The creators of a Canadian reality television show have issued an apology after it came under fire due its controversial online trailer which featured one of the program's characters expressing hatred for Jews.
The show is called Lake Shore and has been described as Canada’s answer to Jersey Shore, a popular and successful MTV series. The eight-minute promo for the show was posted to YouTube last week and introduces each of the show’s eight characters by labelling them according to their ethnic backgrounds. One of the characters, 23-year-old Sibel Atlug who is labeled as “the Turk”, says in the trailer: “I'm not racist because I hate everybody equally, especially Jewish people.”
Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, told Canadian newspaper The National Post in response to the video, that the comments made by Atlug perpetuate a pervasive sentiment that it is "still OK" for people to say openly that they hate Jews.
“We seem to have entered an epoch where basically anything goes,” said Farber. “People are free to watch whatever they want, to be as stupid as they want, and as insensitive as they want. But we still have to live with each other.”
In a YouTube clip posted to the CJC’s website, Farber called the statement “stupid, offensive and anti-Semitic,” and said that “it as an attempt to provoke…They need to find a way to capture an audience. It’s sad to say that sometimes stupidity and ignorance attract audiences. I am convinced that is the reason they left that uncut in the trailer.”
The producers of Lake Shore later apologized for the trailer, and as Maryam Rahimi, executive producer of Lake Shore, told The Ottawa Citizen: “Our intention is to make provocative television. On one hand, we received a lot of attention, but on the other hand it was not necessarily the kind of attention that we wanted. For the record, we are not a racist show. If we offended anyone in any way, we apologize.”
Atlug herself clarified in an interview that “I don't hate Jewish people. I actually say I hate everybody equally. I was just poking fun at it.”
Rahimi added that the show is “about having fun and entertainment. By no means is it racist. By no means are we trying to do that.”