Ruminations on Leviathan, Prompted by the Film Potiche

As an excuse to try out FAU's new Living Room Theaters I spent some time Sunday seeing a French film named Potiche, which was surprisingly and tediously political at the same time. The surprise was my own fault: I didn't research it too closely before buying my ticket. Blame for the tedium falls elsewhere! Whereas most of the audience, I expect, saw Potiche as a charming and funny celebration of female empowerment, I saw mostly a nightmare in which everything was politics, everything from business decisions to paternal pride to tender moments between husband and wife tainted with the tawdry operations of socialist democracy.

It would be easy to play the pragmatist, and dismiss my reaction as the result of having grown up in the United States, naturally sheltered from this type of politicization. On the other hand, perhaps the late-seventies France portrayed in the film has power to horrify because this Sweet Land of Liberty is tasting increasingly bitter itself. Maybe this is all no more than an admission of personal tendencies of defiance, individuality, and anti-authoritarianism so strong as to verge on pathology. Regardless of the cause I left the (very nice and otherwise richly deserving of future business) theater feeling like France, and Europe in general, would be a very uncomfortable place for me to live.

I'm no villain, and I'm certainly not one of the mustache-twirling capitalist caricatures that fever the dreams of leftists around the world. If you're one of those that advocates for the United States to adopt this or that feature of the European democracies, ask yourself why exactly someone like me would find such a state of affairs intolerable?

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