French Québec Doesn’t “Open Up” to English Culture. It Makes It.
So I’m sitting here ruminating on past humiliations because, you know, that’s what we Québec indépendantistes do, and the whole « should we have people singing in english at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste/Fête Nationale » crisis—as I’m sure you all are—and even though I personnaly though it was cool that a couple of Anglo bands we’re invited to sing in Rosemont, there is one argument hear time and time again during the debate that I just can’t let pass.
It’s the « Québec should open up to English-language culture » argument.
(For those who’ve moved on I apologize. You are better people than I am. I’m a little bit slow. Despite my unrivaled mastery of useless trivia which has earned me the nickname of The un-sexy Cliff Claven, I would suck at Jeopardy. Even though we all know Alex Trebeck loves to show off his French and he would no doubt signal the Double Jeopardy to me.)
How ridiculous is this idea that Québec needs to “open up” to English language culture? It quite quite possibly could be the dumbest thing ever said out loud in the history of La Grande Chicane, our century-old dispute that has inspired an encyclopedia’s worth of dumb statements.
And I’m not even thinking about the fact that we are surrounded by English speakers and are constantly bombarded with American media and culture.
English Québec has a healthy little local scene and have made a decent contribution to the wider English-language cultural world, but with the exception of Leonard Cohen and Mordecai Richler, both of whom are old or dead, its clear that French Québec has made a bigger contribution to the world’s English language culture than all of English Québec.
Listen, I am a aware that a few Québécois of English-language expression have done good. Cohen is a legend. Sam Roberts was called the future of Rock by the head of Sony Music. I’m not enough of a hispter to get it, but I hear Rufus Wainwright and Arcade Fire sold a few records.
So what? So have Simple Plan and Pascale Picard and Chromeo, all of whom are as French Québec as signing “Hey motherfucker get laid, get fucked” during the chorus of Billy Idol’s Mony Mony.
French Québec has always been in the game.
In the 1970’s Montreal nightclubs like the Limelight and Québec artists like France Joli, Martin Stevens and Gino Soccio were not only part of, they were once the heart of disco culture.
Or if you’re more of a metalhead you certainly know that even though Metallica certainly sold more albums than any other metal band in the 1980’s, their own inspiration was Jonquière’s Voivod and that’s the band Metallica bassist Jason Newstead chose to join when he quit Metallica after realizing, 10 years after the rest of us, that his old band sucked. “I think that I’m in a band now that can kick their ass”, said the old Metallica rythm-man.
Oh yeah, and there’s that French chick who sold more English-language albums than any other woman in the history of recorded music.
And then she got together with the people at the Cirque du Soleil and other Québec artists like André-Phillipe Gagnon and Alain Choquette to save Las Vegas and give it it’s most glorious era since Sinatra and the Rat Pack.
So what was that you were saying? Y’all want Québec to « open up » to English language culture?
Québec doesn’t open up to English-language culture. Québec makes English-language culture. As well as any so-called native English speakers in Québec or elsewhere.
And then it has plenty of talent left over to invade France.