A few days ago, French number one channel TF1 broadcasted, in prime time, a TV show about funny parodies involving local celebrities. Florent Peyre decided to shoot a video clip like Rise like a Phoenix and he was dressed up and made up like Conchita Wurst. Minutes after the parody was aired, many accused the comedian of transphobia on social networking websites.
Making a parody video is something but insulting a community is another for many. The tune used is from Color Gitano by French superstar Kendji Girac, who declared a few weeks ago that he would not represent France at the Eurovision Song Contest, after many speculations.
Color Gitano by Kendji Girac
The lyrics were rewritten and are seen by many as insulting, transphobic and full of stereotypes. Starting the parody with:
C’est une façon de voir la vie, avec des seins et un zizi
(it is a way to see life, with breast and a willy)
Métier Camioneur mais je ressemble à ta sœur, un homme pour de faux
(I work as a truck driver but I look like your sister, a fake man)
and using a highly pejorative word for transgender people in the chorus : travelo. French LGBT associations condemned this parody and were thinking of going to court. Travelo is the one of most, if not the most, common offensive insult that transgender people have to face, therefore using it in a parody shows for many that it is acceptable to do so.
Following the outcry, the comedian apologized and declared that it is humour and that the parody was not made to insult anyone.
While some people remind others of the power of Je Suis Charlie and the freedom of speech, others argue that mocking and insulting are two distinct concepts.
One thing is sure is that we are sadly far away from Conchita’s famous militant speech of May 2014.