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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Laurent Ruquier’s “donkey" views on Donald Trump’s behaviour

And that’s a polite euphemism for what has to be one of the most crass public comments this undeniably intelligent man has made during his television and radio career.

You might not be a fan of Laurent Ruquier, but there’s no denying his work ethic and prodigious output.

Just take a look at his (English) Wikipedia profile, “Television and radio host, producer, and satirical comedian. He is also a lyricist, writer, playwright and producer of shows, and owns his own theatre.”

The 53-year-old is probably best known for his weekly show on France 2 - “On n'est pas couché”.

It’s a talk show - a mix of cultural, social, sport and political elements — in which invited guests are given a grilling (or positive critique, depending on the mood of his two “Rottweiler” co-presenters  - currently Yann Moix and Vanessa Burggraf)

Over the years there have been some pretty heated exchanges, particularly when the two Érics - Zemmour and  Naulleau - worked alongside Ruquier. And some celebrities have refused to appear on the programme to promote whatever book, record or film they had just released or participate in a political discussion.

And then there’s the daily programme on RTL radio “Les Grosses Têtes” in which, since 2014 when he moved to the station from Europe 1,  Ruquier is joined by several members of his (faithful) band of “commentators” to take a light-hearted look at some news items and, in a semi-quiz format, determine which famous figures (past and present) might have uttered particular phrases and compete against listeners in an audience challenge.

Laurent Ruquier (screenshot from RTL radio’s "Les Grosses Têtes")

It’s not meant to be too earnest, although sometimes serious issues can be addressed, albeit in a supposedly good-humoured and good-natured way.

But listening to last Sunday’s special (a round-up of the previous week’s highlights) you will have heard Ruquier come out with the most bizarre of statements.

It was almost (but not quite)  a defence of US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s behaviour after the release of a tape in which he had bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy”, the media reaction there had been to the tape and Trump’s subsequent “locker room talk” apology.

“Heaven knows, I’m not for Trump,” Ruquier said (at around 18 minutes into the programme)…making it easy for listeners to guess that there was about to be some sort of justification for the US presidential candidate’s conduct.

“But frankly I’ll defend him - just a little. I think what was done to him last week was disgusting”, he continued, seemingly swallowing Trump’s line that he had in fact been the “victim”.

“If you take any guy who is talking to another guy and record them while they’re talking about women, there would have been exactly the same result.” (Does that argument sound familiar?)

“And the same is true for two women talking about men.” (Add your own exclamation marks).

Now - purely opinion - and not a particularly well-informed one at that. But where exactly does Ruquier get his valuable information from?

First up - to state the obvious - he’s a man.

So as such, even though he is a gay man, he cannot possibly have had  “all-girl chats” - or even know how they talk about men and/or sex when there’s no man around.

Somehow though, he seems not to have grasped that fact - because…?

Well, you answer it.

Then there’s the locker-room talk aspect: as though such language and behaviour is somehow acceptable, excusable, understandable and…whatever this might mean… “normal”.

The two women invited to participate in that particular edition of the show, former Brazilian model turned TV presenter Cristina Cordula and US-born French, singer, actress, director and model (gasp - a “multi-talent”) Arielle Dombasle weren’t entirely (to put it mildly) in agreement with his “analysis”.

But, for the sake of humour and entertainment, their views were dismissed by the show’s host and the other male panellists as they, in time-honoured tradition, maintained that women’s conversations were “just as bad, if not worse.”

M Ruquier - from one man to another, might I suggest that you keep away from a subject about which you can have little or no real knowledge and, while you’re at it, take a listen to the speech US first lady Michelle Obama made in New England last Thursday.

Just in case you missed it, here it is…. in its entirety.

It should, hopefully, make you realise that not only are you very wrong. It might also help you understand that a microphone and a celebrity status do not give you the right to express views that are so ill thought-out and have no substance.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Christine Boutin’s latest Twitter gaffe - lacking dignity and class

You know some people (politicians in particular) should not be allowed anywhere near a microphone. It only encourages them to utter the most absurd ideas in the mistaken belief that they’re making sense.

Similarly they should think twice - nay thrice - before allowing themselves to share the benefit of their “thoughts” on social media platforms.

Nadine Morano springs to mind. A classic example of someone who’s “good” for a soundbite although many would probably wish she were less of a buffoon.

And then there’s Christine Boutin.


Another “serial offender”.

(caricature of) Christine Boutin “La vache qui prie” - although there’s none of the “tendrement conne” in her latest Tweet (screenshot from Canal + Le Grand Journal video, February, 2016).

Yes, the ex-housing minister and founder and former president of the Christian Democratic Party, well-known for her opposition to civil partnership (for two men or two women) and same-sex marriage (and currently appealing a fine for having said that homosexuality was an “abomination”) has taken to the Twittersphere with her usual “panache”.

This time around though, there’s none of the eye-rolling “here she goes again” reaction. Rather she has committed what many consider to be a monumentally offensive gaffe.

As you might know the former French president, Jacques Chirac, has been hospitalised.

The 83-year-old reportedly has a lung infection, the most recent in a series of health scares.

His wife, Bernadette, has also been admitted, suffering from exhaustion.

A number of French politicians, including the front runners for Les Républicains primary Alain Juppé and Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as the current French president, François Hollande, have “expressed their support” for Chirac and his wife.

Enter stage right Boutin, finger-twitching presumably to announce in just three words on Twitter the death of Jacques Chirac - remembering to use the hashtag of course!

And how did she react when faced with the obvious truth that she had got it all wrong (yet again).

By defending herself in claiming that the information had come from “ a reliable source” and that she had shared it because, in her words, “I think the French are waiting for it, as shown by the buzz it has generated.”

Nothing like an apology!

And Boutin’s response was nothing like and apology.

What class.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Friday’s French music break - Cyril Mokaïesh & Bernard Lavilliers, “La loi du marché”

There’s no doubt about it. This week’s choice for Friday’s French music break is a heartfelt piece of social and political commentary (and that’s not hyperbolising) with a haunting melody and powerful lyrics that would leave only the most insensitive, indifferent.

Inspired by Stéphane Brizé’s award-winning 2015 drama “La Loi du marché” (“The Measure of a Man”) for which Vincent Lindon (deservedly) won Best Actor at last year’s Cannes film festival and a César (the French equivalent of the Oscar) in 2016, Cyril Mokaïesh’s song of the same name sees him pair up with another politically engaged artist, albeit from another generation, Bernard Lavilliers.

And the combination of Mokaïesh (31) and Lavilliers (69) is a stroke of genius.

As is the clip which accompanies the song, directed by none other than Brizé, the man who made the film.

Cyril Mokaïesh (screenshot from official video of “La loi du marché”)

Bernard Lavilliers (screenshot from official video of “La loi du marché”)

“ ‘La Loi du marché’ (the film) marks a moment in our history,” Mokaïesh said in an interview with Le Huffington Post.

“It’s about the difficulty of contemporary existence , the fierce world of work and its injustices.”

So moved was he by the “poetic nature” of the film that Mokaïesh wanted to “make his own contribution”, and in particular express the,“difficult lived of migrants and the way in which society had become dysfunctional” without neglecting structural and social issues in France of course.

You see, a world and-a-half removed from what many other artists have to offer.

“There is no song that can change the course of events,” he said.  “But there is a chance that it (a song) can reveal feelings and unite forces.”

The (overwhelmingly positive) reaction to the song on Mokaïesh’s Facebook page might well be from those who have already been converted to his music and his message. But there’s a strength in both the lyrics and performance that’s undeniable. And Brize’s video clip complements it perfectly.

Maybe there is hope that Mokaïesh’s sentiments, as idealistic as they most definitely are, might be heard by some who are not necessarily natural listeners of his music.

Anyway, here’s a triple recommendation for you.

Firstly, if you haven’t already, try to see Brizé’s film (the first clip below is the trailer): it’s touching and troubling and, needless to say, Lindon is just magnificent.

Secondly, take a listen to (and a look at) Mokaïesh and Lavilliers’ joint “contribution” (the second clip below).

And finally, read the lyrics (in French). “Real” poetry.

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