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China: a Phoenix rising from its ashes ?

January 24, 2018

“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep for when she wakes she will move the World” alerted Napoleon. That omen is about to come true.

In their mutual relationships, Occident and China were always dominated by a blend of distrust and fascination. Both were great civilizations, if not the greatest, and both were split by all – religion, culture, philosophy, political administration, alphabet and even the  hierarchy of values. Due to their distance, they developed independently, nonetheless, they affected each other even during the Antiquity. Thus, the Roman Empire was prolific in silk trade and craftsmanship, the cornerstone of Chinese marketing and Imperial budget. From the West of Middle Kingdom flows, through merchants, precious materials such as jewelry, glass, gold or even cosmetics.

For two thousand years, the conditions and terms of exchanges were dictated by the Empire. The situation collapsed with the Industrial Revolution, which brought a large advantage to Europe. China was turned into colony-like territory. From the sight of Millenial Empire, the European diktat was a terrible shame and humiliation. Nowadays after 2 centuries of Occidental domination, the World returns to the old ruts, with Chinese commercial supremacy in the spotlight. Is the expansion due to old complexes?

Silk fantasy

We still don’t know when the first Sino-European meeting actually took place. Maybe it was in Middle Asia during the conquests of Alexander the Macedonian. On the available Silk road (since 3rd century B.C) merchants and investors never met personally.  They contacted each other through Parthes, masters of the territory situated in between, which corresponds to today’s Iran.  The trade among both empires engendered a lot of benefits for Parthes.

Despite the numerous impediments, Romans like Chinese tried to get in touch directly. In 93 AD, commander Ban Chao reached Caspian Sea and sent his ambassador to Daqin – aka Roman Empire. Unfortunately, his journey ended in a disappointment provoked by Parthes. They convinced Ban Chao to forsake the expedition because of its length.

As a result, it was Marco Polo, who was the first European to step on Chinese ground. His report met a great enthusiasm among the European intelligentia albeit some skeptics accused him of being a fool. It is true that some anecdotes could induce astonishment like the fact that  there were more splendid cities than glorious Rome, that governors were richer than French King, that acupuncture was used as a healing method or that they cooked dogs ( yes, this one is related too.) Despite their cultural differences Occident and China, even in XIII century, thought about allying against growing Islam, which was obviously an obstacle to their mutual interests and security. To no avail.  Soon the Silk road was on its way to perish because of the Turkish and Arab invasions.

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Marco Polo’s merchants expedition to East on the Silk Road. The Road was about 7 000 miles (12 000 km).

In other words, it was the end of Sino-European collaboration. Nevertheless, the wealth of the  Middle State was unforgettable for the Western Countries. In 1513, Jorge Alvarez, a Portuguese navigator arrived in China by sea. When he anchored his boat at the outlet of Pearl River, he was received with mixed feelings. It was a consequence of Malaka invasion by Portuguese in 1511. The Sultanate was vassal of the Emperor; a violation of its security meant violation of the Chinese’s. Portuguese “conquistadors” were forbidden to tread on the Empire land. “As you wish” Portugal commander said, and the trades took place on the vessel deck before leaving the port.

To negotiate better terms, the King of Portugal sent in 1517, an ambassador to Beijing. Tomé Pires demanded an audience. He obtained it … after three years ! And when he was finally granted audience, Chinese nobles felt astonished even outraged that the Portuguese monarch put himself on an equal footing instead of pledging  allegiance and preaching for mercy as if he were the Heaven Son.  Decidedly, these Portuguese were not worth all the generosity of the Court. Pires and other diplomats were jailed for life. As to the translators… they were beheaded. All these events were transformed into propaganda. Thus, the commander of Portuguese Navy waiting in Canton was accused of the most cruel and devilish deeds such as kidnapping and devouring Chinese children. Lies or not ? The poor commander should have stayed in Portugal and eaten cod. Through Portugal it was the whole vision of Europe that was changed. They were called “overseas devils”. It was just an au revoir for Portugal.

“Chinese have a brain”

China’s foreign policy needed to be alleviated. Don’t be surprised, when your pockets are empty you call the richer neighbour. That’s how it was at that time. In 1535, the port of Canton re-opened its gates to foreigners. 20 years later, even a few marketplaces were directed by Portuguese merchants as well as lots. Foreigners paid a consequent tribute (20 kg of silver per year)  for a little piece of land. “Great Deal !” thought the Chinese lords. But it was a failure. They had certainly never read Sun Tzu, otherwise, they would have foreseen it. It’s exactly how Macau was built; it’s not until 1999 that it was attached to China.

From the other side of the continent, Europeans drew lessons from Pires’s tragic fate. No more cupid diplomats were sent but highly educated and open-minded missionaries, mainly Jesuits. When one of them – the Italian Matteo Ricci – discovered a mistake in Chinese astrophysicists calculus about Sun eclipse, aristocrats, in their meekness, gave more credit to occidental science and religion. It was reciprocal. Of course, adapting Taoist or Buddhist concepts in a Christian background strengthened their position in the Chinese bastion. So thus, German Johann Schall von Bell for reforming the calendar became the Emperor’s private adviser, Flemish Ferdinand Verbiest designed astronautic engines, Pole Jan Smogulecki told them about logarithm and other too complicated stuff to develop.

Jesuits reports were so fascinating that European nobility adopted a typical style called in elegant French : “chinoiserie”. Every aristocrat’s residence had Chinese motifs. Special rooms were dedicated to China: fan and panoply were decorated with flourishing camellias, lacquer shined on furniture; even some alcoves or pavilions appeared in gardens. It was very much à la mode. As to intelligence it was gratified and remarked by philosophers such as Voltaire, Leibnitz or Diderot. The discovery of China marked an end to superstitions about Chinese “wild” nature. (No, don’t speak about pandas!) To put it in a nutshell, Goethe remarked: “When our ancestors lived in forests, their already read marvelous books.”

Manchurian Empire

The enchantment grew up with the discovery of three decisive inventions  for Europe- impression, gunpowder and compass, which were in fact already common in China, without mentioning paper, barrow, lucifer, horse-collar, seismograph, paper money … (Actually half of the things we use nowadays, overlooking those which are produced by them but it’s another part.)

Mutual fascination stayed, until the geopolitical situation evolved. The Great Wall failed. Manchuria invaded and abolished the Ming dynasty in 1644 before installing their own. Is it to believe that the Ming destiny was cursed? Some of them were ready to convert to Catholicism in exchange for Western help. In fact, the cruelty of reprehension knew no limits. They sent an SOS to the Pope, to the King of England even Portugal. They decided nevertheless not to lose their time with an already dead minority. It was the pitiful end of the Ming chapter in China’s history, a dynasty which brought more than they took.

Meanwhile, Manchuria extended their borders to Pamir, Himalaya and Baikal Lake ; Birma, Laos and North Vietnam came under their influence. The Chinese Empire reached an apogee never seen. On the other hand, their hegemony never crossed the borders so the relationship with Portugal stayed on the old ruts. Actually, they had other ships to launch.

“We don’t need you !”

Manchurians were so convinced about their superiority regarding the barbarism from the West that they rested on their laurels. Meanwhile, in 1793, at the outlet of Hai River, surrounding Beijing, the British fleet anchored with at its front the “Lion”, a vessel counting 64 shotgun barrels. It was the ambassador’s escort itself (called “Hindustan” named after their own colony.) The deal addressed to Emperor Qianlong was about signing a trade agreement and resolving the diplomatic issue. In order to promote British ingenuity, few gifts were brought such as hot air balloon or telescope. “We need nothing from you. We have all we need !” deflected Qianlong. It was another failure for British diplomats who thought about levelling their conflictual relationship with China.

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The caricature by James Gillray shows Chinese emperor declared that he doesn’t need Europeans inventions.

Isolationism was from now on at the core of China’s foreign policy. No reforms, no measures for fear of moving the stability and balanced harmony envisaged by Confucius. On the other side, the real potential of the British was looming. It disclosed especially with one, particularly demoniac stratagem. British decided to grow poppies  in their numerous trading posts in India. Not to be used in cooking but in order to turn it into opium. Most lucrative businesses are illegal (it’s not a reason to do it ;)) and it’s how in 1837, they exported about 2 million kilograms of opium.

Profitable for British as well as for Chinese administrators who turned a blind eye to it. But one incorruptible man was clear enough to discover the devil under the carpet.

Lin Zexu, an influent courtier known for his purpose, convinced the Emperor of his “incapacity to protect the country with a junkie army” in 1838. As a result, officials responsible for the chaos were killed and Lin Zexu became the right hand of Qianlong.      The proof of his merit was the title he obtained : imperial commissionner. Full of self-confidence he reached Canton from where he sent an official missive to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria in 1839 : “By which right, in name of your benefits, dare you to hurt Chinese nation by bringing him poison ? Where is Your consciousness?” 

Regardless of the answer, Lin Zexu demanded to all the ship-masters to entrust them with their loads. They refused. History has shown that when you are in a lower position you had better let it go. Lin Zexu made them understand. They were deprived of food and water. At last, they threw over 1100 tons of opium above the deck.

Insulted by the Regime, the Crown requested a compensation. But Queen Victoria categorically refused. It was the beginning of a conflict that the next Prime Minister of the UK, William Gladstone,  would call “the most unfair and humiliating war ever seen in History.”

The abasement century

In 1840, in Canton were launched 4 000 English soldiers, 15 warships with arsenal to attack the city. Thanks to their innovative carabins, British could snipe a Chinese before he managed to target his enemy. Chinese were defeated. The Emperor was put face to a wall; he finally signed the surrender, a pseudo peace treaty that obliged China to open 5 new ports including Canton and Shanghai. But the most important was the lifetime management of Hong Kong, still under a statu quo.

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Caricature of the Chinese cake by Henry Meyer.

It was an abasement not only for the Heaven Son.  The value of silver like taxes increased. Chinese became angry because of the great loss of money following the Opium War. Protests triggered Taiping insurrections throughout the country (1851 – 1868). Bloody repression caused over 10 million killed. Western Powers cynically took advantage of the situation by imposing more and more concessions.  Every dissent was treated as a precaution to take and each time it needed an intervention; it became known as  the 2nd Opium War. England was supported by France, even Germans who claimed their part of the Chinese cake. After 2 years of incessant war, year 1860 brand the terrible fate of Beijing. Europeans input, ravaged and plundered the north capital, Beijing.

“The Empress Dowager, Cixi, reacted in the way that the authors of the document presumably hoped she would. ‘Now,’ she is reported to have exclaimed, ‘the Powers have started the aggression, and the extinction of our nation is imminent. If we just fold our arms and yield to them, I would have no face to see our ancestors after death. If we must perish, why not fight to the death?’ A Decree (which was widely ignored) went out to the provinces ordering them to send troops to Peking.”

The siege at Peking by Peter Fleming, 1959. 

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British float destroying the Chinese one during the Opium War.

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Chinese smoke opium until they reach a supreme state during which they lose self-control

In the next treaties, 11 ports were ceded. Of course, I overlooked the opium flourishing trade. Forget about Escobar and other Columbine cartels, the biggest dealer ever was the John Company directly managed by the British Empire. To give a figure, 1 out of 3 Chinese citizen were addicted to their cargo.

“DOGS AND CHINESE NOT ALLOWED”

The long domination of foreigners and the illegal transit of drugs left a profound scourge in China’s soul. It brought forth a complex of inferiority. This era was particularly painful for the people. Most of the white shops or cafés panelled the next superscription: “Dogs and Chinese are forbidden”. It enhances the dehumanization Occidentals to degrade the natives. The curse continued with the defeat against Japan (1894 – 1895) which was considered as a copy-paste of China. Elites and folks had enough. In 1899, the discontent was embodied by the “Boxer Revolution” – another bloody but still unsuccessful rebellion against Manchuria and Occident. As a consequence, China became partly-European-American-Japanese half-colony.

To adapt to the new situation, in 1911, army and belligerents known as the Chinese United  League (still in activity in Taiwan under the name of “Kuomintang”) forced the 5 -year-old Emperor, Pu Yi,  to abdicate. On December 29th, the Republic of China was proclaimed.

The League obtained a large majority which allowed to gather broken China. Nonetheless, their efforts were spoiled by the Land of the Rising Sun. Indeed, the Japanese Empire invaded Manchuria in 1937 (Slaughter of Nankin.) Another player input on the stage, obviously, the Communist Party supported by Stalin’s Russia.

A big leap?

At the end of World War II and the defeat of Japan, two players were still standing: weaker and weaker, Kuomintang, and the growing Communist Party . On October 1st 1949, Mao Zedong, the leader, claimed the inauguration of the People’s Republic of China. Although Mao cut off with the past, his revolution was not so far from it. It was founded on giving back China’s sovereignty and lead her to an absolute power. Here it’s just a question of name; before it was the Emperor, now it’s the Party Leader.

After cutting the link with the West, China became independent from her helpful brother, Moscow.  China marched according to her proper way and isolated from the world. As you can see, the fear of “overseas devils” was still present in their minds. To fill the complex, they launched a desperate policy of Big Leap Forward. The prevision was that within, at least, 15 years, China would exceed the GDP of the UK. Without any sensed decisions, it turned out to be one of the biggest economic failures of the XXth century. The starvation killed between 10 and 40 million people. ( The figures are not exact because China is still politically closed.)

Mao stifled the people’s outcry about it and folded the critics during the “Cultural Revolution”. Then he did what centuries ago Qianlong avoided – started a new chapter with the USA. In 1972, he welcomed for the first time a US president, Richard Nixon. A symbolical handshake which branded the beginning of a fruitful cooperation. The fulfilment of diplomatic relations were ensured few years later, in 1979, by his successor, Deng Xiaoping. As well as past emperors opened Canton’s gates to foreigners, this pragmatic Marxist opened the door to modern capitalism. He had the choice to close it, somehow the exclusive area of Shenzhen seemed to be an unprecedented success.  It was a real leap forward, which turned a fisher harbor into 10-million-inhabitant modern mainland.

In the back of the US?

From this moment on,  all was going very fast. Chinese economy increased over 8-10 % every year. Since 1980, exportations have been growing up from $14 million to $2 billion.

China prevailed in his ancient status of exporter. If America is the attic of the World, China is certainly its factory. In 2016, Americans purchased products from China for $420 billion and sold them for only 140 billion. The question posed a few years ago by Chinese economist Wang Yiwei was “How can we stop the unavoidable falling of USA ?” (It’s not at least an intellectual provocation 🙂 ) Recently globalized China can’t lose her first economic partner and prolific market, America.

The rising Giant is also opening its arms to other stuff. As Napoleon predicted, China will transform the World; it’s doing so already. Exploitation of raw materials in Africa or financing the Nicaragua project for a substitute to the Panama Canal. You may not know it, but Volvo, Motorola, Pirelli  are already Chinese. Same thing for the Piraeus port in Greece. Generally speaking, China is everywhere!

The Chinese army joins the run too. In fact, it’s the most numerous one (2,3 million soldiers) and is still looking for the best arsenal. In 2012, the first aircraft carrier drifted on the Pacific Ocean. They have also built  3 considerable marine headquarters and bases.

These plans are just a few among the ambitious projects that China has in store. Remember: in 2003 the first spatial flight; in 2008, the organisation of the Olympic Games ; finally,  the landing of a lounger in 2013. Is it not a proof of breaking with obsolete complexes?

“In Chinese culture, pride, designed by the conviction of being perfect and exclusive, has a major place. Nonetheless, pride has two sides : arrogance or gentle opening to others. In China since the first encounter with the West, arrogance has prevailed.”

Perry Link, sinologist.

The question is: will it change?

Xavier K.

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French clichés

December 20, 2017

From strange taste in food, bad behaviour with strangers or our funny dress code, French people have been confronted with many kind of different clichés. As a French teenager, I would like to correct those funny things that people may think about my country and its inhabitants. I may deny things, add others and even confess that sometimes, those clichés are not that untrue . If you want to hear the truth and know French people you may be interested in what follows.

Let’s start with the food! 

The French gastronomy

France is seen as the country where people eat well. From our cheeses, our ‘viennoiseries’, wines and every kind of food. There are those restaurants, where you can eat really well such as:

la Scene Theleme, Bacco, le Poulpry, l’Orangerie

We also have many good and well-known cooks such as Alain Ducasse, Alexis Soyer, Anthony Bourdain, Gaston Lenotre or Paul Bocuse.

French gastronomy seduces a lot of people and it is now a fact that cooks go to different countries to open French restaurants and they have a lot of success.

The good Disney animated movie Ratatouille is a really good representation of the French gastronomy and those good restaurants (don’t worry , when I say that it is a good representation I’m talking about the food and not the rats!)

Wine

France is well-known for its wine, especially Bordeaux. It is true that we have the best red wine in the world and no one could ever say that we don’t. I have heard Americans say that  French people sit at a café and drink every hour a glass of wine. Well this is exaggerated. French people do like and drink wine, but not every single hour. Plus, not every one drinks a glass of wine every day even if a lot do.

 Do French people eat frogs?

To that question I can say that yes, there are some  places where you can find frogs as a dish. Personally I have never eaten frogs and I don’t know many people who already have. So yes some do but most of the population would rather eat a good piece of meat than a frog.

The “petit déjeuner”

Every country has it own particular type of food.  For breakfast, Americans like to eat bacon, eggs and many other things; it is the same for English people who like to eat savoury things. At breakfast , French people mostly eat bread (baguette or other kind) with butter and sometimes they add jam. There are also some others who like to eat croissants or pains au chocolat. I have to add that French people eat a lot of bread and it accompanies nearly every meal.

Dress code :

French women all dress like fashion models:

 

 

 

 

The idea that all French women dress well is widely spread. Many French women are interested in fashion and like to be elegant, but it’s far from being true for all of them. Most French people buy their clothes at H&M and Zara and wearing clothes from brands like Dior or Chanel remains a dream for many.

French people wear Berets:

It’s true that if you are walking in the streets of Paris you may encounter a few people wearing Berets but it’s not that common among Parisians. I don’t want to say that it’s”rare” but almost . People who are more seen with berets are the ederly but thanks to Dior the beret is making a coming back in the city. Tourists and locals wear it so no one would suspect you of being a tourist if you do.

French People Wear Striped shirts:

The idea that hordes of French people wear striped shirts is another stereotype that people have latched onto and perpetuated over time. Sure you see people wearing this iconic French shirt once in a while however it’s not as popular as it once was.

The striped shirt is actually called a ‘marinière’. It was the official uniform for the French navy seamen in Brittany following the 1858 Act of France. Originally, there were 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories. Some people say that the distinctive block pattern and stripes made the sailors easier to spot in the water if they ever fell overboard.

in 1917, Coco Channel changed the fashion industry and immortalized the striped shirt when she introduced the design in her nautical collection to the fashion world. Soon after the famous French striped sailor design became associated with haute couture and beautiful women like Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn who were seen wearing striped shirts.

(source: https://www.annieandre.com/stereotypes-about-the-french/)

Ever since, the striped shirt has come in and out of fashion and has become the epitome of Paris style. Very few people even make the connection between French sailors and striped shirts any more but now you know.

Other kinds of clichés:

French People Walk Around Holding Baguettes:

In every town, big or not there are bakeries. Most of the time, even if you live in a tiny village there is more than one bakery. It’s not uncommon to see people with baguettes under their arms if it’s the morning or after work, at the end of the day. Baguettes are really addictive so if one day you want to settle down in France you will probably adopt this way of eating and living.

French People Smell Bad:

France is known for its many perfumes so it would have been sad to say that this cliché was true. Let me say it clearly, we don’t smell bad! We shave every day, we take showers, actually we are pretty normal. Our smell is not that different from other people! Except maybe for the exquisite perfumes that we add after washing! 😉

 

 

 

The Los Angeles’ French high school

December 15, 2017

In Los Angeles, there is one special high school, nicknamed “  the celebrities high school”. Every international and French celebrity wants their children to study there. Consequently, it is the most popular high school in the world. It is seen as an exceptional high school and among these ‘very important kids’,we can find the children of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Bob Sinclar, Johnny Halliday, Gad Elmaleh and Madonna.

This high school was founded in 1964 by Raymond and Esther Cabaz. They had a dream: they longed for giving lessons in French. Yet, the State authorized only English teaching. So, they decided to fight against the California law. They achieved their dream with the first enrolment of the famous Agnes Moorehead’s son. ( from the series Bewitched ). Then, the success was immediate.

The school is divided in 5 campus. There are 900 students and among them, 56 nationalities. It welcomes students from primary school to high school. As it is a prestigious school, parents have to pay from 16 000 to 22 000 euros  each year. Nothing has changed since the creation of the school;  students still wear a uniform for example. It is not just as a symbol of the school but also as a way to show that everyone is equal and that students have to distinguish themselves by their intelligence and their soul.

It is really another mentality:

First of all, the high school looks like a big hotel with the cars’ parade,  and of course prestigious cars, which drop the children off at the bebining of the day. There are also some men, kind of bodyguards in charge of the security with talkie walkies. The school is highly secured, with lots of cameras which trigger calm and tranquility. Indeed, at the death of Elvis Presley, lots of paparazzis had wanted to photograph his daughter, who studied in the school at that time. Consequently they strengthened the security. We can talk about the investment of Brad Pitt’s family in screens, kind of thick fabrics to protect the grids, so that journalists cannot take picture through them. As we can see the high school is nonstandard.

Secondly, the school system is not traditional:  there are only 15 students per class, which prompts a proximity between students and teachers. For example the director knows every student by his name.  The French class is obligatory, of course. There are homework and tests but it is more flexible: they want students not to feel under pressure. Yet, they have 100% success at the bacalauréat and the students have the opportunity to acquire a French or American diploma.

They want the students to learn the values of  sharing and wasting. They even have an organic garden. Indeed, most of the time, the students do not even know the name of vegetables.
Moreover, they aim to instruct them on an art of living they don’t know: they have the possibility in the CE2 class to learn how to cook baguettes and croissants.
They have  some things in common with French schools, for example the election of the class representatives. However, it looks like an American show, like the Oscar ceremony: they usually emphasize their ideas to be more convincing. They learn how to speak in front of an assembly.

Finally, the school proposes lots of other activities, not only for students like a choir or a swimming pool and a football team, but also for parents: Dany Boon had for example participated in  an interview game, Johnny Hallyday had a concert and Angelina Jolie attended the last dinner of the year.

Camille

 

 

The Walt Disney History

December 13, 2017

Alice in Wonderland,Cinderella, Mickey all these legendary faces have marked our childhood but how was this company launched?

Beginning:

The company started in 1923 with two men: Walt and Roy Disney, two brothers. They produced short animated films called the Alice Comedies. This sucess allowed them to  spread and  to move to Burbank.

Disney created his first character known as Oswald the lucky rabbit, however Charles Mintz took the rights of Oswald from Walt Disney and claimed Oswald as an official Universal Studios character. Universal pictures  is an American film studio too. Following this event Mintz hired four of Disney’s  animators  to start his own animation studio.

They tried to find a way to replace Oswald.  Walter created a mouse named Mickey which will became a legendary character, a  mascot of the Disney company. Mickey officially begins  in the short film Steamboat Willie, one of the first  sound cartoons. He  appeared  in 130 productions of Disney.

In 1932, Disney signed an exclusive contract with Technicolor to produce cartoons in color, beginning with Flowers and trees .

The success:

The movie Snow White and the seven Dwarfs was released in 1937. It became the highest-grossing film of that time by 1939. Using the profits from Snow White, Disney financed the construction of a new 51-acre (210,000 m2) studio in Burkank, California; the new Walt Disney studio in which the company is headquartered to this day,

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, producer Walt Disney, with models and sketches, 1937

The studio continued releasing animated films, such as Pinocchio(1940), Fantasia(1940), Dumbo (1941), and  Bambi (1942).

The slowing down of the compagny:  WWII

After World War II  box-office profits declined. When the United States entered the war after the attack of pearl Harbor many of Disney’s animators were enrolled into the armed forces. The U.S. and Canadian governments commissioned the studio to produce  propaganda movies.

In 1942, 90% of its 550 employees were working on war  films such as the Victory Through Air Power and Education for death. Both released in 1943, they were meant to  support  the war effort and raise people’s awareness.

Post War:

After the end of the war,the producers started to slowly produce short animation movies and then they tried to throw feature length animation again. The release of Cinderella in 1950 proved that feature-length animation could still succeed in the marketplace. Other movies were released: Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan1953), both were in production before the war had begun.

In October 1954, the ABC network launched Disney’s first regular television series, Disneyland.This allowed Disney a platform to introduce new projects, and ABC became Disney’s partner in the financing and development of Disney. In 1954, Walt Disney used his Disneyland series to unveil what would become Disneyland: a place  where parents and children could both have fun at the same time. On July 18, 1955, Walt Disney opened Disneyland to the  public.

The death of Roy and Walter Disney:

Walt Disney died from  cancer in 1966, his brother Roy renamed “Disney World” as “Walt Disney World”. His two last movies were The Jungle Book and The Happiest Millionaire which were released in 1967. On December 20, 1971 Roy died of a stroke.  Walt Disney was never a rich man despite the success of Disney , because he valued perfection for his movies more than his profits. “I don’t make movies to make money,” he once said, “I make money so I can make more movies.” was Walt’s state of mind.

Donn Tatum, Card Walker  and Walt’s son-in-law Ron Millereach trained by Walt and Roy were at the head of the compagny after their deaths.

The 1990s were a hugely successful decade for the Disney Company. Animated films continued in 1994 with The Lion King, which soon became one of the highest-grossing films of all-time. It was followed by Pocahontas in 1995, The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1996, Hercules in 1997, Mulan in 1998, Tarzan in 1999

More recently movies such as  Finding DoryVaina, Vice Versa or Frozen have also been a great success for Disney.

The magic of these movies is that adults and children are used to watching them regardless of their ages. They keep watching the old and the recent Disney movies.

Manoa.

Dynasty, the new Gossip Girl series?

December 1, 2017

Dynasty is an American prime time televison soap opera which is a reboot based on the 1980s series of the same name. The show is developed by Josh Schwartz ( co-creator, writer and executive producer of Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries...) and Stephanie Savage ( also writer , executive producer and co-creator of Gossip Girl…) and Sallie Patrick. The new series stars are Grant Show( Born to race, The girl next door…) as Blake Carrington , Nathalie Kelley ( the Vampire Diaries, Urban Explorer…) as his new wife Cristal Flores Carrington , Elizabeth Gillies ( iCarly, Victorious…) as Blake’s daughter Fallon, and James Mackay ( The Dressmaker, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales…) as his son Steven. Dynasty premiered on October 11, 2017 on  the CW Network in the United States , and on Netflix internationally a day later.

The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

The series begins with Fallon Carington , the heiress of the society which found her father engaged to Cristal , a rival employee at the family company.   She begins to plan the separation of the two lovebirds and it costs her a promotion. She decides to get allies with Jeff Colby , one of her friends and rivals of the company and get her own success. Meanwhile , Cristal’s nephew arrives and becomes romantically involved with Steven.  He threatens her to expose her shady past. The Carringtons form a united front in the wake of the suspicious death of Cristal’s former lover, but things at the mansion do not remain harmonious for long.

As the CW Network thought that it had been a long time since Gossip Girl had stopped and that no series had taken the lead of that kind of shows, they decided to take a chance with this reboot. With Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage we may be sure that we’ll find some interesting things in this show and we have to follow it closely!

Personally I have already started to watch the 4 first episodes and I still don’t know if I can call it a successor of GG. It is too soon to make any judgment and for now I feel like no one will ever equal Serena, Blair , Nate , Dan and Chuck’s story, but that is for sure that we can’t say never say never and by giving a chance to this series we might have good surprises.  So let’s wait for the first season and see.

Alexandra

“Purple drank”, the new teenagers drug?

November 29, 2017

For the past few months, a new trend has circulated among many young people. Indeed, since the overdose of Pauline, 16 years old, not a day goes  without media talking about those psychoactives. Is this a revolution of teenagers? Isn’t it also a projection of the bad situation of the society?

What is the “Purple Drank”?

The “Purple drank” is a mix of codeine cough syrup and Sprite. The name of this “cocktails”comes from the US, where it all began. Actually, it was called like that to introduce reference to the purple syrup which is all the US Rappers talk about.

It was popularized in the 90’s, when rap music began to be very influential. DJ Screw was one of the first rappers to dedicate a song to this drink. He was talking about the effects and also how it helped him to create a new music style : « screwed and chopped », where the sound is slowed. After that, in the 2000’s, most of those rappers talked about this “magic potion”in their songs , that influences  a lot teenagers all around the world.

More specifically , the term of “purpledrank” arrived in France in 2013. This cheap drug suits amateurs in demand of stronger sensations. Students, teenagers, adults consume this drug in calm parties, to be “relaxed and high”.
Howeover, in France, the purple syrup doesn’t exist; so you have to put some purple pigments inside your drink. Thus, they created a new recipe with the neo-codion syrup, seven up and pigment.

Incurred dangers and consequences

This “medecine” is extremely dangerous because of the lack of information of teenagers. They think that they are dealing with “just” a medecine and so that could not put them in poor health. For them,”this is not forbidden” and so this could not “kill them”. At the present time, we have numbered 5 intoxications among which 2 deaths. Unfortunately all of those victims were juvenile…

We can take the example of Pauline, 16 years old, who died on 2 May 2016 of an overdose of codeine. She was a brilliant student , in the scientific field, and apparently no problem in her life; just the classical malaise of teenagers. Her mother didn’t notice her daughter’s addiction, despite her knowledge in biology and medical field.
As a result, Pauline’s mother decided to take charge of this social phenomenon and fight against the democratization of drugs in general.
Almost 45.000 persons signed her petition to stop the sale of those over-the-counter products lawfully. Her wish  is to sensitize young people of adverse consequences of taking those syrups. Thankfully, on  12 July 2017, the Ministry of Health announced that medications that contain codein would be delivered necessarily with a prescription, in order to close the misuses of those products.

Howeover, do we have to decriminalize it?

The arrival of this polemic in our debates makes us realize the importance of taking part in this social phenomenon. Furthermore, it shows us the evolution under which the ban is circumvented.
In spite of the penalisation, this doesn’t stop the consumption of cannabis product. This is a kind of “legal ban” ,where the government is hypocritical in telling that depenalising cannabis would increase the consumption. Indeed, sanctions don’t arrest consumers, it rather amuses them to be”illegal”; and that is THE problem. We have to change our way of thinking.
First, we have to take in charge the education of children – in relation to pleasure,  abstinence – and accept that there will always be someone who wants to experiment, and be in conflict with the law.
Moreover, the government has to take in charge the commercialization of those products on Internet. As a matter of fact, the existence of webplatform of psychoactive consumers spurs non-consumers to become familiar with illegal products. But, il also helps to give information about the risks. Those web pages are the precursors of drug advances.

Margaux

The truth about the French Revolution

November 24, 2017

     The mystical Bastille day; 14th July 1789, the poor’s rebellion ;  since you are young that is the nice common story  you have been taught at school, on Tv, by your friends or parents.

Today is the day when all those clichés will be questioned and when I will explain why the French Revolution could be a complete fraud. It could have been all planified and contrary to what we believe, the main characters and leaders of that rebellion were aristocrats or bourgeois. Indeed they wanted more power by throwing out King Louis XVI.

To reach that goal they presented falsified doleances, one of them mentioned a cereal shortage. The King’s governement decided to ration food which increased the national anger. Though France was the most prosperous European country, the people thought hunger was looming and the population became rebellious. Then, guided by the bourgeois militia, the Parisians followed the path and after taking canons and weapons at the Tuileries, they arrived to the Bastille’s jail where were preserved ammunition and gunpowder.

Myth was maintained of courageous fighters whereas the edifice was only defended by a 100 soldiers 80 of them being invalids. People testified about that event like the French writer  Chateaubriand in his “Memoirs from Beyond the Grave”. He confides that the defenders of Revolution were paid afterwards if they attended the Bastille day to maintain the myth of brave revolutionaries that fought against oppression and starvation. But lots of people said they were present so as to get  paid.

Now, the demystification minute has come. Once they arrived in front of the edifice, it was only protected by invalids and a few soldiers. Besides, beyond the brave act of saving people injailed unfairly, what the population still does not know is that there were only 7 prisoners: 4 forgers, two madmen and a criminal. To make people believe in terrible conditions, a man: Count Lorges was paid to imitate a prisoner that would have been jailed for 32 years; he was found in a humid dungeon, half naked and with a lot of hair and a long bear. Anyway the seven real prisoners didn’t get their liberty back because they were really outlaws and dangerous.

According to some historians, the whole Revolution continued as a deep and selfish swindle. 

It is definitely something to muse on.

Candice