US social justice activists incensed at the Cannes Festival’s intent to honor Alain Delon have started a petition to stop it, citing the legendary actor’s “close-minded” views. The festival, and the French public, were not amused.
Cannes organizers have held firm in their intent to honor the actor, now 83, with a Palme d’Or for lifetime achievement. One of the most prestigious European film festivals kicked off this week with posters of Delon from his 1960s heyday as a sex symbol.
The decision is not sitting well with some feminists and #MeToo activists, who have started a petition declaring that “no amount of good acting can neutralise such a close-minded vision of the world. There is no place in such an important event for racists, sexists and homophobes.”
“Alain is an old, depressed ex-movie star who goes on TV shows and spouts misogynistic and homophobic insults,” actress Carole Raphaelle Davis, the co-founder of #MeToo France, told the Daily Beast. “Cannes should ditch the old white guy syndrome and honor a woman, not a sexist homophobe.”
Activist Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood was likewise outraged, saying that Delon “hits every single button embodying everyone in the world agrees are not values we want to have anymore.”
“You’d think French people would be up in arms about this. It is so tone-deaf,” she added.
The French do seem to be up in arms, however – against American social justice warriors attempting to thought-police their film festivals and meddle in their cultural affairs, that is.
Comments on social media appear to be overwhelmingly pro-Delon and angry at attempts from overseas to impose “political correctness” on Cannes.
“Never has the Hollywood of today resembled yesterday's Hollywood, when McCarthyism and witch-hunting were rampant,” declared literary critic Eric Naulleau, referring to the 1950s climate of ‘red scare’ and blacklisting. “F**k the PC!” he added, in English.
Thierry Frémaux, general delegate of the festival, also defended the decision to honor Delon.
“Today it is very difficult to reward or honour or recompense anyone because the political police then falls on you,” he said at a press event on Monday. “People are free to express their views. Alain Delon was entitled to say what he did. We need to have things in context. In any one person’s life there are many contradictions.
”Alain Delon has the right to think what he thinks.
"We're not giving him the Nobel Peace Prize. We are giving the honorary Palme d’Or for his career as an actor,” said Fremaux. “He has said certain things and he is entitled to express his views.”
Among the sins Delon’s detractors hold against him are speaking out against immigration, expressing sympathies for the nationalist National Rally party, and opposing homosexual couples adopting children.