Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Will Gérard Depardieu be “cancelled”?: An open letter divides France’s cultural scene

Daily Mirror Will Gérard Depardieu be “cancelled”?: An open letter divides France’s cultural scene Article by Andreas Busche • 9 hours The allegations of sexual abuse against the French film star are becoming louder and louder. Now over fifty celebrities have defended the “French cultural heritage”. A culture war has broken out. A trial against Gerard Depardieu for rape has been ongoing in France since 2020, and allegations of sexual abuse are increasing. The vocabulary in the current French culture war is becoming more acute. After Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak called France's acting icon Gérard Depardieu a "disgrace" for the Grande Nation the week before last, her President Emmanuel Macron countered a few days later and outed himself as a "great admirer" of Depardieu. He called the numerous allegations from former colleagues a “manhunt”. The next level of escalation was triggered on Boxing Day by a public letter from over fifty celebrities from the French cultural scene, including the former First Lady Carla Bruni, Charlotte Rampling, Nathalie Baye, Jacques Dutronc, Polanski's wife Emmanuelle Seigner, Pierre Richard, and the opera tenor Roberto Alagna and the writer Catherine Millet. They describe Depardieu's dismantling as a "lynching" of a "cult figure of cinema" that one can no longer accept in silence. “Anyone who attacks Gérard Depardieu in this way is also attacking art as such.” It’s about the “death of art” It is not the first time that the French film scene has positioned itself so strongly in a cultural debate surrounding allegations of sexual violence and sexual abuse of power. (Many of the sixteen women who recently came forward publicly with incidents from the past thirty years were significantly younger and less known than the actor at the time of the crime.) Five years ago, over a hundred women, including Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Millet, published a controversial op-ed in “Le Monde” in which they warned of a “campaign of denunciation” as a result of the MeToo discussions following the revelations surrounding US producer Harvey Weinstein . In December 2023 the tone sounds very similar. The Depardieu defense, like an open letter from the film star, appeared in the conservative French daily “Le Figaro” at the beginning of October. The letter is about nothing less than the “death of art”. MeToo cases in Macron's cabinet This sets the lines of defense in this discussion. In the struggle for the image of Depardieu, who “made France famous” (Macron) in over 200 film roles, there are two factions facing each other that represent young and old France. By the way, Macron's cabinet also included the former Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Damien Abad - Minister for Solidarity - in Macron's cabinet. And of course the presumption of innocence also applies in the case of Gérard Depardieu. Over the years, he has made it increasingly difficult for even fans to forgive him - not least in the light of a TV documentary that aired on French television at the beginning of December. In it he says things like: “Take a photo of us while I touch her ass! Her little cunt is definitely very furry, nice and hairy, she already smells like a mare.” Nowadays, the once favorite bully in the nation is believed to be able to do a lot. The courts probably actually have little to counter this. Many of the crimes Depardieu is accused of have long since expired, and proving sexual crimes is often difficult. But aspiring Hollywood actor Jonathan Majors has just been sentenced to a year in prison in New York for assaulting his girlfriend. In view of the massive accusations against it, the letter from the French colleagues only says succinctly: “That’s just Gérard.” Actually, as it has been for decades. At least judging by Depardieu supporters, it could go on forever.