It’s time once again for The Future American’s FAIL OF THE WEEK! Every Saturday, I name a person or group who has spent the past seven days behaving in a particularly idiotic way. Since it’s my belief that idiocy knows no politics, nobody is safe.
This week’s fail was brought to you by Pierre Lescure, formerly the head of French TV channel Canal Plus. You may be agape right now at the fact that, in the middle of over a week of massive Washington scandals, I’m reserving my harshest criticism of the week for a French media executive. Well, that’s because we need a laugh, preferably from a foreign country, after being so thoroughly disappointed with the American government. And, by God, did Lescure – and, by extension, French President François Hollande – ever bring it. Allow me to quote the great Al Bundy:
A toast . . . to the French. It’s a foul little country, but they sure do know how write a check, don’t they?
They sure do, and that check will come from a new tax on companies that manufacture any device that links to the Internet: smartphones, tablets, e-readers, gaming consoles and, presumably, laptops and desktops. Hollande tasked Lescure with coming up with a list of “recommendations on how France should adapt its commitment to preserving French-language culture in the . . . digital era.” The tax would initially be set at 1 percent, possibly raised to 3 or 4 percent later, with the money funding “the production of French art, films and music.”
My feelings on government arts funding in general haven’t changed a bit since I first wrote about it. But the idea that this tax would correct the “excessive imbalances” posed by the availability of digital content is absolutely ludicrous. People from all over the world come to France to see its artistic contributions up close and personal. That element of its national identity hasn’t changed just because it’s easier for French citizens to look at other countries’ art. There’s no “threat” to traditional French arts; there is only competition.
The weird part is that not all of Lescure’s recommendations are terrible. One is to scrap a holdover from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration that bans Internet connections and imposes penalties on anyone guilty of illegal downloading. Another is to reduce the delay in the release of movies and foreign TV series to video . . . which isn’t as good as realizing that the government has no business setting delays like that, but it’s a good start. And a levy on French telecom operators to subsidize filmmaking will now be based on revenues, instead of being a flat amount. Yeah, that’s considered an improvement by their standards.
I’m sure neither Hollande nor Lescure would ever want to be caught saying French culture is so weak that international culture needs to be discouraged. But that’s what they’re saying, without even trying.