Guy LaFleur

I just got back from watching The Rocket in Quebec Cinema. Well we have fourteen minutes left, but I can’t imagine it will redeem itself in that little time, so let’s just continue.

I was cringing throughout the past two hours.

Yes. Quebec loves the Habs and Toronto loves the Leafs and if my experience watching the season opener, where the (alcohol fueled) shit-talking escalated to physical violence, was an indicator of anything, these opinions are held very strongly.

The film was made in Quebec. Obviously its going to be imbued with some nationalist sentiment. I can even see why they’d want to use the Canadiens struggle in an English speaking league as an allegory for Quebec’s oppression by Anglo Canada (honestly I think its more Anglo business owners, not Anglo Canada, but whatever.) But for the love of God the duality was taken to a ridiculous level. I’m sure you can make the case that Richard’s Quebecois identity made him a better hockey player (how coming from a poor Quebec town made him hard working, whatever) but he was not a good hockey player because he’s from Quebec. I mean dear God, look at half the NHL.

What’s more is the filmmakers depicted him as just so damn melancholy throughout the film. I mean sweet Jesus, Charles Binam√©, are you really saying you believe Maurice Richard was just so depressed about being kept down by whitey that he couldn’t even crack a smile when he broke Malone’s record? Because that’s what happened in the film. I mean they broke the relationship between Anglophones and Francophones into causality. There were so many scenes that went like this:

Random English-speaking hockey player: You damn dirty Frenchman!
Announcer: HOLY SHIT MAURICE RICHARD JUST SCORED 21 GOALS.

A player would refer to him as “pea soup” and Richard would suddenly gain the power of 10,000 men. No doubt Maurice Richard’s crusade to change the league was positive, but to make it seem like everything bad that was happening to him was solely because he was from Quebec, and that none of the discrimination was happening to anyone else, is ridiculous. Honestly, the way I see it, is just like public figures give away any ability to sue for libel, you’ve got to figure getting chirped, and that someone might go after race as part of that overall chirping strategy, is part of the game. I guess what bothered me is not so much that he fought against racism (I mean honestly, who the fuck is pro-racism?) but that he expressed such shock every time someone made a racist comment. Like who the fuck are you? Have you never played sports before?

Then there’s this whole thing where Richard gives an interview in English and his English is bad, and the paper calls him stupid. As if this doesn’t happen to every non-English speaker in a public position. Alex Ovechkin looks positively retarded in every interview he gives. Maybe this is because of his lack of English fluency, maybe its not (I mean Sidney Crosby doesn’t seem any more intelligent,) I don’t know. You want to give an interview in French, fine. One of the characters says it himself! “If they talk to us in English, we respond in English.” Then why not stop. I’m Anglo-Canadian, you want to have them dub that shit, fine by me. Give me some subtitles, I don’t care. Just stop acting like its somehow an act to keep the French down, and start blaming the networks, or yourselves, or the whole lazy non-reading North American culture.

Or at least don’t reveal your own hypocrisy. In one scene Richard writes an article disparaging the league’s commissioner in French. Cut to the commissioner holding up the paper yelling “Damnit! Get me someone who reads French!” like an idiot. How can you mock Anglophones for not being able to speak French, then turn around and say our inability to speak English should have absolutely no effect on your perception of us whatsoever?

Ugh. I mean obviously its hard for me, coming from a position where I’ve never seen Quebeckers being treated as second-class citizens and where everyone I knows feelings towards Quebec have at worst, been neutral, its hard to grasp what the gravity of the situation must have been at the time, but my GOD, reducing Quebec’s entire struggle to the binary between French and English, and Anglo-North America and Quebec, and the extent to which Binam√© sought to make that relationship clear, was fucking ridiculous.

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