Parisian audiences did not feel a true love for blackness, black music, or black culture. La revue negre was a very important piece of evidence for the evidence of this. First of all, Jordan, on page 41 of his “Le Jazz” states that when the revue arrived, the music hall producer Jacques Charles began to change their production and fit it to suit Parisian tastes.1 The fact that the people of Paris were viewing and being titillated by an exoticized, altered, and fantasized showing of “blackness” is proof that whether or not audiences loved la revue they could not have fallen for true blackness.
The editorials and critics of La Revue Negre and ultimately of black culture in the early 1920s used a lot of primitive and dehumanizing language. Most of these critics, such as Levinson, de Reigner, and Flament saw La Revue Negre and compared it to the feelings of the people in terms of “French sensibility”. “French sensibility” was not on steady ground at this time, and neither were economic or social statuses. Levinson, a classical dance critic, on Negro dance: “The Negro dancers of today are no longer being possessed by devils, but merely professionals. The really devil-ridden today are those European idlers who passively give themselves up to an enjoyment of the Negro dance without setting up any barriers to its atavistic and demoralizing appeal.”2 The idea of having to concede the fact that black performers were truly professionals already raises a racist red flag, which followed up with the language of atavism, or ancient and demoralizing evokes a sense that Levinson’s views of French sensibilities had absolutely not inclusion of blackness in music, dance, or culture. He believes the crowds were being spoon-fed black culture.
On the other hand, I think that lay Parisians hearing these performances felt a genuine likeness towards jazz and other elements of African-American culture. This is hard to prove because of the distorted and dramatized elements of that culture that they were being subjected to, but coming from the aspects of classical music that had been performed during that time, I can see why Jordan makes his point that American music was perfect for the “fatigue of their ears.”3 The art music that was being performed, such as Debussy, Strauss, etc. was very fatiguing, and the vigor of American music definitely vitalized the people’s interested.