Yes, the sociological model of Friends is based on friendship (!!) and on recomposing a tolerant family with the help of which you always overcome problems, ya-di-ya-di-ya...
If they'd actually shown the excerpts of Friends they were talking about in English, I would have just passed the time pleasantly and forget about the whole thing. But one columnist (would you say columnist for a TV show?) obviously thinking that she was very intelligent dismissed the show with contempt, on the argument (!) that this was just entertainment and that its humour was making people laugh gratuitously when humour used to have a serious function of reflection.
Hum... First, I'm tired of "used-to-have" or "used-to-be" arguments because they state more than anything their weakness and vacuity. Second, I'm sorry that the editorial team of the show isn't more demanding about the quality of argumentation exchanged on the set. But more importantly, it strikes me still that entertainment is so dispised for what it is and that it's not acknowledged "profound" qualities. When I praise or criticize entertainment, and in this case a TV show, I do it from the perspective of the text and the performance, and Friends has been over 10 years more or less well written, more or less well played, but globally quite cleverly.
In the evening, "Bandwagon" was shown. The whole movie is basically about what I just said - although it tells the intelligence of entertainment and the depth of frivolity in a much better way. It's by far my favorite musical - when each scene and each song tell the stories of solitude or anger, hope or love in a very very nonchalent way. The Fred Astaire way.

--Joëlle.

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