OPEN LETTER TO LORNE MICHAELS
Executive Producer, Saturday Night Live
Executive Producer, Late Night with Conan O’Brien
Dear Mr Michaels
Miquelon.org is a Toronto based watchdog group dedicated to documenting French-Bashing and Anti-French activity and monitoring the news and entertainment media.
It has come to our attention that two major NBC shows under your stewardship have shown themselves to be profoundly anti-French in the last two years. We are alarmed at the nature of the verbal attacks being aimed at the French and French-Canadians by the writers and performers of SNL and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
On April 19th, 2002, a sketch on Saturday Night Live featured a mock tourism advertisement for France. The transcript reads as follows:
« France. Home to the world’s greatest painters, chefs.. and anti-Semites. The French. Cowardly, yet opinionated. Arrogant, yet foul-smelling. Anti-Israel, Anti-American, and, of course, as always, Jew-hating. Paris. The city of whores. Dog feces on every corner. And effite men yelling anti-Semitic remarks at children. The real creme de la creme of world culture. With all that’s going on in the world, isn’t it about time we got back to hating the French? »
Holding all French people collectively and perpetually responsible for past and present anti-Semitic crimes is not only unfair, it fosters a skewed collective resentment among new generations of Americans at a time when understanding of other cultures should be nurtured.
On February 13th 2004, a piece on Late Night with Conan O’Brien featured a sketch with Robert Smigel which contained a number of anti-Quebecois, anti-French comments :
- «I can tell you’re French – I can smell your crotch from here»
- «Quebecqueer Street »
- «Rue de Pussies»
- «This is North-America, speak English»
This material not only ignited a storm of controversy in Canada, Canadian politicians of all parties have condemned it. From Alexa McDonough, Mauril Bélanger to Stephen Harper, the disapproval has been unanimous. Many editorials and columnists have expressed the same level of dismay.
What also worries us is the impact of the material aired on SNL and similar programs. According to a survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, 21 % of young people aged 18 to 29 said they get their campaign news from Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update and Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.
We hope you understand our concerns and that you will do your best to correct the excesses of some of your writers and performers.
Marc Saint-Aubin du Cormier