French President François Hollande was facing a private and political crisis after a celebrity magazine published photos it says proves he is having a "secret love affair" with a film actress almost 20 years his junior. Closer magazine released photos it says shows the 59-year old Socialist leader and his new lover, Julie Gayet, 41, entering an apartment block a stone's throw from the Elysée Palace in Paris. Closer's Friday edition carried a seven-page report on the alleged infidelity, in which a man it insists is the president arrives on a chauffeur-driven scooter to spend nights in the flat. Read more >>
The cartoon by Peter Brookes from The Times shows a smiling, naked (apart from his shoes and socks and helmet) François Hollande on a 3-wheeled scooter in the rain (compare photo). A French tricolor flag flies from the back of the scooter, and a speech bubble with the words 'Va Va Voom' is coming (no pun intended) from, er, between the President's legs.
The Oxford Dictionary defines va-va-voom (with hyphens) as "the quality of being exciting, vigorous, or sexually attractive". • She’s lost none of her va-va-voom since giving birth to her daughter. (See more examples of usage). According to this article, va-va-voom first appeared in the lyrics of a 1950s song to represent the sound of a car engine running. However, "Va Va Voom" really entered the public's consciousness after being used in an early noughties advertising campaign for Renault cars featuring the former Arsenal and France football star Thierry Henry (hence the French connection). And only last year a Renault "Va Va Voom" commercial (without Henry) was banned for portraying women as sexual objects. Actually "Va Va Voom" sounds like it might be a French expression (along the lines of "Oh là là"), though it's not. And let's not bring Nicki Minaj into this!
1. Was Closer right to publish the photos of François Hollande?
2. Is the President entitled to the same level of privacy as a 'normal' person?
3. Should politicians’ private lives be off-limits?
4. Should François Hollande sue Closer?
5. Does his affair with Julie Gayet make the president look more 'sympathique' or discredited?"
6. Does any of this really matter when the unemployment rate hovers around 11%?
Here in France the story was briefly mentioned on the national news last night, but whereas in Britain or the USA, this would have been an affair (in both senses) worthy of a -gate suffix (Gayet-gate?), the French people and media seem to be giving it a Gallic shrug. Perhaps nothing surprises them anymore when it comes to Presidential 'moeurs' (after all, Mitterand had a secret daughter with his mistress). It will be interesting to see if the subject comes up during Hollande's press conference scheduled for January 14th.