The Vitality of Quebec Culture

[Kept this one in my draft list for about a month. But thinking of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and other issues pushes me to post it as is. To be continued…]
This is something of a follow-up on my CriticalWorld post on Quebec’s music industry.
Was reading a gushing piece on Pierre-Karl Péladeau and Julie Snyder's media convergence success story to link from my blog entry on Quebec music scenes and the CRTC. That piece was written by Globe and Mail journalist Konrad Yakabuski whose perspective on Quebec's “cultural industries,” though very business-oriented, seems rather insightful. A few months after that Péladeau/Snyder piece, Yakabuski wrote an article about the success story revolving around Quebec movie Seducing Doctor Lewis (original title: La Grande séduction). That movie is actually one of my favourite examples of what Quebec culture “is all about” these days. Not only did I really enjoy that movie, but the fact that it has won several awards implies something more than local appeal. To me, it’s a good example of something clearly Québécois, yet rather easily exportable.

Obviously, my perspective isn’t so much about the economy of it. Like music, “culture” is not a commodity.  But business-minded journalists and myself, a French-speaking Québécois and ethnographer, may share some ideas about the situation.
Quick notes:

  • Quebec is a relatively small society (by population) but is quite active in many domains, especially the part of arts and entertainment that is known as “culture”
  • Despite political incentives to say otherwise, we’re pretty secure about our culture.
  • Quebec culture is rather inward-looking and even clique-like. But the effects of this are not all bad.
  • While there might only be twenty-six “media personalities” in Quebec (a made-up number, for effect), they’re basically everywhere and constitute a very special group. The very fact that Quebec has something of a “star system” is itself fascinating. It’s not so much the case in Switzerland (which has about the same population as Quebec).
  • Montreal has a long-lasting rivalry with Quebec City but it’s not on the minds of Montrealers on a daily basis (the way it might be for some people in the capital). And Toronto’s rivalry with Montreal is not so much of a two-way street.
  • Quebec culture in general remains quite distinct from other North American cultures but it’s also much less dependent on France than it once was.
  • Cultural diversity in Quebec is much more significant than “the numbers” might imply. It signifies more in part because cultural identity has been the subject of much dialogue, debate, and discussion for at least the past 36 years.
  • This weekend is both Saint-Jean weekend and Grand Prix weekend. Woohoo!

About enkerli

French-speaking ethnographer, homeroaster, anthropologist, musician, coffee enthusiast. View all posts by enkerli

2 responses to “The Vitality of Quebec Culture

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