Friday, July 18, 2008

McCartney attempts to defuse nationalist tensions with humour. Fails.

The City of Quebec is celebrating 400 years of existence with a massive party. The trouble is, the pride of French Canadians has been offended by the booking of Paul McCartney as main attraction.

You'd have thought that McCartney - happy to weigh in on the subject of Irish nationalism back in the 1970s - might at least be able to understand the sensitivities involved. Wouldn't you?

Not quite. He's responded with a terse get over it:

"I think it's time to smoke the pipes of peace and to just, you know, put away your hatchet because I think it's a show of friendship," McCartney said on Radio-Canada.

Pipes of Peace? Do you see what he did there? Of course, using a throwaway reference to a Native American practice is probably going to offend the Montagnais Innu who were living quite happily in the area before any French or Britons turned up, but Macca isn't done yet.

He decides to try a joke:
McCartney tried to deflate the political rhetoric around Sunday's show on the Plains of Abraham, site of the pivotal 1759 battle between British General James Wolfe and France's Marquis Louis-Joseph de Montcalm.

"The kind of thing I read about in the schoolbooks when I was a kid was ... who was General Wolfe?" he said jokingly. "I still haven't figured it out."

Yes. If people are upset because they feel you're a bit of an insult to their history, why not go all out and insult their history? Isn't this a bit like upsetting the Irish and then burbling "oh, I don't even know who this Wolfe Tone is anyway... is it really important?"

Still, for all his blundering, Paul's going to make a grand gesture:
The ex-Beatle said he has been working on expanding the few lines of French he used in the 1965 hit "Michelle."

"Come on Quebece-ins, love me baby," said McCartney.

A couple of extra lines of French in Michelle. Yes, that'll work.