In an interview titled "The author who posed in a pink suit... and survived" published by The Globe and Mail on April 2, 1998, Michael Ignatieff states: "Quebeckers walk around with this fantasy of how different they are, but they are just North Americans who speak French. They take the minor difference and magnify it."
Yes!... of course!... There's a lapalissade, or a truism, if you ever wanted one. What else are the Québécois supposed to be, if not North Americans? I was raised on Kraft Dinner watching "The Flintstones". How can you get more North American than that? Like the rest of the country, the province is submerged by USA's cultural production.
Along with many Québécois, I craved on American TV. "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Get Smart", "Happy Days", "Hogan's Heroes", "M*A*S*H", "Taxi" and "WKRP in Cincinnati" are mere examples of the cultural icons I was being spoon fed as a teenager. None of these shows have ever been dubbed in French. Yet, I was able to appreciate their humor. They were better at introducing me to my second language than my English teachers.
Humor takes many forms. I also liked magazines and movies. I was a big fan of Jerry Lewis. How can you not love the man? Jim Carrey obviously did. As for reading, Mad magazine "What, me worry?" did it for me. So did the raunchier National Lampoon magazine.
Now... USA's cultural production is rich and diverse, but why would anyone restrict her/himself when there's so much more? Like the majority of young Québécois, I was a huge fan of Louis de Funès. He appeared in 145 movies. He was simply tireless... a comedy machine... I also read French comic books such as Rubrique-à-brac and humor magazines like Hara-Kiri. Reiser drew some pretty nasty strips in the latter, sort of like Robert Crumb did in the USA. France, along with Belgium and Switzerland, has a rich comic books tradition.
The American way of life and France's cultural production are important parts of all Québécois' entertainment intake, but there's more to it. Over the centuries, Québec has managed to integrate both these important sources of inspiration and make them into its own. The Québécois have grown to love and celebrate their distinctiveness. Canadian content is alive and well in the province (see Canadian content, Part 2 and Part 3) and it's very much different from what other provinces enjoy.
I find it odd that Canada's national newspaper deemed Michael Ignatieff's statement newsworthy and put it on its front page as the quote of the day (la citation du jour). I mean... let's suppose a sovereigntist went: "Canadians walk around with this fantasy of how different they are, but they are just North Americans who... [fill in the blank]. They take the minor difference and magnify it." Would Montréal's La Presse or Le Devoir have printed it on their front page? I doubt it.
I am American, but United Statian, I am not...