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Friday, 3 May 2013

Friday's French music break - Indochine, "College boy"

This week's Friday's French music break has been chosen not so much for the quality of the song - you can be the judge of what you think about that - but more for the controversy surrounding the accompanying video.

It's "College boy" the latest release from one of France's most successful rock bands, "Indochine".

In essence, the song is about the bullying experienced by a schoolboy realising that to be accepted by his peer group will be an uphill struggle, to say the least.

But the video, filmed in black and white and shot by young Canadian director, Xavier Nolan, deliberately uses violence and relies on certain clichés to get its message across.

And therein lies the heart of the controversy.

(screenshot from "College boy" video)

Writing in Nouvel Observateur, François Jost describes what happens in the video.

"The victim of bullying is a boy coming to terms with his sexuality," he writes.

"He becomes the scapegoat, is tortured by some of his classmates, spat and urinated on while others 'watch with their eyes bound'," continues Jost.

"Finally he's crucified: two bullets through the body."

While Jost insists the video is no worse (and no better) than some US films which portray violence for its own sake and that it in fact depicts to an extent a reality which exists (he gives the example of the behaviour by some in France during the recent demonstrations against same-sex marriage), others have been more critical.

"The video is simple 'trash'," says editor-in-chief for culture at Le Figaro, François Aubel.

"From the paper balls thrown at the boy by his classmates through a whole series of images until his death...even though Indochine insist they're not looking to create a scandal, the whole thing smacks of being a marketing ploy," he added, pointing out that the group will embark on a sell-out tour in the Autumn and will also play Stade de France (one of the few French acts capable of filling it) next year.

Former education minister, Luc Chatel, is none too impressed either.

"Imagine a crucifixion, imagine a murder filmed at the heart of a school. That's not acceptable," he said on national radio when asked about his reaction to the video.

"I'm not certain that the extreme violence of some of the images is the appropriate response to the issue of bullying and harassment," he added.

The Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA), the regulatory body for the media in France, is still determining whether the video is suitable for broadcast on either television or on the Net in this country, so for the moment the full version is unavailable, unless you happen to live in Canada, where it was shot.



On Le Figaro's site though you can see so-called "soft" edited portions of the video - if you really feel so inclined.

Even those images don't make easy viewing.

Maybe though, the last word on the video should be left to the group's front man, Nicola Sirkis.

"We're not looking to be censored or to create a scandal," he says.


"We just wanted to address a problem that exists.  When it's possible for a person to buy weapons on the Internet and then turn them against innocent people, it's time for some urgent and serious political thinking."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do not care much for violence, so I think I will continue to play the lovely CD of Carla Bruni. For me, this is the quintessence of French music.

Deirdre.

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