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French Press Review 27 december 2017
Vladmir Putin as a character from Dostoevsky. "The Russian menace has the reassuring virtue of permanence. Hollywood's hypocrisy. And, Brigitte Bardot!
Today's French papers can't agree on what's the biggest story.
Conservative daily le Figaro opts for "Putin : towards a quarter of a century in power."
Not exactly hot off the presses. The Russian Presidential election likely to return Putin to office for a fourth time is not until March next year.
It's what we journalists call "a think piece" really.
"The Russian President, no doubt, could have inspired Dostoevsky," the paper says. "To serve as a model for one of his characters, molded with as much cynicism as idealism and of whom one wonders what moral code controls their actions."
Still, "Putin can take comfort from his stature on the world stage and from hosting the 2018 football World Cup," opines le Figaro.
After a global tour d'horizon of Russia relations, the paper concludes Russian's relationship with the west hasn't changed. Putin needs a balance of power to keep his people firmly around him.
"The Russian menace has the reassuring virtue of permanence," says le Figaro. "The new Cold War is politically useful."
The front page of Centrist paper le Monde is a hodge podge of stories: the results of an enquiry into the grotesque misdeed of so-called Islamic State Jihadists in Syria and Iraq - namely the killing of civilians, the use of human shields, the kidnap and rape of women and girls of the Yazidi minority.
Le Monde has the grisly details.
The image given pride of place is of Kevin Spacey the Hollywood actor accused of sexual harassment including against underage boys.
"The actor was wiped out of Ridley Scott's "All the money in the world" after the revelation of sexual assault," the paper reminds readers.
The Canadian actor Christopher Plummer took over his role. Again, I believe we knew that some time ago.
To be fair it's le Monde hook on which to hang a wider look at the hot topic of sexual harassment and the virtues and vices of Hollywood.
"The operation was conducted in the greatest urgency, with twenty-two scenes to re-shoot, eighteen hours of work per day, and for the significant sum of $ 10 million, or a quarter of the total budget of the movie. Never seen in Hollywood! Why this panic?" the paper wonders.
The answer "The future of the film was at stake."
"One can also think, according to the word of François de La Rochefoucauld, that it is about Hypocrisy "a tribute that vice pays to virtue."
Because, says le Monde, even before his case is judged, this is the symbolic killing of the actor Kevin Spacey.
"It is indeed the immemorial cruelty of the Hollywood Moloch that is expressed here, even if it concerns a man accused of having seriously abused his power concludes le Monde.
Left-leaning Libération has the image of a teddy bear on its front page accompanying its lede story headlined "Sus porn?" a play on words which translates as "Onslaught on Porn."
In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein and "#balancetonporc affairs" which translates as "denounce your pig", President Emmanuel Macron announced that he wants to regulate X-rated sites accused of perverting young people - even in schoolyards. "A necessary moralisation or a vain demonisation?," the paper asks
Libé's editorial explores the question.
After much on the one hand and the other hand it says "Everyone finds pleasure where he / she wants, provided that it is not at anyone's expense. But we think of the impact of such videos on children or young people in the torment of adolescence."
"That it is necessary to pay attention to this, even to regulate porn on the Internet, as is done the other media, so that it is not accessible to minors, seems to us justified."
The popular paper le Parisien headlines the same story "How Hollywood 'zapped' Kevin Spacey." and devotes two inside pages to the affair. The paper reminds us that, like Spacey, movie mogul Harvey Weistein who's alleged misbehaviour triggered the "Me Too" landslide of harassment allegations has been accused but neither charged nor convicted.
Le Parisien also runs a full page open letter from the 20th century's French blond bombshell Brigitte Bardot.
In it the screen legend details how other European countries are preventing cruelty to animals. For example, the abolition of fox hunting: the outlawing of ritual slaughter; the ban of producing foie gras and the breeding of animals for their fur: plus the use of animals in circuses.
"And France?" she asks.
Next month Bardot publishes a book on her decades-long campaign for animal rights.
Yesterday she told the French news agency "This government has got off to a very bad start."
Bardot slammed President Emmanuel Macron for holidaying with his family this month at Chambord, a hunting chateau in the Loire Valley.
"He congratulated hunters in front of their game while it was still warm," she says. "It's scandalous and very inappropriate."
Will she force change in France. Maybe not. But, at 83 years old she's still deservedly in the limelight.