I guess only black comedians get to use that word. For the rest of us, it's off limits.
I guess only black comedians get to use that word. For the rest of us, it's off limits.
Jean Paul Guerlain is very old and is showing signs of dementia, this is the only explanation for such thoughtless behavior on his part.
jlouismi, there's a lively discussion going on in the Fragrance Industry board: http://www.basenotes.net/threads/262...T-BUY-GUERLAIN
I marvel at your mastery of selective indignation. If it's wrong to use the word, it should be wrong in all instances.
I'm sorry. I would have thought you had heard of Jaime Foxx, Chris Rock, Kanye West, Whoopi Goldberg, and Sherri Shepherd. Or Richard Pryor.
I have hesitated to comment here because of the great polarization of views, but here goes. I hope it doesn't add fuel to the fire.
Older people can lose their sense of propriety. My mother has now begun making embarrassing remarks in public, apparently not realizing that she is easily overheard. I hate to shush her, but imagine how I felt when she asked me in a loud stage whisper (in reference to two men seated across from us in the lab waiting room) "Do you think they're Arabs?" It's even worse than when small children say embarrassing things, because everyone expects adults to know better-- but as their brains age, they may not know better.
Of course what JPG said is now considered unacceptable, but I have the impression he uttered an old French idiom without thinking, then tried to correct himself awkwardly, succeeding only in making the original error even worse. Was he actually thinking of slavery when he said it? I doubt it. Idioms or "dead metaphors" are sayings that no longer bring up thoughts of their original meaning. Well, in this case, the idiom seems to have come full circle and has once again become associated with its original meaning-- which I find interesting from a linguistic point of view. Dead metaphors being brought back to life, so to speak.
Language is full of such dead metaphors, but as it is a living and changing thing, some of these metaphors are pruned out of use because they are now considered racist. An old person is more likely to put his foot in his mouth than someone who grew up after these idioms had fallen out of acceptable use. This is not the same thing as excusing racism because the man is old-- it is merely recognizing that old people have a memory bank of language usage that includes remarks no longer considered appropriate, and so are more likely to misspeak.
I can't connect his comment with Guerlain perfumes. The man is the man, the remark is the remark, the perfume is the perfume. I have no particular love for Guerlain perfumes-- they don't seem to suit me, in general-- but I won't be boycotting anything because of one man's faux pas-- for which he (quite rightly) apologized.
I've just merged all the Jean Paul Guerlain threads together.
I am a firm believer of the quote, "Say what you mean, & mean what you say"! He said it, so...
after reading your post, I do agree with you in theory, in regards to age, but I still have a difficult time in accepting that his use of the word is in no way connected to his reaction to black people.
You mentioned me said it without thinking, that just tells me his mindset is still the same from back then when the N word was thrown around and meant what i was intended for.
Even if what people are saying is true, its still a hard thing to read considering ive long been an advocate of one of his fragrances for a long time, it makes me now feel like he was thinking these scents are not made your your kind. Sorry but i cant help but feel this way.
I earlier made a comment about Jospehine Baker, the icon of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s who epitomised the Jazz Age.
I understand Guerlain made Sous Le Vent for her. How does this enter our debate on Jean-Paul Guerlain's comments and the House of Guerlain?
A beautiful woman and a beautiful perfume. A very courageous woman if you read what she did for the French Resistance during World War Two:
On a side note, I am the queen of mangled metaphors, to the great amusement of my family. I've been known to utter such absurdities as "up a creek without a saddle", "a stag at half mast" (flag at half staff) and too many others to count.
I hate to think what I'll be saying if dementia sets in someday. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/s...ashamed001.gif
negre = negro
negre =/= n****r
I don't believe the phrase "worked like a negro" is inherently racist. It's definitely politically incorrect and COULD be motivated by underlying racist beliefs, but I don't think racist beliefs are required to use such a phrase. It seems at least as likely to me there was no racist intent, as it does there was.
And that's all I have to say about that.
Edit: One more thing. Even if there was racist intent "Sometimes you have to seperate the art from the douchebaggery". Just because someone is racist or an ***hole, doesn't mean they are any less of an artist. Doesn't forgive the racism, but shouldn't take away from the art.
Honestly, if Jean-Paul is no longer in control of his mental faculties, then it's cruel of his friends and family to allow him to give public interviews. Rather than an apology, it would be apt for friends and family to come forward and mention his mental illness.
However, until someone does, comments on age-related dementia remain unconfirmed and I hold Mr. Guerlain to the standards I would anyone else.
And much more recently (about a month ago) France was suspected of racial discrimination in the case of Roma population expulsion. The passing of the burqa ban is yet another issue.
Mental changes of aging have an insidious onset and often the first indication that they are happening is this sort of thing.
But it might be a good idea for family to take him to be evaluated, particularly if these comments of his are uncharacteristic, as dementia (if that is what this is) is more easily treated early on.
It has been reported that Ronald Reagan may have been in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease during the later years of his presidency, something that was never explored/discussed at the time for some of the very same reasons that the Guerlain family will remain silent on this matter.
I love that people live in a world where there are no shades of gray.
He said a stupid, offensive and dumb thing off the cuff. He apologized. That should be good enough. Move on.
An old man said a dumb thing. He said he was sorry. If that is not good enough for you then I feel sorry for you.
You are right to be outraged - he should have known better - but the moment he apologized was the moment the world should move on. This is not an example of institutionalized and consistent racism on the part of Guerlain or LVMH or by extension Christian Dior.
You know....from reading this thread I have decided we should boycott France...
Reminds me of the Frédéric-Malle-smelling-like-a-maid-discussion. As if there were no other things to be worried about. Much Ado about nothing. Just stop buying his products, but don't be so silly to make a Weltanschauung or a movement out of it.
If he had thought the words a hundred times and never spoke them, would he be a better person? No. But none of us would know any better.
When someone makes an offensive statement, the hope is that they recognize the offense, change their mind about it and convey that change in a sincere way to the offended. The challenge with public statements of this character is that the offended are not limited to a defined group of people (i.e., a spouse, a friend, or the five people one ate lunch with) and regardless of anything he says or does, it will likely be unsatisfactory to some.
If there is an expression of contriteness, I tend to take it at face value. Sometimes the apology is insincere, so that doesn't work. And sometimes I may be naive in presuming sincerity. Regardless, I don't see the point of harboring ill-feeling, unless there is evidence that the action is part of a pattern of behavior, as opposed to an isolated incident.
DOWN WITH GUERLAIN!! Let us not excuse this despicable comment! Let us march to Levallois-Perret and set the whole place on fire! Smash your Mitsouko, your Shalimar, your L'Instant for he, Jean-Paul Guerlain, is a straight up fool! He's rotten to the core! :laugh: lol
I'm shocked at how shocked you guys are.
He did not a state an opinion about black people, he did not talk about chains and slavery. He used a phrase he should have not used; behind it there may or may not be a racist attitude, who knows. He made a mistake - finding that inexcusable is a lot more worrying than a silly choice of words of an old man is.
I appreciate the righteousness of people here, I really do. It's just, that people seem to react approximately same way than they did to a news, where a guard killed a customer for stealing Joop!. There should be an unspeakable gap between seriousness of these events.
We should understand certain cultural differences and try to make not-so-tolerant people see things from a different perspective, not dig the trenches deeper by judging and labeling! That's what is happening here. Overreacting will only make it harder to communicate. It may feel good to be morally above other people or to identify oneself for belonging to a group of more tolerant people. This is something that happens alot, but it's usually just counterproductive.
I see violence against some reactionary groups in the future - just for not sharing the view of the majority. And people will feel they are doing the right thing. I'm not kidding.
I think we tend to make heroes out of people because we like one aspect of their life. I don't know if he is a racist, but isn't it possible he is a a talented perfumer and a racist. I mean it's possible to be a great director and a child rapist, so it seems possible.
Speaking only for myself: I do find racist comments offensive. I give latitude sometimes when there is evidence of some sort of mental feebleness, but that does not make the comments any less offensive or more correct to speak aloud. It simply makes the repercussions of such comments or penalties for such comments less severe, in my mind...
With reference to my grandfather's comments, we always made sure he knew we didn't like the comments but I think that in his state of mind he found that a challenge to make more of 'em. (either he was a surly old curmudgeon or he lacked the critical thinking skills to keep quiet.) That is the parallel I make with JPG... if he IS getting senile we certainly don't have to agree with him and can tell him so, but we don't have to castigate the fellow if his mental faculties are failing him.
And... with reference to places in the world where freedom of speech is embraced: Just because you have the right to say such things doesn't mean that you should and does not mean that such comments are right, nice, or in any way correct.
It is not as simple as "right and wrong" sometimes though. That's the point. If I get old and feeble and don't have the capability of censoring what I'm thinking and saying, I am sure that those around me will cut me some slack...(before they set me out to feed the bears, that is!) though I doubt I'll ever say those sorts of things, it's not who I am now and hopefully will never be. It's not part of my experience... but it might just be, and from what folks have said about JPG, part of HIS life experience.
Defending racism is NOT my intent here (nor did I think anyone was saying that to me)... but a discussion of how age effects the mental state of a guy like JPG is.
Oh... and as far as boycotting Guerlain because of it... if that's what anyone wants to do, that's their decision and really none of my business.
I do think it's valuable to be able to reconcile the co-existence of creative genius and unsavory predilections: Michael Jackson may have been a pedophile; Walt Whitman and Lewis Carrol most assuredly were. One of my favorite poets, Gottfried Benn was a member of the Nazi party.
Moreover, it's valuable to observe that double-standards seem to be in place around every one of these 'incidents', invisible distinctions between like persons that exist to appease the masses: Americans have been in an uproar around Polanski's 'defilement' of a young girl, for example, but Elvis Presley took a bride who was no older, and it was not newsworthy.
Furthermore, with regard to generational 'comfort levels' with racist terms and/or 'detached-from-hatred' 'idioms', many of us are certainly afflicted with emotionally-loaded, first-hand experiences of the necessary assimilation of 'wrong'. My own German grandfather is an unconscionable racist ass; he often told me to never let anyone know I was not white, since I could pass; still I love him.
None of these considerations, however, make it sensational (or 'dangerously' invective) to voice upset about racial slurs from eminent cultural and/or artistic figures in the media. And it does not amount to a polemic, nor is it anything less than noble (IMO) to react to such offensive statements with personal, tangible actions. It's simply a passionate demonstration of a strongly-held, morally-informed belief.
I cannot imagine that one person proposing not listening to Michael Jackson, for example, would have spurned this sort of backlash. No doubt, several fans would have insisted on his innocence, but I would have been surprised by a legion of supporters citing child-marriage tolerance of yore, etc.
I cannot frame this well, but I often feel that the abolition of racism is the last civil frontier, and that we are still on the darker cusp of progress. It seems that the clamor for tolerance is too often twisted into something all "PC", scratchy, foolish, and tragically unable to 'go' with the proverbial flow. "Chill, it's not all that..." "Getting 'all ruffled' makes the problem worse." ... And it makes me sad.
Finally, I hope I did not appear critical of Josephine Baker personally, whom I happen to regard as strong. I was merely musing that her contemporary France and much of her 'fan'-base was still pretty discriminatory and enamored of the 'exotic'.
Which, dmarino67, was pretty much what I was saying. We can be as disgusted with the comments as we wish (which is appropriate IMO for those comments he made)... it's just that sometimes we need to be aware of the mental state of the person saying it before we set their house afire, so to speak.
When you approach a person's offensive behavior instead of having a go at them personally, there's usually a better chance of finding common ground and solving the offensive behavior anyway. (or at least so I've been told! :grin:)
Agree. I wasn' having a go at him I was just stating I wasn't in a position to know his mental state and where this was coming from. His comments are offensive whether he's a racist or senile. I wonder which way he'd choose to be remembered.
On the subject of Josephine Baker et al, especially back in those years, there was a weird sort of colonialist justification for loving and appreciating the work or beauty of an exceptionally talented black person. It was a sort of sense of appreciating someone even more because they were thought of as a sort of "noble savage." To racist minds, her talent was even more exceptional because she was from a so-called "lesser race", while her beauty was appreciated for its "exoticism".
One could make the point that this still happens today with popular rappers, but this isn't the forum for that...
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that it's possible and common for racists to like specific popular and talented black people and still be racist.
I as a black man cannot see a grey area as one basenoter put it, age, dementia etc are somewhat excuses in my book, I will never see an acceptable reason or excuse for anyone using that word, regardless of who used it. In Jean Paul's case, this to me is a look into his mindset, theres a saying that states 'if someone shows you who they are, believe them'. I will not go as far to say he is racist, but i will say its best not to give people an appearance of what you are not, if you dont want to be lables a racist, dont use that word. I believe in forgiveness, and if hes apologised, im willing to leave it at that.
Edit: Long story short (and this is the part that I expect to get flamed for), is that by keeping the term alive and in constant use, with the negative taboo and exclusive rights that African-American's have given it, they are in effect keeping alive the very racism that they so abhor. It's a never ending cycle, that we are continuously beaten over the head for, and quite honestly it's not fair. Again, how many Irish or Jewish or Catholic or Spanish, etc related racism conflicts do we hear about? Is it because the any of their periods of oppression were somehow of a lesser degree? I don't believe so, it's because they don't bring it up, and allow the rest of the world to move on and forget.
What a great thread! Lots of well reasoned arguments and ideas from all sides. Mostly very respectful. Mostly. And look at you guys - you are talking about Racism in a public forum. An online forum of all places - AND it is interesting to read and follow. So many different points of view. I have to say - as a very new member of Basenotes I am proud to be a member. I doubt this kind of debate could happen online at many other sites.
I am actually being made to think about very difficult ideas. I am actually privy t so many people's opinions from different ethnic groups and nations around the world.
JPG may have said a stupid and racist thing - but there is not a lot of that on here.
Not bad, Basenotes, not bad.
On a side note - I wonder what Kanye West thinks of this. With his association with LVMH. He is always good for a comment.
I can think of Jewish comedians who toss around the terms like 'Yid' and 'Hymie', etc. I always understood it as a type of 'hard-knocks', recognition-of-oppression, intra-cultural camaraderie. I did not know they were offering us non-Jewish people license to refer to them as such. I did not understand that they were thereby declaring they would be thus tolerant in the face of a prominent Anglo referring to their culture in terms like, oh... "working like a Jew". Now I know better.
I hear about the plight of Jewish people in Israel every day. Anti-Semitic factions are most dangerous religious/political forces on the planet today, not to mention feared everywhere! The Holocaust is taught in every school on this planet. Every minute of every day. I dare say it's received 'greater press' than slavery.
Maybe 'they' should just let the rest of the world move on from their past chapters and 'forget', too?
Or, maybe racism is inherently foul. And the terminology used within -- and reasons for adopting such terminology within -- minority cultures are not to be endowed with the absence of dignity, or worse, cited for as a cause of continuing racial hatred.
To me it still feels like the old man is slipping into senility and is just talking nonsense. One has to ask themselves, does this man have a history of making racist statements in public? If the answer is no, then something new is happening to his old brain.
That's it, I'm boycotting my grandparents, and most of my great aunts and uncles.
You know what? When people reach a certain age, sometimes you just have to look the other way. This is one of those times. I don't approve, but my life can't be a constant battle against bigoted and/or senile people. I'd never win, and I'd be miserable. And I'm not holding LVMH responsible for this. Boycotting LVMH certainly isn't going to change Mr. Guerlain...or LVMH, since this is not the institution's point of view.
And I can assure you as a Chicana, many of us do throw around the term 'spic' as well as 'beaner' in much the same way African Americans use the term 'nigger'. Cuz we bad, Esse. :).
And I am not buying the distinction between history belonging in the past and formerly-oppressed groups complaining' about presently-resolved circumstances. Minority groups are oppressed right here and now (Jewish people included), and anti-defamation is their civil right.
Reappropriation of originally pejorative terms is more common than you're suggesting. To use your example, there are Jews who refer to themselves as "kikes" or "yids" as an expression of pride in their identity. That doesn't mean the majority of (English-speaking) Jewish people are comfortable with these terms, any more than the majority of English-speaking people of African descent would be comfortable using the term "nigger."
I want to believe that he was trying to formulate something ironic that just ended up connoting derogatory colonial attitudes. No matter his sincere thoughts, this inconsiderate remark was very unbecoming of this well-travelled and cultivated old gentleman perfumer. Needless to say, it saddened me to hear the interview which has somewhat shaken Guerlain's cultivated image.
Taking bets on the number of days this semi-ridiculous thread goes on. Ultimately it's just a lot of people spinning their wheels. Kind of like watching the douchebag political strategists on FOX News.
I relayed JPG's remarks to my friend who's a black pro baseball player from the south, and all he had to say was "big f*cking deal". And all can say about it is that I don't even give a sh*t about any of it, and neither do most people.
-- Either way, I'll guarantee you that Guerlain will sell even more perfume in the weeks and months after his remarks.
But I do think Jean-Paul could have chosen a better way to say it. :)
Can i just say again, the notion that he said it because many African Americans still embrace the term and this should not be an issue is ridiculous. Again as a black person I think its horrible when i hear a black person use it, I am an individual who holds himself in esteem, I like to think that i operate at a standard that I was put on this earth to operate at, that is to maintain my integrity, In my book there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for a remark such as that, regardless of context, and that goes for anyone.
I respect Mr Guerlain for the work he has done, at first i was deeply offended by this statement, but now im my eyes i somewhat pity him as a silly old man who still lives in the 1930's and said something that shows me he still lives in the 1930's. As i have said I dont believe he is racist, just very narrow minded.
Again, amongst the black community even here in the UK, there is a battle going on to eradicate that word. Just because a black comedian uses it, does NOT mean it loses its meaning. If the president came out and addressed congress 'yo good morning my n****rs', there would be an outcry from some sections of the black community for him to step down, not because he is the president, but like the rest of us in whatever field of work you are in, you are supposed to maintain a level of integrity, carry yourself with respect, and not conform to the stupid, foolish ways of some ignorant black people who use that word. This goes for any derogatory verbiage that is used, as a human being, we all deserve that respect, there are many things in life we cannot control, the mindset of the ignorant is one. Its up to me now to decide to i get upset and drag myself down to their level, or continue to live my life the way i think it should, and thats with my head held high, and proud to be black. I know which one im going to choose.
My name is Julien Lewis Mitchell, and I approve this message!!
I remember once a teacher of mine telling me the following: If you'd like to be treated equal, stop calling attention to the fact that you're different. And, as I know you'll likely twist the above statement into some sort of villification of the minority, think about it. I don't want racial divide as much as anyone else doesn't want it. In fact, I personally don't walk around making racial distinctions whatsoever. But then there are SO many orginizations for the betterment of special interest groups, how come there can't be orginizations for the betterment of ALL people. Why does the NAACP exist, if not to further the idea that we aren't the same? We want equality, yet there are groups for the advancement of every form of individual group? Isn't that racism right there? Could you imagine if there was a NAAWP? Not only could it never exist, if it DID, the uproar would be monumental. Special interest groups only aid in the degredation of natural progress towards a united people. When the groups practicing unspoken racism stop trying to accuse everyone not doing so of outright racism, we'll all be much better off.
^^ I think racial tension would exist with or without the continued use of the n-word by African-American communities. If the word weren't the flashpoint, something else would be. The word is simply a convenient tool...a tool for causing offense if you're not black; a tool for unity if you're black; and generally a tool that conveniently displays the conflict. That said, I do agree that the strong adoption of the word by black communities in the US (come on, there's no denying this) is probably counterproductive. The word has more legitimacy (given by the community it's used against), relevant cultural meaning, and ability to cause damage than it did 20 years ago.
The gay community uses 'fag' and 'queer' often to own and take back words used by bigots to 'hurt' gay people. By using it and owning it, the gay community can take the negative out of the words and own them, thus, helping to diffuse the impact of these words when used by bigots.
I see the use of the n word as just the same. It is used in African American communities to own it and take it away (as a weapon) from racists.
I may have missed it in the previous posts but here is an English translation of the remarks made by Jean-Paul Gurelain and further coommentary from a CNN report:
NEW: Finance minister calls comments "pathetic"
Maker of Samsara perfume used a racist slur on French TV
Jean-Paul Guerlain has apologized for his comments
A French anti-racism group says it will take legal action
Paris, France -- French anti-racism group SOS-Racisme plans to file a legal complaint against perfume designer Jean-Paul Guerlain following a racist remark he made on French television.
Guerlain -- who is no longer connected with the perfume company that bears his name -- made the remarks during an interview with France 2 on Friday about his career and the making of Samsara, one of his famous perfumes he created to impress a woman.
"One day I told her -- and I still called her Madame -- 'What would seduce you if one was to make a perfume for you?' and she told me, 'I love jasmine, rose and sandalwood,'" Guerlain recalled.
"And for once I started working like a [racial epithet]. I don't know if [racial epithet] ever worked that hard," he said.
Guerlain issued an apology following the interview's broadcast, which a France 2 anchor read during the network's evening newscast.
"My words do not reflect in any way my profound thoughts but are due to an inopportune misspeaking which I vividly regret," the apology read.
According to a Guerlain company spokesperson, Guerlain has not been an employee since 2002. He now counsels the company as a "nose" for some perfumes.
SOS-Racisme said it is not satisfied with Guerlain's apology and will bring action against him. Guerlain could be issued a fine if the complaint goes before a magistrate.
Louis-Georges Tin, a spokesman for the Council Representative of Black Associations, told French radio RTL that his group also will join in the complaint.
"Until now we thought that Mr. Guerlain was the ambassador of grace, and he made comments particularly disgraceful, even a bit foul," Tin said.
"That's why we are shocked. These comments are racist, of course, which harken back to the colonial period and it seems unacceptable. For now, we are planning to file a complaint," he said.
France's finance minister, Christine Laguarde, also weighed in on the comments, telling RTL on Saturday, "It's pathetic. I simply hope this is just senile and grotesque, that the apologies will really be sincere and gracious, but this is truly pathetic."