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Eric Parazelli June 18, 2012
If you haven’t been already, you should soon be put into intensive contact (let’s not say you will be ‘bombarded’) with a new ‘pre-election’ ad in which Jean Charest justifies the decisions his government has made over the last two months (or at least, he tries to). Mind you, he never says exactly what file he is talking about. At least this time round it is the Liberal Party of Quebec paying the costs of the ads – not like the last public relations offensive that also tried to convince the populace of the fairness and legality of the increase in tuition fees, at the cost of over $800,000 to Quebec taxpayers. You might say, cynically, that whether it comes out of the pockets of the government or of the party, it’s still the same pair of pants… unfortunately, you’d be right!
So, here is the original ad, being broadcast on the mainstream media as of this morning:
Note that the Liberal party itself disabled adding comments for this video – an indication of their openness to dialogue.
(Translator’s note: There is an official English translation of this French video, which can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD_wWU5feks.)
Before the era of the internet – before the democratization of media, the multiplication of broadcast spaces, and the explosion of channels of expression that are social media – this is probable the only ad that most people would ever see. Sure, the one or two TV shows that still dare to make political commentary would have taken the opportunity for a joke or two a few days or weeks later. But the original video would still be the main message.
Today, anyone with a minimum of technical know-how can pull together images and sound into a message of their own – and they can post their creation before the original video has even been officially released. This is what happened to Jean Charest – three versions of his video have appeared in the last hours and are currently making the rounds of social media. In the first, Jean Charest’s words are cut up and put back together so as to say, according to the video’s title, “what he really meant to say.” In the second, the creator has simply emphasized the ‘preachiness’ of Jean Charest’s message, who gives the impression of dispensing THE truth, like an infallible pope. In the third, Jean Charest appears with a red square on his shirt, which makes it seem like he has suddenly changed sides to oppose the increase in tuition fees. His choice to not name what he is talking about, nor what decisions he is defending, is what lets that allows the author of this parody to co-opt the message of the original video.
Liberal communications strategists foresaw this (if they did not, they are squarely incompetent). Will they let these parodies live on, saying that this will further polarize the debate so that Charest’s supporters can again squawk about their opponents “who have no respect, and who use intimidation and violence?”
This parodies are also a warning to any party preparing itself for an imminent election. Electoral ad campaigns are now a risky business: the risk is to have your message taken over. Political parties could take lessons from the last campaign for the French presidency which was particularly fertile in this regard (see my article on the subject [http://mediatv.divertissement.sympatico.ca/2012/04/présidentielles-2012-quand-la-france-délire-sur-ses-élections.html]).
It will be interesting to watch this new battlefield 2.0, where citizens can join the campaign, and can do so without being bound by electoral law. I am looking forward to it already…
[Translator’s note: Below is a link of links to parody videos, in French.]
Charest’s video with images and sound added (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNt0HXa_xR0)
The voice of Jean Charest replaced with that of Duplessis (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEfQ-vn_-J4)
Jean Charest with subtitles (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSY_FPGkmUw)
With the subtext (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrsNjU-srM8)
Just for Laughs version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckUsi_-3OK8)
The Crucifixion edition (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh0KRKsEj1Y)
The Bad Trip version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSDwwqVyBNw)
“C’est Con” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qStaSqRD9h0)
The Police Brutality version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ9rgLuju9s)
The subliminal messaging edition (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YAFuaQM9Ss)
Charest and the Police (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKDGi4knegg)
The Ghislain “Gigi” Taschereau version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4NGrBu531Q)
The 1984 Version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTLKDfQgqCU)
Jean Charest as Darth Vader (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GW5cmiqgXI)
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.