View Full Version : "La Vie de Merde ",the 'Shitty Life'!"

03-21-2009, 01:08 PM
Popular French Web Site Celebrates Life's Daily Indignities

Readers Revel In Each Other's Humiliation; The Pâté Was Superbe -- or Was It Cat Food?

PARIS -- A young man got two text messages from his girlfriend. The first said she wanted to end the relationship. The second apologized: She'd meant to send the first message to another guy.

That counts as a "Vie de merde," or "A crappy life," according to some 70,000 readers of a French Web site of that name. The site has become a phenomenon in France by presenting a stream of tales of everyday humiliation.

"My boss came into the office and asked me, 'What are you working on?' I replied, 'My departure.' He'd forgotten I had just been laid off."

A Web site where people share stories of their own humiliation offers insight into France's peculiar take on Schadenfreude. WSJ's Sebastian Moffett reports from Paris.

Last year, "Vie de merde" was the ninth-most-searched-for service on Google's French search engine. It receives a thousand or so new stories a day, from which the three young men who run it pick a dozen or so to post. They make their living from ads on the site.

The founder, 20-year-old Maxime Valette, grew up watching subtitled broadcasts of "Seinfeld." A couple of years ago, he started posting his own stories online about the frustrations of modern life. His tech gadgets always had problems. The mailman didn't bother to ring the doorbell when he came to deliver a parcel, but instead just left a note.

"At first they weren't funny," he says. "They were sad."

Mr. Valette then opened the site to outside contributions, and the stories got funnier: "I came home starving the other day, opened the fridge, and gobbled up some pâté I found," ran one. "An hour later, my girlfriend called to ask what I'd done with the leftover cat food."

Maxime Valette
A lot of French comedy involves things going farcically wrong for other people. French doesn't have its own word for Schadenfreude, though the German word is sometimes used. But there is a proverb that goes: "Le malheur des uns fait le bonheur des autres," or "One person's misfortune is another's happiness."

Didier Guedj, 49, one of the core collaborators on the site, says one criterion for a successful story is that it must in some way be pathétique -- touching. "It's more like: 'One person's misfortunes reassure another,'" says Mr. Guedj.


03-21-2009, 01:19 PM
sounds an awful lot like FML. http://www.fmylife.com/

05-29-2009, 11:59 PM
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05-30-2009, 12:09 AM
sounds an awful lot like FML. http://www.fmylife.com/Funny stuff ,FML!