A poster showing two men kissing!
And they're not even "real men".
Rather they're two figures designed by illustrator Tom de Pékin to promote the film "L’inconnu du lac" ("Stranger by the lake") which won Alain Guiraudie the prize of Best Director in the category Un Certain Regard at the Cannes film festival in May.
|screenshot of poster|
The film, which tells the story (you can read a review in English by Nicolas Bell here) of a "torrid summer affair" between two men at a cruising spot for gay men next to a lake, goes on general release on June 12 and it appears the posters are too much for two town halls close to the French capital.
Authorities in Versailles and Saint-Cloud have both asked for them to be withdrawn and the company owning the billboards on which they had appeared, JCDecaux, has duly taken them down.
Well that's how it's being reported although nobody is talking about censorship - apart from the minister of culture, Aurélie Filippetti - attributing it rather to not wanting to offend sensibilities.
You see Versailles and Saint-Cloud could be caricatured (kindly of course) as the heartland of a certain type of bourgeois Catholicism in France: where the girls wear Alice Bands and the boys are Scouts.
They're also the kind of places where you might expect to see plenty of clones of France's most gay-friendly parliamentarian Christine Boutin.
Apparently "concerned" residents have been calling, emailing and even - horror upon horrors - turning up at the town hall in Saint-Cloud to express their "distress".
Over in Versailles, where the authorities deny there was a formal request to take down the posters, the director of communications admitted that they could "shock those who found themselves helpless in the face of posters that address sexuality in the street".
All right, fess-up time. It's probably not just the kiss (although that's upsetting and unnatural in itself of course) which has caused a mini brouhaha.
Instead it's the - and you might have to take a good ol' squint at the image to spot this - the representation of two men in the background apparently engaged in (cough, cough) oral sex.