Monday, 3 August 2009

Word of the day "la peopolisation"

The weekend Le Monde which was waiting for us in our letter box this evening has the most wonderful word "peopolisation" on its front page. I am sure this cannot be a word that has got past the Académie française and although I do think I have heard it before I had not seen it written down. I love that the French version of an English word (that of course does not exist!) is spelled as the French would say it rather than according to the outre mer anglophone spelling conventions:
"Les People" (celebrities) becomes "la peopolisation" (the celebritisation?).
The word gave me great pleasure when I saw it today, yes it is sad to be a word spotter, but this neologism shows just how much celebrity as a concept and a value is changing not just our culture and our values but even language itself.
Arte, the brilliant Franco- German tv channel is running a programme on how the private life of politicians is invading the public sphere. Given the antics of Berlusconni and Sarkozy recently this is perhaps not entirely surprising, the serious point is that "celebrity" serves the same purpose that Marx once assigned to religion - the opium of the people. Celebrity culture distracts us from the real political issues, we learn to care more about who is sleeping with whom, what brand of trainers they wear, where they take their holidays, and other often quite interminable trivial nonsense. Meanwhile debate about what kind of society we might want to build or be part of is sidelined. We are too busy aspiring to have our moment on the red-carpet or in the limousine, wanting to be one of the super rich ... and feeling rather dissatisfied and unhappy with our ordinary non-celebrity lives.
So are you one of the "Peopol" or are you happy just being a human being?