Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Perfect Vehicle for Racism?

Charles de Gaulle famously attributed his surviving an attempt on his life to the design of his armoured Citroën DS. Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen is another French poltician who gets around in a heavily-protected motor and now it's yours to bid for on eBay. The FN is a bit hard for cash at the moment and the sale of Le Pen's 1991 Armoured Peugeot 605 follows on the auctioning of the fascists' headquarters in leafy St-Cloud, just west of Paris. The FN is moving to Nanterre, which as well as being home to ethnic minorities that wouldn't be too attuned to the party's 'message', is also a little bit rougher so perhaps Le Pen might need to beef up on security with an updated model.

The car in question has passed an MOT test as recently as the 4th of July last year, is blue (naturellement), equipped with air conditioning, central locking, anti-lock braking, automatic transmission (curious, that), CD car stereo, and despite its daily use by its very active owner, is reportedly in excellent condition. The bidding currently stands at €18,050, to close on Monday evening next, and the seller considers the car to be a collector's item. 'No timewasters', is also helpfully added.

On a not really related point, here is the latest video from Parisian electro duo Justice, which features a gang of French suburban youth (all of them black) going on a rampage, terrorising and attacking passers-by, police and security guards alike. It has been ignored by French TV, which is not surprisingly nervous of the accusations of racism. It has been racking up the hits on YouTube since; a friend of mine, who directs music videos herself, thinks it's racist and a perfect recruitment video for the FN but I think it's simply provocative, not to mention exploitative. (For those that don't know, the members of Justice, Gaspard Augé and
Xavier de Rosnay, are both white and from rather well-heeled backgrounds.) But the video is hardly any more racist than if they used a gang of marauding white football hooligans. Of course there is an inescapable racial angle and the video will goad a lot of viewers to apply their own prejudices when watching it. If you think that mindless violence is representative of black suburban youth that's what you will think when you watch this; many others won't however. But the fact that the young thugs wear hoodies with the very-recognisable Justice crucifix logo, and they attack a microphone boom operator at one point, and the title of the song is 'Stress' suggests a self-reflexive jokiness; that of course will madden and offend some folk even more. But there you are. Interestingly, the director is Romain Gavras, the 26-year-old son of Costa-Gavras, the lefty Franco-Greek director of such films as Z, Missing and Betrayed.


Sarah said...

On Saturday night I might dedicate a song to Justice, if I can be bothered to remember - "Am I Black Enough For You" by Billy Paul....or then there's the Schooly D version.