By Simon N.
France and America have always had a tumultuous relationship. On matters of military and strategic cooperation, the two countries are the greatest of allies. On matters of culture and social attitude, the two could not be more apart. In this article, I will compare and contrast the best qualities offered by each country. Maybe we will finally be able to settle once and for all the age-old debate: Which country is better?
1) France the country vs. America the country
It is awfully difficult for a non-student of history to come to appreciate France as a country. Our thinking is often influenced not by the past but by the contemporary. The fact America is a world’s super power, while France’s sphere of influence has greatly diminished, gives the U.S. a huge edge in the debate. Consequently, it is fairly easy for us to ignore the fact France’s history spans thousands of years compared to a paltry 400 years for the United States. Moreover, Les Bleus was a powerful player in areas of military, culture and science for much of those glorious years. History still worth something, is it not?
If there were a popularity contest involving a choice between France and the U.S., which country would come out on top? Although most people are not students of history, I suspect that they know enough about the world to have some appreciation as to what a great country France was and still is. Apparently, popular opinion also echoes my sentiments. According to Google Trends, the search term "France" generates slightly higher interest than the search term "America". Considering how outnumbered French net users are to American net users, this feat is quite impressive. Maybe and just maybe most people are students of history after all.
2) The French vs. the American
The Americans and the French are two notable victims of stereotyping. Americans are often typecast as stubborn and greedy. The French are infamously stereotyped as arrogant and obnoxious. Since both sets of stereotypes are negative traits, it really comes down to which one is the most negative. Personally, I can’t stand arrogant snobs.
My feelings are once again validated by Google Trends. The search term "American" is overwhelmingly more popular than the term "French" (people and language). Granted that the results are not scientific, this is still an interesting insight nonetheless.
3) The Eiffel Tower vs. the Statue of Liberty
The last of our comparisons will be between two iconic monuments -- The Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Ironically, both monuments were built by the French. In terms of aesthetics and historic value, the Eiffel Tower is obviously the greater of the two. There are numerous statues that are bigger and better-crafted than the Statue of Liberty, but there isn’t a tower structure in the world that can compete with the Eiffel Tower. The Parisian icon is an architectural wonder and is also the world’s biggest tourist draw.
The Statue of Liberty obviously does not command the same attention as its French counterpart. However, the Lady of Liberty represents ideals that are universal -- the desire for freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Because of this very reason, I believe the Statue of Liberty will be competitive in this debate.
What is the netizen verdict? Google Trends show the search term "Statue of Liberty" slightly edged the term "Eiffel Tower". The fact that search data are naturally biased (due to America’s bigger share of net users) tells us that the Eiffel Tower probably has more fans than its American counterpart. This is highly understandable since the Eiffel Tower has greater worldwide recognition.
Final Verdict: The two countries, France and United States, are fairly even in our comparison. This apparently contradicts the popular belief that France is part of old Europe and is no longer relevant in the scheme of things.