Ceci N'est Pas Une Douche?

Let's take a look at two schools of thought on this. Allons y!

Argument One: He's a Douche

The lyrics of "Sale Pute" are pretty straightforward in their awfulness. Lines like, "You are only a sow who deserves her place at the slaughterhouse", "We'll see how you suck [cock] after I box your jaw", and "I want you to get pregnant and lose the baby" do not leave much room for interpretation. Sure, OrelSan says he is playing a character in the song's video and that those words don't come from him, but does every person who sees this video know that? And even if they do, does it make a difference?

Here is the video, in case your high school French still serves you well enough:

Regardless of intention, this is a pretty catchy song that encourages listeners to chant "dirty slut" a hundred times over while glorifying extreme partner violence. That can't be good, right? It's lyrics like those that prompted the feminist group Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores Nor Submissives) to call for OrelSan to be banned from a French music festival, and that united both sides of the French government to ask for an apology from OrelSan. The festival chose not to ban him, but they did prohibit him from performing "Sale Pute." In addition, DailyMotion and YouTube now require viewers to be over 18 before watching the video. Justice has been served, hasn't it?

But on the other hand…

Argument Two: France is the Douche

OrelSan is a performer, and he is playing a character in this video (which, by the way, was taken out of his repertoire long before this controversy flared up). In his public apology to the French people, he claimed that he is not in any way a misogynist, and that he is sorry if his video shocked anyone. He doesn't even like to be compared to Eminem, because he doesn't like the way Eminem disrespects his mother. But all of those arguments aside, is it up to the government to police lyrical content?

Sure, "Sale Pute" might not be a good choice for Sarkozy's next presidential campaign, but when it comes to artistic expression, it's not up to the government to decide who can say what. The French Ministry of Culture and other governing bodies have a long history of controlling content like this, even going so far as to bring several musicians up on charges of offending public decency. Shouldn't the public be able to decide for themselves what is decent and what isn't?

The Decision

So, who's the douche? OrelSan? France? Is the government doing the right thing by intervening in this situation, or should OrelSan be allowed to perform in public and show his videos on the internet regardless of their misogynistic content? Keep in mind, I am in no way defending OrelSan's lyrics here, just calling into question the government's right to censor him. I may see this as a gray area when it comes to the Douchebag Decree, but I certainly don't like songs about breaking women's legs.

In the spirit of true democracy, let's put this to a vote:

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Comments

6 comments have been made. Post a comment.

I don't think the government

I don't think the government has a role in this (though the French government definitely has a bad record with censorship, as you mention and as still blows my mind with the school hijab ban)— however I think the group, Ni Putes Ni Soumises, has the right to pressure festivals to boycott him.

The 'it's just a character' argument is pretty weak. There's no way to know if that's a character or not (unlike when writers/screenwriters create characters who do and say horrible things). I'm not saying it isn't, but it sure makes things confusing, especially for young men who are looking up to him.

Take note: Opinions expressed are those of their respective authors, not necessarily those of Bitch. Dig?

As a French, I can't go out

As a French, I can't go out without hearing about this right now and I'm of the opinion that both OrelSan and the government are wrong here. It is not the role of the state to regulate the voice of "artists" (the term is used extremly loosely here); but the song is downright shocking.
I fully support Ni putes ni soumises here (as I do 99% of the time anyway), and if I had any interest in rap music I would boycott anything from this real douche.

Out topic: As someone with english as second language, I've always been amused by the fact that I still often initially misinterpret "douche" as "shower" in article such as this one. ;)

so different from american rap.

My high school french is not serving me well (although I definitely know what "sale pute" means) so as I watch this video I can't really understand the words.

What is so incredibly striking to me, while I have a basic understanding that his lyrics are violent and misogynist, is that this is just images of a young guy in a suit, drinking alone, sitting in a playground, typing on a computer. You would almost think, with no understand of the lyrics, that this was a song about some lonely guy with a drinking problem. Compare that to the images we see with the standard American rapper, the cars, the aggressive displays of wealth, treating women as submissive sex objects, the hyper-masculine machismo attitude. (The video for the song "Tip Drill" comes to mind, in which a rapper is shown swiping a credit card through a woman's ass). You don't have the macho womanizing rich image here, you don't have an image of an angry or powerful man.

Taken on lyrics alone, I would think this guy is a total douchebag, but combined with the images in the video? I'm not so sure what his point is. Sure you could argue this is obviously much lower budget than your average rap video, but regardless the image of the rapper and the scenes he chooses to show are radically different from your average rap video. I only have American rap has a comparison, since I'm not familiar with French rap, so French rap videos could be totally different.

so different from american rap.

My high school french is not serving me well (although I definitely know what "sale pute" means) so as I watch this video I can't really understand the words.

What is so incredibly striking to me, while I have a basic understanding that his lyrics are violent and misogynist, is that this is just images of a young guy in a suit, drinking alone, sitting in a playground, typing on a computer. You would almost think, with no understand of the lyrics, that this was a song about some lonely guy with a drinking problem. Compare that to the images we see with the standard American rapper, the cars, the aggressive displays of wealth, treating women as submissive sex objects, the hyper-masculine machismo attitude. (The video for the song "Tip Drill" comes to mind, in which a rapper is shown swiping a credit card through a woman's ass). You don't have the macho womanizing rich image here, you don't have an image of an angry or powerful man.

Taken on lyrics alone, I would think this guy is a total douchebag, but combined with the images in the video? I'm not so sure what his point is. Sure you could argue this is obviously much lower budget than your average rap video, but regardless the image of the rapper and the scenes he chooses to show are radically different from your average rap video. I only have American rap has a comparison, since I'm not familiar with French rap, so French rap videos could be totally different.

My high school french is not

My high school french is not serving me well (although I definitely know what "sale pute" means) so as I watch this video I can't really understand the words.

What is so incredibly striking to me, while I have a basic understanding that his lyrics are violent and misogynist, is that this is just images of a young guy in a suit, drinking alone, sitting in a playground, typing on a computer. You would almost think, with no understand of the lyrics, that this was a song about some lonely guy with a drinking problem. Compare that to the images we see with the standard American rapper, the cars, the aggressive displays of wealth, treating women as submissive sex objects, the hyper-masculine machismo attitude. (The video for the song "Tip Drill" comes to mind, in which a rapper is shown swiping a credit card through a woman's ass). You don't have the macho womanizing rich image here, you don't have an image of an angry or powerful man.

Taken on lyrics alone, I would think this guy is a total douchebag, but combined with the images in the video? I'm not so sure what his point is. Sure you could argue this is obviously much lower budget than your average rap video, but regardless the image of the rapper and the scenes he chooses to show are radically different from your average rap video. I only have American rap has a comparison, since I'm not familiar with French rap, so French rap videos could be totally different.

horrific on several levels...

What a douche. How can a song about beating the crap out of your girlfriend gain popularity? Pretty amazing...
BTW, found this skewering of India Knight from the Times today...
http://hateonme.com/2009/04/03/drunk-girls-cant-be-raped-right/