While watching the French film La Haine for a class in which we examine the role that cities play in literature and films, I was overwhelmed by the similarities between the film and Rose’s piece that we read near the beginning of the semester. The film follows three young men of racial or religious minority groups who live in the banlieues (ghettos) of Paris. The film focuses on the police brutality that is common to these areas of Paris that are almost exclusively immigrant inhabited. Following a run in with the police, two of the men ride in a car with an officer who tells the young men that the police are there to protect the people. Hubert, a man of North African descent, then asks the officer, “Who protects us from you?” I understood this line to be a reference to the KRS song discussed in Rose’s article, and to verify my suspicion, I crosschecked the release dates of the song and the film: the song was released in 1989, and the film in 1995. This deeply resonated with me because if there was a connection from the director to KRS, this would mean that the message of that song was able to cross international borders and resonate with a broader audience than I had originally understood.
The scene that I felt to be the most relevant to this class is a scene depicting a young man with a sound system overlooking the streets of the banlieues. This scene, which I’ve attached to this post, shows the man preparing a turntable with two vinyls, and then djing with an enormous speaker pointing out of an open window. The first song heard is “Nique la Police” (Fuck the Police) by Cut Killer. The original version of the song was performed by Suprême NTM, and is hailed as a prominent anti-police song of the 1990’s. The song opens with the rough English translation of: “This is the police. Identity check. Your papers: typical procedure that you have to get use to.” As the music continues to play, the scene pans out to the courtyard that the DJ overlooks, as if to indicate that this sentiment echoes throughout the entire area. The song then begins to play alongside “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien,” one of the most famous songs by one of the most famous French singers, Edith Piaf. The title of the song, “No, I don’t regret anything” indicates that the notion many people in these neighborhoods have of hating the police and engaging in violence against them is upheld and not something that the people or ashamed of or regret. Though we applied Rose’s article to American popular culture, I find it interesting that this connection between music and political sentiments can be applied all over the world.