Maudit Racistes, in both official languages

by Martin Patriquin

Quebecers as comedy fodder. Image courtesy cbc.ca

The other day, Journal de Montréal columnist and grande gueule par excellence Richard Martineau devoted part of his column entitled ‘Maudit Racistes’ to a This Hour Has 22 Minutes sketch entitled ‘Quebec Nation’. (This being the CBC, the archived episodes don’t have individual web addresses. Go to www.cbc.ca/22minutes and click on the October 7, 2007 episode.) Martineau –– who has the ability to be at once hilarious, biting, infuriating and wickedly cynical –– takes issue with the skit, which imagines a separate Quebec with “no roads, no towns, not even a radio. The only things we take is our racism.”

“Hilarious, isn’t it?” Martineau fumed. “Remember that This Hour Has 22 Minutes is broadcast by the CBC, the Canada’s public broadcaster that you fund with your taxes.”

True enough. The skit is a crude thing, laughable largely because it proves English people, especially actors, should never try to imitate French people speaking English. That sort of thing should be left to the professionals

The male actors smoke and are decked out in Fleur-de-lys sweaters and headbands; the actress, a clingy, boob-holstering shirt. They complain about having to fund their own culture. Hilarity ensues.  (Still, I’ll laugh at anything that makes fun of Quebecers’ penchant for Florida and porno.)

Martineau’s point, a familiar one around these parts, is that English Canada views Quebec as an expensive pain in the arse. Worse still, the ensuing disdain English Canadians have towards their French brethren is subsidized by our taxes. Worser still, that disdain is a one-way street: Quebecers rarely make fun of English Canada, and certainly not on the federal government’s dime.

Uhh, not so much.

Pierre Falardeau has made many movies — some excellent, some wretched, all of which rail against the evil that is Canada – with handsome subsidies from Telefilm Canada. Along with comedian François Morency, Falardeau has appeared at the Just For Laughs festival, which took in roughly $2 million in government subsidies in 2007. The pair presented a skit replete with anti-English sentiment, including one in which they “plant” an Englishman (‘planter’ in French also means to beat the hell out of someone) to the tune of Scotland the brave. (the skit starts at about 5:10.) 

Hilarious, isn’t it?

There’s an argument to be made that by making fun of each other’s stereotypes stereotypes, we learn to appreciate one another better. It’s even better when the government will pay for it, in both official languages.




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Maudit Racistes, in both official languages

  1. Thanks for the links – I have watched both. I found the Falardeau Morency sketches the most vile. While 22 minutes makes fun of people’s political ideology, Falardeau Morency make fun of the people themselves, not their ideology – the anglo woman from the West Island is ugly because she is an anglo.

    Imagine a sketch where Israel is attacked for its treatment of Palestinians – in my view that type humour is acceptable in our society as it attacks a political choice.

    Now imagine a sketch where Jews are portrayed as ugly people with big noses who smell bad and who should be beaten (planté).

    You can chose to be separatist, federalist, liberal, conservative, dipper; you can support or oppose the military actions of Israel. But you cannot chose to be born in a Jewish, English-speaking or French-speaking family. The Falardeau Morency sketches are truly racist.

  2. That, I think, is the difference between the two- the This Hour had 22 Minutes sketch isn’t satirizing french-canadians or francophones, its satirizing separatists. (Although their accents leave something to be desired) Flarrdeau and Morency, however, are attacking anglophones for no reason other than that their anglophones. I wonder if Martineau actually watched the sketch.

  3. *Falardeau*

  4. I knew this Croatian guy once, who was visiting family in Canada and somehow ended up crashing on my friend’s couch for a week.

    He was an art student of some sort in Zagreb. He described how his latest film project involved him and his fellow art students attacking an old man at a gas station and beating the crap out of him. I’m thinking, Hey, that’s quite a novel idea for a short film – cheap, absurd, challenging to the audience, etc. etc. As he continued to describe the film, however, it gradually dawned on me that the attack was not staged and that he and his arty friends were violent, Clockwork Orange thugs.

    Somehow Falardeau makes me think of that guy.

  5. Come on! The sketch from the two Pierre was not meant to be – and is not – racist. They laught at Pierre Falardeau himself, at his character and his reputation. It’s called in french “auto-derision”, like the authors of this blog call themselves “maudits anglais”. So they exploited his famous bad temper and sometimes caricatural and manichaean views of the “ennemy” (anglos, federalists, LPC, Ottawa…) to write the scenario. Everybody knows his views about Canada and Quebec are oriented, nothing new and nothing to lose sleep over. It’s not what I would call “anglo bashing”, sorry. The “anglo plant” is just a 20 seconds flash in a 7 minutes number about Falardeau.

    The other sketch was so ordinary, I will not comment. I didn’t laugh, I just don’t care. I know all the stupid cliches about Quebec so it’s not like I’m suprised or anything. And no, they didn’t just satirize separatists…

    As for Falardeau’s movies subsidied from Telefilm Canada, I suppose you don’t talk about the last one about the Patriotes, “15 février 1839″, almost entirely financed by private money because Telefilm reject it several times.

  6. "There's an argument to be made that by making fun of each other's stereotypes stereotypes, we learn to appreciate one another better. It's even better when the government will pay for it, in both official languages."

    No, sorry, this is not a valid point if one at all. When someone makes a black joke, gay joke or sexist joke, they may be invoking stereotypes but that does not make the joke any less racist, sexist or homophobe. How does it accomplish its deed? By portraying a first degree analysis to a general population which perpetuates ignorance. The conclusion of this article is merely an attempt to justify inapropriate behaviour based on entertainment value (which in the case of these two sketches, is pretty low)

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