Justice: Stress

Posted by Scott

Update: as many pointed out in the comments, this is set in France, not sure where I got that UK reference. I guess I had Cunningham’s work stuck in my head while I was writin.

I was debating whether or not to post Justice’s new Romain-Gavras directed video for Stress just because it’s so damned violent. Like out of control, completely senseless violent. But I decided it would be a nice counterpoint to Justice’s last video so I decided to put it up. The video follows a gang of youths around the city as they cause mayhem and beat the hell out of people. It’s set against the familiar dreary backdrop of urban UK streets reminiscent of Chris Cunningham’s Come To Daddy video for Aphex Twin (which is equally disturbing, but at least no one gets a bottle smashed over their face in that one). I’d be interested to hear what everyone’s take on this one is; right now it feels intense but I’m having trouble finding any deep meaning beyond that initial visceral reaction. But perhaps that’s the point.

46 Comments Leave A Comment


Choke says:

September 12, 2008 at 2:53 am

It’s maybe the only one way to speak a little bit more about Justice … sad.
But it’s the style of the Kourtrajmé Productions in France too. The movie “La Haine” of Matthieu Kassovitz was the big reference.


Jsamlarose says:

September 12, 2008 at 3:21 am

Visceral indeed, and more than a little sobering, particularly bearing in mind the current coverage of youth violence in the UK…

It’s set against a backdrop of urban French streets, no?


Padraig says:

September 12, 2008 at 3:42 am

This is set in France, you can tell by the bars, and the fact that they speak french;)

I feel it most reminds me of the film “Man Bites Dog”, the Belgium black comedy, where a camera crew follows a serial killer around as he gets up to all sorts of crazy antics.

Its equally, if not more, disturbing. But much funnier. This has left me feeling a little shook:/


ion+ says:

September 12, 2008 at 3:56 am

Funny to see that this video took all that time to arrive here. The polemics around it raged in France 3 months ago.
The media debate was pretty poor… Some saw an incitation to violence, others defended the right to express oneself but without pointing on what the video was saying.

-> What is this camera crew doin’ here and why don’t they do anything to prevent the kids from doing this?

I still don’t know if Gavras wants to point out social/media problem relationship or questions the place of arts in all this but in either cases, it’s brilliant.


Keith says:

September 12, 2008 at 3:56 am

I love this blog. But just the description you’ve given makes me ask ‘why?’ – so i choose not to watch this stuff.
If we believe visually consuming good design can transform people’s lives, then we must agree that visually consuming ‘senseless violence’ has a big effect as well.
It’s not that I avoid the real world or the news, but I don’t see what good it does to distribute something you have to give that kind of intro to.


very says:

September 12, 2008 at 3:56 am

In my opinion this video describes the life of jobless and poor immigrant youths who don’t have anything to do and nothing lose. As long as they stick together as a gang there is really not much to stop them. Society cannot protect from that kind of random violence and the gang happily exploits that fact.


Gid says:

September 12, 2008 at 4:11 am

Live by the sword and die by the sword .. immerse yourself in violent culture and you’ll find it turning around to take a chunk out of you at some point or another.


rafael says:

September 12, 2008 at 5:46 am

hey scott,

i don’t think justice is taking any political position or discourse on this video. it’s more of description than a statement, and of course people like to toss around opinions and politics and the state of the world. bla bla bla. i think art speaks louder than that. they definetly are not doing some “live aid” stuff here. my opinion is their goal is more to provoke than to make some documentary on crime or whatever.

first, i think they have envisioned a visual scenario very similar to their song, as they did in other videos… they are not the first to make videos as important as their music, but it did call my attention on different ways of expression. they don’t even consider themselves as musicians, so it brings a little thinking on “cross-media” art. also, it’s not exactly an essay on beauty, but if this video stands up for some reason, it’s that you can’t be indifferent to it.

second, as for references, i couldn’t help but think of the prodigy (music + visual impact) , kubrick’s “clockwork orange” and the french movie “la haine”.

the fact that it is so well shot and produced is also remarkable. and it is a great counterpart to their more “graphic design” videos, which are also cool, but fall somewhat in the trendy department.

that’s it!


barry says:

September 12, 2008 at 5:55 am

has this only reached the states now?there was a bit of uproar about it when it came out here, and to be honest, i reckon thats what it wa set out to do. controversy = exposure = what they want. honestly i cant take justices music as a political statement or whatnot, i take it as run of the mill electro waffle that needs something more to gain its popularity, boom, a video.

it is well produced though!


Rob McDougall says:

September 12, 2008 at 5:58 am

I was really reminded of La Haine and another French film Les rivières pourpres [[Crimson Rivers]]. Very well made piece of video.

Did anyone else think the Justice †’s were CGI’d onto the gang members at certain points? Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing a lot of matchmoving recently, but the first few seconds I thought they’d been added on artificially… :/


Hannah Palmer says:

September 12, 2008 at 6:50 am

This produced a rabid reaction in me: almost physical anxiety and suddenly feeling super-conservative and old-fashioned… I’m all “these kids today!” Very much wanted to see them get hit by a bus, or some kind of deus ex machina revenge, and that’s the only thing that kept me watching. Stress and Justice, right? I appreciated the challenge to gaze unflinchingly at this reality (rendered beautifully) and deep into our own (idealized) fears. Love the irony that the camera crew is ultimately victimized too. I don’t want to overthink the video itself, just the ugly feelings (and memories) it produced in me.

ps. you see the Sacre Coeur in one scene, so its definitely Paris.


alex says:

September 12, 2008 at 7:15 am

i thought the video was intense, as is the song. i really dig the fact that they all had a cross on their back (representing the album, of course.)

an just the fact that its set in france makes it all the more awesome. the parkour major, the sebstian guy, is also french.

cool vid


Andrew Hart says:

September 12, 2008 at 9:00 am

I think the point here is definitively to provoke, and it seems to work. There’s a lot of positive feedback of the kind “this is cool” etc. I’m not at all happy with this provocative wave in current the trend, like Vice magazine’s fashion shot, using a south London gang as models posing with their knives and guns. With knife-crime on the rise, surely it’d be in all our interest not to encourage knives as a fashion accessory and unprovoked violence as valid pastime?

I think I heard that this video might be a comment on media stereotyping 2nd generation immigrants as violent scum, concentrating on painting an uglier picture than reality.
But in my opinion this video only reinforces (my) already existing prejudice against young hooded “gangsters”.
Last time that subculture confirmed my doubts, they hung around a punk-gig until trubble flared and ended up in a huge street fight with one “punk” stabbed.


Mirwen72 says:

September 12, 2008 at 9:01 am

Video is great as well as it’s parody.
This is one of faces of the modern world no metter what you chose to see, its’s simply truth. Peole and especially young people lose sense of identity with places thnx. to globalization (we have the same McDonalds, Buildings and malls all over the world) and thus they escape to what is left – gangs and Anarchy (community and ideology). We all live in this identity-less world too…


Luds says:

September 12, 2008 at 10:04 am


The video created a huge debate in France several months ago.

Justice basically stated that the video did not have any special meaning. Its just senseless violence filmed to create a reaction with the viewer. The video itself is a parody.

I thought it was pretty clever. By their extreme nature, the kids’ actions seem pretty ridiculous.


Ryan says:

September 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Nevermind the artistic value, this type of video simply does not belong here, at all. Very sad you see any creative value. It is violence, I thought we were about peace… Violence is never interesting to look at.

Why iso50, why did you post this? You are such a great artist and musician this is not the place for crap like this. When I see crap like this on youtube I report it.

Geez, now I have to be careful when coming here to check out art and music because I may find something like this or more disturbing. Bad choice.


Grace says:

September 12, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Interesting commentary on urban youth. I didn’t find it that violent. I was expecting blood and crazy violence. Instead, it’s more the sobering raw look of everyday occurrences. I enjoyed the video, but it was a bit disturbing. Unfortunately, since we live in a world where we’re looking for justice with kids like this and to see no denouement with punishment is disappointing and very sobering. It’s the world, unfortunately, that too many of us live in. As for the violence though, it was just a lot of stuff broken, nothing really visually disturbing in my opinion. More so just emotionally angering.


aaron says:

September 12, 2008 at 2:51 pm

it’s a combination of larry clark’s movie kids and public enemy wrapped up in one french music video.

minus AIDS


Scott says:

September 12, 2008 at 4:02 pm

it wasn’t about me not choosing to watch this, I watched it and was moved enough to consider sharing it on the blog. but I have to question first whether there is sufficient artistic value behind the reaction to warrant posting it on a blog about art. I am not trying to protect anyone from it, obviously this has been out for some time and plenty of people have seen it and can see it through other channels, but whether I choose to represent it directly on my own site as something I feel is important for the people who visit here to see is another issue. But I guess it was right to post this, judging from the all reactions, whether or not everyone likes this video it incites some sort of reaction which was apparently the intention of the director. And from reading all of your comments I’ve got a better insight to the meaning behind this.

no, I am sure it’s been out for a while here, but I just got a proper look at it and as you know, this blog isn’t exactly geared towards breaking news.

I’m all about old and out of touch, that’s the point. haven’t you noticed that 90% of the things posted on this site were created over 40 years ago?


Nitzan says:

September 13, 2008 at 2:28 am

i have to say that after watching the video yesterday afternoon i met some friends for dinner and felt strongly enough about the video not only to mention it but to play it to them. when watching it the 2nd time, i got to say that it is far less shocking and that there is a process(emotional) that is taking place.
not sure how to put it into words just yet but will let it mature.


greg says:

September 13, 2008 at 1:24 pm

I’m all about old and out of touch, that’s the point. haven’t you noticed that 90% of the things posted on this site were created over 40 years ago?”

vintage is hip. don’t fool yourself. this video is old, your reaction to it is out of touch.


Mirwen72 says:

September 13, 2008 at 1:39 pm

greg: are you acting like dumb or you really didn’t understand meaning of his words? If none of these two things are true then you are at least very rude compadre.


Bas says:

September 14, 2008 at 10:50 am

I strongly reject both the opinion of Ryan as the opinion of the people who say “cool vid”.

Ryan: What you’re talking about is censorship. ‘Triumph des Willens’ was an extremely well made movie, with revolutionary techniques. It’s artistic value is certain. But it’s message is sick. But it’s not very useful to ban this sort of footage. You can see violence anywhere on the web if you want.

The “cool”-saying people: if you don’t get touched by this video, I think it’s pretty weird. I’m not blaming you for being senseless, but I do blame you for some ignorance.

I think it’s not particulary bad to watch this video. It certainly has some kind of thruth. Only, it’s just plain violence. It supports some stereotype thinking.

The main thing that really bothers me, is that this is a commercial product. People make money out of this. They’re making this stuff disgusting to make it stand out the crowd. And attention is what they get (+money)


Alberto Orsini says:

September 14, 2008 at 3:22 pm

That is pretty violent indeed.
I believe in happiness, and I can believe people have the ability to peruse whatever they want in life (despite the difficulties), an some people just plain choose this way of living. We as a race can accomplish so much more if we just had the power to turn–click our brain into thinking right. That is something I will never understand.
The video is well directed by the way… and I want the jacket.


Keith says:

September 15, 2008 at 2:59 am

“But I guess it was right to post this, judging from all the reactions, whether or not everyone likes this video it incites some sort of reaction which was apparently the intention of the director.” Scott.

If you posted porn, rape or genocide and everybody reacted both positively and negatively, would that make it right for you to be part of it’s distribution?

Just a question…..
And it’s probably only answered by each individual’s moral stance?


Scott says:

September 16, 2008 at 1:15 am

I get it, but I don’t really think it’s fair to equate this video to any of the things you mentioned. Given its context, I think the video is at least arguably relevant.

somebody brought up the similarities between this and A Clockwork Orange. On the surface it’s a similarly visceral experience. Many people consider that film to be a masterpiece by one of the great film makers of all time. Art is in the eye of the beholder I guess and I posted this simply for you to behold.


writing on the wall says:

September 16, 2008 at 1:03 pm

my biggest problem with this video is putting the “Justice Cross” on the backs of the kids. It turns it into less social commentary on the state of the french ghettos and more into “Justice is about fucking shit up / Justice is an army / Justice supports violence”. I agree France is fucked up right now. I agree its so bad that riots broke out last year. I agree we still need to talk about it, and do something about it / change policy. I don’t agree senseless violence is good or acceptable. Likely an increase in violence is going to work against people who want positive change in the ghettoes – lead to more repressive measures (but thats a discussion for another day). BUT I definitely don’t agree with connecting the same people doing music for high fashion runway shows to the street kids who have no idea what that is / or care. The video just reeks way to much of hype machine marketing for Justice more than political statement.

And to everyone freaking out about the blog owner posting this, I would love for them to remove themselves from their isolated bubble of a world for one moment and meditate on the fact that the world is not always a nice place.


Scott says:

September 16, 2008 at 4:27 pm

writing on wall-
that was the first thing that struck me as well. I had read somewhere that justice were Christians, hence the cross logo. then to see it used in this context was pretty surprising, like putting their stamp of approval on the acts in the video or something. I realize that they probably weren’t trying to literally imply that, but why is the cross there then? to remind us that it’s a justice video? in that case it’s almost more unforgivable, superimposing this symbol that they have commercialized over whatever the real point of the video was supposed to be.

At any rate, the video moved me when I first saw it, and still does. If the point was to raise awareness of the problems facing the youth of France and that country as a whole, then it has succeeded in it’s goal. If the point was to let everyone know that Justice supports wanton gang violence running rampant through the streets (which I highly doubt), then some of the detracting comments above are warranted and justified. But I think that any rational person can look past the immediate visual impact of this video and find meaning. Maybe not a pretty meaning, but meaning nonetheless. If , on the other hand, this is just some sort of hyped up media stunt as you suggest, that would be pretty sad. It felt a little more like that than anything the first time I watched it, but given my image of them up until that point I wanted to look further for some sort of point.


iArafath says:

September 23, 2008 at 6:59 am

Am a huge fan of Justice but to tell the truth I was shocked as well as shamed to be a fan after this video. It does much more damage to the youth who dominates the club/rave scene which plays Justice tracks. The jackets with the cross on and everything abt the video represent Justice. This video is a sham…it encourages violence to the fans and it sell its self of like a hooker to the media. Its not a good video, neither its that good a track as well. I was born in a country (maldives) with gang violence all arnd…i see this kind of things daily…i know what they would think abt such a video. They’ll love it…

BTW love the tracks and the art Scott



booby says:

October 20, 2008 at 9:04 am

You guys have to see La Haine, this was a rip off of that. plan and simple. if you are not into film then this video would shock you.. but if you understand the basis of this concept and how it is about french gettos then you would know what La Haine is and this would be a walk in the park .. or to some a rip off of a very good film.


Jake says:

January 5, 2009 at 2:32 am

I am of the Y generation and I’ve grown up with sex, crime, drugs and violence shoved down my throat; so seeing this violence doesn’t phase me. Being this way allows me to see past the violence and link the movements to the music. I love this video, not because it is violent but because it is a beautiful piece of work.

On a side note: why is nudity tasteful and artistic and this violence is not?


mike says:

November 19, 2009 at 11:14 am

“On a side note: why is nudity tasteful and artistic and this violence is not?”

This is ridicilous. I like the film because of my understanding of it. or interpretation of it.

But how would you compare nudity, which clearly is a beautiful thing, to Violence wich is not! Only thing in common is the taboo aspect of them both.

psst! -“on a sidenote…!?”


Evan says:

August 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Uh, this is violent?

Pushing and shoving I guess, some kickings while on the ground. Bottle across the face was the worst part of it.

What do the people so shocked by this think about Quentin Tarantino movies?