A video of a man sitting on a bench and eating a sandwich while police and protesters clashed violently in Nanterre, France, has gone viral on social media, with many people admiring his nonchalance and calling him the “Frenchest thing you’ll see today”.
The video, which was posted on Twitter by user chedly_92777 aka @RapleakTwsh, shows a chaotic scene of rioters throwing objects at police officers who are using shields and tear gas to disperse them. A fire can be seen burning near a residential building, and sirens can be heard in the background.
But amid the turmoil, one man seems to be completely unfazed by the situation. He is sitting on a bench, wearing a blue shirt and sunglasses, and calmly eating his sandwich as if nothing was happening around him. He does not look at the camera or react to the noise or the smoke. That must have been a really good sandwich.
The video has been viewed millions of times and has received thousands of comments and retweets. Many people praised the man for his coolness and his appetite, while others joked that he was just enjoying a normal summer day in France.
Some also compared him to other viral videos of people who remained calm during riots or disasters, such as the diners who shared a glass of wine in Bordeaux while fires raged behind them in March, or the man who played the piano in front of a burning building in Canada in 2016.
Many people have also compared this situation to ‘this is fine’ meme, which is a popular internet image that depicts a dog sitting calmly in a room that is on fire. The meme is often used to express a sense of resignation, denial, or acceptance of a chaotic or stressful situation. The meme originated from a comic strip by KC Green, titled ‘On Fire’, published in 2013. The meme has since been adapted and remixed in various ways, such as adding different captions, characters, or backgrounds.
What Caused the French Riots?
The riots in Nanterre and other parts of France were sparked by the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old boy named Nahel by police during a traffic stop on June 28. According to police, Nahel was driving a stolen car and tried to run over an officer who fired at him in self-defense. However, footage shared online appears to show the officer shooting at Nahel through the car window at point-blank range as he tried to drive away.
The incident triggered widespread anger and protests among Nahel’s family, friends and community, who accused the police of racism and brutality. The protests turned violent, with cars being set on fire, shops being looted and clashes with police. The authorities deployed more than 40,000 security personnel across the country to quell the unrest and imposed curfews and bans on public gatherings.
The video of the man eating his sandwich has also been seen as a symbol of how some French people are indifferent or resigned to the social problems and inequalities that plague their country.
Some commentators pointed out that the man’s attitude reflects a lack of empathy or solidarity with the protesters who are fighting for justice and dignity. Others suggested that the man’s behavior is a form of resistance or defiance against the authorities and the status quo, showing that he will not let them disrupt his life or his lunch.
Whatever his motivation or message, the French man eating his sandwich has become an unlikely internet sensation and an emblem of how different people cope with chaos and conflict in their own ways.