Maurice Richard and Canadian Culture Has Ice Research Proposal

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Maurice Richard and Canadian Culture

Has ice hockey in Canada achieved "mythical cultural status," as Neil Earle's quotation suggests in the article by Howard Ramos and Kevin Gosine? Has hockey in Canada served as a "primal source of identity-reinforcement" for citizens? Those are the pertinent questions raised by the authors, but moreover the point of the article is that hall of fame player Maurice Richard raised the consciousness of French-speaking Canadians and gave them an icon / hero that was similar to what African-Americans felt when Jackie Robinson made the Major Leagues. And the newspaper coverage of Richard's death is interesting: French-language papers gave it far more prominent albeit English-language papers went more in depth. Additionally, the Richard "riot" was more than just anger over Richard's suspension, but rather it was a place for "sociopolitical tensions" between Quebec and the rest of Canada to be "symbolically played out" (Ramos, et al., p. 418). The incident allowed the oppressed francophone community to rage and let out their frustrations. Sports in this case served as a social release value for tensions that had built up over generations. The article explains very specifically that French-speaking Canadians needed a boost (socially and politically) and they got that boost through Richard's awesome talent and his take-no-prisoners approach on the ice.

It is a bit hard to believe for a non-Canadian that prior to the advent of Maurice Richard as a superb hockey player of French ethnicity, that French Canadians were thought of as "Hewers of wood?" Were they downtrodden, simple farmers, under the thumb of the English-speaking establishment? The article certainly portrays that image. No doubt there is truth to this assertion, but Americans are not aware of that dynamic. That's a failure on the part of Americans but in fairness there is so much history associated with the U.S. And Americans are so wrapped up in their own issues they barely know any of the Canadian provinces let alone ethnic and cultural issues within Canada itself. Still, hockey fans south of the Canadian border certainly know of Richard although the fact that he was a giant cultural icon in the francophone community is not well-known, but it should be known.

Review of the Article: It is a measure of what an enormous impact Richard had on the Canadian people -- francophone and Anglophone alike -- that such a huge fuss was made following his death, 40 years after he retired. There are many questions raised in the article that are interesting and worth expanding on; but one in particular goes to the heart of the issue of Richard as a giant sports hero. Was he just a huge hockey hero to English-speaking Canadians -- but was he also a social, ethnic, and cultural giant (along with being a hockey superstar) to the francophone community? That seems to be well established in the article. And yet, was the mass media responsible for taking Richard's legacy and constructing "a national identity or imagined community where such an identity or community may not have existed before"? (Ramos, p. 429).

That having been said, indeed much of this article is an examination not just of the dynamics of Richard's impact 40 years after he retired, and not just of the historic and ongoing tension between the French-speaking community and the English-speaking community, but rather of the power of the media to shape opinion and present reality through a particular social and political prism.

If the assertion by Benedict Anderson is correct, the media -- the Quebec media in particular -- basically took a man (Richard) who was "politically hollow" and perhaps "apathetic" to a degree and created a giant cultural symbol for the sake of promoting French-speaking Canada. And by doing so the Quebec media "reinforced" a sense of community, or "unity," and played this as a "shared experience" among francophone Quebecers (p. 429).

On the other hand, on page 430 the authors assert that the English-Canadian media were perfectly content to "surrender the Rocket as a symbol of Quebec identity." And in addition, while the Quebec newspapers and periodicals quoted Quebec… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Maurice Richard and Canadian Culture Has Ice.  (2010, February 1).  Retrieved December 12, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/maurice-richard-canadian-culture-ice/618218

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"Maurice Richard and Canadian Culture Has Ice."  1 February 2010.  Web.  12 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/maurice-richard-canadian-culture-ice/618218>.

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"Maurice Richard and Canadian Culture Has Ice."  Essaytown.com.  February 1, 2010.  Accessed December 12, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/maurice-richard-canadian-culture-ice/618218.