Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Anti Sarko Subtitle"

"France 2 Humor: The translator in charge of subtitles for the daily news programming in the US left of his own accord, Sarkozy claims.

Francois Bayrou accused French Television Stations of being "Pro-Sarkozy." Apparently, at France-2, someone decided -rather discreetly- to reestablish some balance and push the "anyone but Sarkozy" line. Monday evening, the TV news was devoted to election results. The same night, this program aired with English subtitles on several cable networks in the US (channel 25 in New York City, nightly at 7:00 pm, namely). Only, this time around, the subitles were working independently. Nicolas Sarkozy said: "J'invite tous les Francais(...) a s'unir a moi. (I invite all French people to rally around me - B.)" The translator as a joke submitted "(...) to rally my inflated ego."

(Translation of the translation: "a rejoindre mon ego surdimensionne.")

You can joke about the short guy syndrome: he definitely has it. Save it for the salons, though.

An attentive viewer did not catch any other 'jokes.' The joke in question, however, carries some heavy risks: this broadcast's continuation in the United States is, in fact, at this time, under threat. The stakes revolve most notably around the cost of subtitling, partly funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was withdrawn. If Nicolas Sarkozy is elected on the 6th of May, it's not certain that he is going to have any desire to restore said funding..."

Response (in French) from France 2 here.

Response (again, in French) from the French Language Ministry to the Senate here.


I have no love for Sarkozy: of the candidates the French are able to vote for, Royal is most likely the lesser of the two evils.

However, the sort of stunt that the translator pulled is extremely unprofessional and childish. Sure, it might have seemed funny or cool at the time, but there was a lot more at stake than the perpetrator's personal enjoyment: namely, the media outlet's professional image, the competence of their staff, the opposition's image.

I was turned against the Democrats in our last election not because I thought that the Republicans were any better, but because I was disgusted by the dirty pool played by the (largely left; further left than your average Joe) media in support of their preferred candidates.

In France, it is highly likely that media support (particularly television) is largely skewed to the right. Completely understandable, as power attracts power; especially in a political/economic system such the French have. Getting past this relationship isn't going to be accomplished through childish pranks, but by well-thought-out arguments levied by serious people. As I keep saying to my friends in France: rather than mock us, watch what we do and learn from it, as you're going to be living it later on.

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