They were like “The Dreamers” in Bertolucci’s eponymic film. They fought for their ideals and challenged the conventional puritanism. With their gray slipovers, their laissez-faire-natures and their left-liberal ferocity, they appeared as a last relic of the past. The 1968s survived in them and in their works although a majority of them was still in the infancy at that time. Their fight for the ultimate freedom of expression was enforced by them stringently and against all the rules. Exaggerated sexism influenced their works as well as open criticism of religious fanatism, eccentric politicians and right-wing conservatism. Always a bit different and somehow too much for popular taste, they presented Jesus in a coital pose together with his father or Mohammed kneeing naked in the desert sand.
This was exactly what they never wanted to do. They never wanted to live kneeing or to fit into the moderate bourgeoisie, but rather to fight openly for their ideals. Despite numerous lawsuits, public defamation and death threats they didn’t deviate from their line and continued to spread forthright. It seemed as if hate was a renewed incentive for them for breaking more boundaries. They didn’t even know any boundary. They had neither respect for the islamic prophet’s aniconism nor for god’s portrayal on earth, the pope.
Their work excited many minds, but one thing was obvious: They were wonderfully refreshing, so different and somehow not new. They were like revolutionary holdovers in the swamp of mainstream journalism, which you can monitor in newspapers and on television every day. Homogeneous images and system-compliant reports weren’t anything for them. They were like the French Sorbonne students more than 40 years ago. But they exchanged molotov cocktails and stones for pens and papers. And they brought those thoughts of a defensive and self-determined individual to here and now – entirely in Voltaire’s sense. The defence of “liberté” was their life-determining content and this gladly with a glass of red wine in the hand, in the centre of the most revolutionary city in the world, in Paris.
Much like the “dreamers” Matthew, Isabelle and Theo they created their own world in their small office in the Rue Nicolas Appert – isolated from the outside. In this solitude, they didn’t hesitate to present their criticism in a voyeuristic manner and with an exaggerated eccentricity. Each week, they released a magazine – a mixture of wet and idealized dream scenarios – which was consumed only by a selected group, the Parisian intellectual in-crowd. Their dwindling reputation didn’t sort with their earlier success for a long time – due to the current desertification of social values or the changing media consumption. But their regular readers remained faithful to them.
Now they are dead. On a Wednesday morning two French muslims were rid of the satirical provocations of those peculiar journalists and cartoonists. Armed with kalashnikovs they stormed the editorial office screaming “allahu akbar” and executed twelve people. With this violent act, they also hit thousands of other journalists into their hearts. Those ones who struggle daily for the freedom of expression. It seemed as if the street battles for freedom and liberty would visit Paris again. But this time, there weren’t only burning barricades.
Within a few hours there was an outcry in the world’s population. Under the weepings and victims’ sympathizers were many religious followers, mainstream journalists and government officials. All those, who established themselves as a magazine’s opponent all the years, went hand in hand with the bereaved. They seized the moment for enacting themselves as do-gooder, as a unified and peaceful world. Beyond their deaths the journalists’ works and wills seemed to be unbroken. Because their murderer’s weren’t able to do one thing: burying their irrepressible believes in the freedom of opinion together with their dead bodies.