Hockey and minstrel shows—together at last! -

Hockey and minstrel shows—together at last!


I hate to admit how much time I spent trying to get this photo today, but Deadspin finally beat me to it. I saw this last night while watching the Habs’ game on RDS and had to pick my jaw up off the floor afterwards.

For those of you who aren’t hockey fans, first things first: What’s wrong with you? Second, here’s what went down: Sometime around the middle of the game, the camera inexplicably cut to these two doofuses in the crowd at the Bell Centre. The announcers initially seemed a little dumbfounded—not by the fact there were two Al Jolson wannabes taking in the game, but by why they’d be dressed up at all. When one of them noticed their t-shirts say “Subbanator” everything became crystal clear and perfectly reasonable.

P.K. Subban, you see, is a highly-touted prospect plying his trade in the Canadiens’ minor-league system and he’s already a bit of a fan favourite. He’s also black and, for some reason, no one involved in broadcasting (or attending) the game appeared to think this was a problematic way of feting Subban. Certainly not the dude in the truck, who left the shot up for a good 7-8 seconds; certainly not the announcers, who seemed to see it as “just a couple o’ guys havin’ fun at the game”; and certainly not Bell Centre security, who appear to be more concerned with preventing folks from sneaking beer into games than suggesting minstrel theatre should, at the very least, be confined to a different venue.

Ugh. Quebec just leaves me speechless sometimes.


Hockey and minstrel shows—together at last!

  1. Wow. What a pair of losers. And RDS should probably only have portrayed them if the announcers were prepared with some blistering commentary in their direction. But I suppose there is news value to the portrayal (how long again were you trying to get hold of the image?).

    Quebec just leaves me speechless sometimes.
    Au Québec, vous avez le droit de rester muet… en français.

    • And, in defence of Québec:

      This was TWO (2), count 'em, TWO losers. These two specimens should IN NO WAY WHATSOEVER leave you speechless towards an entire province.

      You want Québec to leave you speechless? Try this:

      People dying in ER hallways because the system is a crumbling understaffed mess:

      And this:

      Debt-riddled over-taxed have-not Quebec the first jurisdiction to implement taxpayer-funded fertility treatments:

      • Then there's that entire village of Herouxville.

      • Maybe they can give fertility treatments to those patients waiting in the ER hallways as a way to pass the time. At least those 20 hour waits will be more eventful.

        • The 72-year-old male dying in the hallway from last week's stroke still has enough cognitive function to be extremely puzzled by your suggestion. Are you a regional health manager or something? Because that sounds like something one of them might say…

          • Just trying to make sense out of socialized medicine.

      • Typical on how quebec "pure laine" treat minority groups.
        During the OKA crisis, they literally stoned mohank women & children fleeing the conflict. nobody were charged.
        And Montreal nord riot is just another example.

  2. He'll never get to read Stephen Harper's book, that's for sure.

    • atleast he didn't read the rigamarole that was iggy's book.

      i heard about this on twitter from the people who were watching rds. pk subban usually gets an ovation whenever he's called up to the habs and they love him there. i'm not sure if this was made like the whole patrick kane halloween costume situation in jest or something to make fun of his skin colour and the such but i know that habs fans are really excited about this kid. i've seen him give up the puck once in his own end, but most of the time he is a really sound defenceman. i wish we could have drafted him.

  3. Somebody at the door to the Bell Centre should have advised these two idiots we're now in the 21st century, and denied them entry. What a pair of moronic tools.

    • Being a moronic tool is, last I checked, insufficient grounds for denial of entry. Rather, it appears to be a condition of entry — have you seen the ticket prices?

      I suspect the better reason to deny entry is the possession of the beverage can.

      Remember the beauty of freedom of speech: it lets us know who the idiots are.

      • There's a huge potential for disruption (even if nothing occurred) and making other patrons feel uncomfortable, at the very least. I assume you would not find it acceptable if people started waving swashtika banners at a game.

        • Private business on private property, and I assume the contract (the fine print on the back of the ticket that, if I recall tickets past for similar sporting events, likely forbids cans and bottles) probably mentions the possibility of ejection from premises for cause with refund of ticket price, or something. So yeah, I would have been totally cool with The Habs and the Bell Centre if these morons had been told to go take a hike. But I will not hold either corporate entity in contempt just because they let these boobs in — whether or not they looked like that when they crossed the turnstiles.

          • Chances are it's no refund for ejection for cause, ejection with refund for any reason whatsoever. And I would say you have an underdeveloped sense of what is professional when putting on a sporting event. it was unprofessional to let these people inside.

          • You know for a fact they looked like that when they crossed the turnstiles, mister developed-sense?

            And even if they did…
            Remember the quaint notion of personal responsibility? I know, it's been a while. But. Throw rhetorical dirt on whomever you please, it's a free country, but please remember the biggest morons in this whole affair are the two in the above photo.

          • The idea they could have put their costumes on later is interesting but has not been broached before. When it came to the event-holders attention, something should have been done immediately. I can't fathom anything less – then again, unlike some, I can't imagine people breaking out the swashtikas and the arena owners being "all in good fun, suck it up pc nellies!"

          • Actually, so far, you seem to be the only one (on this page) imagining the "swashtikas." I forgot to call Godwin on you.

          • As far as I can tell, I asked if you would be OK with open displays of swashtikas and your reply was "Private business on private property".

          • That was a response to your first sentence. To your second, no, I would not find your Godwin example acceptable. But as I re-read my first response, you may feel free to apply my last 2 sentences again. No problem if they chuck the bozos onto the sidewalk. But the true responsibility for being the jerks rests with… drumroll please… the jerks.

          • I accept your clarification, and we probably aren't that far apart. You find it acceptable for the venue to escort them out or tell them to clean up, I think they absolutely should do so.

    • I am in complete agreement. They should have been turned back until they cleaned up.

  4. On the subject of hockey, someone at Macleans should blog about the Gibbs Canada jersey story.

    • You'd think… with all this talk about Jaffer you know they're hurting for topics… and they're talking about Harper being in a rut.

    • Yeah, because the burning issue in Canada-USA relations (Congress is developing a contract on NAFTA's life, Afghanistan, Khadr, Iran, the Middle East in general, how much of the EU will Greece and a few others manage to poison, Cuba, border security, the Beaufort Sea, Arctic sovereignty generally…) is two press secretaries and their silly wager over a hockey game played by pros in an amateur sport festival.

      Actually, you may be right. Maybe there is an angle to blog about here.

  5. I saw that too and was quite stunned, yes. Obviously these guys didn't see Bamboozled.

  6. Touché.

  7. Woah. Hockey and Timmy's? That's STRIKE TWO, baby-bottle-boy. Watch your step…

    • Thank God I like maple syrup!

      • Well, golly, that's great that you pander to saps like us with the maple syr– … — … — … wait aminute… — … — did you… nah, you couldn't have… — … — … I don't believe it, play the tape one more time… — ..oh no… you did…

        You thanked G-d. Talk about flouting Canadian values, you right-wing religious nutbar. Strike three, dude. Are you ready? The longest undefended border in the world is that way. March!

  8. So if I don't like Hockey, there is something wrong with me? Why don't you just call me un-Canadian while your at it.

    Basketball was invented by a Canadian and that is the sport I love to watch. Hockey can kiss my A$$!

    • You're un-Canadian!

      • Will it push you over the edge if I also let you know I have a huge dislike for Tim Horton's? and I honestly do.

        but I assure you I do like this country :)


    • On first glance I misread your post as "BLACKFACE was invented by a Canadian…etc.", and thought, Chacun a son gout.

  9. I'm a francophone and I "discovered" the minstrel shows at a Halloween party 4 years ago by accident. Me and a couple of friends decided to costume ourselves like the characters of a Quebecois Comedy show (le coeur a ses raisons). I played the part of Anthony Kavanagh, so I guess, I was doing a Blackface routine . There was an haitian guy at the party who took it very personally. I was shocked.

    What's the matter, a white man cannot dress like a black man? I didn't get it until I found out about the minstrel shows and black face and all that sick racist spit.

    Never heard about that before. It's not a part of French culture, or Quebecois culture, so probably nobody at RDS or at the Bell center got the "joke".

    If you don't believe me, go on wikipedia, look at the english article on minstrel shows, then click on the french article. Someone is talking about bamboozled? I'll tell you, if a Quebecois sees a Spike Jones movie, his average reaction will be "ah les maudzits américains, hey qui sont racistes!" and he will turn the page. He will not register that as a comment on the way he consider black people. But if Luck Merville says : "les Quebecois sont racistes", he will get it.

    We have our own racist issues to deal with (Herouxville, ayoye!!!) but I'll say, Mr Gohier, when you imply that Quebecois people are ok with Mintrelsy, you're way out of line.

    p.s.: I know much about Le Pen, don't know any Al Jolson, though.

    • He will not register that as a comment on the way he consider black people

      In my opinion, if this incident were the first ever minstrel show, it would still be racist, in part because they bear no resemblance whatsoever to PK Subban.

      • OK. But it was TWO PEOPLE. Please, everyone, take slow, deep breaths…

        • two people, plus the the rds people that aired and commented on it without objection plus the security people at the door, ushers and various other hospitality people in the Bell Centre. I think the point he was making MYL is that while only two people actually dressed up in black face, not a single person objected to it.

    • I agree. Gohier went too far to imply that all Quebecois are somehow culpable based on this one event.

      But then , that's what this rag does to get attention, so it's probably inescapable.

    • Dominique,

      With the greatest respect, this simply confirms Philippe's point.

      Most racism comes from ignorance, and if the entire Quebec society is ignorant of the signals sent by a blackface costume, well, that is very sad.

    • typical quebecer….
      I guess you can't cure sick people until they admit that they're sick

  10. "Ugh. Quebec just leaves me speechless sometimes."

    How is this a reflection of an entire province?

    • You and madeyoulook are right. I shouldn't have put it that way. I'm just amazed at how many people saw this before I did without blinking an eye:

      -the security people who let them in;
      -the camera guy or gal who spotted them in the crowd;
      -the person in the truck who figured this was broadcast-worthy material;
      -and, finally, the announcers who didn't seem to think much of it.

      I don't think any of these people are a reflection of the entire province, but I wonder if this could've happened anywhere else in urban Canada. It's entirely possible it could have.

      • Well said, Philippe. In (possibly undeserved, this all coming from my own imagination) partial defence of those on your list of indictment:

        THE SECURITY PEOPLE may have let two white guys with supportive "Subbanator" sweaters who applied makeup and wigs in the john after crossing the turnstiles.

        THE CAMERA GUY/GAL may have intially thought s/he spotted two far-off fans in gorilla masks, and as TV crews do, they iso on the occasional stand-out fan(s) in the crowd. This defence obviously only lasts for about a half a second, until zoom and focus would have quickly corrected the initial impression.

        THE PERSON IN THE TRUCK I am completely unable to defend, even with my best imagination.


        • Not to mention all the fans in the vicinity of these two doofuses. Did no one else in their section at the arena think to raise a stink about this?

      • (…contd)

        THE ANNOUNCERS are there to call a hockey game, not a Bouchard-Taylor Commission hearing, and may have not quite grasped the image before them as they were shuffling papers in search of the Habs' power-play ranking or some such stat. Or they fully grasped what was before them, couldn't believe the image that was being broadcast live, and were left as speechless (over that live image in a few seconds) as you were prepared to be (the following day after whatever substantial amount of time you took to dig up the image from an online source). So in a panic they stumbled about intellectually and came up with "a couple of guys enjoying the game."

        For me, it boils down to two guys conspiring to (and very much succeeding in) making absolute total arses of themselves while they were spectators at a professional sporting event. Dog bites man.

        I have been away from news sources and I also missed tonight's Bruins-Habs contest on the tube. Has there been any further fallout from this cringeworthy event?

      • Philippe: if this had happened on any other hockey broadcast in any other city in Canada (or for that matter, the US), it would have prominently made the news pages (or at least the sports pages) in a hand-wringing sort of way the next morning.

        Can you imagine if this had happened on CBC, on Hockey Night in Canada? Front page of the Globe on Monday morning, and Peter Mansbridge would be talking about it on Monday night.

        And for what it's worth, it probably wouldn't happen on the CBC anyway: I don't know who the executive producer of Canadiens hockey on RDS is, but I guarantee you he is not named Sherali Najak (Google it).

      • because most of these people have the same line of thinking.
        they don't see any problem making fun of other people.
        that's normal in quebec…sadly!

  11. My first reaction was that yes, this confirms many of my suspicions about Quebec (where I lived for a while, albeit in an Anglo enclave).

    Then I thought, could this have happened in Saskatchewan, where I'm from?

    Yup, it could, unfortunately.

    Maybe I'm not setting the bar very high for Montreal, but still, there are other parts of the country where these retrograde episodes happen every now and then.

    • The difference is that Montreal is a big, (relatively) diverse city where the people producing the most important sports broadcast in the province thought nothing of putting these two on the air. Maybe you'd get two dummies like this at a Roughriders game, but the people in the TSN truck would NOT put them on the air.

  12. I agree with MaggiesFarmboy above that it's pretty darn racist even if you don't know the context of the minstrel shows, taking somebody's racial physiognomy and treating that as a costume. It reminds me of André Boisclair's comment that "yeux-bridés," as a term for people of East Asian background, is not considered pejorative in Quebec. Well, it definitely is pejorative to characterise a group of people by a part of their racial physiognomy; and caricaturing it is even worse! I mean, it would be one thing if a black person had never set foot in Montreal, but there's a 100 000-strong Haitian community there!

  13. My father, who is not a racist, uses the expression "mon noir" all the time (particularly when he's driving and another driver pisses him off). It just doesn't occur to him that it's a racist term. Maybe these two guys were similarly clueless. For me there needs to be an element of intentional malice to justify using the "r" word.

    • There can definitely be a difference between "Dude, YOU ARE a racist" and "Dude, YOU DID something racist", but that doesn't completely let people off the hook.

    • so you say it's OK to hurt somebody as long as you don't have a bad intention. huh ?

  14. For some reason, insensitive portrayals of minorities aren't always caught by the internal filters people have in the rest of Canada. Here's an excerpt from a CBC report on the controversial but widely watched 2008 year-end Bye Bye comedy special:

    "Members of Montreal's black community were particularly offended by a skit involving a news anchor interviewing an actor portraying U.S. president-elect Barack Obama.

    "After initially confusing the incoming president with a black Quebec singer, the anchor tells viewers that all black people look alike. He goes on to say that viewers at home shouldn't worry about Obama stealing their purses, but that he might steal their television sets."

    To be fair, the producers claimed they were lampooning racist attitudes, but that explanation wasn't entirely convincing for many of their viewers.

  15. I meant to say: "… insensitive portrayals of minorities in the Quebec media aren't always caught …"

  16. I think it's terrible that these two guys could stereotype people who are black. How do you think Canadians in general would feel if they were stereotyped? Actually, it was done at the Olympic closing ceremony?

  17. Half a week now since this happened, and I think the most damning thing about the whole incident is that there is still no news coming out of Quebec about it.

    The only places I've seen it mentioned are here, Deadspin, Puck Daddy and Bleacher Report. I don't know how to go about searching Google News in French for this, but in English, there's hardly a thing:

    Not even from the Gazette. This would seem to be a red meat sorta thing for them! Has anything come out in the French press about this, Philippe?

  18. Maybe they should have been wearing full face veils, that might have gotten them expelled !

  19. Blackface aside, is that Ryan Seacrest sitting in front of them?

  20. "Ugh. Quebec just leaves me speechless sometimes."

    How is this a reflection of an entire province?

    Yeah !! You are right PolJunkie.