Séries générales • LV2
Espaces et échanges
France métropolitaine • Septembre 2013
Séries générales • LV2Text 1
21-year-old poses as fake celebrity
Brett Cohen isn’t your typical 21-year-old, at least not according to the tourists in New York City’s Time Square on July 27.
Cohen is now “famous” after pulling a huge prank on the city, posing as a celebrity and wandering the streets of Manhattan.
Accompanied by two bodyguards he hired on Craigslist1, as well as three cameramen and four photographers acting as his own paparazzi, he attracted a huge fan following and caused quite a stir in response to what he calls his “social experiment”.
“It was a social experiment. It confirms the theory of how our culture is so obsessed with celebrity and fame,” Cohen told ABC News. […]
“I had photographers follow me around and act as paparazzi. There were 15 people in total that were actually in on it.” […]
Cohen and his entourage began their walk toward Times Square. It didn’t take long before crowds began to surround him on every block. […]
One little boy was particularly excited to meet the fake celebrity. Cohen said the boy went so far as to make an international call home on his cell phone, and was overheard screaming, “I just met Brett Cohen!” […]
From beginning to end, the whole thing took about three hours to shoot. Cohen said the hardest thing about the entire experience was stopping the frenzy, literally.
“It was really hard to end the shoot. How the hell do you stop when there’s so many people following you We actually had to walk away from Times Square and into a small hotel,” Cohen said. “One of my bouncers blocked off the door to the bar to keep the public from going in. It was the only way we were able to stop it.”
Eliza Murphy, ABC News Blogs, Aug 23, 2012.
1. Craigslist : journal d’annonces.Text 2
Working for a tabloid
Zed Benjamin had never been called into the Editor’s office before, and he found the experience simultaneously disconcerting and thrilling. […]
He sought a distraction, easy enough to find in Rodney Aronson’s office. While the Editor of the newspaper continued to read Zed’s story, Zed began to read the headlines on the old issues of the tabloid that were framed and hung along the walls. He found them distasteful and idiotic, their stories pandering to the worst inclinations in the human psyche. […] This was particularly the case for such hot topics as Prince Harry in Bedroom Brouhaha, Kiss and Tell Equerry Shocks Palace, and Another Royal Divorce All of which, Zed knew very well from gossip in the canteen, had topped The Source’s previous circulation figures by over one hundred thousand copies each. This was the sort of reportage for which the red-top1 was known. Everyone in the news-room understood that if you didn’t want to get your hands dirty sifting through other people’s nasty bits of laundry, then you didn’t want to work as an investigative reporter at The Source.
Which was, admittedly, the case for Zedekiah Benjamin. He definitely didn’t want to work as an investigative reporter at The Source. He saw himself as a columnist-for-the-Financial-Times kind of bloke, someone with a career providing enough respectability and name recognition to support his real passion, which was writing fine poetry. But jobs as respectable columnists were as scarce as knickers under kilts, and one had to do something to put food on the table since writing excellent verse wasn’t about to do it. Thus Zed knew it behoved him to act at all times like a man who found the pursuit of the social gaffes of celebrities and the peccadilloes of members of the Royal Family journalistically and professionally fulfilling. Still, he liked to believe that even a paper like The Source could benefit from a slight elevation from its usual position in the gutter from where, it had to be said, no one was gazing at the stars.
The piece that Rodney Aronson was reading demonstrated this. In Zed’s mind, a tabloid story did not have to swim in lubricious facts in order to capture the reader’s interest. Stories could be uplifting and redemptive like this one and still sell newspapers.
Elizabeth George, Believing the Lie (2012).
1. red-top : tabloïd.
1 Choose the sentence which best summarizes the text.
Brett Cohen is a young man who
1. wants to become a celebrity before he turns 21.
2. became a celebrity overnight and who has a lot of fans.
3. made people believe he was a celebrity.
4. tried to interview tourists on celebrities.
2 Make a detailed list of the people who helped Brett Cohen.
3 Explain why he chose to hire these people.
4 Copy out and complete the following sentence with the three possible endings. Then justify your choice with a quotation.
He was so successful that…
1. one little boy was convinced that Brett Cohen was a celebrity.
2. many celebrities tried to meet him.
3. he had to call the police to get protection.
4. in a very short time lots of people gathered around him.
5. it got difficult for him to get rid of his fans and he had to find shelter in a bar.
6. he was chased by journalists and photographers.
5 Find a sentence in the text explaining Brett Cohen’s goal and copy it out.
1 Complete the following summary with words from the text. (one blank = one word)
Zed is an …………… …………… He works at ……………, a ……………. He’s with Rodney Aronson, his …………… to show him the …………… he wants to publish.
2 What kind of articles can be read in The Source Justify with a quotation.
3 Say if the following statements are right or wrong and justify by quoting from the text.
1. He loves his job and finds it very fulfilling.
2. He would prefer to work for a more prestigious newspaper.
3. His ultimate ambition is to become a famous journalist.
4 What is Zed’s opinion of The Source Choose the right answers and justify each choice with a quotation.
1. He thinks The Source publishes articles which are:
2. But he knows that:
a) people don’t buy any copies of the newspaper.
b) people enjoy reading this type of newspaper.
c) people have stopped buying this newspaper.
5 What impact does he think his article will have on the reader Explain in your own words and justify with two quotations.
1 What does Brett want to prove with his experiment Explain in your own words.
21. To what extent does Zed share Brett’s vision of public opinion
2. What does Zed think his mission as a journalist is
Seuls les candidats de la série L traiteront les questions 3 et 4.
3 Compare Brett’s and Zed’s ways of denouncing a “culture […] obsessed with celebrity and fame” (text 1, l. 10)
4 Explain in a few sentences how the title of Elizabeth George’s novel, Believing the Lie (text 2), could apply to text 1.
> Les candidats des séries ES et S traiteront un des trois sujets ci-dessous. (150 mots au moins)
> Les candidats de la série L traiteront deux sujets au choix. (total pour les deux sujets : 250 mots au moins)
1 After reading Zed’s story, Rodney Aronson tells him he doesn’t want to publish his article. Imagine their conversation.
2 Zed decides to write an article about Brett’s experiment.
3 Do you agree with the fact that we live in a society “obsessed with celebrity and fame” (text 1, l.10)
Eliza Murphy : journaliste américaine qui publie ses articles en particulier dans des blogs et sites Internet.
Pour en savoir plus : https://www.elizawmurphy.com/
Un jeune homme monte un canular : à Manhattan, accompagné de faux paparazzi et gardes du corps, il se fait passer pour quelqu’un de célèbre, attirant ainsi immédiatement les foules autour de lui.
Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension
To pull a prank, l. 3 (monter un canular) to cause a stir, l. 7 (faire sensation) fame, l. 10 (renommée) fake, l. 17 (faux) frenzy, l. 24 (frénésie) bouncer, l. 28 (videur).
Elizabeth George (1949-), américaine, auteure de nombreux romans policiers à succès.
Pour en savoir plus : https://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com/.
Zed est journaliste au tabloïd The Source, faute de pouvoir vivre de ses poèmes. Il est écœuré par le genre d’articles publiés dans ce journal mais il a néanmoins choisi de proposer un article de meilleure qualité, raison pour laquelle il a été convoqué par le rédacteur en chef.
Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension
Thrilling, l. 3 (excitant) issue, l. 6 (numéro - d’un journal) to pander to, l. 8 (flatter bassement) gossip, l. 12 (commérages) nasty bits of laundry, l. 17 (le « linge sale »), scarce, l. 24 (rare) to behove, l. 27 (incomber) fulfilling, l. 29 (épanouissant) gutter, l. 31 (caniveau, gutter press est terme péjoratif, désigne la presse à scandale) uplifting, l. 35-36 (édifiant).
Les points de convergence
Les deux articles traitent de l’intérêt disproportionné et malsain que l’on peut avoir pour les personnes célèbres.
Le sujet d’expression 1
Pistes de recherche
Les arguments de Rodney porteront sur les goûts des lecteurs et du genre d’histoire qu’ils attendent de leur journal favori. Zed, au contraire, avancera que les lecteurs seront d’autant plus nombreux qu’ils trouveront aussi ces articles plus enrichissants intellectuellement.
To expect from (attendre de) to probe into (fouiller dans) to feel bad (avoir mauvaise conscience) to set an example (être un exemple).
Le sujet d’expression 2
Pistes de recherche
Reprenez les faits, tout en mettant l’accent sur la démonstration qui est faite dans cette expérience : le goût irrationnel et dénué de sens critique pour la renommée, pour l’apparence plutôt que la réalité.
Critical sense (sens critique) taste (goût) appearance (apparence) you can’t judge a book by its cover (l’habit ne fait pas le moine).
Le sujet d’expression 3
Pistes de recherche
Prenez comme exemple le succès de la télé-réalité, à laquelle les candidats participent surtout pour devenir célèbres, même de manière éphémère. Mentionnez les “selfies” où chacun peut se montrer au monde entier. Citez les concours de « Mini-Miss » où les parents veulent montrer leurs enfants, etc. Sans oublier le succès des tabloïds...
To be fascinated (être fasciné) selfie (photo de soi-même) to view (visionner) to be content with (se contenter de) to publicize (rendre public) quest (quête, recherche) craving (désir insatiable) beauty pageant (concours de beauté).
2 2 bodyguards, 3 cameramen, 4 photographers. As he mentions “15 people in total”, we can suppose that the other 6 are fake fans.
3 These are the kind of people that always accompany and follow celebrities. He wanted people to believe he was one.
41. He was so successful that one little boy was convinced that Brett Cohen was a celebrity. “the boy went so far as to make an international call home on his cell phone, and was overheard screaming, ‘I just met Brett Cohen!’” (l. 18-20)
4. He was so successful that in a very short time, lots of people gathered around him. “It didn’t take long before crowds began to surround him on every block.” (l. 15-16)
5. He was so successful that it got difficult for him to get rid of his fans and he had to find shelter in a bar. “One of my bouncers blocked off the door to the bar to keep the public from going in. It was the only way we were able to stop it.” (l. 28-29)
5 “It was a social experiment. It confirms the theory of how our culture is so obsessed with celebrity and fame,” (l. 9-10)
1 Zed is an investigative reporter. He works at The Source a tabloid.
He’s with Rodney Aronson, his editor, to show him the article he wants to publish.
2The Source doesn’t really print news articles but rather scandals in celebrities’ private lives.
“Such hot topics as Prince Harry in Bedroom Brouhaha, Kiss and Tell Equerry Shocks Palace, and Another Royal Divorce” (l. 10-11)
31. Wrong: He definitely didn’t want to work as an investigative reporter at The Source. (l. 19-21)
2. Right: He saw himself as a columnist-for-the-Financial-Times kind of bloke. (l. 21-22)
3. Wrong: his real passion, which was writing fine poetry. (l. 23-24)
41.a) and d) “He found them distasteful and idiotic”. (l. 7-8)
2. b) … “had topped The Source’s previous circulation figures by over one hundred thousand copies each.” (l. 12-14)
5 He thinks his article will elevate the reader, teach him something more interesting than scandals about celebrities.
“He liked to believe that even a paper like The Source could benefit from a slight elevation from its usual position in the gutter” (l. 29-31) “Stories could be uplifting and redemptive like this one” (l. 35-36).
1 Brett wants to prove that people are more interested in a person’s fame than in who he/she is or what he/she does.
21. They both think that public opinion is superficial: people are only interested in gossip and fame.
2. He thinks his mission is to improve people, to teach them something that will broaden their culture and knowledge.
Uniquement pour les candidats de la série L
3 While Brett pulls a prank demonstrating that crowds will stupidly follow anybody they don’t know but is presented as a celebrity, Zed wants to write articles which differ from the usual tone of his tabloid.
4 Brett’s “social experiment” or “prank” is based on a lie. He behaves like a celebrity, so he gets people to believe he is famous. Just like the readers of The Source are ready to believe all that is written about celebrities, provided it fulfils their obsession for gossip.
R: Sorry, Zed, I can’t publish this. This isn’t what our readers expect from The Source.
Z: Do we always have to give them what they expect Can’t we try to sell them something more than gossip, some elevation
R: If they wanted culture and elevation they would read The Times. What they want is scandal. They expect us to probe into celebrities’ private lives. They want to get into their bedrooms, to know everything about their everyday lives it makes them feel as if they lived with them! That’s what they are buying!
Z: Oh come on! You’re making money with people’s worst inclinations! Look at that headline: Prince Harry in Bedroom Brouhaha. What does that topic really bring to readers It just brings you money.
R: And brings you money too! Don’t forget that our money is your salary! If you feel bad about this, why don’t you find a job in what they call the quality press Aren’t you good enough then Can’t you find a better paper to write for We are what is called a tabloid, we know that our topics come from the gutter, but that’s what we live on.
Z: How about trying to get away from the gutter How about trying to write about what celebrities can really bring us, about how they can set an example
R: That just isn’t our job, Zed. Not our job! We’d lose our readers. Would you like The Source to lose its readers
People have always been fascinated by celebrities. There have always been queues of fans to get autographs from their favourite stars or handshakes from politicians or, top achievement now, pictures of themselves with celebrities.
And indeed technology these days favours this craving for fame: people will publish pictures of themselves, “selfies”, on social networks, or show their videos on YouTube with the hope they will be viewed by the crowds or even shown on TV. The idea is not necessarily to become a star: they are often content with just a few moments of fame.
Most TV channels all over the world have reality shows which meet great success. In Farmer Wants a Wife, for example, why does a farmer publicize his quest for a wife in front of millions of viewers It is rather a private part of his life which he accepts – or wants - to become public. With a bit of luck, he will be interviewed in talk shows, because he has found the right wife, or because he hasn’t.
This obsession can become even unhealthier with children’s beauty pageants where parents parade their children in front of juries and cameras, hoping they will be admired all around the country.
No wonder then that Brett’s prank was a success: you sort of feel you are part of a celebrity’s world when you approach them, if only by reading about them in tabloids...