Sugar Sammy-isms and Quebec Society
I should preface this by stating my ambivalence towards Quebec separatism, not so much because of ignorance or lack of interest (I do care very much), but because either stance seems like a fight about containers instead of content — I would, for instance, prefer living under Françoise David’s party than Stephen Harper’s, but Elizabeth May’s rather than Philippe Couillard’s. I feel as though the (anti)separatist fight only contributes to the same void that sucks all of your energy and only reinforces, naturalizes an apparent dichotomy within Quebec. Separatism separates, no matter if you’re for it or against it, while I’ve always been one to promote unity through diversity — whether that’s in Quebec or in Canada does matter, but it isn’t the channel I’m personally choosing to pursue. Identity politics are tiring fights.
That is not to say that it’s not a cause worth fighting for, I do encourage my separatist and antiseparatist fellow Québécois to fight for what they believe in, and to keep seeing the value in this fight — and through it, a province worth fighting for. However, some of the rhetoric used really, really bothers me. It is often through snarky comments that people reinforce their position, adopting a condescension, a “we’re just irreconcilably different” stance, creating a space in which this polarizing political division insidiously pervades all other elements of culture, identity, politics, and psychology.
I would particularly like to address Sugar Sammy, prominent figure who markets his position on this debate, in a cheap way to not only make such people who feel strongly about antiseparatism as though this humour is “for them,” but also for the other camp, who enjoys this type of masochistic humour targeted at them, to be the butt of his jokes, or to find some fuel to their position, leaving his shows with an even stronger separatist drive.
Ultimately though, it seems as though the political ideology he promotes (and many antiseparatists promote) is counter-productive: by constantly bringing the idea of separatism back on the table, in the current context in which even the main political proponent of it has largely abandoned it, he instills (they instill) life into it. They maliciously keep it alive to keep hurting it, to watch it suffer. He not only reminds separatists they are separatists, and gives them (makes up) reasons to fight in order to make money, but he also reaffirms antiseparatists in their position, ultimately rooting both camps firmly in what he markets as irreconcilable beliefs. It is particularly counterproductive for antiseparatists namely because of their “anti” stance: they emphasize an issue which is not one, only creating more separatists through provocative, snarky, condescending statements. They poke at a caged sleeping monster just to watch it scream. It is indeed twisted, and I would find some sad yet funny irony if it backfired decades down the road, with a combination of elements, and the separatists that antiseparatists created ended up legitimately reanimating the separatist movement only because of their paradoxical discourse. Of course, I cannot help but see that Sugar Sammy (my scapegoat) does it as a marketing strategy, which works extremely well (his stance is what almost solely led to his current success and fame), and which is further emphasized in Ces gars-là, a humouristic series where many one-liners are centred on his antiseparatism. I could write longer on the capitalistic drive behind his position, and the classist aspect to the issues he creates, but that would deserve specific attention. What I focused on in this reflection is that such snarky antiseparatist discourse actually creates much of current day separatism, which is entirely counterproductive and, in my opinion, rooted in some twisted desire to watch your enemies suffer, and constantly reframing them as enemies.