The complex of white savior spotlighted (yuck) in the problematic Tenor

Tenor may sound like a completely harmless comedy. Unfortunately that is not the case.

I don’t know if I’ve already told you, but I was a backing vocalist for Véronique Sanson, and even for Eddy Mitchell, because in real life I’m 148 years old.

You’ll find that the star singer unfortunately didn’t offer me a career in showbiz, no doubt because I have a rattling voice and the stage talent of a half-cooked salmon.

Because I am not Lady Gaga, I therefore live my life as an artist by proxy in front of my television, as Jean-Jacques Goldman, another star of the EHPAD, would say. Suffice it to say that no film about song and dance escapes my radar.

So, despite common sense, I went to see Tenorthe new movie from Claude Zidi Jr., which quickly turned out to be a movie like we’ve seen 200,000 before, and I’m not exaggerating.

Tenor, a comedy by Claude Zidi Jr.

TENOR – Official trailer – MB14 / Michèle Laroque (2022)

Reminder: Claude Zidi Jr. is the son of Claude Zidi, an iconic director of the 90s comedy, who notably shaped Les Ripoux and other Les Sous-doués, whom I personally love, like anyone over 140.

After The Deguns in 2018, Claude Zidi Junior, following in his father’s footsteps, released his second comedy this week: it’s called Tenorand it’s the very simple story of Antoine (played by MB14, a singer who from… The voice), a delivery boy at Sushi Shop, who becomes the little protégé of an opera singing teacher at the Paris Opera.

However, being an opera singer was not really what Antoine was destined for, primarily because Antoine is from the suburbs, which in the collective imagination of French cinema means that he necessarily speaks Verlan and has a culture G close to 0, then because Antoine, what he would like is to become a rapper. SILENCE. Report that in the suburbs young people like rap cough.

Antoine and Mrs. Loyseau, his singing teacher who defends him against all odds, and especially against the prot whites who are legion between the walls of the Opéra Garnier, eventually form a friendship and overcome their mutual prejudices. Lhlala is it really cute? Well no, it’s mostly Manichean.

The eternal white savior complex

Spotlighting the white savior complex (yuck) in the problematic Tenor

Does this pitch already remind you of something? But if you give it a try, you know: the story of a maxi-privileged white person who believes in the potential of a poor girl or poor little boy from working-class neighborhoods, generally racialized? Will a bell ring?

However, it is the summary of really WAY TOO many French films that, not content with conveying stereotypes about “ city ​​youth “, having the guts to do it under the guise of progressivism.

Take the Brio, by Yvan Attal The melodyby Rachid Hami or later Haute coutureby Sylvie Ohayon: Everyone tells us the story of the little savage of the bitumen who imbibes the words of his good white master.

By the way, since I quote you Haute coutureI searched for you a little Google commentary on the movie and I found this one, which I especially like:

“Very nice film, carried by the brilliant acting of Nathalie Baye, which is perfect. Facing a beautiful, odious and moving little beurette! †

Wait, excuse me, I threw up in my mouth.

The examples I cited above are ultimately the cinematic personification of the “white savior” or the white savior complex. The one that exists for a white person to put himself on stage to get out of the troubles of a racialized person who generally hasn’t asked him for anything. An imposed rescue, more to show off than out of altruism.

A very widespread complex on Instagram and dating applications in particular, where influencers from all walks of life post themselves in, for example, pictures in African villages, surrounded by black children. Moan, did you say?

I came back to life in my mouth, and it’s not even because I ate spicy ravioli soup at four.

Tenor, not so innocent!

Spotlighting the white savior complex (yuck) in the problematic Tenor

short, Tenor may seem like a harmless comedy, even downright benevolent, but behind its permissive cinematic air, it helps increase class inequality and reinforce the clichés surrounding young people from working-class neighborhoods. Never forget : movie is political. A movie is never just a movie.

In short, I’ll spare you the scenes where Michèle Laroque drinks wine while looking lasciviously out the window of her bourgeois apartment, and the one where Antoine stars in rap scenes, the wording of which makes you roll your annoyed eyes.

At a time when we (and by we, I mean at Madmoizelle) dream of a nuanced society, where everyone has the right to develop their plurality, we unfortunately still have the right to make resolutely binary comedies, which are not only serve to paste labels.

Come on, are we saying we’re going to end classism and racism in 2023? Come on, I’m going to register for the casting of the new season of the star ac’ or even Miss Franceplease !


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The only opinion that matters is a Madmoizelle podcast written and hosted by Kalindi Ramphul. Production, music and editing: Mathis Grossos. Editor in Chief: Marine Normand.

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