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 <a href=http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/mar/30/orelsan-rapper-french-women-misogynist”>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?
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: