Patrick Lagacé put this video up on his blog (so if you read his blog, don’t bother watching it again). He didn’t add much commentary, so I guess he just found it funny.
It’s an old sketch from RBO, which makes fun of anglo TV news, specifically Pulse News (what CFCF’s newscast used to be called before CTV decided local brands were a bad thing).
But much as I admire RBO, I don’t find it funny. Instead, it seems ignorant, bitter and sad.
Part of being able to do a good caricature is knowing your subject well. They got the logo right, and that joke about people in Ottawa going to bed at 8:30 was funny, but that’s about it.
There is plenty of stuff about anglo TV newscasts in Montreal that is very worthy of caricature: Ron Reusch’s pronunciation skills (though they won’t be an issue soon), Todd van der Heyden’s over-the-top gravitas, Lori Graham’s wardrobe, Frank Cavallaro’s zucchinis, Tim Sargeant, Global Quebec’s green-screen studio-in-a-box are just a few examples. A lot of these references are contemporary, but I’m sure there are plenty of similar examples from back when this sketch was made.
And sure, the anglo media is predominantly federalist, fears sovereignty and many people have trouble pronouncing French names. And, as a commenter on Lagacé’s blog points out, it does tend to discount most of Montreal east of St. Laurent.
But instead of understanding the target and eviscerating it where it is most vulnerable, RBO made the same mistake that Culture en péril did: put anglo Montrealers in the same boat as anti-French Albertans, franco-incompetent Ontarians and gun-toting southern U.S. rednecks (it even calls one of its reporters “John Redneck” as if this is somehow funny). It’s insulting name-calling (“Brian Britt” becomes “Brian Twit” – oh, how my sides are splitting).
And yet, it was a hit (a “classic”, even) among other uninformed unilingual anti-English francophones which form their target audience, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
When I watch these sketches from RBO and Prenez Garde Aux Chiens (another group I greatly admire when it does media criticism right), and I see people with incredibly thick francophone accents pretend to be anglos who can’t (and don’t want to) speak French, it seems painfully obvious that they are completely unfamiliar with what they’re targetting, beyond the ill-informed caricature that makes no sense in the first place.
I find it somewhat ironic, at the same time, reading another post from Lagacé in which he says the government shouldn’t be teaching francophones English. I’m fine with that. I’m more than happy to take the job of a unilingual francophone whose government put ideology over proper education in an unavoidably globalized world.
But I just wish some francophones would learn to understand the anglos a bit better. We might find some stuff in common. For example, we both know what it’s like to be a linguistic minority. And they might find we agree on a lot of non-sovereignty-related economic and social issues.
More importantly, anglo TV news is in desperate need of really good satire.