This is one of those situations that warrants the French to sigh deeply and say in almost record lengths, “Oh la la la la la… ils sont redicules!”
50 year old French billionaire Arnaud Lagardère is being ostracized by the French for staring in a magazine video with his 20 year old fashion model girlfriend Jade Foret which aired last Wednesday.
Why is this such a big deal, you ask? For a number of reasons, let’s explore them together.
1) Lagardère is supposed to take over as chairman of the European aerospace group, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) next year. EADS is famous for Airbus planes and military weapons. This industry is known for being very serious and straight laced. Posing in a saucy video with a young woman more than half your age, oozing about your love story does not characterize the type of leader for a serious global company and is quite embarrassing for a public figure such as himself.
2) In France, there’s old money and then there’s new money. Old money people keep their finances and private lives extremely private. The nouveau riche enjoy flashing their newfound money, style, and enhancing their own popularity through self promotion through means of reality shows and tabloid fodder. The old money that controls much of France’s government and business sectors finds this type of public exhibition tacky and embarrassing, and casts a negative light amidst the drama of Dominique Strass-Kahn.
3) The average, everyday French person is likely to consider this guy a braggart for flashing his young girlfriend, his fancy home, and his prominent status for his own ego, thus creating a further social and economic divide between the rich and poor, especially when the Euro zone is having to deal with tough fiscal problems with Greece’s bankrupt government.
4) This video furthers the classic stereotype of the insecure, old, rich guy trying to recapture his youth by bagging a young, hot twenty-something – with questionable financial motives – and flashing it for the world to see. In Paris, there are circles of extremely wealthy Parisians where beautiful young women like Jade swarm hoping to find a rich sugar daddy. In the video, he explains they met in this type of social circle confirming the type of people with whom they associate themselves.
The 700 plus comments on youtube are amusing to read. If you don’t read French, some of the people are noting the above reasons and commenting rather uncouthly about his looks and her intentions.
However, when I really think about it, in a declare your love type of society, a video like this isn’t really a big deal, but to the French, it is. Are the French just jealous of his success in love and life? Are the old money bourgeois too stuffy to let this guy live his life on his own terms? If she’s after his money and he’s after her looks and sex appeal, then isn’t it just a fair trade? What does it really matter to us? I mean, haters are gonna hate. Can’t we just be happy for the couple?
What do you think??