|NO CRYING OVER SPILLED CREAM
to our elites: you are in grave danger of being creamed! Run hard,
run fast. Hide wherever you can or wear a facemask at all times.
Must be that millennium thing that makes some believe that the
Entartistes are the latest menace to our democracy. Who thought
political life couldn't get any sillier? Culinary slapstick vs.
democracy? Heaven help us.
Now, how shall we name this embarrassing episode
of pastry paranoia: Who's afraid of Sarah Lee? Let them eat pie?
A Midsummer Night's Cream? The Wizard of Tarts? With all due respect
and even a bit of empathy for those who have been entartes, actually
pressing charges for getting a pie in the face seems to be way,
way, way out of proportion. Considering that some of those cream-pie
recipients who haven't pressed charges have been complaining for
the past few days that they should have, it looks like the Entartistes
have provoked a chain reaction of powerful people rallying to
defend some inalienable right not to be creamed in public. Karl
Marx would be proud: Entartes of the world, unite!
The fact is that whether one likes their strategy
or not, the Entartistes' main objective is to draw attention,
by way of ridicule, to some of our elite members whom they judge
to be indifferent to the needs of ordinary citizens. One can disagree
with their choice of targets, but as long as their pies don't
physically hurt anyone, what is the point of legal action?
The Entartistes are a sign of our times. Theirs
is a form of protest against the political correctness and ongoing
search for the Holy Consensus that tend to stiffle real debate.
For some, throwing a pie is a kind of anti-consensus gesture,
a form of non-violent denunciation of the cream of our society
- the powerful people - some of whom, through the budget cuts
they approved, have impoverished a number of us.
These pies are also one possible substitute for the sort of
incisive political humour that has become almost extinct in francophone
Quebec. Except for the highly rated TV program La Fin du Monde
est a Sept Heures, or for the witty monologues and songs of Francois
Parenteau on the French CBC radio morning show Samedi et Rien
d'Autre irony and sarcasm as a tool of political expression and
criticism have all but vanished. In absence of this essential
ventilation tool, the Entartistes - like their Belgian counterpart
L'Internationale Patissiere - have
decided to fill this vacuum with whipped cream.
Their symbolic silence smothered in cream speaks
loudly in a society where a growing number of citizens are voiceless,
where the poor have no lobbying power, where the baby-boomers
who govern us are turning a number of those under 40 into baby-losers
who must face reduced social services to pay the debts racked
up by previous generations.
Cream speaks when in Ottawa Liberals appear entrenched for
the next millennium, or when in Quebec City major-party platforms
are becoming harder to tell apart. Using irony, cream speaks for
the elderly and social-assistance recipients who still await the
return of free medication. It speaks for the baby-losers who still
await the adoption of a law that would forbid discriminatory orphan
clauses. It speaks for those who have no voice, no expensive lawyers
and no big PR firms to defend their interests.
Done in Public
This bothers some of the powerful. But what really
gets under their skin is that an entartage takes place in front
of cameras, causing them to lose precious control over their public
image. For once, image control escapes the so-called victim and
his advisers. And for some politicians, this is the ultimate creme
So they call on their equally powerful lawyers to debate in
front of the all-powerful judges whether there is a right to protest
as the Entartistes do. Yadda yadda yadda. So while cancer patients
are being sent to the United States for lack of sufficient resources
to treat them quickly, we waste time, energy and money debating
cream-pie throwing. May Groucho, the other Marx, be so kind as
to pray for us from above.
Most of those who have been entartes should
take solace in the thought that their victim status is the reflection
of their higher socio-economic rank in society. Instead of crying
over spilled cream, they should move to make better use of their
power for the good of all, including the voiceless. Then maybe,
just maybe, they'll have less of a chance of seeing their photo-op
du jour turned into some wacky Lucille Ball sketch.
Josée LEGAULT is a political analyst.