"Media with no choice," titles Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza as the country's media suspend reporting and news coverage to protest a new advertising tax which Polish broadcasters and publishers say will undermine the freedom of the press.
Montreal's #MeToo comedy crisis is no laughing matter
Long considered the "capital of Canadian humor," the Quebec city is currently facing simultaneous storms: the pandemic, #MeToo accusations and a deeper debate on the limits of comedy, reports Hélène Jouan in Paris-basedLe Monde.
COVID-19 is not the only hurdle the Montreal scene has had to face recently. The fall of Gilbert Rozon, 66 years old, a key figure in this comedy world and founder of the Just for Laughs festival, has contributed to its fragility. This "Rockefeller of Humor" was at the height of its power when, in October 2017, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, he was accused of being "Quebec's Weinstein." One, two and then dozens of women publicly accused him of harassment and sexual assault in cases that occurred over nearly four decades.
There are also other, deeper threats looming for Quebec humor. On Feb. 15, the Supreme Court of Canada will rule on whether or not comedian Mike Ward's mocking of a young disabled singer is permissible in the name of humor. Corrosive, subversive, even outrageous humor is not very popular in Quebec these days. "Today, most acts revolve around the private life, with comedians telling stories about their everyday life, their car, their wife or their boyfriend husband or partner, but few dare to take on social or political satire, much less transgression," says Marc Laurendeau, an ex-comedian turned journalist.
Louise Richer, the founder of the Ecole nationale de l'Humour in Montreal, recognizes movements such as #MeToo, Black Live Matters and the emergence of diversity and gender issues for making people think about a crucial question: "How can we talk about all this while remaining funny?" But she also describes a world of humor in full transition: "Like tectonic plates, two movements clash: On the one hand, political correctness tends to make a joke fall flat, but on the other, I see our students' desire to renew their spirit of provocation."
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