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How can you tell when a right-wing columnist has no sense of humour?

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When he doesn’t find the idea of Iggy Pop being made an Officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters hysterically funny. Instead, Benjamin Ivry is aghast:

American rock star Iggy Pop is known as “The Rock Iguana” and “Grandfather of Punk.” But as of last Saturday, to the French the 56-year-old is Officer of Arts and Letters. Officer Iggy was decorated over the weekend by the French Ministry of Culture, which formerly decorated such cultural notables as rocker Lou Reed, who wrote a hymn to “Heroin,” Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan. As for Jerry Lewis, he outranks all of the above, of course, having been named a Commander of Arts and Letters by Socialist Culture Minister Jack Lang back in 1984.
Time was when Mr. Lang enjoyed pinning decorations on celebs who seemed trendy in France if amazingly low-rent in America, but there is no sign that the current French culture minister, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, is a groupie of Iggy, whose greatest-hits album on Virgin is aptly titled “Nude & Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop.” Among the Officer’s best-remembered tunes are “Nazi Girlfriend” and the 1970s punk anthem “I Wanna Be Your Dog”…

Mr Ivry seems unaware that the latter song actually dates from 1969 (at least it appeared on the first Stooges album that year, the song itself may or may not predate that). Given that conservatives are said by some commentators to be possessed by loathing for what happened in the 1960s, methinks Benny boy would really dislike the song then. Of course, Benjamin can’t let it rest there:

To date, Mr. Allen seems to have escaped being decorated, but it seems only a matter of time. After all, Polanski, who pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl and is a fugitive from American justice, is not only a Commander of Arts and Letters but since 1998 a member of France’s prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts, where he took the place of the legendary filmmaker Marcel Carné, who directed such masterpieces as “Les Enfants du Paradis.” In addition to a certain tone-deafness about a creative personality’s actual work, the French proudly ignore the private lives of their cultural personalities.

I can only presume Benny didn’t know Marcel Carné was gay, else he’d have mentioned that. Still think Enfants is a great film, Mr Ivry? Or do you feel slightly better to know that the Académie let a convicted pederast replace someone whose private life you would probably have found equally repellent, rather than someone who didn’t deserve to have his place taken by ce sale polonais?

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About James Russell

  • Sporkadelic

    The gay thing is a red herring; see Ivry’s biographies of Rimbaud and Poulenc (both gay) and Ravel (gay? maybe.)

  • mike

    More of a pink herring, actually.

    It’s pretty silly for conservatives to attack the French because they lionize Americans like Iggy Pop and Roman Polanski. After all, the conservative pantheon of personalities includes Howard Stern, Dennis Miller, Ted Nugent, Ann Coulter, Charlie Daniels, Toby Keith, Newt Gingrich, Bubba the Love Sponge, and Michael Savage. Kind of a Who’s Who of White Trash.

  • Sporkadelic

    By the way, do you know that Benjamin Ivry is a right-winger, or do you just assume that because he’s published by WSJ? (Serious question. I’ve never seen any of his political writing.)

  • Sean Hackbarth

    Who’s Bubba the Love Sponge?