A candidate in the 2012 French presidential race has raised a few eyebrows with his latest campaign video. In the video, meant to appeal to the nation’s young Black and Arab population, Socialist party candidate and race frontrunner François Hollande treks through some impoverished Parisian suburbs surrounded by Blacks and Arabs — all with Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s “N!ggas In Paris” blaring in the background.
Hollande’s choice of soundtrack has feathers ruffled, as many feel he is guilty of buying into stereotypes about the minority poor.
[Translated from French] “The suburbs isn’t only hooded youths who lap up American sub-culture and watch too much TV,” said “kansari,” a reader of French newspaper Libération, in a comment on a story about the video posted on the paper’s website. “There are also engineers, researchers, police officers and teachers here.”
The reader also accuses Hollande of “ethnic marketing.”
The blogosphere has also reflected some of the outrage, with at least one blog calling the ad “inappropriate and highly offensive.”
The three-minute video chronicles Hollande’s 48-hour visit to several of the cities of Paris and Lyon’s poorest suburbs including Vaulx-en-Velin, Creil, Clichy-sous-Bois and Aubervilliers. Hollande tours each with cameras in tow, filming Black and Arab citizens yelling supportive phrases like “Big up François Hollande,” “François Hollande, you’re gonna come through” or “François Hollande Insh’Allah.” The latter is an Arabic term that roughly translates to “François Hollande, if God is willing,” a hopeful show of support for the candidate.
The fact that the areas visited in the video are predominately Black and Arab and are among the region’s poorest makes the use of “N!ggas In Paris,” a song about excessive spending, an even more ironic — and, to some, offensive — choice.
Bruno Laforestrie, founder of French Hip-Hop radio station Générations and the man behind the controversial video, says that Hollande allowed his visit to the slums to be documented “without having the right to review the video” and that Laforestrie’s plan was to give viewers a different look at the candidate.
[Translated from French] “The idea of this clip was born in a meal that I had arranged for François Hollande to meet people from the urban culture milieu,” Laforestrie told Libération. “The idea was also to work on his image with a different approach.”
Neither Hollande nor his campaign has yet responded to the controversy.
As of press time, the campaign video had accumulated 119,264 views on YouTube.
What do you think? Is Hollande’s video fair play or out of bounds?