Canadian reality series Lake Shore engineered to offend
- November 11, 2010 3:34 PM |
- By Andre Mayer
Anni Mei Nguyen, one of the stars of the Canadian reality series Lake Shore. (Sunrise Multimedia/Thatguy Productions)
It's rare to see Canadians strive to outdo someone in louche behaviour. But in trying to capitalize on the cultural currency of the U.S. reality series Jersey Shore, the producers behind the Canadian show Lake Shore have taken the concept to the next level.
Set in an East Coast beach town, Jersey Shore has given us debased characters like The Situation, Snooki and J-Woww, whose only discernible talents are their narcissism, pettiness and unwillingness to stay dressed. Their crass interactions are punctuated by less-than-flattering references to their Italian-American heritage - they call themselves "guidos" and "guidettes," for example, a fact that has angered many Italian-Americans.
We all know that Canadian production teams often like to copy American TV concepts, but to do it in such obscene style as Lake Shore seems unprecedented. Earlier this week, Montreal-based Sunrise Multimedia and Toronto's Thatguy Productions released the names of the top eight finalists, and as the "sizzle reel" (or trailer) demonstrates, this is ethnic stereotyping as spectator sport.
(The sizzle reel was available in various forms on YouTube for a few days, but many of the versions have been taken down due to a copyright infringement -- the trailer contains a CBC radio snippet that apparently hasn't been cleared with the CBC. At the moment, the clip can still be viewed on Perez Hilton's site.)
The rogues gallery of twentysomething ignoramuses includes Sibel Altug (the Turk), Arber Dace (the Albanian), Karolina Czaja (the Pole), Salem Moussallam (the Lebanese, who also appears to be gay), Joey Violin (the Italian), Anni Mei Nguyen (the Vietnamese) and "Tommy Hollywood" Lis (the Czech). Perhaps the most objectionable character is Robyn Perza, flagged as "the Jew" - which, as far as I know, is not an ethnicity.
The stereotyping is obvious from the trailer - for example, Joey Violin is a construction worker whose helmet reads "#1 WOP," and Anni Mei reveals that her name was given to her by her friends, who thought of her as an anime character. And near the end of the video, "the Turk" announces, "I'm not racist, because I hate everybody equally. Especially Jewish people." Atrocious.
A press release issued earlier this week says that the premise is meant to "test Toronto's theory of inclusiveness," but to call Lake Shore a social experiment would be giving it too much credit. This is pure provocation, and the trailer is determinedly offensive. Not only that, the idea is determinedly un-Canadian. As a nation that has tried so hard to make multiculturalism work, Lake Shore is large step backward.
The show, which is set to go into production in the spring, is apparently being shopped around to specialty networks.
Will it be entertaining? In small doses, probably. But to pass it off as mere entertainment is glib and misguided.
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