February 27, 2015 / 12:57 PM / 4 years ago

Aging French rockers criticized for jobless jibe at young

PARIS (Reuters) - A music video by a group of mostly middle-aged French stars telling the young they can succeed only if they “do something” triggered a bitter generational row on Friday, with critics accusing the rich singers of hypocrisy.

French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman jokes about an electrical failure during his performance at the NRJ music awards in Cannes January 19, 2002. - RTXL0IL

The row underlined the anger felt by France’s young, facing unemployment rates upwards of 25 percent and increasingly shut out of a jobs market where permanent contracts are coveted and fiercely protected.

Penned by Grammy-winning singer Jean-Jacques Goldman and sung by a star-studded charity music collective called “Les Enfoires” (“The Bastards”), the song “Your Whole Life” prompted a tirade of angry Twitter and blog comments.

The video has two groups of singers face off against each other and trade accusations, with people under 30 on one side and mostly older and well-established entertainers on the other.

The younger group tells the elder that they enjoyed “peace, liberty and full employment” while their own generation faces “joblessness, violence and AIDS”.

The elders respond that they didn’t “steal anything” and that young people should “do something” as they have their whole lives in front of them.

“When ‘The Bastards’ say ‘do something’, are they talking to the 25 percent of young people who are unemployed, or just the 22 percent who under the poverty line?” tweeted Laura Slimani, head of the Socialist Party youth movement.

“A monument of vulgarity and hatred for young people,” economist Jacques Attali, a former adviser to Socialist ex-president Francois Mitterrand, commented on Twitter.

In 1975, France’s youth unemployment rate was around 7 percent and overall joblessness was about 3 percent. The overall jobless rate is now three times that at 10 percent. Four out of five jobs are now offered only as temporary contracts.

The song and its video are aimed at promoting an annual series of concerts whose proceeds go to the “Restos du Coeur” food charity for the needy.

Goldman, 63, often shown in polls as France’s most popular entertainer, defended the song as being well-intentioned.

“The ‘Bastards’ are playing the role of adults who answer (young people) the way they do too often: by skirting blame and with hypocrisy, but hoping they will do better.”

Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Mark John and Alison Williams

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