The gilets jaunes have their own song that reveals the true faces of the movement

France’s gilets jaunes “yellow vests” movement is still gaining momentum since its inception on November 17, 2018. Named after the hi-visibility jackets that motorists are required to keep in their cars in case of a breakdown, the gilets jaunes have swept the nation in the biggest popular uprising in decades. And now, as all popular movements require, they have their own song—or rather, an adaptation of a song by Daniel Guichard entitled “Mon Vieux” (My Old Man).

But now it has a new twist.

This popular song from the 70s has been re-written with the title “Les Gueux” meaning “The Beggars” with lyrics by Gaëtan Thomas and someone listed only as David B, sung by Thomas who, judging from his Youtube channel, seems to specialize in political adaptations of well known songs. The new title is a clever re-framing of the slurs thrown at the protestors by some members of  Macron’s government who have referred to the gilets jaunes as beggars as well as “beaufs” meaning “louts” and “alcooliques” in an attempt to dismiss them as lesser people, people without genuine concerns, people who can and should be ignored.

The song eschews the images of burning cars and tear gas grenades from protests in Paris that the media obsessively reports on, often to the exclusion of all else, and instead focuses on the face of the wider movement throughout the country: the communities, the families, and the camaraderie among the protesters who can be found staking out at least one roundabout in almost every French town.

The symbol and uniform of this movement – the hi-visibility jacket itself – captures the essence of what these people are calling out for. This is their collective breakdown. They are flagging down their government to pay attention. Too long their lives and concerns have been relegated to the sidelines and the shadows. Now, they are in full view. Now they are being seen.

As the song goes.

In their crumpled yellow jackets
Bringing France back to the forgotten ones
Finally seeing them a little
The beggars….

In the best tradition of French satire, the montage includes images of Emmanuel Macron as Louis XIV, the French monarch known for extravagant excesses and whose people also protested the expansion of executive authority and the high rate of taxation, and yes, caused riots in Paris. But it is Macron’s comparison with France’s last monarch, Louis XVI, that should have the establishment more worried, for the events that marked his fall from power (and his final demise under the blade of the guillotine) changed not only the course of French history, but the history of the entire Western world.

Your heart isn’t big enough
To house your people in it

The song continues;

So here we are.

Here they are, indeed.

And here is the song with English translation below:

In their crumpled yellow vests
They went to protest
In the chilly early morning
The beggars…

They went out every day of every week
To shout “we’ve had it up to here!”
They were fighting for a better life
The beggars…

They were fighting against misery
There was no question of keeping quiet
They weren’t asking for paradise
Just to be understood.

In their crumpled yellow jackets
Peace lovers but determined
They firmly blocked the places
The beggars…

They maintained the blockage in the evenings
On the roundabouts and toll booths
They felt like lowering their eyes
The beggars…

There have never been so many people
Calling out for the resignation of
All these crooked politicians

In their crumpled yellow jackets
Bringing France back to those forgotten ones
Finally seeing them a little
The beggars….

Together they sing these songs
Everything went to the wealthy, to the bosses
With the refrain: “Macron resign!”
At the top of their lungs

They want more BFM-TV
From all the chained media
Who sow fear and division
As their only mission.

They spent years
Paying out without flinching
It is time to open their eyes
Both of them.

You could have been smart
And calmed the anger and the hunger
Of those with empty stomachs
The beggars…

But you are so despicable
Your heart isn’t big enough
To house your people in it
So here we are.

Thinking about all of this, I tell myself
True democracy is still strong
But it doesn’t work any more except
At walking pace.

About subincontinentia

writer and eternal optimist
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