Diam's - In Your Face
The young woman in the photo is Melanie Georgiades, born in Nicosia, Cyprus to a Cypriot father and a French mother. When the father deserted the family the mother returned to France with her daughter. The girl is known today as Diam's and has one of the top-sellling hit songs of the day to her credit (discredit?). Entitled Ma France à moi (My France) it unabashedly informs the listener of the reasons why her France is not only more honest than traditional France, but why it will eventually be victorious over "France profonde". "France profonde" is her target, her prey and the host she feeds off of. "France profonde" refers to traditional France, to the deeply-rooted feeling of being French, the country-side, the heartland with its sense of identity today corroded (though not yet completely destroyed) by the massive immigration of alien peoples hostile to France. She uses the term to refer to the bourgeoisie (always an object of scorn), the everyday things of life. She and her ilk cannot, will not accept that.
The lyrics of this rap song are not easily translated, and no claim is made to complete accuracy. I've used "it" to refer to both HER France and to "France profonde", even though "she" is usually the pronoun used to refer to feminine countries. Sorry about some vulgarity. The words aren't all that vulgar, it's the intent that is upsetting, as she well knows, since she says so in the song.
MY France talks loudly, lives from its dreams
It lives in groups, talks about the village back home, and hates rules
It cuts classes, most often just to fool around
It plays soccer in the sun and carries Coca-Cola in its bottle
It dances to hip-hop on the dance floors
Sometimes it likes rock, yeah, if the tune is sad
It smokes cigarettes and a little haschich, but never the hard stuff
Heroine, cocaine, crack are all garbage
Often at war with schools
Their factory-made diploma will never let anyone become a boss
So it gets going and sells drugs to the bourgeois
Because drugs help momma get a little food, yeah
Because family means love and love is rare
It fights to protect them
It has its own values, principles and codes
It goes to bed when the rooster crows, because it spends its nights on the phone
It appears lazy, but in truth, it isn't wasting time
Some fear it because the media turn on it and call it worthless
And if MY France gets better and better, that of course is so it will be able to rule better
It turns inward and refuses to suffer. No...
MY France is NOT "France profonde"
That makes us feel ashamed, that would like to see us locked up
MY France does not live in lies
But with heart and rage it lives in the light, not shadow
MY France sends text messages, works with MSN, gathers to talk by e-mail and meets at MMS
It gets around on skate-boards, scooters and fast cars
Basile Boli is our myth and so is Zinedine
The other France, you mustn't think we hate it, but it lies to us
Our parents work for 20 years without a raise
It gives us wings, but heaven is for VIP's
Whatever they say, it knows how to run a business
It lives American style, KFC, MTV, Foot Locker, Mac Do, and 50 Cent
THEIR France, that's little guys playing basketball hours on end
Dreaming of being Tony Parker on the Spurs' court
THEIR France, that's little women coping with their loves, their classes, their problems
They listen to Raï, R 'n B, and Zouk
MY France is a mixture, yeah, it's a rainbow
It is troubling, I know, because it doesn't want you for a role model
MY France has lobbies and rooms where it conceals itself
It is funny and Jamel Debbouze could be its brother
It repaints walls and trains because they're dull
It enjoys making trouble because it's encouraged not to do anything
It needs sports and dances to let off steam
It goes to extremes and risks its life
But MY France lives, opens up, at least it laughs
And refuses to submit to THEIR France that wants us out
My France is not theirs, the France that votes for extremists
That bans young people, that is anti-rap on FM,
That thinks this is Texas, that is afraid of our gangs,
That venerates Sarko, that is intolerant and peevish
That watches Julie Lescaut, and longs for the days of the Choristes,
That lets her poor people die, that puts her own parents into homes
No, MY France is not theirs - the one that celebrates Beaujolais
And claims it's screwed by the immigrants
THEIR France stinks of racism, but pretends to be open
This hypocritical France that is perhaps beneath my window
That thinks the police have done their job well
That scratches its balls seated at the dinner table watching Laurent Gerra,
No, "France Profonde" is not MY France
Maybe we upset people, but our values will win out
And if we're citizens, then "to arms, young people!"
MY France will resist them, until THEY respect us.
Quick cultural notes: Boli and Zinedine are athletes; Raï is Algerian music, Zouk Caribbean music; Jamel Debbouze is an actor (Days Of Glory) known for being violent; Julie Lescaut is a TV series about a policewoman; Les Choristes was a movie about a music teacher who helps unruly children through music; Laurent Gerra is a humorist.
I can't resist a comment from a Belgian blogger:
"It's unbelievable. Viewed from a foreign land (and yet we Belgians know you well), it's unreal! To think there are more French people on the Moon than there are carrots in the earth. (Don't look it up, it's one of our expressions...)
I love this. Those who are the furthest removed from life try to make us believe that we are missing out on real life.
Don't you sometimes have the feeling that you're the Americans of Europe? Some crazy pressure from the "media" coming from who knows where...dictating to you how to act just to pad their pockets with money made on (short) CD's."
I think the Belgian blogger has a point. Do the French slavishly imitate American ghetto-culture more than other countries? It's strange that she accuses the "normal" French of being like Americans, while she herself could have stepped out of an American ghetto.
A sample of her tough menacing voice can be heard here. Click the red box near the top.
Update: January 2010 - This item was originally posted in March 2007, almost three years ago. I have slightly revised some of the wording. One line of the song had been accidentally omitted and has now been added. The introduction was slightly modified to make it more readable, but the basic ideas have not changed. As for the song itself, I have tweaked it here and there, but I still cannot vouch 100% for its accuracy. The link to the Belgian blogger no longer works. If his words aren't clear, he was talking about the way the French imitate the American adolescent pop culture, imagining in their cockiness that they have found the "real" life, and hating the false life of the grown-ups around them. It is interesting to note in this context that Diam's has recently converted to Islam following her marriage to a man named Aziz.
Also, fonts and colors were brought up-to-date.