Is the influencer surfing on an ethnic ambiguity?
In “Complément d’Enquête” dedicated to the business of influencers and broadcast this Sunday on France 2, a passage particularly caught the attention of Internet users. In a sequence we see Milla Jasmine, reality TV candidate and influencer with 3.2 million followers on Instagram. If she is known by this pseudonym, a mixture of an Italian first name and a second Arabic, the voice of the show presents her by her real surname: Marie Germain. Many then discover that Milla Jasmine is perhaps not from the Maghreb as her pseudonym might have suggested. Before this report, several videos published on Youtube already mentioned the real surname of the star of social networks. For some, her name would be Marie-Charlotte. Her sister, who calls herself Safia, but whose real first name is Gwendoline, will rectify this information when of an interviewCharlotte is only the middle name of her sister.
“We are Italians from Reunion”
So why did Marie and Gwendoline choose to present themselves as Milla Jasmine and Safia? Response from the reality TV star’s older sister: “Johnny Halliday was not called Johnny Halliday. There are plenty of personalities who take pseudonyms whether in TV, film, music… we take a pseudonym to protect our privacy because we don’t necessarily want people to come into our privacy. . The Safia I do not leave yesterday, it’s been years and years that I’m called like that. It is true that it may surprise some people who may have known me by another first name (…)”advances Safia in 2019. Before ensuring: “And no, we don’t think we’re Arabs, we’re Italians from Reunion”. Her new first name would have been given to her by a friend more than 15 years ago because it means “purity”, an adjective which corresponds to her, she assures.
Her sister Milla Jasmine will tell more about their origins. She presents her mother as half Italian, half Reunionese, while her father would be Pieds-noirs from Algeria (video published in 2016 here). In other words, a returnee from Algeria with European origins. In 2013 though, the reality star was advancing a totally different pedigree. The one who then worked as a photo model, described herself in her biography as follows: “I am half Chinese, half Lebanese and half black”. Earlier in 2008 she called herself Farah on Youtube as we can hear on his official channel where she posted musical covers.
— 💥 𓃶 (@fuckinbadbeach) September 11, 2022
Orientalism a marketing strategy for reality TV producers?
But why surf on an Arab identity when you’re not, when racism is on the increase in France? Ayem, Nabilla, Zahia… here are three success stories, all from a reality TV show. Their common point is not that of being Arab women, but of having been portrayed as “Beurettes”. This term, whose meaning slipped in the 2000s, takes on a whole imagination, particularly linked to sex. The beurette would be the Arab version of the Lolita, a brainless girl, attracted by sex but prevented by family mores. The perfect fantasy recipe. The totem for selling on television, so much so that the fetishization of the “Beurette” has since become a real marketing strategy for reality TV producers. Orientalism and the small screen: or how to perpetuate clichés.
But now, when a Mediterranean woman pretends to be an Arab, there are hiccups. In the middle of the Presidential, while Nabilla is calling for Macron to vote, Safia Alba, Milla Jasmine’s sister, gives her another directive. “Voting Marine Le Pen does not make us racists. We want to avoid being in the shit again for 5 years. H24, you complain: retirement, gasoline, vaccine. Do you want to vote for this man again? You have a grain in your head”, she explains on her Snapchat account. At the time the journalist from France Inter Sonia Devillers will be the only one to note a certain hypocrisy in a column that she dedicates to this subject. “Easy, mock Internet users, to call to vote for the National Rally when you are not in the community shouted down by the far right”, launches the journalist on the radio before having recalled that “Safia Alba and her sister, the famous Milla Jasmine of the “Marseillais”, play with their dark skin and their oriental-sounding names, but they are nicknames. In fact, their names are Gwendoline and Marie-Charlotte. They wanted to add a touch of exoticism to their identity to break into reality TV“.
Converted to Islam?
On Snapchat or Instagram, Milla Jasmine had warned her subscribers last April: she was starting the Ramadan fast for the first time. “Hello everyone, I hope you are well. Today is the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. I decided to do it and I hope I can respect it. I hesitated to tell you for fear of being judged. I do it above all for me and I thank my husband for encouraging me to do it too, he who is a Muslim. I don’t want to hide it from you, because I assume it. On the other hand, it is not because I am doing Ramadan that I will never wear a bathing suit again in my life or that I will have to stop my partnerships with certain brands during this month. I ask you to be indulgent because, in the end, only God can judge my actions. Good luck to those who do. And those who don’t, eat for months please“.
Milla Jasmine got married last January to a man named Lorenzo.
This capture of #ComplementDenquete demonstrates that several influencers cultivate an ethnic ambiguity because they know that it is extremely selling, fetishism continues to grow because of these fanatics. pic.twitter.com/SQMrKmLuT9
— Tajmaat (@Tajmaat_Service) September 11, 2022
September 12, 2022