AngryFrenchGuy

In Montreal People Who Don’t Speak English Are Uneducated Bigots

with 496 comments

Eric Amber theatre ste-catherine

About 10 or 15 years ago Blockbuster opened their first Montreal franchise on Ste.Catherine Street, between the Forum and Guy Metro. About every second evening me and my roommate JF would walk all the way up the hill from St.Henri to rent some videos because, a. we had no real professional or social obligations to speak of in those blissful days of our early twenties, and b. because the only commerce going on in St.Henri back then was the sale of beer and steamed hot dogs.

At Blockbuster there was this one employee that we called Tommy. Poor Tommy, we used to say, he just doesn’t get it. He wasn’t a bad bloke—although a bloke he certainly was—but he always had a look of confusion on his face and permanent hesitation in his movement.

One phenomenon that absolutely mystified Tom was that almost every single night me and JF bring to his counter a movie in English, and then proceed to address him and conduct the transaction in French.

Every single time Tom would pick up the VHS, open the box, read the title aloud, and then, with a grimace, tried to warn us: Mais… sé en Anglèse.

Je sais, I would answer. C’est cool.

Tom would then take our money and stare at us as we left the store, dumbfounded by these two French dudes who kept renting movies they couldn’t understand!

Poor Tommy. He just didn’t get it.

Mercifully guys like Tommy are rare in Montréal. We French bastards and Angry separatists are usually able to consume our hearts fill of Anglo-American pop culture and simultaneously uphold our right to be served in French simultaneously, without any problem. I can go to a downtown cinema, buy my ticket in French, buy my Pepsi and gummy bears in French, ask directions to the pimpled employees in French and even share my always entertaining and insightful commentary on the movie with my companion of the evening in French, and still enjoy the new Transformer movie in the original English version.

I don’t switch to English when I buy my Engelbert Humperdink CDs at HMV. I don’t try to order in Japanese when I order sushi. I can go to a bookstore, purchase a book in English and even discuss it with a librarian, speaking only French. Even when I go to McGill’s library to photocopy scientific papers and gawk at young girls from New Jersey I make it a point to speak exclusively in French with the staff.

Not only is speaking French not a problem at McGill, I’m pretty sure I get better service than English-speaking chumps. Staff seems to light up and come to life. It’s like it’s something new and interesting happening. Oh, French! I know this! I can do this!

Or maybe I’m just better looking than you are…

This said, poor Tommy’s are still out there.

Last week Eric Amber, the guy who runs the Ste.Catherine Theater downtown, sent out an email to all of Québec’s cultural media and institutions promoting his venue’s lineup as part of the Zoofest, a new comedy festival run by the folks at Juste pour Rire/Just for Laughs. When a few people complained that the email was only in English and demanded to be contacted in French or taken off their mailing list, mister Amber blew a gasket.

His theater’s shows were in English and, therefore, there was no point advertising them in French, essentially wrote the promoter, who, like poor Tommy, cannot comprehend that someone who has learned English does not immediately abandon his tribal language.

« You obviously can’t read English because you are an uneducated bigot », was the eloquent response of the theater to the demands for a French email. « Go fuck yourself. »

Sure, I’ll do that in a sec., but before I go I’d just like to point out to the Eric’s and Tommy’s out there that there are roughly 500.000 to 750.000 Anglophones in Québec and about 3 million Francophones like me who speak, read and consume English-language culture but still expect to be informed and to buy our tickets in French.

If you think you can run a business by only catering to « real » Anglos while four fifths of your potential market is jacking off in the shower, good luck with that.

We have our answer! As I’m about to upload this post, I learn that Eric Amber and the people at St.Catherine Theater do not want money spent by people who still nostalgically hang on to their backward cultures.  He is shutting his theater down and moving on to some other city where only people who have completely abandonned their primitive ways are allowed to talk back to the Anglos, somewhere like Toronto or Singapour:

« Due to the overwhelming racism and bigotry in French society toward minorities and non-french cultures, Theatre Ste-Catherine will be closing in protest. Effective immediately TSC will no longer be accepting bookings and will closed permanently Dec. 21, 2009.»

Cool.  Now maybe some uneducated bigot like Gilbert Rozon, who happens to run the biggest English-language comedy festival in the world, or André Ménard or René Angelil can buy back the theater and make some money while Eric Amber relocates to Peterborough where no linguistic and cultural bastards will try to crash his productions.

Add to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to Twitter SHARE. ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT.

Written by angryfrenchguy

July 19, 2009 at 10:10 am

496 Responses

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  1. Ha! Big corporate U.S. chains (which will follow law 101 to the letter)…

    Jean Naimard

    August 7, 2009 at 9:52 am

  2. Sinc you’re on the topic of the Ici on commerce stickers…very interesting read below, propaganda is what it’s called:

    Click to access ellul_social.pdf

    s&t

    August 7, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  3. What a bunch of crock! Propaganda! Saying that 80% of the people is french is propaganda???

    Jean Naimard

    August 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm

  4. I do live in Montreal. I live a five-minute walk from a metro station. I wonder in which parts of Montreal you’ve seen those signs (I shop all over the place except for businesses that are hard to reach by public transit).

    Frankly, I wasn’t even expecting to see them anywhere. The story was picked up briefly by local media, and people seemed to have much doubt. In a nutshell, francophones were a bit frustrated with it, exactly for the same reasons I explained above: when you have to look for a sign in a shop window to ensure you will be served in French in a francophone province, you are reminded of whites-only toilets and the like. Nobody should have to rely on signs in shop windows to be sure their language rights are respected. Nobody should be excused for arbitrarily disregarding those rights.

    The choice to use either language should belong to the people and not to businesses.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 7, 2009 at 2:56 pm

  5. And what is the document you linked to called? Wouldn’t it be propaganda, by chance?

    You see, when I read a text that explains what a project such as this is meant to do without supporting it with any evidence, and when it is so easy to tell from which viewpoint the text was written (the document is anything but objective), I call that propaganda.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 7, 2009 at 3:06 pm

  6. Cool, AFG is in that video.

    I guess it comes down to how you interpret the sticker. Is it saying here, we are willing to do business in French, or here we only do business in French?

    No business has a legal responsability to serve all customers in French, but all customers have a legal right to be served in French, so it would seem to me that teh first interpretation of the sticker ought to be perfectly acceptable. But the OQLF guy that is interviewed in this video doesn’t even seem to understand that, nor does Curzi. There is nothing preventing the right of customers to be served in French even in a scnario where “commerce” also takes place in English.

    Like much of what the OQLF does however, it is left purposely ambiguous, to be misinterpretated by people on both sides.

    RoryBellows

    August 7, 2009 at 5:02 pm

  7. I’m not sure what that would be in your mind, but I gurantee that saying what I just said establishes only that I react in the same way you would if the roles were reversed.

    The only difference is, I would be right there with you calling out the Movement for an English Westmount if such a group existed.

    RoryBellows

    August 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm

  8. That’s what I was saying earlier.

    My guess is that this sticker was meant to make francophones feel like their right to be served in French was respected even though it isn’t always the case, so that they stop complaining. It was basically damage control–after the Irish pub scandal and the Journal de Montréal scandal, the OLF may have been a bit scared that the people will ask for the law to be reviewed and updated, but maybe also of extremist francophones throwing Molotov cocktails (which would have reflected badly on francophones, and thus, on the OLF).

    I find some anglos totally twisted the meaning of the sticker, though… To pretend that it means that you will not be served if you don’t speak French or that anglophones are not welcome is utter bullshit. And the chick at the Office québécois de la langue anglaise seemed to have no clue of what she was talking about.

    In any case, I feel that campaign was unfair to both anglos and francos, and it really makes me wonder just how mentally sane the good people at the OLF are. The money was entirely wasted…

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 7, 2009 at 6:05 pm

  9. Well, for that, you can see the hands of the liberals, who will deliberately have the OQLF do some hare-brained stuff to discredit it. After all, Jean Charest has a mandate from Bay Street to turn Québec into an “ordinary” province like all others.

    Getting rid of the OQLF after it gets distredited is one way to get towards that goal…

    Jean Naimard

    August 7, 2009 at 6:48 pm

  10. If you choose to have that attitude, be my guest. But then, don’t you come crying foul over the mean French who are not too fond of serving you…

    You can choose to interpret that stupid campaign the way you want to. See? It’s all about choice–and you like it, too! Now, try to tell me that you should be free to choose and that the French shouldn’t.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 8, 2009 at 2:14 am

  11. That’s just a rhodesian who is pissed that the french are equal to him.

    Jean Naimard

    August 8, 2009 at 9:52 am

  12. You didn’t answer the question.

    Do you feel LESS of a francophone because of your knowledge of English? (sorry for the long delay in responding…I get lost once the posts are up to 300 or 400!).

    Tony Kondaks

    August 8, 2009 at 1:24 pm

  13. I have no idea what either of you are talking about.

    RoryBellows

    August 8, 2009 at 1:25 pm

  14. This is the weird part. The little one does speak perfect French–but he converses either in English or in Khmer with his parents. Their friends are all Asian anglophones, so it would seem the kids all have French education but they only use it at school. I bet they are served in English at the local Canadian Tire…

    When the teens party at the neighbours, I only hear them yelling to each other in English. Funny, eh?

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 8, 2009 at 3:26 pm

  15. Do you feel LESS of a francophone because of your knowledge of English?

    Of course not; I said it times and times again: I am not a saxophone. This is not the point. The point is that immigrants to Québec should choose french first over english, hence the necessity of downplaying the english.

    (sorry for the long delay in responding…I get lost once the posts are up to 300 or 400!).

    Did you check to e-mail follow-up? Makes following up the complex tree a cinch (a bit more arduous when the thread has more than one page, though — the software that sends the email could include a link that directly brings to the post).

    Jean Naimard

    August 8, 2009 at 6:04 pm

  16. Funniest thing I’ve seen is in a party of some ethnic group who notoriously pigheadedly refuse to learn french. The kids go to french school, and they will talk against their parents in french.

    This pisses off the parents, and one parent asked me what they are talking about. I said, «you just need to learn french to know that».

    Needless to say, after that, I was immensely popular with the kids…

    This has the benefit of making learning french extra-attractive for the brats… :) :) :) :) :)

    Jean Naimard

    August 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm

  17. It’s the “here we couldn’t care less about YOUR business” part that says mounds about your attitude. If you care for an explanation, here it is.

    For you to interpret that sticker the way you do (see quote above), you really need to have an attitude problem. According to you, for the Québécois to want to speak French is wrong, but somehow, the fact that you prefer to speak English seems to make it all right for you to want to speak English in a francophone province. According to you, the Québécois should have no linguistic rights, yet, the anglophones should.

    You will be in a position to require being served in the language of your choice only when you admit that the same right applies to all, regardless of the language they choose.

    I can only feel sorry for you for having your head stuck where the sun don’t shine.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 8, 2009 at 8:34 pm

  18. It’s the “here we couldn’t care less about YOUR business” part that says mounds about your attitude. If you care for an explanation, here it is.

    For you to interpret that sticker the way you do (see quote above), you really need to have an attitude problem. According to you, for the Québécois to want to speak French is wrong, but somehow, the fact that you prefer to speak English seems to make it all right for you to want to speak English in a francophone province. According to you, the Québécois should have no linguistic rights, yet, the anglophones should.

    You will be in a position to require being served in the language of your choice only when you admit that the same right applies to all, regardless of the language they choose.

    I can only feel sorry for you for having your head stuck where the sun don’t shine.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 8, 2009 at 8:35 pm

  19. What, are you fucking Jean or something. Are paranoid delusions an STD now?

    Look sweetie, I have no idea how you managed to conclude from anything I wrote that “the Québécois should have no linguistic rights, yet, the anglophones should.”. I merely stated, in response to you that merchants might be worried about offending potential customers, then later explained to Jean why those potential customers might be offended. I actually didn’t offer my own opinion on the matter.

    You and Jean will find a francophobe in anything, you’re just paranoid like that, seriously. My only point was that a sign that says, “here we do X” would be at the very least questioned by any normal person on the fucking planet as to whether it means they don’t do Y.

    Jesus fuckin Christ, if the stores of Ottawa were putting up these kinds of signs I wouldn’t have to explain anything to you, it would be a foregone conclusion that they were all abunch of racists. Motherfuckin hypocrites you are.

    RoryBellows

    August 8, 2009 at 9:45 pm

  20. Nope. I went back and read my last few posts to see if maybe there was some poorly worded phrase, something that could lead you to believe that the following in any way describes anything I’ve said.

    “You will be in a position to require being served in the language of your choice only when you admit that the same right applies to all, regardless of the language they choose”

    Or

    “Now, try to tell me that you should be free to choose and that the French shouldn’t.”

    let alone

    “That’s just a rhodesian who is pissed that the french are equal to him”

    There just isn’t anything. Maybe you mixed me up woith Tony, maybe you can’t fucking read, I dunno. Either way, I don’t see this conversation heading anywhere productive.

    Later,

    Rory, the Rhodesian Anglo Supremacist (who speaks French in almost every motherfuckin store he shops in, ya paranoid fucks)

    RoryBellows

    August 8, 2009 at 10:01 pm

  21. You dipshit (yeah, Rory, I’m talking to you). It’s no wonder you don’t understand, because you are culturally unable to understand others; you may speak all the french there is, french is just the coating wrapping our culture. Speaking french doesn’t make you understand the french anymore than putting a wolf’s hide makes you a wolf, you putz. Once you dig that concept, you’ll be better equipped to deal with us frenchies by being forewarned that we do not have the same expectations in life as blokes do, and that a little bit extra-thought be put in whatever you see to make sure that what you see MAY BE not what there really is.
    If you’re not certain about something, just ask about it, I’d be very glad to drive the point home.
    With a pile-driver (there’s a nice one working on Inspecteur street, just south of Notre-Dame nowadays).
    You say that people are afraid of putting the stupid “we do business in french” stickers because that will piss-off the rhodesians who cannot bear to be reminded that they are a minority here.
    And just in case you don’t dig our position, those stickers are just as stupid as “we do business in english” would be in the U.S. It goes without saying that service in french ought to be expected in every single goddammed fucking retail store in Québec, even the ones that sell (kidney-pie haggish with mint sauce and yorkshire pudding)*-flavoured crumpets†.
    That stupid, ambiguous move from the OLF is yet another stupid half-assed, hare-brained, ridiculous thing that only the stupid Québec liberals would think of; they’re the champions of pissing-off everyone when trying to please everyone.
    And YES, when you’re surrounded by nearly 50 times as much anglo-saxons, you can start to be paranoid at times. Better safe than sorry.
    * Here, the parentheses should be interpreted as in a mathematical expression; that is it’s the crumpets that are flavoured with (kidney … pudding).
    † Please note that I don’t make jokes about british beer, because you do not joke with something that good.

    Jean Naimard

    August 9, 2009 at 1:41 am

  22. “If you’re not certain about something, just ask about it, I’d be very glad to drive the point home.
    With a pile-driver (there’s a nice one working on Inspecteur street, just south of Notre-Dame nowadays).”

    If you’re just playing internet tough guy, then I’ll consider the above another aspect of your over-the-top internet persona.

    If, however you are serious about threatening me with violence, then all you gotta do is name the time and place.

    Take the time to think about it.

    RoryBellows

    August 9, 2009 at 7:57 am

  23. Rory, your sarcasm meter is b0rk3d. Only a pile driver is powerful enough to drive a clue through your thick cranium.
    But if you really want a place, I’d say at the corner of Yonge and Jarvis in Moronto, at say, last thursday right at the time the garbage truck goes by. Then I’ll pummel you with a wet sock filled with past-date elderberries, since I have the choice of weapons.

    Jean Naimard

    August 9, 2009 at 12:48 pm

  24. Johnny boy, had you worded it that way the first time, you could justifiably claim now that you were just kidding around. The way you chose to word it, it most certainly was a threat, which you have now backed off of.

    Don’t worry though Jean, nobody else will call you out on it, they’ll probably give you a round of high fives.

    The fact that you are an angry little man who fires off ethnic slurs and death threats from behind his computer screen will just be our little secret. As far as your fan club is concerned, you’re still a proud Quebecois freedom fighter.

    One little question I do have for you though, I can you feel free to either hammer the answer into my skull with the industrial tool of you choice, or fire into my brain with your (metaphorical) 9mm, just what kind of hoops does someone have to jump through to get into your club?

    I’m not asking for myself, because frankly I want little to do with you, but what about the brown skinned folk who arrive here and proclaim their willingness to speak french every day of their lives? Do you tell them that “Speaking french doesn’t make you understand the french anymore than putting a wolf’s hide makes you a wolf, you putz”. Do you lecture THEM about how they’ll never “get it” ’cause their bloodlines can’t be traced back to the first french settlers? Do you remind them how they are descendant of murderous Spanish invaders, (even if they aren’t)?

    RoryBellows

    August 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm

  25. I’m not asking for myself, because frankly I want little to do with you, but what about the brown skinned folk who arrive here and proclaim their willingness to speak french every day of their lives?

    I was wondering how long it’d take to trot out that smelly canard. And what thread here is ever complete without it? English Canadians’ favourite sport – appointing themselves the PC conscience of Québec francophones (while they fill the prisons of Winnipeg and Regina up with Indians). Well it’s either that or professional hockey that’s their favourite sport. Both collosal wastes of time, but at least one’s a benign collosal waste of time.

    James

    August 9, 2009 at 3:35 pm

  26. And there’s the president of the fan club.

    James, I think my questions were fair. Jean has expressed those very same sentiments towards all anglos (present company excluded, of course!). I’m merely trying to figure out if he feels that way about all non-Quebecois, or does he believe that only those who’s mother’s sang them lullabys in English (whom, for some reason he calls anglo-saxons) are incapable of ever being his compatriot.

    RoryBellows

    August 9, 2009 at 3:47 pm

  27. And what’s with this Canada shit people are always lobbing at me? Do I have a maple leaf drawn on my forehead?

    For the purposes of this and all future conversations, let me just say, fuck Canada.

    RoryBellows

    August 9, 2009 at 3:49 pm

  28. I’m not asking for myself, because frankly I want little to do with you, but what about the brown skinned folk who arrive here and proclaim their willingness to speak french every day of their lives?

    Who do you think you are, bloke? You’re a true rhodesian, who thinks is better than all others just because he’s english and thus can dictate to others what to do.
    Well, no. You’re not better than all others. You’re just as good and just as bad as everybody else. You do not hold the absolute truth anymore than anyone else.
    Get of your high horse, think a bit about how other people could be also right, take a valium and call me in the morning.

    Jean Naimard

    August 9, 2009 at 6:55 pm

  29. Nice non-answer, full of your usual baseless accusations. Even as a troll you suck.

    RoryBellows

    August 9, 2009 at 8:01 pm


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