Now that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back in France and safe from criminal prosecution for rape, his Sofitel maid encounter has entered its "Grassy Knoll" phase in the public imagination: Complicated conspiracy theories abound, even as most accept a much simpler explanation of events. (DSK either forced himself on Nafissatou Diallo or willfully misunderstood a frozen stare of horror as an "unabashed" come-on, is the general consensus, right?)
This Sofitel surveillance video, acquired by French broadcast network BFM-TV, is the latest DSK conspiracy theory fodder. It includes a mysterious clip of two guards involved in the case pumping their fists, jumping and down, and hugging each other. Why are they dancing? And why are we supposed to think it has anything to do with DSK?
BFM-TV's clip begins with footage of DSK leaving the hotel after his encounter with Diallo. At 1:10 in the video (some 40 minutes after the encounter and 20 minutes after DSK's exit) Diallo walks through the hotel, then sits outside the security office and speaks to male security officers. BFM-TV then plays audio from the Sofitel's call to the NYPD.
Then, the part the conspiracy theorists are obsessing about: At 3:15 in the video two security officers walk away from Diallo and around a corner. BFM-TV then cuts to a video of the two men in a supply room, where they perform a brief "danse de joie." This appears to be the "extraordinary dance of celebration" Edward Jay Epstein analyzed in a maid-doubting article for the New York Review of Books. However, whereas Epstein claimed the dancing lasted "three minutes," BFM-TV's video shows it was "approximately thirteen seconds," as a correction on Epstein's article now notes. According to the video's timestamp, the dance occurred about an hour and a half after the DSK-Diallo encounter. This reportedly places it shortly before DSK's arrest.
Why were the men dancing? "The two hotel staff and management denied the celebration had anything to do with Strauss-Kahn's case," the New York Post reports. "The two employees said they couldn't recall the exact reason for their fleeting celebratory behavior but that they believed it may have involved sports, which they frequently talked about," The Daily Beast adds. "Red Sox had beat the Yankees the night before, and the Mets had actually won," notes The New Yorker's Amy Davidson.
So, either they were celebrating framing a world leader, or they were celebrating the rape of a female co-worker, or they happened to be happy about something after completing their official duties as guards, and went around the corner and chatted for a while, because what do they know. Yeah, it's a weird little moment, but it's a matter of what kind of weird, and how willing you are to accept even weirder leaps of logic about French governmental conspiracies into your worldview. [NYPost, NYDN, Daily Beast, New Yorker, NYRB]