Salma Hayek, Knight in Shining High Heels?
Salma Hayek is being knighted in France—but not everyone is super happy about it…
What would you say if I told you that Salma Hayek was going to be made a French knight? Would you laugh? Would you say “good for her!”? Would you just be sort of confused?
All of these reactions are valid, and yes, it’s true: Salma Hayek is going to be knighted. She was among those named by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to receive the Légion d’Honneur. She’ll enter the five-tiered honor academy with the grade of Chevalier, or “Knight.”
Now, here’s the thing: Not everyone is that happy about it. The Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor) was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 as a merit award—and some don’t think that Salma has earned it. According to the Telegraph, many are calling Sarkozy’s list of recipients “another occasion to have fun” and saying that Napoleon would be “turning in his grave.” Former minister and member of Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party Henri Torre, who notably turned down a Legion of Honour, even went so far as to say, “Too many people were nominated who do not deserve to be honored.” The awards, he added, had “lost their value.” Ouch.
Personally, I think this is kind of cool. It’s not unheard of for figures in the entertainment industry to receive knighthoods, and in fact, in some countries, it’s quite common (I’m looking at you, United Kingdom!). Based on what I’ve been able to dig up on the Légion d’Honneur, it can be awarded to both military personnel and to civilians, as well as to French and non-French people, who have distinguished themselves in their service to France. Sure, this service can be demonstrated through military actions—in 1998, for example, all surviving vets of the First World War from any allied country who fought on French soil were knighted—but it can also be made through cultural means (this is why so many actors, musicians, and other performers or artists have been made knights in the UK). So I can see where Salma’s nomination is coming from. However, she’s also married to French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault, who happens to be a close friend of Sarkozy; subsequently, I’m sure a lot of people think that it’s no accident that the wife of one of Sarkozy’s good buddies is being presented with the country’s most prestigious order of merit.
Though I will say that I also sort of love the fact that she’s being made a knight—not a dame or some other weird feminization of it, but an actual knight. Neat-o, right?
In any event, People stated that Salma will receive a formal induction, complete with Presidential medal pinning, at the Élysées Palace sometime within the next two months.
Tell us: What do you think? Has Salma earned this honor? Why or why not?
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.