Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Who's afraid of Mr Bean?

The answer? Hikari and Hiyori, a pair of identical Japanese twins. 

In a lesson on British culture I asked the students which celebrities they could name, and to write which they liked and disliked. Walking around the class I saw the question 'which British celebrities do you not like, and why?' answered unanimously with 'none', or 'I like all celebrities', until I came to Hikari. Surprised, I tried not to laugh as I read her answer: 'Mr Bean, because his face is fearful'. Sitting a few seats down was Hiyori. Her answer? 'Mr Bean. His face is terrible to me'.

The idea that someone so beloved to children in Britain (and across the world) could inspire such fear in these twins (who wrote their answers independently, as far as I'm aware) at first made me giggle, and then made me think. It reminded me of an article a friend once sent me about children's stories in France:  

Mr Bean seems so harmless next to terrifying (not to mention inappropriately sexual) titles like 'La Visite de Petite Mort'. But perhaps 'the man with the rubber face' is just as unnerving; 'l'homme au visage de caoutchouc' does have a certain ominousness to it.

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