We knew him as minister, candidate for the Élysée, president of the Republic, then re-candidate and re-president. Here he is now a youtuber. Not the McFly and Carlito way. No, Emmanuel Macron actually launched a web series on the YouTube video platform in early May retracing the highlights of his first five-year term. Soberly titled 5 Years at the Élysée, this unprecedented format for a French head of state is divided into three parts. Two episodes are already online. The first focuses on the period 2017-2018, the second on the years 2019-2020.
The viewer, on his smartphone, his tablet, his computer or his smart TV follows, in immersion, the President of the Republic behind the scenes of power. This web series borrows all the codes of the classic TV documentary (without voiceover), with the exception that the sequences scroll at the speed of the TGV, as if to keep the attention of young audiences. Twenty-eight sequences cross the 40 minutes of episode 1, it’s 23 for episode 2 (46 minutes)! No time to get bored, then. Some images, captured in a raw way, come close to the hidden camera. The feeling sought is that of witnessing, as an objective witness, privileged moments of the quinquennium. However, no one is fooled, 5 Years at the Élysée remains a communication medium… whose skill must be recognized.
Often described by his opponents as a “president out of touch with reality”, the promotional documentary instead underlines Emmanuel Macron’s physical and customary closeness to the people. We see him ordering, in a country cafe, “a little coffee and a little glass of water”. We discover the Head of State, in all simplicity, in the canteen of a college, meal tray in his hands, about to go to lunch like everyone and with everyone. We see it of course with powerful people, like when he received Bill and Melinda Gates at the Élysée in 2018. But very quickly, the documentary continues with the reception – under the golds of the Republic – of the heroic Mamoudou Gassama, a Malian who has become French for having saved a child suspended in the void on the fourth floor of a building. The Macronian “at the same time”, again and again.
The Jupiterian president, who is usually said to be “hated” by a large fringe of the French, appears on the contrary to be a leader … adored. Several well-chosen sequences attest to this. The most emblematic is perhaps the one where we see Emmanuel Macron seated, one night in September 2018, with the inhabitants of Saint-Martin, a year after the storm which devastated the island. Among the guests, a certain Thierry declared to an attentive and, it seems, touched president: “This cyclone Irma was exceptional, like you, for me, you are an exceptional President of the Republic. Another sequence, among many other messages of support, a “Macron, I love you” shouted by a man during a presidential trip to Mulhouse in February 2020. This love received, Emmanuel Macron makes it so well. Like Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the ultra-popular Portuguese president, the Frenchman multiplies kisses to the ladies and handshakes. Will the third part (2021-2022) focus on the slap received in 2021 during a trip to Drôme?
This “doc-com” also cultivates the image of an offensive president and master of the reversal of opinions. First sequence, at the Congress of Mayors of France (2017), where he is whistled by part of the room about the abolition of the housing tax. A little rhetorical pirouette and – presto – the audience applauds heartily.
Second sequence, at the 2018 Agricultural Show, where he is booed. “I never hid myself. So you can call me and have me come, but you can’t whistle me in the back,” he annoys, before getting into a heated exchange with a farmer on the issue of the glyphosate ban. A few seconds later, the two men finally agree. Three years later, it is at this same Agricultural Show that Emmanuel Macron will be the target of an egg throw.
The documentary takes a longer look at the Yellow Vests crisis. An oversight would have been blamed on Emmanuel Macron, he who took several months to pronounce this term in public. However, it is difficult to detect a trace of compassion for the demonstrators who came en masse to express their anger in the big cities of France or on the roundabouts. He reserves this feeling for law enforcement, firefighters and shopkeepers who are victims of attacks or material damage. “I think social networks disinhibit people,” he said while visiting the Arc de Triomphe, after the December 1, 2018 rampage. As if to contradict the thugs, the documentary shows Emmanuel Macron applauded by onlookers, at the foot of the monument, asking him to “stand firm” and “send the army”. The “real” people? With him. The anarchists, against him. This is the message.
As for the Covid crisis, the documentary shows a president at work. Concerned by the rising danger, “solution-oriented” when he goes to crisis meetings, and admiring the work of the nursing staff. Too bad, however, that the documentary ignores the subjects that annoy. About Covid: the lack of surgical masks and hydroalcoholic gel for the population. As for the other subjects: what about the Benalla affair and the clash with General Pierre de Villiers?