Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cdn City to Colbert: 'Drink anti-freeze and die.'

This article about a letter (pdf) written in response to comments critical of Canada made by Stephen Colbert, was at the top of Yahoo Canada last week. Why, I'm not sure, seeing as the article was almost three weeks old at that point.
Cdn city puts Stephen Colbert "on notice," offers him position during Olympics

RICHMOND, B.C. - The city that will play host to long track speed skating during the 2010 Olympics is putting satirical talk show host Stephen Colbert on notice.

Colbert, who recently announced he's sponsoring the cash-strapped U.S. speed skating team during the upcoming Winter Games, has given Canadians a strict wag of the finger for denying the American squad ice time at the Olympic oval in Richmond, B.C.

Colbert has called Canucks "syrup-sucking Canadian iceholes" and has urged his "Colbert Report" viewers to send in letters demanding Canadians cease their icehole-ish behaviour.
The Ottawa Sun also mentions that Colbert "called for “Saskatchewhiners” to “unclench their frosty sphincters.”" Awesome. The first article continues:
City of Richmond spokesman Ted Townsend has sent a letter of his own to Colbert's studios in New York, offering the former "Daily Show" correspondent an olive branch.

"Dear Cousin," the letter begins.
"As a proud syrup sucker, I am saddened that you would cast aspersions on Canadians as part of your otherwise laudable quest to assist the cash-strapped American speed skating team.

"We have always welcomed our friends from south of the border with open arms (well, except in 1812). In fact, we've always fondly considered you as our American 'cousins' and politely tolerated you, even when you were in an imperialistic mood."
Townsend wrote in the letter that international skaters have never been barred from the Olympic oval, though they have been asked to follow rules to get on the ice.
"You might have noticed that us syrup-suckers are big on rules and regulating things; that's how we got universal public medicare," the letter reads.
The Sun adds:
“We just can’t stand the thought that someone would think we aren’t playing fair,” the letter reads. “So as the Canadian Iceholes who also happen to be the proprietor of the Richmond Olympic Oval, we are inviting you to find yourself some sled dogs and venture forth to our great frozen wasteland to be our guest at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in February.”
Okay, I'll give credit for playing on stereotypes of Canada as being permanently covered in snow. The first article continues:
But to show there are no hard feelings, Townsend, who calls himself "chief syrup sucker," has offered Colbert a position as ombudsman of treatment for American speed skaters during the 2010 Games.

The city has included a pink toque with the letter, which Townsend said could be part of Colbert's uniform during the Games.

"We hope you will take us up on this offer, dear cousin," Townsend letter reads.
"We suggest you start the training for your new position now. A good start would be to acclimatize yourself by drinking at least one litre (oops, sorry, make that a quart, I forgot that you Americans don't do metric) of radiator anti-freeze fluid per day."
So in other words, the title should read: "Cdn City to Colbert: 'Drink anti-freeze and die.'" Y'know, I think Rain's response to Colbert was more entertaining and dignified, in comparison to snide remarks about health care, the metric system (what a zinger that one was!) and the War of 1812. As someone who sat on a bus tour of Washington in high school and listened to classmates cheer when our (American) guide mentioned the burning of the White House during the War of 1812, I find it worth mentioning that it was the British who burned it - not Canadians.

At any rate, being interested in Korean nationalism as I am, it's interesting seeing this example of Canadian nationalism at work, especially since the different regions don't get along well and 'nationalism' in a negative sense most often exists at the provincial level - stirring up feelings of victimization due to the special treatment Quebec or Ontario receive is a favourite - the only negative thing unifying them all that can be used in the popular realm is thumbing their nose at the US* (in the same way that Korea does with the US and Japan - they know those countries won't actually threaten them back).

There have been different measures (in the publicly owned media) in the past to create a more positively oriented unity. When I was younger, National Film Board animation (such as this: 1,2 or this or especially this) or the Hinterland Who's Who (see here, though my favourite is here) used to play in the time after programs ended (long since replaced by advertising), and in the 1990s vignettes from Canadian history would play, though at that time I suppose Molson Canadian's "I-Am- Canadian" commercials were the most popular example. Yes, that's right - the most visible icons meant to induce Canadian patriotism at that time were beer commercials. With the latter in mind (and the fact that Molson has yet to produce a drinkable beer) it was with some amusement that I read about the Annexation Manifesto of 1849. As Britain moved towards free trade and ended preferential treatment of its colonies, and a free trade agreement between the future Canada and the US died in the US Senate, merchants in Montreal felt the only way to save their bottom lines was to join the U.S. Among the earliest signers of this manifesto? The Molson brothers.

Hey, it made me laugh.

*If you want to make fun of the U.S., this is how you do it (the penultimate statement inspired part of the title of this post).


Shinbone said...

how can you even talk NFB without mentioning canada's 2nd national anthem, the LOG DRIVER'S WALTZ?! come on.

matt said...

This Log Driver's Waltz? Well, if I have to choose between McLaren and the waltz, McLaren's going to win... I'm impressed with what's available on youtube of his - I guess the NFB has made a lot available on their site...

Oh, and The Sweater" probably stands out more for me, as I remember watching it in school...

km said...

i thought the colbert-richmond back and forth was all in good fun. i haven't been following much of the media's coverage of it, but from watching colbert it's seemed funny. richmond doesn't exactly have a team of comedy writer's working for them, but they gave it a good shot.