Parallel Universe Watch (3)

Today, we examine the social and sociocultural undercurrents of Pour l’amour du country, the musical showcase that irregularly appears on Saturday nights opposite Cheaters.

Full band on stage (singer in cowboy hat) plus three-line caption

I have two points to make about this show. One, it reminds me of what I watched as a kid. And (B), anglo-Corpse executroids wouldn’t be caught dead putting a show like this on the air – because they watched the same shows I did when they were kids.

Old program you may think this reminds me of that I am not talking about here

Hee Haw.

What this program reminds me of that I am talking about here

Dick Stacey’s Country Jamboree, a local show in Maine circa the 1970s. (“Historians Relive Era of Stac[e]y’s Country Jamboree.”) They just came out with a compilation DVD, for some reason.

It was a no-talent-required, no-rehearsal musical variety show, which, every week, reduced me to cringing and wincing as far removed from the television set as possible. My Letraset catalogue and my copies of U&lc were not enough to shield me from the awfulness. Then there were the ads for upcoming shows, always ending with “I’m Dick Stacey. SEEYA!

I was weathering all this in what is unfortunately my hometown, Moncton. Where do they shoot Pour l’amour du country? Moncton.

This is unreconstructed country music, not “new country” churned out by ProTools-modulated metrosexuals in bespoke cowboy hats. I don’t know why this is, but despite the fact that I have drum & bass music streams playing all day here, I kind of like the cadences and twang of unreconstructed country. Even in French. The soundtrack to The Last Picture Show borders on perfect.

If rap (“hiphop”) can transpose itself from black American ghettoes to New Zealand and to Indian reservations here, we shouldn’t act all surprised when country music works adequately in French. (And German!) But this isn’t Quebec newsreader French, the bland transnational idiom ironically comparable to Canadian English. It isn’t full-on joual, either – the performers do not quite sound like Les Bougon or Les Boys or any other Les.

But there’s lots of assibiliation, lots of what in English would be called dropping your Gs (wrong several ways, but still), lots of diphthongs where there should be single vowels. (On a show like this, passe-moi is pronounced “paos-mwé.”) Half the performers on the show have English names, or half-English ones.

If the genre didn’t twig you to the fact that this is a show taped in the “regions” aimed at a rural audience, then the language does. It’s like a tell in poker. It’s like Republicans insistently mispronouncing “Iraq” and “nuclear” (or using alternate pronunciations) to distance themselves from any town with more than one Starbucks. It’s a dead giveaway.

And because of all that, an analogous show would never make the airwaves on CBC Television. Or even on Bold. (What would it be called? For Love of Country? “No, that sounds too American.”)

Like musical variety shows, country-music programs remind TV executives of just how far they’ve had to flee from their hometowns to the safety of a Riverdale semi. (They know the locations of more than two Starbucks within walking distance.) A show like Pour l’amour du country reminds them just how tenuous is their daily act of passing. It exposes the CBC programming executive as a kind of pale African-American in relaxed hair and a good suit.

Pour l’amour du country appeals to the homespun lower orders who have never been on a subway in their lives, let alone a plane. Radio-Canada (and, oddly, ARTV, where the show also airs) have no trouble acknowledging those people exist.

But us? As far as CBC Television is concerned, small-town Canada is a place where Muslim colonies live in peace and harmony. (Just like when we were growing up!) The CBC small town is a place of vague, suppressed, traumatized memory. It is a place we lie about in our own TV shows because the truth reminds us of whence we came.

By the way, the captioning sucks

Scrollup never works for more than a line or so of music, and centred scrollup is an abomination unto humankind.

Fiddler, guitarist, and mandolinist play, with captions reading ♪ (mandoline) ♪ 
 ♪ [La retraite de Bonaparte] ♪
Captions read ♪ (guitare) ♪ 
♪ [wildwood flower] ♪

What’s a wildwood flower en français?


  1. Kev
    Posted October 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I really don’t know what to think about the fact that Letraset catalogues had a formative role in both our lives.

  2. Allan
    Posted October 14, 2008 at 4:36 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Not one item yet about CBC election coverage as per the web.
    What good has it been really?
    TBC HQ still has yet come up with anything compelling on the internet.
    Are they afraid of creating competition for Mansbridge?
    Why aren’t we getting a live stream of an alternative take on the election?

    Those side panel bits are more interesting joe than what is posted.
    Why not make them items instead of giving away the stories to another site.
    Peter Kent is a dingbat is he not? Is his brother any better?

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