Get ready for a cultural rivalry showdown.
Natalie Portman is back in Los Angeles after living in Paris, and she is really quite happy about it. During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, she called out the French for rudeness, snootiness, and unnecessary uptightness — all existing stereotypes she pretty much just reinforced.
“Everyone smiles a lot here. It's so nice,” she said. She contrasted the experience of interacting with Angelenos with interacting with French people. There, she said, “they’re more cool. I didn’t realize it I got used to it until I got here and I was so surprised!”
Having gotten out of her pleasant Los Angeles routine — since moving to Paris with her French husband Benjamin Millepied for a job at the Paris Opera Ballet in 2014 — she found herself actually caught off guard when she arrived back in town. She was shocked if someone started a casual conversation in an elevator. Or, she said, “Someone would smile at my child and I'd be, ‘What a good person. People are really lovely here,’” she reported.
In Paris, she said the experience of having to follow ingrained rules of etiquette could be downright unpleasant. "A friend of mine taught me that when you go in some place you have to say ‘bonjour’ before you say anything else, then you have to wait two seconds before you say something else,” she said. “So if you go into a store you can't be like, ‘Do you have this in another size?’ Or they'll think you're super rude and then they'll be rude to you.”
She told Kimmel, “I feel there's a lot of rules of politeness and codes of behavior there you have to follow. It's a lot looser here." And that certainly dovetails with the reputations of the two cities.
Overall, she said, Americans "care about making the person next to you comfortable because you want them to feel good.”
Aaah, it's a refreshing way to view our culture in a broader context! Of course, her comments may not make for comfortable marital relations at home in the coming days.
Check out the clip:
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