Americanization and Canadian Culture

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Americanization and Canadian Culture


Gaëtan Tremblay is a professor at the University in Quebec in Montreal. As a concerned Quebecois, He wrote an article which discusses the Americanization of Canada, in particular Quebec. Tremblay seems to have a strong stand point about the future of Quebec. Using statistical and literary evidence, primary and secondary sources, he attempts to support his argument that Quebec is a victim of American cultural colonization. Tremblay fears that Canadian culture is going to disappear as a result of the Canadian-American Free Trade Agreement.

Tremblay started his article with what broadcasting is considered to be in Canada which is “an instrument of production and diffusion that must contribute to the maintenance and development of Canadian culture and its various components”. By this approach and use of words, he planted the idea that broadcasting is a fundamental tool for Canadian culture in his readers’ minds. This is effective because it insures how his readers will perceive broadcasting while reading the rest of his article. He supported this with an extract from the Broadcasting Act which focused on that point. His article started off strong but then weakened with his excessive use of quotations from the Canadian Broadcasting Act and his minimum effort in evaluating the quotes themselves.

After discussing the importance of culture to Canadians he went on to mention how culture is not as important to Americans with his statement “For Americans, in contrast, cultural products are commodities like any other..”. Although this may strengthen his argument, it is also a biased statement since he is not American himself and he stated it like it was a known fact. Following that accusation, he attempted to support his idea of America’s dissolving culture by an exert from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration report which focuseed on the deregulation of their radio broadcasting system. The exert does not directly imply that the United States cares less

about its culture because they are considering deregulation of radio broadcasting. The American Culture may not be threatened by deregulation the same way as the Canadian culture. But since he started his essay by mentioning how broadcasting “must” contribute to the development of Canadian culture, he is implying that the American culture has the same concept. The American culture may not be severely effected by deregulation just as the Canadian culture, so Tremblay’s argument may not be valid. To some readers who did not notice the bias, this argument may be considered very strong and convincing.

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The second part of Gaëtan Tremblay’s article, he focuses on the content of Quebec Television, and more precisely, the francophones. Through the observations he made on a table which presents data on the content of francophone Quebecois networks, he stateed that a large share of all programs are Canadian which has increased in seven years which is all thanks to the CRTC regulation;

“The first observation: nearly two-thirds of all program broadcast by the Quebecois networks are of Canadian origin…Second Observation: the share of Canadian products increased by 4 percentage points over the course of the seven years between 1982 and 1989. Observation three: overall situation is not that bad.”

He was implying that without this regulation of broadcasting, Canadian content would decrease and American content would take over. Tremblay brusheed on the point that the language barrier and viewer preference may have an influence on the reason why Canadian content would increase. These factors are actually quite important in francophone networks because the demand on American content may not be as strong whether or not there was regulation.

The article then contained a number of tables which are hard to read and are not analyzed properly by Tremblay. The tables, although they contained valuable primary data, a reader may find it excessive, confusing and a burden to evaluate which might make his article weaker. First Tremblay discussed general programming in French-language television stations then he jumps into a specific medium which is drama programming. He evaluated drama programming very precisely. He effectively presented data about Canadian performance which has decreased significantly and has been replaced by foreign content. After jumping from the precise topic of drama programming produced locally by francophone Quebecois television stations, he moved on to compare it with film of French and English language.

His argument on drama programming was effective and detailed but he directed all his focus on only drama programming and gave extremely little attention to other entertainment categories. For example, Canadian content in drama programming has decrease but in other areas, such as music and radio could have increased which could balance it out. By mentioning only one kind maked his argument biased.

The third and fourth part of Gaëtan Tremblay’s article were concise and effective. He mentions how viewer preferences and the language barrier in television content does somewhat protect the French speaking Quebecois from Americanization in comparison to the English speaking Canadians. Then he went on to explain why the French speaking Quebec should still feel threatened;

“In Quebec’s case, this fear has taken root because of four factors: (1) the proximity of the american giant; (2) a limited internal market; (3) its status as a linguistic minority in North America; and (4) the fact that market rules favour the purchase of American products.”

Then from a secondary source, he displayed statistical data on production and distribution compared globally. This part of his article was very strong because he first mentions the importance of viewer preferences and the language barrier and then mention why those factors make little difference to Quebec with respect to Americanization. He proposed both views and ideas and shows which one would overlap the other and why. The only negative aspect though is that he compared (population-wise) the whole United States with Quebec which for comparison purposes, is a bias ratio.

Tremblay ended his article with a very pessimistic conclusion where he stated that Quebec is certainly going to be doomed, if not already, to become American; “The situation could hardly get worse, they trumpet mean spiritedly.” Then he went on asking many “what if” questions with the direction that Quebec’s culture is going to deteriorate due to the Free Trade Agreement. It sounded like there is no hope for Quebec to ever have a Canadian culture again.

Tremblay’s article had many strong areas which are convincing and effective yet, there are parts where he can lose the reader’s focus and allow them to wonder into different ideas and views. He started his article very strong by mentioning the importance of broadcasting in Canadian culture then ended it by stating that the broadcasting is in extreme risk of Americanization and losing its Canadian culture. Even though he contradicts himself in some parts and in others he was biased with representing American culture, his points were mostly clear and his article was overall effective.

Works Cited and Consulted

Donaldson, Gordon. CBC . 6 Nov. 1970. CBC. 29 Jan. 2004 .

Nicolson, Paul. Canadian Embassy . 7 Nov. 2003. 10 Feb. 2004 .

Pacom, Diane. "Being French in North America: Quebec culture and globalization." American Review of Canadian Studies 22 Sept. 2001: 35-41.

Trembaly, Gaetan. "Communications in Quebec." 1998 Canadian Encyclopedia . 3rd ed. Toronto: Historica, 1997.

Tremblay, Gaetan. "Is Quebec Culture Doomed to Become American?" Canadian Journal of Communications 17 (1992): 1-8. 30 Jan. 2005

http://www.wlu.ca/~wwwpress/jrls/cjc/BackIssues/17.2/tremblay.html


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