Thursday, August 13, 2009


Both of these videos depict violence and life in the French banlieues, only one video ponders it while the other parodies it.



Justice - Stress from Freedom Record on Vimeo.

Over a year ago, my homeboy Colonel K Speaks posted the video for "Stress" and recorded his reactions on DC blog, Brightest Young Things. There were a record 56 comments, most of which asserted opinions that the video isn't racist. I'd venture to say the majority of the commenters are Americans. I think we completely misunderstand how race/racism is perceived in Europe. Here in New York City particularly (where I live), it's easy to go walk through the projects into a nice neighborhood, but in Europe the ghetto neighborhoods tend to be completely on the outskirts of town. Colonel K should know well, he lived in the banlieue for a year.

In my humblest of opinions, the video for Stress is racist, straight up and down. I'd go even further by saying it's a vapid attempt at connecting the French ghetto with pop culture (we see this all the time in the States). All the 'punks,' 'hoodlums,' whatever you want to call them, are wearing Justice jackets with the signature Justice cross on the back. What are they, part of the Justice army/street team? This is in stark contrast to IAM's video which appears to genuinely shed some light on a serious issue in France regarding youth and violence. Romain Gavras's (nicely) directed video for "Stress," on the other hand, looks to exploit the issue. (Interestingly enough, Romain Gavras is son of politically-charged documentarian/filmmaker Costa-Gavras).

All in all, the video for "Petit Frere" is genuine; it's exploring a real issue while "Stress" just appears to be completely contrived.

And that's my $0.02.

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