French Have a Laugh at Sarkozy's Expense
Nicolas Sarkozy is known to be one of Europe's most status-conscious politicians. That, of course, has made him a ripe target for satire. A new YouTube hit pokes fun at "President Bling-Bling," while a dismissed lawsuit allows a Sarkozy voodoo doll to continue its brisk sales.
Nicolas Sarkozy is known for his
hyperactive governing style, but this past week he's outdone himself. He continued steering Europe through the financial crisis, while also making headlining appearances in national court and YouTube.
Sarkozy doesn't like this toy.
Admittedly, the French president wasn't personally involved in the production of the animated music video currently coursing through YouTube. But, the hundreds of thousands of people who have watched the clip will have had no trouble identifying the short, cigar-smoking, Rolex-sporting man who grinds and raps through the video as Monsieur Le Président. If viewers need a further hint, the Sarkozy look-alike references one of the president's most popular nicknames: "I am the king of Bling-Bling, ok?"
Indeed, the video has struck a chord with the French partly because Sarkozy is said to bear many of the traits -- the inflated ego, the attraction to material wealth and the tendency for his diction to slip into vulgarisms -- of American gangster rappers. The video offers a parody of the president's restless and highrolling lifestyle: the smoky voice of Sarkozy's pop-star wife Carla Bruni is briefly heard near the start of the video before the "king of Bling-Bling" rides through town in a sports car, shows off his array of high-priced cell phones and joins a host of scantily clad women on a nightclub dancefloor.
The makers of the video are hoping that the president will take it all in good humor. But judging from Sarkozy's legal history, that may be a risky proposition. Sarkozy had recently sued the manufacturer of a voodoo doll that encouraged buyers to stick pins into memorable presidential quotes printed on body of a miniature presidential look-alike: his lawyer claimed in court that Sarkozy had "exclusive and absolute rights" over his image.
On Wednesday, a judge dismissed the case, saying that the doll fell "within the authorized limits of free expression and the right to humor." Nonetheless, it was not the first -- in fact, it was the sixth -- lawsuit filed by the surprisingly thin-skinned Sarkozy, and it's likely not to be the last. In the meantime, a large portion of the French public will be enjoying a laugh at the expense of their leading prickly politician: the voodoo doll has become a best-seller and the rap video is gaining more clicks every day.