Monsieur Guerlain and Perfection



“Pour une fois, je me suis mis à travailler comme un nègre. Je ne sais pas si les nègres ont toujours tellement travaillé, enfin...”(Jean-Paul Guerlain)

Before commenting this statement I would like to present the rabble-rousing translation presented by The Huffington Post:

“And for once I started working like a [racial epithet]. I don't know if [racial epithet] ever worked that hard.”

First: the French word “négre” does not mean the offensive English N word (although many decided that it does). This word derives from the Portuguese and Spanish non-derogatory word “negro” (meaning black, dark, person – initially the Moors). Second: by offering such passion-stirring translation, the Huffington Post proposed itself to worsen an already tense situation; and one might ask itself whether this site was not being more racist, in its intent to slander a rich and respectable French citizen, than Mr Guerlain himself. 
The proper translation would be “And for once I started working like a black. I don’t even know whether blacks have always worked that hard, oh well...” 

Comment: although I understand what Mr Guerlain meant to say, it must be said that his words a priori sounded rather appalling. By saying that he worked like a black person he was not being racist, he was rather recognising that black people toiled to the point of enriching the Western world through their enslavement. By saying that he doesn’t know if they have always worked that hard may be viewed as disappointment towards the present black situation, and who’s to blame? African leaders; who by pillaging their people and not developing their nations, offer the impression that black people yield to the five giants: want, squalor, idleness, ignorance and disease. 
In the controversial interview, Mr Guerlain was explaining that when producing a specific parfum for a client, he toiled and tried to rich perfection 33 times, before presenting the final product (hence his comment “I don’t know whether blacks have always worked that hard [i.e. if they have always put their mind to advance 33 times]”). Well, monsieur Guerlain, so far black people didn’t have the opportunity to try once let alone 33 times developing and perfecting their existence; however they will once they get rid of their Western-supported corrupt leaders and shake off their induced complex of inferiority. 

This topic brought to memory a certain case: in 2000, L’Oreal (another famous French brand) outsourced employees to promote their Garnier hair products. Nothing wrong with this, except for the fact that it exclusively demanded its workers to be Bleu Blanc et Rouge (= Blue White and Red; i.e. French Aryan folks). The French SOS Racism denounced the company and sued it; nevertheless I didn’t see the world boycotting their products. 

Now, everybody is crying “Foul!!Boycott!!” at Guerlain products...there is an obvious double standard. Could it be because Guerlain represents a premium product (for the rich, bien sure) and L’Oreal targets a broader social sector? One wonders, n’est-ce pas?


Image: Jean-Paul Guerlain (photo borrowed from here)

Comments

  1. It seems to me that upper crust rich folk are supposed to be detached from reality, thus, they are commonly making stupid and offensive statements. Thus, the famous "Qu’ils mangent de la brioche", which she almost certainly didn't say, but everyone considered it plausible.

    Anyway, I will take action and stop buying his perfume.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Looney :D!

    "It seems to me that upper crust rich folk are supposed to be detached from reality, thus, they are commonly making stupid and offensive statements."

    It is true that many people do make silly and offensive statements (regardless their social status). But the question is: isn't society becoming too sensitive? I mean, one can't say anything nowadays without being immediately accused of being racist, bigot, offensive etc (the most blatant example is the Gay issue. Today we can't make the slightest comment about gays without being labelled as homophobic...come on!). We should learn how to read beyond the apparent and analyse the content of what is being said.
    Nevertheless, Mr Guerlain's words were a bit sad.

    "Thus, the famous "Qu’ils mangent de la brioche", which she almost certainly didn't say, but everyone considered it plausible."

    LOL Ah, Marie Antoinette...*nodding*. Not everyone found it plausible...many of the people that kept society with her contributed to her fall, didn't they?

    "Anyway, I will take action and stop buying his perfume."

    Make use of your freedom to decide, my friend *bowing*.

    However, have you noticed that humans can be pretty much hypocritical when it comes to boycotting brands, countries, industries etc? For example: China violates human rights every day, it is occupying Tibet, it is exploiting Africans (although with their leader's permission)...do people stop buying their products? No.

    Looney, thank you ever so much for your awesome comment :D.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  3. *smiles*...your post is a good topic for debate here Max...:-)

    sorry for the N's being dragged here, and there are a lot in our place, the less privileged, the social outcast, the beggars and what not!

    they are a lazy lot of people here and they do not prosper, but i admire Guerlain's high opinion of them, that they are hard workers...did I get that right?

    and for us to boycott his products just because of an intriguing and confusing statement, yes, that's for anyone's opinion, everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello Max,

    What surprised me was the reaction of the French Finance Minister, Christine Laguarde "It's pathetic. I simply hope this is just senile and grotesque,(...)". What is pathetic is that she went with the crowd (certainly for political reasons - i.e. votes and public sympathy), what is senile is the fact that she didn't bother to analyse the poorly selected words of a man who not only has promoted France around the world but has also greatly contributed to the French GDP over the years.
    As for SOS Racisme, although they did a good job with L'Oreal (even so, they only managed to get around €30,000 from the company...in a racism case, oh please) sometimes they exaggerate in their search for 15 minutes of public attention.

    I proudly have black blood and I know all too well what Mr Guerlain meant (notwithstanding I would've been much more crafty than him with my words).

    This was an excellent article, Max; it really was.
    I never commented your posts before, but I read them since day one: keep up the good job!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Max wrote:

    "Make use of your freedom to decide, my friend *bowing*.

    However, have you noticed that humans can be pretty much hypocritical when it comes to boycotting brands, countries, industries etc?"

    ;-) I was being silly ... I have never bought perfume in my life!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hmmm...this goes to show that it's VERY easy to misinterpret someone, esp. if you only pick some sentences of his/hers without knowing the rest of the story.

    And about L'Oreal...I didn't even know about that, but you're right...nobody's boycotting it. Interesting to think...hmmm...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Amity :D!

    "*smiles*...your post is a good topic for debate here Max...:-)"

    Thank you *bowing*!

    "sorry for the N's being dragged here, and there are a lot in our place, the less privileged, the social outcast, the beggars and what not!"

    It's not the word per se that hurts, it's the fashion in which it is uttered and the intent behind it...know what I mean?

    "they are a lazy lot of people here and they do not prosper, but i admire Guerlain's high opinion of them, that they are hard workers...did I get that right?"

    Well, are they lazy or society hasn't given them the opportunity to advance and prosper? Mr. Guerlain knows that black people worked hard; the same way we should all know it.

    "and for us to boycott his products just because of an intriguing and confusing statement, yes, that's for anyone's opinion, everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion!"

    Freedom of speech is important. And if people want to boycott his products, they are free to do so as well...but others are free not to do it too.

    Amity, thank you so much for your input on this :D.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello Cristina :D!

    Welcome to the MAX comment section :D!

    "What surprised me was the reaction of the French Finance Minister, Christine Laguarde "It's pathetic. I simply hope this is just senile and grotesque,(...)". What is pathetic is that she went with the crowd (certainly for political reasons - i.e. votes and public sympathy), what is senile is the fact that she didn't bother to analyse the poorly selected words of a man who not only has promoted France around the world but has also greatly contributed to the French GDP over the years."

    You know how it goes: people don't reason any longer; they spit-think and spit words; know what I'm saying? As for Ms Laguarde...je me suis toujours méfiée d'elle.

    "As for SOS Racisme, although they did a good job with L'Oreal (even so, they only managed to get around €30,000 from the company...in a racism case, oh please) sometimes they exaggerate in their search for 15 minutes of public attention."

    Oh please, indeed...Americans can get a lot more for much less (they are admirable)! Les Latin-Européens sont pitoyables!! Don't get me started on whom runs this type of organisations.

    "I proudly have black blood and I know all too well what Mr Guerlain meant (notwithstanding I would've been much more crafty than him with my words)."

    So do I, sista; so do I *high 5*!

    "This was an excellent article, Max; it really was. I never commented your posts before, but I read them since day one: keep up the good job!"

    Thank you *bowing*! Why, thanks - I am flattered, darling and it was a real pleasure to have you in our comment section: I hope you will join us more often in the future :D.

    Thank you, Cristina, for your input :D.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looney,

    ";-) I was being silly ... I have never bought perfume in my life!"

    LOL LOL LOL ah, you got me there!! LOL LOL...this was a good one!
    Not much of a perfume fan, eh? ;)

    Looney, yesterday, for a second, I thought you had swayed to the left LOL...and now I see you were pulling my leg lol...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Amel :D!

    "Hmmm...this goes to show that it's VERY easy to misinterpret someone, esp. if you only pick some sentences of his/hers without knowing the rest of the story."

    Indeed, darling.

    "And about L'Oreal...I didn't even know about that, but you're right...nobody's boycotting it. Interesting to think...hmmm..."

    You didn't know? It was a scandal at the time. And lately, they were involved in a new controversy: have you ever seen Beyoncé's L'Oreal ads? Well, it was said that L'Oreal made Beyoncé's skin look lighter than it is. If you ask me, this latest scandal is ridiculous...but oh well, let me not go there.

    Amel, thank you so much for your input. You were missed :D.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  11. God forbid I tell that to my mum, Guerlain perfume are her only only luxury and I know she would boycott the brand for the comment!

    On a serious side, I think "nègre" is a very offensive word in French. M. Guerlain should have kept his mouth shut or think of something smart to say.

    I dislike politically correct and I think black people should be able to proudly state they are black without using some kind of rephrasing such as "african-american" or even "black" in French (yes, French often use the English word, "black", instead of "noir" - God knows why but it is supposed to be more PC!). Yet offensive words like the one used here are just plain... offensive and stupid. Not to mention the comment itself is racist!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I haven't seen Beyonce's new ad, either. I guess they haven't turned up here. It's crazy that these days with the advance of technology, many things are manipulated. Technology comes with many pros and cons...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Max,

    How are you my friend?

    I think that people have built in racism (which they may not even realize). Often it comes out in rants or when they drink, etc. I have heard some of the most vile vitriols in those instances. As for the source, I am not surprised. I've seen some of the most hateful ink slinging originate from there.

    I don't think people understand the power of words, some of which are seasoned with love and others seasoned with hate. And that's the thing about human nature, it's seasoned to taste.

    We may not be able to change people, but we can change the way we present ourselves, measure our words, embrace other beings and enjoy life's fragrance.

    Thanks for the etymology lesson.

    Fragrant Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Max, it's the style of the day to distill and misrepresent other people's words or meanings, taken purposely out of context. It's very discouraging. I just wrote a poem/rant about the "way things are," with our communication abilities so adulterated that they are dying on the vine.

    You are so well informed, and daring as well: you articulate and define difficult concepts and issues. Bravo, my dear.

    We may all die because of where our preconceptions and prejudices may lead...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Zhu :D!

    "God forbid I tell that to my mum, Guerlain perfume are her only only luxury and I know she would boycott the brand for the comment!"

    LOL LOL *nodding*...I am sure she heard of it, Zhu...

    "On a serious side, I think "nègre" is a very offensive word in French. M. Guerlain should have kept his mouth shut or think of something smart to say."

    You are not alone; however that word is not offensive although certain fringes made it so. It is like here in Portugal: "negro" is now considered offensive (by white people) but to call black people "de côr" (transl: of colour) is not. I discussed this last expression with black and mixed people (since, for some strange reason, society places these two groups in the same pot - but that is a different subject) and they prefer to be called "negro" than "de côr" which is considered by them to be more offensive...know what I mean?
    LOL Yeah, Mr Guerlain was unfortunate in his words...his craft is "le parfum" not the verb *nodding*.

    "I dislike politically correct and I think black people should be able to proudly state they are black without using some kind of rephrasing such as "african-american" or even "black" in French (yes, French often use the English word, "black", instead of "noir" - God knows why but it is supposed to be more PC!)."

    I totally agree with you: I don't like the "African-American", "Afro-Brazilian" (the new trend over there now) or even "Afro-European" (like they want to implement here) expressions either. I don't even see why we must label people by the colour of their skin, but since society is as it is, black people should be able (like they do in Africa) to say they are black without causing shock. Furthermore the problem is in the tone with which one says "black" or "négre" not the words per se.

    "Yet offensive words like the one used here are just plain... offensive and stupid. Not to mention the comment itself is racist!"

    Words are simply words, they cannot hurt...whereas the tone....*nodding*. It sounds racist at first, but I am not sure it was (as in intention, tu comprends?)...

    Zhu, thank you so much for your fabulous comment :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  16. Amel,

    "I haven't seen Beyonce's new ad, either. I guess they haven't turned up here. It's crazy that these days with the advance of technology, many things are manipulated. Technology comes with many pros and cons..."

    Read this: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,399364,00.html
    Perhaps people want L'Oreal to take its pictures in the dark (everybody knows that under the spotlight people's skin gets lighter; so this controversy was another false issue).

    That is true: high tech has its pros and cons...like everything in life.

    Cheers,

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Lady A :D!

    "How are you my friend?"

    :D I am fine, dear; thank you. And yourself?

    "I think that people have built in racism (which they may not even realize). Often it comes out in rants or when they drink, etc. I have heard some of the most vile vitriols in those instances. As for the source, I am not surprised. I've seen some of the most hateful ink slinging originate from there."

    I can imagine, darling: humans can be rather complex.
    Oh, so this is customary chez "The Huffington", eh? It shouldn't surprise me *nodding*.

    "I don't think people understand the power of words, some of which are seasoned with love and others seasoned with hate. And that's the thing about human nature, it's seasoned to taste."

    Beautifully put, my friend! *High 5*

    "We may not be able to change people, but we can change the way we present ourselves, measure our words, embrace other beings and enjoy life's fragrance."

    We are not able to change people. Tell it like it is, sista!

    "Thanks for the etymology lesson."

    lol It's my pleasure, girl!

    Lady A, thank you ever so much for this awesome comment :D.

    Scented Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Lynda :D!

    "Max, it's the style of the day to distill and misrepresent other people's words or meanings, taken purposely out of context. It's very discouraging. I just wrote a poem/rant about the "way things are," with our communication abilities so adulterated that they are dying on the vine."

    You are right. You wrote a poem? Is it on your blog? I will check it out...

    "You are so well informed, and daring as well: you articulate and define difficult concepts and issues. Bravo, my dear."

    *Bowing* thank you, dear!

    "We may all die because of where our preconceptions and prejudices may lead..."

    Well said.

    Lynda, thank you ever so much for your input on this and for your generosity :D.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete

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