Elvis Gratton is not Stupid


The notorious Québec film maker Pierre Falardeau, who has since passed away,  made a series of well-known films in this province over the years, all with various titles which include the main character Bob ‘Elvis’ Gratton.

In these films, Mr. Falardeau inevitably attempted to portray French-speaking Québecers who have a variety of Federalist, pro-Canadian, pro-American, and pro-English language views as being all a bunch of loud-mouthed, uneducated, ignorant, and ill-mannered individuals, who give Québec society a bad name.

In various scenes of the first Elvis Gratton movie, Bob is portrayed explaining his social status within the community by saying proudly ‘j’ai un garage, un gros garage!’ Meaning he is the owner of an auto repair shop. Later on, he is seen in an airplane with his wife Linda, trying to explain the complexities of Québec identity within Canada to some perplexed fellow passengers who obviously have no idea what they are talking about. Again later on, Bob proclaims his affection and sense of attachment to the rest of Canada with a bit of a cheesy affirmation saying ‘les Rocheuses, faut pas les perdres, yeah!’ (‘The Rocky Mountains, we can’t afford to lose them, yeah!’). In another scene, he is portrayed making an awkward attempt at trying to speak English, and affirming his sense of admiration for the United States of America and its entrepreneurial spirit, by saying: ‘Einh, les Americain, Y l’on tu l’affaire!’, meaning, ‘Hey, the Americans, aren’t they on the ball, or don’t they have a good thing going!’

In all of these scenes, Pierre Falardeau made a blatant attempt to denigrate French-speaking Québecers who are open to the outside world. Let’s take the first example: ‘J’ai un garage, un gros garage!’ Well, good for you Bob, you’re a small businessman, an entrepreneur who contributes to the local economy by creating jobs, wealth, and are probably involved in your local Chamber of Commerce, Optimist Club, Knights of Columbus etc, and contribute to the well-being of the local community.

Secondly, in the airplane, by explaining, albeit awkwardly, he and his wife’s sense of multiple identity, he and Linda are showing themselves to be a very avant-garde force within Québec, as well as Pan-Canadian and even global society, by embracing a sense of what Charles Taylor, the political scientist, calls, ‘Deep Diversity’, a sense of belonging to multiple civilizations and nations, which, increasingly, is most likely going to be the wave of the future. So good for you Bob and Linda!

Next, the Rocky Mountains. Here Mr. Falardeau tried to make Bob sound like some sort of pie-eyed sentimental ignoramus, who has a sort of nebulous sense of attachment to the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, but doesn’t quite know why. Actually, Bob is bang on the mark again. The province of Québec’s prosperity, and, especially, Montréal’s prosperity was for at least a century, directly linked to our access to the markets out in western Canada! Montréal was the starting point of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which, through a protectionist tariff policy called the National Policy, protected industries in Québec and Ontario, and gave jobs to French-speaking Québecers for over a century, mostly in and around Montréal. In fact, Montréal became a French-speaking bastion once again for the first time since after the Conquest, directly as a result of Québec’s belonging to Canada and its link to western Canadian markets. This is so, because the countryside around Montréal emptied out into Montréal so that French-speaking people could work in the factories producing goods for export to the West, which then exported most of its grain and livestock back to Québec and Ontario. This east-west system of trade is still in place today, regardless of our north-south links with America. So good for you Bob, your sense of attachment to the Rockies isn’t so dumb after all!

Lastly, Mr. Falardeau denigrated Bob’s attempts to be open to the English language and to American civilization. Well, in today’s increasingly globalizing world, I think Bob is being very open-minded by not having a chauvinistic attitude towards the English language. In fact he’s showing openness towards the world that many Québecers should emulate. He also is showing an appreciation for a civilization which has a very vibrant and powerful popular culture, as well as a very positive attitude towards setting and attaining goals, and working together to achieve them.

So perhaps before denigrating such a large constituency of the Québec population with his narrow-minded Nationalist rhetoric, perhaps, Pierre Falardeau should’ve watched his own movies again, except using 3-D glasses, as opposed to the one dimensional perspective that he has presented to us over the years. So Bob and Linda Gratton, I salute you, yeah!!! Think Big!!!

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