January 1, 2013

2012 Bye-Bye: Gabriel Nadeau-style

Generally hilarious, always outrageous, often scandalous and sometimes terrible, the Bye Bye is an annual Québécois New Year's Eve cultural icon. The sketch comedy special broadcast by Radio-Canada is virtually unknown outside of Quebec -- except when Anglophones over-react when the Bye Bye pokes fun at them -- but has been taking place since 1968 (with a pause of a few years between 98 and 06 and again in 09 because of scandal).

The first Bye Bye poked fun at Pierre Trudeau, the Vietnam War and reactionary elements of Quebec society; subsequent shows built a reputation on smart and funny comedy, not infrequently with a progressive edge. The show took a pause in the early 2000's and a new comedy crew took over in 2006. Sadly, some of these more recent Bye Bye's have been at best tasteless and at worst garbage. Facing widespread public criticism after 'black-face' skits, repeats of the kind of racist jokes that appear on mainstream US shows like Saturday Night Live, and especially a tasteless satire about child abuse, Radio Canada cancelled the show for a year.

But the Bye Bye lives on. The show remains a New Year's tradition for millions of kids growing up in Quebec. Many people can still remember some of the classic skits, giving the Bye Bye a strong following today.

This year took a turn that was seen as different and welcome by many, with a generally pro-student and anti-Charest Bye Bye. The video below is a short clip: a friendly mock of student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois featuring various characters of the strike like anarcho-panda and protesters in Banana costumes dancing to a re-mix of the hit track Oppan Gangnam Style by South Korean artist PSY (Park Jae-sang).

To give a sample, at one point the young super-star Quebec film-maker Xavier Dolan makes an appearance. Dolan, who convinced the Cannes International Film Festival to wear the red square, made head-lines during the student strike when he described Nadeau-Dubois as sexy. In the film checks-out the bicep of the actor playing the student leader.

Does it trivialize the student struggle or support it? What is the comment about democracy, and personality in the struggle? Comments are open.

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