American Diplomats Analyze Canadian TV


One of the most instantly-famous of the Wiki-leaked cables was this analyis of the CBC’s The Border and Little Mosque on the Prairie and more in terms of Canadian “anti-Americanism.” The breezy tone of the cable kind of suggests someone who was assigned to write about this show but doesn’t exactly take it seriously. At the very least, the writer has a future as a television blogger if he ever wants to go in for that sort of thing, with memorable, pithy descriptions of episodes and characters: “the arrival of an arrogant, albeit stunningly attractive female DHS officer, sort of a cross between Salma Hayek and CruellaDe Vil.”

But what the cable mostly suggests is someone who is using these TV examples to back up the point he really wants to make, which is that the U.S. should be shoveling more money into his department so they can combat the anti-American tide. At the end of the cable it pushes back against people “who may rate the need for USG public-diplomacy programs as less vital in Canada than in other nations because our societies are so much alike.” In other words, it’s a fundraising pitch: give us as much money as you give our embassies in countries where anti-Americanism is seen as a bigger threat. So it barely matters whether the writer seriously believes that The Border was more ferociously anti-American than 24, where high authority figures turned out to be evil every year. Criticizing portrayals of America in American shows is not going to get more dough for his department or their projects. And that’s what it’s all about.

(And imagine: someone getting paid to watch TV shows and write about them! I don’t know about you, but that sounds strange to me.)

The strangest response I’ve seen to the leak is from John Doyle in the Globe and Mail, who spends much of his column arguing that the “anti-American” messages in The Border come from Denis McGrath (though he was only one of several writers) and that because he’s originally American it means that “an American was stoking the anti-Americanism of The Border.” That doesn’t really address the point of the cable, to the extent that there is a point, and it’s a weird perspective in any case. Do U.S. critics write that the Australian showrunner of the NCIS franchise is bringing in insidious foreign messages?

Speaking of Denis McGrath, I want to thank him for pointing me to the Youtub’d version of the cult classic mid-’80s TV movie The Canadian Conspiracy, an HBO/CBC co-production where we learn about the “conspiracy of Canadian entertainers working in America.” That’s what the embassy people should be writing cables about — or maybe they are, and it’ll come out in the next Wikileaks dump.

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American Diplomats Analyze Canadian TV

  1. All American TV shows, and most of their movies praise the US.

    The US expects other countries to do the same thing.

    • I take exception to that. I think most of our movies, even if they praise America in the abstract, are highly critical of anybody in a position of power. Watching American movies, most government officials, executives, high-rollers, cops, media personalities and celebrities are corrupt, incompetent or deranged. Then again, most of our shows don't acknowledge the existence of other peoples, so we get to have one good guy among the dozens of bad guys per program.

      • And then you all bring out the flag and do a round of Oh say can you see…..LOL

        American shows are very insular, and you much prefer foreign villains….but if they must be Americans it gives the opportunity for preaching 'the one bad apple' routine, and the vigilance required against the 'evil within'.

        Sen McCarthy was patriotic as all hell

    • So to be clear, The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood and Boardwalk Empire "praise the US."

    • LoL! I gotta ask. Did you not notice that in the other thread, it was Denis McGrath (mentioned in this article) who erroneously responded to your comment, when he meant to respond to the article. LoL!

  2. You fool, Weinman! How dare you make secret documents public! Lives are at stake!

  3. I think the US is suffering from fear and paranoia since 9/11

    • Because it was ramped up deliberately.

      After Pearl Harbor the president of the day reacted quite differently.

  4. Be sure to read John Doyle's full column; Weinman seems to have just read the first and last paragraphs and missed the rest.

    On the other hand, Weinman's point about the fundraising intent of the report is well taken.

  5. Thanks for the Canadian Conspiracy link – hilarious!

  6. The part that really cracks me up is the bit where he says the "The Border" is "not exactly Hockey Night in Canada". Better watch out American Embassy guy, that was a Canadiana reference you just used. You're going native!

  7. Man – I totally forgot about "The Canadian Conspiracy". Awesome!

  8. Did HERR HARPER bribe Wikileaks to write these paranoid old as the hills comments about the CBC's "anti-American" programming?

    Or is it that our Bushleague (indeed!) Canadian government has something up its sleeve after feeling nauseous having "nationalized" the Sask. Potash Corp, and now wants to reassert its "free markets" muscle?



    Yankees: Keep your fascist comments to yourselves! We have our own fascists here at home to worry about!!!

  10. The Americans are so filled with fear and paranoia, that everything is a threat to them, maybe it's because they done it to everyone else at one time or another

    America has got to get out more, and realize there is a whole world out there, not just America, hell! half of America doesn't even know where Canada is.

  11. Rather than look at the root cause, which many inside and outside the U.S. feel is a seriously flawed foreign policy, the suggestion is to throw Canada money? Should I look up frequently? From the look of the U.S. debt, where do they suppose to get it? Another printing run? I'm all in.

    These shows are tongue in cheek, or insider satiric comedies. You know, 'The Simpsons, North.'
    Canadians like to poke fun at absolutely everything. I'm sure they've noticed their plethora of our ex-pat comediens.
    Comedy is a business; and that's democracy, capitalism, and ergo, PRO-American. ; P

  12. How ironic to hear Canadians talking about another nation's insularity. I have never been to a more insular, provincial place than Canada. Nor have I ever been to a place that was so sorely lacking in self reflection. Instead of "talking to Americans," perhaps "talking to Canadians" might be in order. The Canadians I met were shockingly ignorant about the rest of the world. How many Canadians can identify Mexico on a map? How many know that it is part of North America? How many can name its president? How many can name any of its states? Oh Canada, a place where self-satisfaction is omnipresent but mirrors are nowhere to be found.

    • I see from your post that smugness works both ways. I can pull out statistics on Higher Education rankings by country that will repeatedly prove your statement wrong:… ,
      but that's beside the point. Our two countries are so closely ranked that the differences don't count.
      What you do need to know for understanding is how much Canadians are affected by everything that occurs south of us; plus the chirps will sound louder due to proximity and intertwining.
      I completely agree with you that introspection works both ways. Mirror, mirror.

    • I don,t know which Canadians you might have spoken with, but any Canadian who could not identify Mexico on a map or Identify it as a part of north america would be considered a dolt. Most Canadians are not only very familiar with American geography but have visited several states. And as far as being isular , check statistics , Canadians have travelled outside their borders far more than Americans. Just saying.

  13. I am always amazed when people comment with surprise on Canadian anti-American sentiment, Of course we are anti-American, we only exist as a country because we did not want to be American

  14. Slightly off-topic:

    My new word for 2011: intermedia: combining television, radio, print, the internet, and other sources of media where one cannot tell one from another.

  15. Of course, Canadian TV is Anti-American. Is this even a question? You'd have to be a retard not to have noticed it.

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