France hearts Barbra Streisand


Yesterday in Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy gave Barbra Streisand a medal. The medal of the Legion of Honor is a general (but elite) "merit" medal, technically reserved for French citizens but often bestowed on deserving foreigners. This is the first time Sarkozy has awarded a Legion of Honor medal, and this week’s concert was also Streisand’s first performance in France. Sarkozy’s wife, Cecilia, attended the show.

It would be easy to snark about this, mostly because the award seems to have no clear criteria and because past recipients include the likes of Jerry Lewis. But, as only she can, Streisand gave it more meaning than it might otherwise have had:

"I am deeply honored to be joining the playwrights, heads of state, artists and leaders who have accepted this honor before me,” Streisand, 65, said in a statement. “I leave with a sense of inspiration and responsibility as an artist to always reflect the truth and as a citizen to try and create a world of justice, compassion, equality and peace — one with a little more music and a little more joy.”

Yes, it’s rather grand language, but wouldn’t it be nice if other artists felt that kind of responsibility? Maybe then news anchors wouldn’t have to refuse to report the news.

I wholeheartedly agree with Sarkozy’s comment to Streisand: "You are the America that we love." And I love that this picture was the only thing I found when I searched Getty Images for “streisand” and “France” — here she is at a Chanel fashion show in Paris in 1966.

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