I wanted to touch upon a controversial topic that’s been in the spotlight for the past few days. Recently, as most of you probably know, John Galliano was ousted at Dior after an extremely offensive rant was caught on tape. As of now the details of the encounter are still unclear (the provocation, recording, etc.) but the outcome is final: his behavior is intolerable, and he will no longer hold post at Dior. Through reading American articles and blogs about the subject, and also reading and listening to the European perspective, I have stumbled upon an interesting conflict between cultures that goes beyond this news story alone.
I have found through these blog comment arguments, that Americans tend to think that John Galliano is a very bad man; some would even go so for to call him a monster. Europeans however seem to be a bit more easy going about the issue- not that they are defending him, but rather think that this is an unfair invasion of his personal life, and that he deserves a fair trial before true condemnation begins. They seemed to have a bit of compassion, even though his words were so clearly inappropriate and insulting. After reading so many different responses to the issue, I started to become confused- who’s side was I on anyways?
After a discussion with Simon, a fundamental divide began to make itself clear (excuse me for the generalization): Americans tend to heavily dramatize media events, and automatically place blame on another party, as soon as someone or something has been wronged. This phenomenon is heavily criticized by Europeans and often called “sensationalism.”
Europeans tend to think that what happens in someone’s private life, is just that- private, and shouldn’t interfere with their profession. Europeans say that Americans are one sided. Basically, we don’t think or form opinions for ourselves, but rather just repeat what others have said, jump on the bandwagon, and are quick to place blame. Of course, I am always quick to defend my culture when this unintelligent definition of us has been uttered from a European mouth. But this time, I found myself speechless. All I could think to say, was that the media knew best right? They have the best sources, and we have the best and most unbiased newspapers and reporting in the world. Clearly I am questioning myself. Is what I know to be true, really true? Are there other facts and better researched opinions out there that could prove mine (the one I know to be most correct) wrong? The answer is clearly yes. And the fact is, I haven’t quite learned how to deal with this yet.
I have heard from numerous Europeans that Americans have extremely strong opinions, but when faced with an intellectual debate, cannot back up their opinions with actual facts. Rather, they rely on the “shock factor,” to get their view across. This came across as interesting to me, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I rely on this shock factor to express my opinions.
Now I’m going a bit off topic, so let’s get back to the issue. I wonder what the outcome of John Galliano’s actions will mean for Dior, for other designers behavior, and for the great American/European divide in the future. Will we always be fighting over these philosophical issues: which consequence is right and which is wrong, and what should be private or public. Will we be able to reprimand appropriately, while holding onto a shred of compassion. These are tough questions, and very serious ones at that, but I felt it important to address and express what I’ve heard so far about this “crisis.” That’s all for now readers, more lighthearted topics to come next. xx