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Hero Culte and the Disappointment of Hero Worship

It’s a sad day for Hero Culte.  I need to explain something.  The reason I started this particular blog was two-fold – one, because I felt I had to close down my Klaus Kinski fan website Du dumme Sau! after his daughter’s revelations of abuse but I still wanted to write about something; two, because it felt safer to write about stuff I like in general rather than one particular subject matter – it also gave me a much wider scope, which was nice.  Also, add to this, I have a lot of “stuff” I have accumulated over the years and I wanted to share that with others.

Some time ago I discovered a little-known French singer who went by the name of Léonie or Léonie Lousseau in the 1960s and 1970s.  I thought she was great, I wanted to find all her records and also find out more about her.  She immediately became one of my “heroes” on Hero Culte and I started sharing the information I found out about her on here.  I thought this was something nice to do – I made a lot of effort in my research and I could reveal facts about this mysterious singer as I discovered them; other people on the internet started referencing the information from my site and I could tell it was of interest to Léonie’s small but dedicated fan base.

Out of the blue I received an email from another Léonie fan asking me if she had contacted me demanding that I should remove all articles about her from my site as this is what she had requested he should do; he was concerned that all his hard work on his site was about to come to an end.  At that time I hadn’t heard from Léonie at all and I wondered if this was because I didn’t share her music, which, after all, is not mine to share; otherwise I wasn’t sure why she would contact just this one site with not so much a request as a demand to remove all posts about her from the site.

I lived on in ignorant bliss for a while but, sadly, yesterday Léonie contacted me via YouTube, telling me that my articles about her constituted an invasion of her privacy and that she wanted me to remove them, otherwise she would be obliged to make me remove them.  Imagine how upset I was about being threatened in this way?  She wasn’t just asking me to remove the odd comment that she objected to, it was everything.  As if no one is ever allowed to write about her as someone who once chose to exist in the public eye.  That can’t be right, surely?

One of my friends said to me, “You really do a very good job.  It’s not nice to see that and you don’t deserve it – indeed, this little forgotten artist exists because of people like you.”  Other friends went out of their way to offer support and advice, and even to share similar horror stories of bad experiences with their heroes.  That was the only nice thing to come out of this whole experience, seeing that people support your efforts.

My friends told me not to worry, I hadn’t done anything wrong.  But I find I am still worrying.  I still love Léonie’s music but I don’t think I even like the person behind that music and that is what is so disappointing to me.  Yesterday I considered giving up writing the site, at the moment I am going to take a break from it all and see how I feel later; I don’t really feel like writing much at the moment.

But going back to Léonie’s complaint, is there really any truth in the fact that (she feels) my articles are an invasion of her privacy?  Let’s consider the situation:

  • Léonie has her own YouTube channel  where she occasionally uploads her own music, including alternative versions of tracks and unreleased tracks with images previously unseen – she obviously has some desire to create an interest in her work and her uploads, even if she only does this surreptitiously and intermittently.  She clearly does not want to be forgotten and even throws in the odd reply to people who post comments on her uploads – her comments are always oblique, but it is clear the comments and uploads are coming from Léonie herself.
  • All of the articles (and I mean ALL of the articles) I have written about Léonie and published here on Hero Culte have been based on information that is in the public domain – I have not included any hearsay about her, every item uploaded here can be verified against its source material.
  • Most of the information I have used comes from interviews with Léonie herself.  Surely she cannot object to this?  Original copies of these interviews have been scanned and shared on this site along with my poor attempt at translating that information into English for the non-French speakers out there.
  • Even if Léonie is no longer a recording artiste (and she may well be for all we know), she once was and as such she appeared on TV shows and carried out interviews, revealing information about herself as she saw fit – that information is still out there and is still available to those who care to search for it.  All I have done is found some of that information and pulled together elements of the puzzle.  And, to be clear, in doing so I have promoted her music in the most positive of ways.
  • Léonie also worked as an actress in several films, several of those films are referenced on IMDB under her various pseudonyms – these films are, on the whole, easily available on DVD or in some cases are even on YouTube.  If I choose to buy those films and write about them, I should imagine that I am free to do so, particularly because I do so with an interest in the subject and with, on the whole, the most positive of intentions.
  • Finally, I posted a comment on one of Léonie’s videos five months ago, asking her for an interview and including a link to the articles I had written about her on this site.  She did not respond to my request for an interview, but at that time she posted a bizarre response claiming that unlike Martine Collet (which is Léonie’s real name) who was born in 1947, she (Maarnie47) was actually born in 1847.  She did not raise any objections at all to my articles five months ago.  What has changed since then, I do not know, but what I do know is that I made her aware of my articles five months ago and that should she have wished to raise any objections or take any action against me for these articles, she should have raised it five months ago.  It’s regretful that it should have to come to this.

My message to Léonie is this:  I was a massive fan and I promoted your music, which I loved.  I wrote about you because I thought you were great.  But I won’t be writing about you anymore.  I will not remove the articles about you on your demand, but if you have any serious concerns about anything in particular I am happy to listen to you because I would not wish to make anyone unhappy unnecessarily; I am a good person.  I had only the best of intentions where you were concerned but your email was truly upsetting.  With great sadness I have to say, Léonie, that you are no longer a hero to me and, furthermore, by sending such messages to your fans, all you are doing is alienating the people who are (or were) your greatest supporters.  So long, Léonie!

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About tinynoggin

I love films (anything from exploitation stuff to stylish Eastern European cinema, but I'm not really into blockbusters and modern Hollywood), music (Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, Michel Polnareff, Left Banke, Francoise Hardy, The Seeds, Love, The Zombies, etc) and books (Kurt Vonnegut, Julian Maclaren-Ross, Michel Houellebecq, Patrick Hamilton, Alan Sillitoe, and more). I take photographs with my Lomography Diana F plus or my Olympus Trip and like making stuff in my spare time.

7 responses to “Hero Culte and the Disappointment of Hero Worship

  1. Sally Smithson ⋅

    A very dignified response, Raechel.

  2. “So long” indeed!

    The internet can be a very strange place at times &, when all’s said & done, some people simply aren’t worth the effort, are they?

    Hero Culte is a terrific one-of-a-kind blog, please don’t knock it on the head because of the swollen ego of one bitter, forgotten prima donna.

    🙂

    • Thanks so much, Mr Rooksby. I really appreciate that. I’ve not heard from Mme Lousseau (or whatever her name is!) since my post but I am not ruling it out; she’s probably forgotten about it and will come back in a couple of months’ time with another devastating email. We shall see. Thanks for your support and kind words though – it means a lot 🙂

  3. Christine

    I’m really sorry to read this. Your Léonie articles are fantastic. All your points here are absolutely right, and I’m glad you didn’t remove your articles. There is no basis on which you should. If someone honestly wants their past forgotten for whatever personal reasons, they could ask nicely for it is a favour – but you’re right, not only is that not the case here since she herself is promoting her legacy, but threatening is utterly uncalled for.

    I do hope this doesn’t stop you blogging, but I also understand how these things can knock the wind out of your sails. I didn’t face anything this upsetting when blogging, but I did lose momentum after finding out some of the blogs I considered part of a close community were almost entirely plagiarised. Also, it was disheartening being treated like the enemy by Youtube and the INA for uploading rare, out of print videos.

    On the other side of things, I had people like Jacqueline Taieb and Annie Philippe contact me personally to thank me for sharing their music and videos. I suspect this situation with Léonie is not the norm, as most seem very touched people from other countries 50 years later care about the few EPs they made.

    Do you know the Lush song ‘Heavenly Nobodies’ at all? This is my fave song about why you should never meet your heroes. 🙂

    • Hi Christine! Thanks so much for getting in touch – it means a lot. Yes, I haven’t done anything since (as you can see), although I haven’t heard from Léonie with any more threats either. I’m not ruling it out though, no doubt she will remember in 2 years’ time and come back to me!

      I’m really surprised I’ve not seen your blog before (I just took a look at http://spikedcandy.com/ and would encourage everyone else to do so – what a great site!). What was your previous site? I would love to read it. I have the same experience as you with my site – once someone unearths something, everyone else just grabs the images or info without thinking to credit (for example, that photo of Léonie in the stripey jumper crops up on several sites now with no credit to Hero Culte). I was also part of a Jane Birkin group on Facebook, which I think was run by some Spanish people. They kept taking photos I had shared on here from my personal collection and putting them on their Facebook page without crediting the blog – I politely asked them on 3 separate occasions to credit my site as it was the decent thing to do and in the end they just blocked me from their group! Well, that’s one way of dealing with issues like that, I guess. I don’t think people realise how much work you put into your articles when they go around taking information and presenting it as their own. And with the photos, well, I spend a lot on those so they could at least credit me for sharing. On the photograph side I might well start putting a watermark on my images – I don’t really want to but if people can’t do the decent thing then it might force my hand.

      I don’t know that song by Lush but I’m going to check it out – it might become the Hero Culte theme tune!

      On another note, I dropped my YouTube channel (that was where Léonie was contacting me) but I’m always saying I’m more than happy to swap DVDs with people – I have a ton of French pop from the 60s onwards (including appearances from many of the “Swinging Mademoiselle” types), plus loads of glam, beat, psych, garage punk stuff (all stuff recorded from TV) and I’m always looking for exchanges. If anyone wants to swap, just drop me a line at tinynoggin@gmail.com and I’ll be delighted :0)

      Thanks for getting in touch, Christine. It’s cheered me up a bit on the blogging front and I might do something soon. Stay in touch!

  4. Christine

    Thanks for your kind words about my site! One annoying caveat – many of the playlists are on 8tracks, which in a few days is going to instigate changes for non-North American listeners where the songs will be substituted with Youtube streams, so it may make a mess of my mixes. If you click the help icon on the page, I have a suggestion there for an extension that lets you stream as if you are in the US.

    Previously I had a blog called Spiked Candy, which I still hope to get back up some time.

    I get that people often don’t think about crediting images but I don’t get the resistance to credit once asked – it takes two seconds. That always suggests to me people want to be seen as the actual source rather than just being lazy. In the examples I mentioned, they would cobble together bits of stolen text from various sites (not my own), and I asked the bloggers repeatedly to just credit the source. They did it for a while (though one would only put ‘adapted from’ when it was word for word), but then dropped it. What was the most weird was they’d have blurbs that included things like ‘one of my favourite songs…’ or ‘the first time I heard…’ or some personal opinion. For ages I thought I was reading those people’s actual opinions and it turned out I wasn’t.

    I do hope you enjoy that Lush song – I always wonder if it was written after an actual encounter with someone famous who was disappointing in real life.

    Thanks for your lovely reply, and I will be in touch :).

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