Banished from the art world, revered by the public

Two years after the denunciation wave that swept Quebec, the figures who have been the target of accusations remain largely banned from Quebec’s arts industry. But the general public seems to have an easier time forgetting their antics. Proof of that is the crowds flocking to Éric Lapointe’s shows this summer, or the popular support Maripier Morin is enjoying these days with the release of the long-awaited album Arlett.

Last month’s guitar festival at Lac-au-Saumon in Bas-Saint-Laurent was a clear example, with Éric Lapointe and Kevin Parent headlining. The former pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman in the fall of 2020; the second was hired by his agency two years ago after being denounced for some of his actions on social networks. Results ? “We had our strongest year in terms of visitors in 15 years,” says the festival’s president, Michel Chevarie.

Should we see this unexpected success as a snub to the culture of exile? Against censorship? Against an essentially Montreal-based artistic community that we would consider too virtuous? Michel Chevarie carefully avoids answering this thorny question.

“So many stories are coming to light… Perhaps we are a little less sensitive to all of this in the regions,” ventures Jean-François Côté, General Director of the Festival de l Maple in Plessisville. Last March, young people from this community grew up in Centre-du-Québec against the arrival of Eric Lapointe. However, the festival had decided to keep the rocker in its program, indicating that in any case it was linked to the singer by a contract signed before his arrest.

In the end, his show at the Maple Festival turned out to be a real success, despite the dissenting voices. “There were a lot of people there! To be honest, maybe a little less than in 2016, before all the controversy. But Éric Lapointe remains one of the Quebec artists, along with 2Frères and the Cowboys Fringants, that attracts the most people to festivals,” continues Mr. Côté away.

Community-Public Dichotomy

In short, some artists who have been at the center of controversy in recent years are still on their way. The fact remains that their careers have suffered from this bad press. The organizers still refuse to exhibit them, despite the public’s requests.

Under the guise of anonymity, a major theater owner said so Have to after having had the opportunity to hire Kevin Parent and Yann Perreau this summer but not taking the opportunity “out of goodwill”. “But there would certainly have been a lot of people. These artists keep going shows, so that means they still have an audience following them. I don’t think the people who loved them stopped loving them because they were denounced,” he takes the trouble to add anyway.

Kevin Parent and Yann Perreau have been doing a few gigs here and there over the past few months. Others, on the other hand, never returned to the scene after the wave of denunciations in summer 2020. The singer-songwriter Bernard Adamus has hardly given a sign of life for two years. The singer has no manager or record company. He is extremely discreet on his social networks and his official website has even been shut down.

And yet he is one of the most listened to Quebec artists in the province on streaming platforms. According to data collected between October 15 and December 30, 2021 by the Observatory of Culture and Communication with its 42e He ranks higher than Fred Pellerin, Vincent Vallières and even Leonard Cohen. Éric Lapointe, for his part, climbs to 22nd placee Position that manages to attract a larger audience than many contemporary artists, such as Émile Bilodeau or Koriass.

It’s also worth noting that the most popular Québec artist on the platforms remains rapper Enima, who, with his well-stocked criminal record, takes delight in glorifying and framing crime in his songs.

“The fact that these artists are in this ranking, even if they don’t play on the radio, says a lot. It shows the gap between the industry and what people actually hear. It also shows that the dust keeps settling. This is the conclusion reached by Pierre “Bill” St-Georges, a consultant in the music industry.

Which banishment culture?

Mélanie Lemay, co-founder of the Quebec collective against sexual violence, sees this more as the consequences of “people who say that we have to separate the artist and his work”. She deplores a widely publicized speech that resulted in the #MeToo movement being discredited.

“You can’t separate the artist from the work, but you can contextualize it. The idea is not to banish what was done before as creation. Deleting anything is out of the question. But we have to ask ourselves what new opportunities we are giving these artists,” she replies.

She also has it against those who keep repeating the “ cancel culture — the culture of banishment — whenever a personality has to withdraw from public life after allegations have been made against them. A chimera, in their opinion, given the relatively prolific careers that Maripier Morin and Éric Lapointe have carried on this world.

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