Fresh from the shock news that a French President has had an affair, Harry Scrase wonders whether the public gaze has become too fixed on the private couchérie of top politicians.
Following the news a couple of weeks ago which exposed Francois Hollande’s affair with the French actress, Julie Gayet, burning questions are once again brought into light. Should people in the public eye have a private life? Should these people not act more as role models, since they are leaders of their nation?
Constant scandal seems to surround many leading figures of society, most notably in the political arena. With the outing of Hollande’s affair in Closer magazine, we now have to go back to 1974 to find a president who hasn’t been rumoured, at the very least, to have engaged in an affair. It has become almost rite of passage, creating yet another stain on the presidency. This gives substance to the idea that power and infidelity run side by side, as these presidents cannot refrain from committing these acts of immorality. Their egotistical needs can only be fuelled through such events.
Until a few years ago these affairs were mostly hushed, with far less attention being given to them. This was until the well-documented private life of Nicholas Sarkozy, was laid bare by the press. This clearly shows a rapidly changing attitude in the French culture, where affairs were always far less scandalous than in Britain. Although there will be a large number of people who are not concerned by the private life of Hollande, it has still created huge scandal. Even if people do not judge him on a personal level, the reports of the last few weeks have certainly presented a clear distraction from Hollande being able to focus on the current problems that France, much like the rest of Europe, faces in terms of battling financial issues and curbing unemployment.
However, Hollande is clearly not aware enough of the rapidly changing views of his country, angered by the reports on what is clearly his own wrongdoing. He stated that his private life should remain private and even threatened to sue Closer magazine for publishing the details of the liaison. The old French proverb, ‘in order to live happily, live hidden’, which in effect condones this type of behaviour, is dying out. He is naive to think that he can be let off for his actions, which at first sent his partner, Valerie Trierweiler into hospital in a state of shock.
Surely this demonstrates a progression in public views and beliefs. Is it not important that these people, living in the higher echelons of society, working in these important roles, take responsibility for their actions on a personal level? They are constantly in the public eye and if they cannot sustain a certain level of morality then how can it be expected that members of the public do so? Members of the royal family have been born into their role, and are therefore constantly scrutinised for any foot put wrong, with the media digging further for any potential scandal, but for them it is not a choice. For these politicians however, they have taken the job knowing that they will face this form of scrutiny. Why is it then that they continually commit acts of adultery? Is it not far more beneficial to portray a stable marriage and family, much in the way that Obama and America’s First Lady do, thus giving the public something to relate to and perhaps in a way idealise.
It would be logical to think that those constantly under the public eye would be the last kind of people to commit acts of adultery and public scandal, as they would not only suffer on a personal level in their family life but on a national and international level. It appears to be the pressure that is placed on these people is what they cannot cope with, causing them to crack, using an illicit affair as way of release and escape. The eyes of the media are so intense and so bright that it almost provokes this kind of behaviour. From the affairs of John. F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton, it is a violation of morality that has pervaded society for a very long time. Yet as the media becomes increasingly more powerful, these acts become notably worse. This inability to cope with the public eye is proven by Valerie Trierweiler’s statement that she would probably have in fact stayed with Hollande had he not been President, demonstrating how the pressure of the media weighs upon these people.
Politicians have chosen positions of power, and it seems absurd that they can continually abuse them by making further mistakes of morality over and over again. As much as they may want to separate their private lives from their personal ones, it is no longer possible, as public interest is far too great. Although there remain people who ignore their personal mistakes, the number of people taking note is growing and unfortunately for them it is hard not to see such acts of immorality in a dark light. They must stand as examples for humanity and morality; both of which we must cling to dearly in fear of it dying out altogether.
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