Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Métro animals

Readers have often heard me evoking the fascinating concept of an upside-down world [display] in which people, animals and other things don't seem to be in their right places. I've also pointed out that this concept has in fact inspired my Antipodes blog [display], right from the start. Viewed from France, folk in Australia seem to be walking with their feet in the air. And I would imagine that French people, seen from a Down Under viewpoint, would appear to be behaving similarly.

In French literature, the upside-down theme of anthropomorphic animals reached a summit in the celebrated Fables of the poet Jean de la Fontaine. In fact, they were an evolution of the oral fables attributed to the legendary Greek author Aesop. Every French schoolchild has heard these fables, and know some of them off by heart. So, the notion that moral tales involving animals can teach us virtue is deeply integrated into the French mindset. It's not surprising that authorities concerned about the decline of civility in the Paris métro have resorted to animals to obtain illustrations of bad manners.

This buffalo, barging into the compartment with his head down, is preventing people from getting off.

In a crowded compartment, this lazy sloth wants to sit down and spread his legs out:

This chicken is screeching out on her mobile phone:

Instead of paying for a ticket, this frog prefers to jump over the turnstile:

And, in a corridor of the métro, this llama is spitting out chewing-gum:

It's a pity, I feel, that the creators behind this campaign didn't think of looking around, on the contrary, for exemplary illustrations of nice animals behaving in a perfectly correct manner in the Paris métro.

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