Anthony Bourdain's TV show apologizes to Newfoundlanders for using 'offensive' nickna

Anthony Bourdain's TV show apologizes to Newfoundlanders for using 'offensive' nickname
Canadian Press
May 10, 2018
May 10, 2018 5:45 PM EDT
Anthony Bourdain, left, is shown in this undated handout photo posted on the Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Facebook page for an episode featuring Newfoundland's local cuisine and landscapes. HO / THE CANADIAN PRESS
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s TV show is discovering the danger of calling Newfoundlanders by a certain diminutive nickname many find offensive. it has since apologized on social media.
The Twitter account for CNN’s Parts Unknown used the term “newfie” in a promotional tweet for this week’s hotly anticipated episode on Newfoundland and Labrador.
This Sunday’s episode of Bourdain’s food and travel show features Newfoundland’s local cuisine and landscapes.
The official Parts Unknown account shared an article with Newfoundland-related books and local slang, saying “Embrace the Newfies as they are.”
Users were quick to jump on the use of the term that’s considered derogatory, with origins implying Newfoundlanders are stupid and lazy.
One man tweeted that “a fair portion of Newfoundlanders find the term ‘Newfie’ offensive” and said it was hard to understand why they used it “in an otherwise excellent article.”
Late Thursday afternoon, the show acknowledged the criticism on Twitter, offered an apology and appeared to delete the original tweet.
“We regret our use of the word ’Newfie’ to describe the people of Newfoundland. We apologize for any offence and will stick to Newfoundlanders going forward,” it said.
A little later, it added: “Tweets on this account are not written or reviewed by Anthony Bourdain. Once again we apologize.”
James Baker of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., published a research paper last year on the history of the term, and its perception among post-secondary students in Newfoundland. He found that the results were a “mixed bag,” but people were quick to notice when the term was used in a derogatory way — especially on social media.
“When you have someone who’s not a Newfoundlander uses it, people tend to pay much more attention to it, especially someone as famous as Anthony Bourdain,” said Baker.
But Baker says most Americans, including Bourdain, likely wouldn’t pick up on the nuance behind the term, which has been compared to derogatory terms for other ethnic groups, like using “Polack” to refer to someone of Polish heritage.
Baker added that while coverage of the province in American media can be fraught with cultural misunderstandings, interest in Newfoundland from outsiders can be seen as a positive, inviting potential visitors in the future.
“Anything that paints the province in a positive light is a great opportunity for tourism.”
Paul De Decker, a linguistics professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, says the term “runs a gambit” when discussed in his classes. Some students see it as a “badge of honour” or an endearing term, while others think it’s inappropriate, especially from people who aren’t from the island.
But De Decker sees potential for linguistic change with new audiences like American “Parts Unknown” viewers, who are likely unaware of the term’s history, or the stereotype of Newfoundland as an economically disadvantaged province.
“They see it (Newfoundland) for how Anthony Bourdain has portrayed it,” said De Decker. “They may not take away the same meaning that Canadians and Newfoundlanders have understood the term in the past. To them there might be nothing but positive associations with the term.”
“It would be great if we’re now at the time, and maybe this is one episode, one media outlet, where the term can take on what we call amelioration — it takes on a positive aspect.”
The celebrity chef visited the province last fall, dining with local chefs on delicacies from moose meat, to authentic fish and chips.
Bourdain also visited French island of St. Pierre off the coast of the island, and embarked on cod fishing and moose hunting excursions.
Bourdain’s Instagram posts, including a photo of himself enjoying a seaside dinner in front of a bearskin rug with the caption “#newfoundland,” generated local excitement at the time.
Jeremy Charles, head chef behind Raymond’s in downtown St. John’s, hosted Bourdain on his visit, serving up menu items and showing off the province’s splendours.
In an interview on the “Parts Unknown” website, Charles said he’s happy to see growing interest in Newfoundland’s cuisine.
“I’ve got friends from across the country who see the ingredients we are working with, especially with the seafoods, and want to get their hands on them,” said Charles.
“I hope people get a sense that it’s pretty magical place full of a lot of interesting, friendly people and amazing landscape.”
As the airdate approaches, other locals are expressing their excitement for the showcase of Newfoundland’s food and culture.
Said Twitter user “All of Canada will be watching. No, seriously.”
Bourdain show apologizes to N.L. for using ‘offensive’ term | Toronto Sun
Everyone calls the newfies. But it did get the PC crowd all wound up and got Newfoundland some free advertising.