First February then April and finally August. The third part of OSS 117, Red Alert in Black Africa , will finally be released at cinema in a few days, this Wednesday. The film is eagerly awaited. For his new director, Nicolas Bedos , and especially for his colorful hero, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath.
A doctoral student in philosophy from Sarreguemines ( Moselle ), today at Strasbourg , devoted a book (published on July 8) to this politically incorrect secret agent. In La Philo according to OSS 117 , Chris Le Guelf is interested in all the facets of the character and links them to texts of his discipline. You had to dare.
How did the idea of this book did you come across ?
There is a first very practical explanation: I knew a publishing house which had a collection whose purpose was to popularize philosophy from pop culture. And at the same time, I remembered that the third OSS 117 was going to be released in theaters soon. Since I was preparing for the agrégation in philosophy, it seemed like a good idea to combine the two. But the subject had to lend itself to it…
What made you say that OSS 117 could be the object of a philosophical analysis?
At the beginning, I did not believe it too much and I had completely given up. Then I met people who were asking more and more questions about Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, especially younger generations. Many students between and 20 seemed to me to be tense by in relation to his behavior as a bastard, misogynist, racist, etc. Where people my age (23 years old rather liked this humor, at least when the movies came out. This is what made me say that this character was interesting: he is adored by a part of the population when he is supposed to represent everything we hate.
And then, how did you build your reflection?
I wondered why he was so appreciated while being detestable. I then looked for his qualities, which are quite classic after all: heroism, courage, love of adventure, etc. These are virtues that were dealt with throughout ancient philosophy, so the subject became classic. What is virtue in philosophy? What does being a good citizen like OSS 117 claim to be? And on the other hand, I also asked myself the question around the anti-hero he represents, with the figure of the idiot. But what does it mean to be an idiot for philosophers? I also proposed a reflection to my sauce by bringing other references.
What conclusions did you draw about OSS 117?
I repeat, the original idea of this book is rather to popularize philosophy. Not to offer a philosophical analysis of the character. Rather, I looked at what themes were tackled with these films, such as heroic, anti-heroic, etc., and from there, present the fundamental texts of philosophy to the public. Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath serves as an example and I tried not to draw any definitive dogmatic discourse about him. Despite everything, I think that at a time when we constantly proclaim tolerance, we should be more tolerant of those we call idiots. They hide and reveal more interesting things than you might think and are not necessarily orally guilty all the time.
So for you, it would be just stupid when he becomes anti-Semitic, misogynist or racist?
I think mostly that OSS 117 is just a child. Today, we tend to want to replace the figure of the idiot by that of the morally bad, the bastard. There is a severity with regard to naivety: we no longer have the right to be it. There is nothing bad about him.
You also had an interview with Nicolas Bedos. How did it go?
Like many, he was initially surprised by my approach . After explaining it to him, he suggested that I see his film and we saw each other in Nice. Our discussion revolved around these questions of representations: what types of jokes can we make today? What characters can we create? It was very nice.