Are You Really Welcome To St Tropez?

Are You Really Welcome To St Tropez?
September 8, 2011 Leslie Juvin-Acker

While cruising the TV, I’ll often run into the NRJ (sounds like energy) music channel here in France. Of course, they play a lot of American songs and lots of mopey French ballads and gypsy inspired tunes. I’m pretty much down with a lot of it, but I just can’t understand a song called “Welcome To St. Tropez” by DJ Antoine.

The style of the music isn’t what bothers me, actually, even if it has clich√© European nightclub beats. What irritates me is the negative presentation of a beautiful, quiet town full of culture, history, and natural beauty, disregard for France’s heritage, and poor message to youth. Instead, it portrays St. Tropez as a place for new money to go and flash their riches in what is supposed to be a non-stop party atmosphere; the Vegas of France, if you will.

In reality, Saint Tropez not like that at all. It’s really a quiet family oriented city in a placid sea-side region and while St Tropez looks crazy and full of debauchery in the video, the money crowd is really very financially and socially conservative. The people in the night clubs are usually hanger-ons who just want to see stars having a good time (like Miami, but with less sex, drugs, and rock and roll).

If you do happen to have a Ferrari or some kind of exotic sports car, you will never be able to get it above 40 miles an hour on all the winding hillside roads that lead to the village and when you’re in town during peak summer season, you’ll be lucky to go above 15 miles an hour because you’ll be sitting in traffic all day. That is, if you manage to find a parking spot at all.

And that whole spraying champagne thing is what the locals consider a tell tale sign of new money or people who wish they really belonged, but are quietly tolerated because the French are not known to turn down anybody’s Euros, especially wealthy foreigners and pop stars. The people who can actually afford to buy a yacht and a summer home there would hardly ever dare to carelessly spray what to them is considered liquid gold and a cultural heritage.

Don’t believe me? The director of Louis Roederer made it clear in 2006 that he didn’t want to sell Cristal to rappers anymore as a result of the negative attention pouring champagne on the ground brings to the company. Not to mention, the workers got pretty angry for the disrespect to the time-honored and lengthy process of producing champagne which can take many years and a lot of hands on attention to produce each bottle. Rappers like Jay-Z pouted, calling it a racial issue, and created a boycott of Cristal.

This misunderstanding by those with a rapid influx of wealth, not limited to hip-hop stars mind you, is what produces a negative presentation of a culture that others consider sacred. The truth is, France isn’t really a “wile it out” country because the demographic with the lasting wealth are of middle and retirement age as it’s extremely rare for young people to rise to wealth so quickly due to France’s strict economic legislation and fiscal policies.

So, young people see this video and think, “Wow! St. Tropez is this amazing party town!” and they flock there only to realize how exorbitantly expensive everything, even basic food, is (50 bucks per plate of fish) and how selective the very few nightclubs that exist really are – that is, if you can even afford entry and a table at 150 euros, the minimum, for the evening. Young tourists inspired by videos featured above go home broke and disenchanted because they feel excluded from what is presented in these types of music videos.

Sure, it’s a music star’s lifestyle captured on film, one might argue. However, to say that St. Tropez is some wild and crazy town for young people is not true, when rather it’s a chill vacation spot for the world’s rich and famous and France’s elite families.

On an esoteric note, the song says “Ain’t nothing here that money can’t buy”, while money can buy tolerance, it can’t buy acceptance. Nor can can money buy respect. Having lots of money, at any age, doesn’t give one free reign to do what they want to other people. In fact, the more one has, the more they’re held accountable for their actions. Telling young minds that having lots of money automatically equates peace of mind, respect, acceptance and happiness is advertising ignorance.

I’m all for doing what you want in life with your money – even if that means taking champagne showers. However, it behooves people like DJ Antoine to know what kind of world they’re really entering, what types of people they’re going to run into, and if they really want to be respected or simply tolerated (and cruelly ridiculed behind one’s back) – even if you’ve got “too much money in the bank.”

What do you think? Do you think songs about exorbitant wealth are false advertising and disenchanting to young people?

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