New Paris metro stop ‘Serge Gainsbourg’ must be renamed, says petition

Opponents say it will send out the wrong message due to his behaviour, including admitting to domestic violence and singing with his daughter, 13, about incest

Some of Gainsbourg’s darker sides have resurfaced as Paris’ metro system considers naming a station after him
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A petition is calling for one of Paris’ future metro stations, provisionally named after French singing legend Serge Gainsbourg, to be renamed.

The new station is to be part of an extension to the network’s line 11, and will be the future first stop after the current terminus Marie des Lilas.

But opponents say Gainsbourg is not worthy of a station name saying his “sexist behaviours and pedocriminal - bordering incestuous - tendencies are well known to the public”.

“This decision [to name the station after him] is shameful and intolerable,” said Ludine, a 22-year-old graphic designer who cosigned the petition.

The petition has attracted more than 10,200 signatures as of today (December 14).

“Is there not anyone else the RATP can celebrate in 2023? A woman for instance? What message does it send to his victims?” she added.

Poète maudit character

Gainsbourg is one of many public figures whose past behaviours have been denounced by several actresses, singers - including his wife Jane Birkin - and feminist movements.

He assumed the style of a provocative poète maudit (cursed poet) in the 1980s when he caused multiple public scandals, including degrading or over-sexual comments - many of which were made during live TV interviews or performances.

Infamous incidents include telling Whitney Houston he wanted to sleep with her during a live talk show, calling French singer Catherine Ringer a “whore”, and burning a 500 franc-bill on live TV, ostensibly to protest France’s high income tax rates.

His most infamous song is “Lemon Incest”, a five-minute track sang alongside his 13-year-old daughter Charlotte.

The suggestive music video depicts the two together on a bed.

Read more: 10 French songs that have sparked debate over the years

‘Still acceptable in 2023’

The petition’s organisers also reference his lesser-known works to back their opposition.

These include a film titled Charlotte Forever and the “sadistic feminicides and incestuous rapes” of the two songs “titicaca” and “La poupée qui fait”.

An Instagram post detailing some of the problematic lyrics in these songs has also been published by a co-signer of the petition.

“[The RATP’s decision] means that it is still acceptable in 2023 to sing sexist, sexually violent and pedocriminal lyrics when you are a man,” said the post’s author.

The petition is not the first to point out some of Gainsbourg’s behaviours.
Jane Birkin spoke about her husband’s domestic violence - something he publicly acknowledged - in her memoir Munkey Diaries.

IDF Mobilités - the organisation authority controlling Paris’ public-transport network and which has authority on naming-policy - has not responded to requests to comment on the story.

A park in the 19th district of Paris was named after Gainsbourg in 2010.

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