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Oscar frontrunner in French sexism row

AFP · 3 Feb 2012, 12:21

Published: 03 Feb 2012 12:21 GMT+01:00

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Hollywood's new darling Jean Dujardin was in trouble back in France on Thursday after the Oscar frontrunner's face appeared on the streets of Paris between a woman's legs in a poster denounced as sexist.

France's advertising regulator ARPP said the posters degraded women and requested them to be removed just days after they went up to advertise a racy comedy about male adultery.

The French internet was buzzing with speculation that the controversy could ruin Dujardin's chances to be the first Frenchman to win a best actor Oscar later this month for his role in "The Artist", a silent black and white movie.

Dujardin was famous in France but little known abroad until the release last year of "The Artist", a tribute to the silent movie era in which a star battles to save his career after it is torpedoed by the arrival of the "talkies".

The movie was a surprise hit and has been nominated for 10 Oscars, including best picture and best director, and has made Dujardin the talk of the town in Hollywood.

The offending poster shows the 39-year-old actor in a smart suit and tie holding the bare legs of an upside down woman, his head between her high-heeled feet, under the caption "Im going into a meeting".

Another poster for the film -- "Les Infidèles" (The Players) -- shows co-star Gilles Lellouche with a woman facing him at groin level as he tells someone on his phone: "It's going to cut out, I'm going into a tunnel".

"The Players" is a series of sketches from different directors including Dujardin himself and Michel Hazanavicius, the director of "The Artist", that take a comic look at the theme of male infidelity.

The ARPP advertising authority said it received four complaints from people offended by the ads and said it believed the posters depicted women as sexual objects.

They "present a degrading image of women, because in both cases you do not see the woman's face... This is certainly presenting an image of women as objects, in this case sexual objects," ARPP head Stephane Martin told AFP.

The posters, which went on display on Monday, will be removed on Friday, he said.

The affair was creating an online buzz in France, with L'Express magazine asking in a headline on its website: "Could the 'Infideles' scandal damage Jean Dujardin?" in his quest for Oscar glory at the February 26th ceremony.

The magazine wondered whether the move to remove the posters was "logical, given their openly misogynistic character, or disgraceful censorship that reveals the strength of political correctness in our society?"

It also noted that French star Gerard Depardieu's hopes for a best actor Oscar for "Cyrano de Bergerac" were thwarted when just before the ceremony a US magazine mistakenly suggesting he took part in a rape at the age of nine.

"America doesn't see the funny side of this type of salacious photos," said Le Parisien daily.

Dujardin said in an interview with Premiere magazine that his new film, due for release in France later this month, was a satire on male infidelity and that its two protagonists were "flamboyant idiots."

The ten for Oscar nominations for "The Artist" put it just behind the 11 scooped by Martin Scorsese's lavish 3D adventure "Hugo".


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