|Anglophones embracing Quebec culture...er....'Non Merci!'|
If you are a French language militant, you just may want to skip it.
At least you've been warned......
Over the last months I have been reading numerous posts in the Comments section mocking Canadian culture and classifying it as a pale imitation of America.
These comments parrot the idea that since Canada has no distinct culture of its own, it has no culture at all.
Sadly, most of these posts are based on an inferiority complex and a profound jealousy explained perfectly in the age-old parable of the Fox and the Sour Grapes wherein one disparages what one cannot possess.
It reminds me of those jealous types (usually female) who watch the Victoria's Secret fashion show on television and comment that the girls 'aren't so hot'.....Yah, sure.
Now I wouldn't have undertaken this post based on a few misguided Anglophobes in the comments section, but last week Quebec's most important radio Anglo hater, Benoit Dutrizac in a fit of pique, made a similar statement, this time on his Twitter account.
"Obviously you aren't interested in francophone culture. Second class American wannabees.
Évidemment, tu ne t'intéresses pas à la culture francophone du Québec. Un anglo simili américain de 2ème ordre." - Benoit Dutrizac
And so the narrative is spun that Canadian culture is second rate because it is not distinct, a pale imitation of its American big brother, an idea so patently foolish that it reflects on the utter ignorance of its propagators.
First let me say that Canadian culture is not based on American culture, it is based on international English culture of which America does take a prominent role, but all English speaking countries contribute to varying degrees.
In fact, so powerful and overbearing is this culture that even those not born to English adopt it as a prerequisite to international success and this, in just about every field of human endeavor.
Canada as well as other English speaking nations (representing hundreds of millions of people) all contribute their share of artists, entertainers, writers, scientist etc. etc. to create the most elite culture in the world, bar none.
To complain that Canada doesn't have its own distinct culture because it foolishly allowed itself to be drawn into and become an integral part of the greatest international culture ever created on this Earth, plumbs depths of stupidity........Welcome Mr. Dutrizac!
Let us consider the example of the National Hockey League where elite players from all around the globe gather to create a product unrivaled anywhere in the world.
Now let us compare it to the minor LHJMQ hockey league which operates in Quebec and the Maritimes and where the Quebec teams are composed primarily of Quebec Francophones, players of decidedly inferior talent as compared to the NHL.
I suppose that there are those who prefer attending a junior LHJMQ hockey game rather than the NHL, but to pretend that the product is somehow better or more entertaining is nothing short of laughable.
The above analogy actually fits to a tee the difference between 'Quebec culture' and 'Canadian culture' and those who mock English Canada for being a part of a greater world-wide English culture, actually defend their own mediocre choice.
I'm not knocking Francophone culture, it is what it is, and produces talent commensurate with its tiny population base, certainly when compared to the English cultural community which draws on a pool of at least 500 million people and perhaps another couple of hundred million foreign language speakers who adopt English, in order to get in the club. (Celine Dion, ABBA, Julio Iglesias, etc.)
So yes, English Canadian music culture includes powerhouses like Beyoncé from the USA, U2 from Ireland, Justin Bieber from Canada, Rihanna from the Barbados, Lady Gaga form the USA and Arcade Fire from Canada.
Quebec culture includes Marie-Mai from Varennes, Éric Lapointe from Pointe-aux-Trembles and Bridgette Boisjoli from Drummondville.
Take your pick.......NHL or LHJMQ.
Sorry, Mr. Dutrizac, English Canadians have made a choice for quality over nepotism.
The sad reality is that a big part of Francophone Quebecer's choice towards local French talent is attributed to nothing more than the language handicap.
A couple of weeks ago the most popular television show on French Quebec TV, 'Star Academie' ended its season.
If you were to ask the average Quebec Anglophone who won the contest, the answer would likely be "What the heck is Star Acadamie?"
This, while more than one-third of Quebec Francophones, about two and a half million people watched the finale.
But the reality is that there is no reason for an Anglophone watch a second rate production like Star Acadamie when he or she could watch an infinitely more talented group of singers compete on the more glitzy American Idol?
And if you think Quebec Anglophones should have a better connection to a contestant from Maxville or Paquetville, Quebec, rather than a contestant from Murfreesboro, Tennessee or South Kingstown, Rhode Island, you've got another think coming. All these places may as well be on the Moon.
Why on Earth would an English Quebecer watch a local French version of the Price is Right instead of the original English version which has richer prizes and better production values?
The above example serves as an analogy for ALL QUEBEC CULTURE and is the reason why Anglophone Quebecers will never embrace it.
That the likes of Jean-François Lisée wonders aloud why English speaking Quebecers don't embrace and support French culture instead of a superior English product, is the height of effrontery.
Now for those of you who are going to say that as an Anglophone, I am not qualified to judge French culture, all I can say is for the last forty years of my life I have worked almost exclusively in French and have traveled more extensively across this province than almost any of you reading this blog. My French isn't just good, it's pretty much impeccable and I have lived with Francophone culture all my life.
To those who brand me as a Francophobe or Angryphone, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Like many Anglos on this blog, we complain not because we hate Quebec or Francophones, but rather because we see our province going in the wrong direction.
I actually adore French, speaking it and living it. I could have moved away years ago but I haven't because this is my home.
Readers, I make it point to listen to French radio, watch French television and everyday I read six newspapers, three of which are French.
When I tell you that Francophone culture is inferior to Anglophone culture, it is just a function of the math.
When you are drawing talent from 7 million people versus 800 million persons, there's going to be a qualitative difference.
International English culture is richer, more diverse and is comprised of infinitely more talented artists, entertainers, authors, musicians etc. etc.
Asking a Quebec Anglophone to embrace Francophone culture is like asking Sydney Crosby to choose to play in the LHJMQ instead of the NHL....not going to happen.
Sorry to be cruel, but such is truth.
Now someone in the comments section recently complained that my references to The Price is Right, poutine or sugar shacks is but a cheap representation of pop culture and not reflective of 'real' Quebec culture.
So what is this real Quebec culture that is so wonderful?.......I haven't seen it.