Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not very Canadian

All of the Canadians I know are more polite than most of the Americans I know. Our family has done some extensive traveling in the maritime provinces and has met so many nice Canucks that we have a family joke about it: When one of us does something extra-nice, another will say, "Why, thank you. That was very Canadian of you."

So I was startled to read the following at the Booksfree Blog:

One of our competitors “Simply Audiobooks”, a Canadian company who also operate in the U.S., launched an ad campaign in Canada and on their Canadian web site bashing presidents Bush and Clinton. The ads are basically saying our president’s are illiterate.

I don't know. Are they saying that? The photo of President Clinton shows him reading a book. That's hardly the picture I'd have chosen if I wanted to suggest he was illiterate. Then again, why picture the two U.S. Presidents at all?

Maybe some nice Canadian will come along and explain this to us.

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Occasionally Nice Canadian said...

Entirely a guess, but I would think that the ad wasn't "bashing" Clinton. He's reading, after all. I imagine the ad is targetted at those who think that Clinton was a better (and smarter) president than Bush. So, be like Clinton, not Bush, and read more! (Or, I suppose, listen to stuff being read to you. Close enough.)

What US presidents have to do with anything is beyond me, though.

Neal said...

I agree. I think it's mainly aimed at Bush. It does seem a bit bizarre though. Not that I'm saying Bush (or Clinton for that matter) should be immune from bashing, but why here?!

Pedant's point: I couldn't help but smile at the greengrocer's apostrophe in your quote about being illiterate though. Sad man that I am, it's the kind of thing that makes me smile. (Yes, I realise the error wasn't yours. And yes, it's a mistake I make all the time myself. Possibly even in a blog.)

Brenda Coulter said...

I couldn't help but smile at the greengrocer's apostrophe in your quote about being illiterate though.

A greengrocer's apostrophe, Neal? I've never heard it called that, but how delicious! Yes, the error made me grin, too, and I thought about correcting it or adding a [sic], but in the end I decided it had a certain rakish charm.

O.N. Canadian, this is beginning to feel like a political Rorschach test. What do we see when we look at the pictures? Does Clinton look smarter because he's holding a book? ;-)

And what's he reading, by the way? I'm on a laptop, and although I squinted at my little screen, I couldn't make out the book's title.

TrudyJ said...

The cover of Clinton's book has "Canada" in the title; that's all I could make out.

I think the implication is that Clinton is smarter than Bush and you too can be smarter if you read books. Most Canadians tend to lean a bit further to the left than most Americans, so the average Canadian would probably consider Clinton a better president than Bush.

As for politeness -- the one glaring exception to Canadian niceness is that we ALWAYS consider it OK to make fun of a) Americans in general, b) American politicians in particular, c) George W. Bush in even more particular. It's just the way things are up here.

Oh, the apostrophe bothered me too.

Domino said...

Non-Canadian here.

I tried to read the title of the book too. It looked like Conduit...with...Interm--...

"Conduit with Intermittent something" or "with Intermixed something". Maybe Conduit with the Internet?

I've been to Canada: Waterton Park, Banff, Calgary, Lake Louise, Athabascan Glacier. Saw my first bear in the wild there. Loved it.

TrudyJ said...

You're right domino, that is "Conduit" not "Canada" in the title.

Abby said...

Trudyj has it right. We're nice, we really are, but we look down our noses a tad at George W. Yes, we ourselves elected a Conservative Prime Minister. No, I don't know where we get off.

When Clinton came to Toronto to promote his book, though? It was like a rock star showed up. Apparently we love that man!

Neal said...

Greengrocer's apostrophe is probably a UK-specific term. So-called because you often see them in greengrocers' windows. It's common in the UK (probably less common now that the supermarket giants are pushing the little independent businesses out of the market, but I digress), to see handwritten signs in the front of little shops, typically greengrocers, announcing things such as

Bean's 90p lb
Egg's 85p half doz
Tomato's 60p lb

Hence: greengrocer's apostrophe.

I think it has a certain charm. I find it very difficult to walk past one and not go "Bean's what?".

But we're back in "eats, shoots, and leaves" territory here, aren't we? ;-)

Neal said...

Oh, and since I mentioned supermarket giants, I should point out that they're not immune to this sort of thing either. A couple of Christmasses ago I was wandering around our local Tesco when I saw a sign -- a printed sign, not a hand-written one, and presumably one that was displayed in many other Tescos -- that said

Cranberry sauce £1.26
Compliments turkey

(or words to that effect)

"You really are a marvellous turkey", I thought to myself.

TrudyJ said...

It's nice the cranberry sauce is so polite to the turkey ... considering how close they're going to have to be on Christmas day.

Domino said...

Must be Canadian cranberry sauce. American cranberry sauce doesn't say much of anything... except maybe, "Help me! Help! They're going to eat me." They (cans of sauce) have to know, don't ya think?

Very Canadian of them.

Brenda Coulter said...

You people are just too much.

Serenity Now! said...

Do you know, I wrote to and complained (I'm Canadian) and I actually received a response from the Advertising Director! He wanted to know why I found it offensive and would I be willing to have an open dialogue about it. I said sure, and responded to his questions... and then I never heard back from him.

The short answer is - becuase it's an Ontario-based company and sometimes in Ontario it's very 'in' to be anti-American.

Out here in uber-conservative Alberta, it's not so cool.

I'm guessing that commenter trudyj is from the East.

Brenda Coulter said...

Oh, Serenity, how very interesting. Maybe he'll get back to you yet.

I'm as baffled as ever about the intent of those ads.