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Ten years after a Minor Current Affair which changed the Presidential Elections in France 

Note of intent of eponym film

Sunday 8 April 2012, by Simon Guibert

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

"With the ever increasing crime and street crime, it is only natural that the French end up feeling threatened. We must condemn the unbearable increasing insecurity, the inability of the authorities and the indulgence of the courts"

Le Matin, daily newspaper (April 1907)


Paul Voise, Minor Current Affair, Insecurity & Politics

The subject

It all begins Thursday, April 18, 2002 at 21 hours 30. It is a dull evening that fell on Argonne, a sensitive area of Orleans. Two young racketeers who were unable to obtain money for an old man, hit him in the head and set fire to his house. An hour later firefighters were called to a fire at 42, rue de la Borde: it is the home of Paul Voise said "Popol" which is in flames. The old man who escaped fled to a neighbor.

After that EDF employees have cut electricity in front of a crowd of onlookers the fire is finally under control, while Voise Paul was admitted to Orleans-La Source hospital. It is quarter to midnight. At midnight, Patrick Dezallé, journalist of the “Republique du Centre” newspaper, see Florent Montillot deputy mayor in charge of security, talk to a group of young in the mall laundromat.

Two in the morning. In his office, the journalist ends his paper by asking of this coincidence: would there have been political manipulation? He left the newspaper and goes home thinking about the last words of his article: … “The investigators despair not identify the perpetrators sooner or later. Were they among the young grouped in the laundry and the shopping center with whom Florent Montillot Assistant Mayor of Orleans, engaged discussion on the stroke of midnight?”

Friday April 19 at 6:00, Patrick Dezallé’s article appears in the “Republique du Centre” newspaper. At 24:47 French Press Agency distributes its first dispatch. Five minutes later in Paris, Bruno Cortes, editor TF1 (first national TV channel) decided to send a reporter on the spot. He calls the hospital without any difficulties and get access to Paul Voise’s room. A 15 hours, a team of TF1 and LCI film "Popol" still in shock from his aggression. The scarred face, the old man wept profusely on camera.

We are on the eve of the first round of presidential elections when the "Popol" wounded face appears on television screens. He is first on her bed hospital and then, as he is recovering quickly, poses outside his home soon no longer a heap of ashes from which emerge a few traces of a lifetime in smoke.

This incident is rather banal, however promised a future out of the ordinary. Soon, the entire media community relays information, newspapers televisions and radios headlined on "Popol", the press goes into "one" the old man 73 years with the banter and the image go so well with the public. The political class is moved, the whole of France commented. It speaks only of "Popol", this little old nicknamed “the Prince of the Argonne” by his neighbors, who lost everything a certain April evening 2002.

The "Paul Voise case" was introduced: in the next few days, we can not count the first pages, headlines and ads sensational… And this presidential election has not stopped surprising: when the candidate Jospin (socialist) eliminated in favor of Jean-Marie Le Pen (extreme right candidate), It’s dismay. Controversy broke out around insecurity, the media treatment of the "Paul Voise case" is put on the spot. Journalists, politicians, observers, experts: an analysis of all try on "the most anxiety subject of the year. "

The intention

We intend to revisit this case and its consequences on Paul Voise and his environment, media and information processing "The Paul Voise case" is a news item that received regular treatment extraordinary. According to what editorial considerations, under what journalistic criteria and for what national implications?

The media treatment of the case shows the media interests of delivering information calibrated, carefully formatted to provide the public a subject referring to the errors of the Reality TV In retrospect, this is indeed the media themselves who will discuss the case of Paul Voise as the subject "the most anxiety of the Year". This apparent irresponsibility face the importance of the political is it innocent? Crucial question for democracy: there has there been political manipulation? And if the Paul Voise case had taken the place of campaign launched missile in the direction of millions of viewers-voters?

Who is really Paul Voise, the friendly and innocent marginal that we were introduced, recalling an old original factor horse or the victim of an obscure revenge?

If Lionel Jospin was elected in the second round, it is likely that the facts were quickly forgotten, never decrypted or analyzed. This time, the editors of televisions, radios and newspapers must, too, accountability, or at least be explained. All have disseminated this topic, relayed this information, but questionable journalistic editing perfect.

An autopsy

The camera searches the ruins of the house of "Popol", passes the neighborhood and the city of Orleans screened. The film shows portraits of neighbors, relatives, politicians or journalists speaking on the matter. The objects captures the atmosphere, identifies shapes and shadows on the scene of the drama. If the media treatment of uncertainty is the collective unconscious, then the Psychoanalysis concerns us. If the policy has taken over "the case of Paul Voise" for the dress up a certain sense, then semiotics helps us to decipher. If "the Paul Voise" questions us all differently, so what gives philosophy lead civic reflection. If "Popol" is stirred by a scarecrow face of society, then anthropology helps take off the masks.

Posterity of the imposture

Since 2002, Nicolas Sarkozy boasted of success in the fight against crime. On what grounds he based the assessment of its success? The analysis of the four areas of security policy made in the film—the numbers policy, criminal law making, prevention of crime, CCTV—allows to highlight the deception at work in this exercise complacency.

Again, the recommendation of Victor Hugo who on the way to the vagaries of cultural media wrote 150 years ago [1], "Open schools and you will close prisons", remains superbly ignored by politicians who prefer contemporary recipes of populism and demagoguery to deceive a people increasingly controlled and threatened by ignorance. Our politicians have also forgotten that Bertolt Brecht warned us soon after the Second World War, "The belly is still fertile, hence arose the filthy beast". [2]

Simon Guibert
(March 2012)

Iconography [3]


This note of intent is an excerpt from #16
Camera Obscura / Darkroom

2002-2012 Paul Voise, Minor Current Affair, Insecurity & Politics: ten years after the electoral acclaim in France

- The film (57’)

- Ten years after the electoral acclaim in France (Editorial)

- English Dubbing Transcript

- Film Credits

- About a man (three excerpts from Mat Jacob’s Gallery)

- Paul Voise, Minor Current Affair, Insecurity & Politics: Note of Intent (2012, Simon Guibert)

- Photographs Gallery (Mat Jacob)

- Issue 16 Credits


[1As a matter of fact this quotation as attributed to Victor Hugo, by several politicians and intellectuals French and British—such as Victor Duruy or Thomas Macaulay—during the 19th century and beyond, is not found in his writings. According to a letter from a scholar to the "Group Hugo" at Paris-Diderot University (in 2010): at least two references from Pierre Larousse, in his Grand dictionnaire universel du XXe siècle, quote an aphorism from Louis Jourdan, redactor at "Le Siècle" (French newspaper published since 1836 till 1932); this original sentence being: "Ouvrir une école aujourd’hui, c’est fermer une prison dans vingt ans" (Today opening a school is closing a prison twenty years later)—Source (pdf):

[2Literal translation from French into English of the last verse of Epilogue, added after World War II by author to his play, "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" (1941)—Bertolt Brecht, Armand Jacob (traducteur), Théâtre complet, éd. de l’Arche, Paris, 1976.... English version of the play exists at RevSocialist Publishers, 2011; (SocialistStories pdf free version)—here to follow their English version of "Epilogue":

Therefore learn how to see and not to gape.
To act instead of talking all day long.
The world was almost won by such an ape!
The nations put him where his kind belong.
But don’t rejoice too soon at your escape —
The womb he crawled from still is going strong.

[3The photograph is excerpted from the photo-reportage by Mat Jacob during the filming at Orleans.
- The logo is a quotation of a double page from Paris Match Magazine of May 2, 2002 (between the two rounds of presidential elections); it is entitled "The once too of the insecurity" on a photograph of Paul Voise with his swollen ​​face for several days after the attack. Excerpted from

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