The French press may consider the personal lives of the nation’s politicians off limits, but French comedians don’t. French Socialist party official and International Monetary Fund honcho, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), now in a New York prison facing charges that he sexually attacked a hotel maid, has been the target of France’s (in)famously vicious satirists for years because of his libidinous activities.
(LIST: Top 10 Abuses of Power)
In 2009, public radio station France-Inter aired what now looks like an uncomfortably prescient radio skit in which comedian Stéphane Guillon declared the station had taken “extraordinary security measures” to protect women in the office ahead of Strauss-Kahn’s arrival. Guillon suggested that all female personnel wear long, dark unsexy clothing, and joked that one of the station’s editors had decided to wear a burka. He warned staffers against using words like “breast,” which could “release the beast” in DSK. Guillon also declared “dark and secluded places” like “toilets, parking lots and some closets” off limits. In the event of emergency, he continued, a loud siren and red flashing light (which he demonstrates) would go off — a signal for all female personnel to go directly to elevators and be evacuated to other floors of the building. Still, “there’s no need for panic,” he joked.
The skit prompted enraged protests from DSK and other leftist politicians, who soon were soon joined by rivals on the right. The reason: Guillon regularly skewered French President Nicolas Sarkozy and leading members of his conservative cabinet, fueling accusations he’d breached the traditional wall between public and private life in France. In 2010, the head of France’s public radio network and a Sarkozy appointee pulled the plug on Guillon’s program, despite its impressive audience of two million listeners. No joke.