Canadian culture essay

Of Moose and Men

Movies were where you went to escape from education. There is, then, a gulf between what the champions of Canadian cinema have imagined as their national art form and the actual viewing public. Certainly it would be ridiculous to blame critics and theorists of Canadian cinema for the economically dysfunctional nature of the industry. These personages stood on the sidelines, commenting and recommending and turning thumbs up or down, but they played at best a small role in the actual lack of success of their model of national cinema, or any other model.

They represent only an admirably clear figuration of some of the central conceptual problems of a Canadian national cinema, specifically 1 the necessity of creating a distinction from Hollywood cinema and 2 the desirability of doing so by following up in feature film those documentary-like aspects of cinema which Canada had already demonstrated a particular affinity for. Overwhelmingly the main problem was, and is, the non-existence of an audience even close to sufficiency for the economic maintenance of a domestic theatrical industry.

Appealing to the success of Canadian-content regulations regarding airplay for Canadian musicians as a model is, in my view, a non-starter owing to the fact that Canadian popular music is trying actually to be popular music, using popular musical forms and conventions. Whereas Canadian cinema — here is its tragic dilemma — cannot move away from the arty margins and to the popular centre because not only is that centre already utterly flooded by existing Hollywood product, but also Canadian cinema still labours under the necessity to be not-Hollywood.

Even imagining a non-Hollywood popular cinema that would be Canadian is a thought experiment of imposing difficulty. Again: other nations can make popular mostly bad comedies, cop movies and action films that demonstrate national qualities; Canada can not. Why can it not? Here we may turn again to some of the older analysis of Canadian narrative culture.

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All of the films mentioned above, and many others of the period, incarnated stories of failure, futility and impotence. In any case, whether from Frye and Atwood or from Fothergill, we observe a pattern in Canadian cinematic stories: a failure of heroic narrative. Scholarship on Canadian cinema has come a long way since the s, and most scholars in the field now regard the Frye-Atwood model with contempt if not outright hostility.

CANADIAN CULTURE - Holidays in Canada

There is truth in this critique. Most important and overarching of all, often sitting more lightly over whatever depths of discouragement might lie below, is the famous Canadian skepticism.

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The fundamental fact inhibiting a popular Canadian cinema, then and now, is the inability of both Canadian filmmakers and Canadian viewers to see themselves in the role of infallible problem-solver, brass-ring-grabbing master of the narrative, in short in the role of the hero of a Hollywood movie. Canadians do not conquer the world. Patriotism itself, always a feature of Hollywood movies, is a vastly smaller phenomenon in Canada. Instead there hovers over it a sense of powerlessness and low self-esteem.

To a considerable extent this is a problem of masculinity, a syndrome that forecloses masculine success stories and masculine genres crime, war, action, adventure, Western , which are the patriarchal embodiment of male dominance in narrative.

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But despite the many competing story types to be found there, this masculinist success narrative remains the main tree-trunk of Hollywood popular cinema, and hence of popular movie-going in Canada. It is impossible not to notice how distant are the stereotypical traditional qualities of Canadianism — niceness, caution, politeness, tolerance, recessiveness, and so on — from the ebullient and often crass optimism and confidence of Hollywood and American culture as a whole.

When Americans cast their eyes northward not often this is what they see. Although Acland and some other scholars have addressed the question of what goes on in Canadian spectators when they look at Hollywood movies, the subject needs further airing. And yet are they truly at home in Hollywood either?

The answer to this question must be: yes and no. As remarked earlier, inside every Canadian viewer there is an exquisite simulacrum of an American viewer. It is a condition experienced by very many international audiences for Hollywood, but in Canada it approaches a kind of perfection. Nothing needs to be translated or assimilated or figured out even a little bit. Complete language transparency, generations of marination in American culture, a lifetime of fandom, and the aforesaid aversion to Canadian cinema enable a truly direct and effortless reception.

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Canadians have stood with their noses pressed to the giant department-store window of American culture for so long that they can read it with a fluency approached, I would say, by no other nation. And yet, as with the goods behind the shop window, they know that these things are not for them to use and enjoy, except as spectators. Canadians, then, are the champion observers of American culture, but they can participate only vicariously. Americans can behave this way, have these aspirations, overcome these obstacles, win through to these goals, negotiate and finally dominate the course of their lives as conventionalized in Hollywood narratives; Canadians can not.

They can only look on appreciatively, and somewhat wistfully, at the spectacle of their big brothers to the south dreaming, struggling courageously, and conquering, over and over again. This is a situation that rhymes perfectly with the patterns of Canadian cinema. There is a long and impressive list of quite good Canadian movies that shows what happens to Canadian protagonists when they try to act like Americans.

In all of these films, Canadians meet a dreadful fate when they try to behave like the heroes of Hollywood movies — that is, when they try to lead, achieve, explore, overcome, or otherwise take charge of their lives in a commanding fashion. A number of films from the unlamented Capital Cost Allowance period fell into just this category, and were jeered at by all. There is one exception to the widespread failure or absence of Canadian genre cinema, and that lies in the genre of horror movies.

Horror was certainly the most commercially vital category of feature film production in the s and 80s, even as it was being denounced from virtually all respectable standpoints as cheap, unworthy, gross, embarrassing, etc. These films made money, including in the United States. Scanners was the biggest money-maker in America for one week upon its release and was followed by two Canadian sequels , as was The Fly , while Prom Night surpassed them with three sequels , and both Prom Night and My Bloody Valentine were actually remade during as purely Hollywood productions, which surely suggests they had not been forgotten in the interval.

Many of them were conceived, produced, and marketed as CCA tax write-offs with little in the way of care or even thought put into them. But there are a couple of important points here. First, the movies that revived the genre in the U. These failures, incidentally, could be and were construed by discerning critics as aesthetic advantages: the authenticity of a vile subject matter is asserted by a cruel, foul, and messy narrative environment, whereas a polished level of professionalism can only be an affront to it.

They were completely coincident with the arrival of X-rated violence and XXX-rated sex on American screens, and even more meaningfully with the crisis of ideology sweeping through the U.

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Miller , The Parallax View , Serpico , and many others, which reflected a bitter cynicism about American aims and means never seen before or since. Equally important is the fact that horror is in any event an atypical genre, and especially an atypical Hollywood genre, in its constitutional avoidance of reassurance and a grimness and will-to-destruction that are quite unique in commercial cinema. And this is the one genre of all those practised in Hollywood that Canadian cinema has successfully adopted.

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All this is to point out that Canadian horror movies both of this period and later could thrive at least relatively because their genre was in itself so to speak anti-American, because it did not require any of that faith in individual initiative and good outcomes that Canadians could neither convincingly mimic nor happily swallow as examples of a cinema that reflected their own beliefs.

Turning to other genres, we see instead strange absences. The Western is understood to tell the foundation myth of America, with its perpetual encounters of heroic individuals with the bountiful tabula rasa of the frontier, its perpetual negotiations between natural justice and the law and between the wilderness and civilization, and its final triumphant melding of all desirable elements however contradictory into a national alloy of the most sterling quality. Was the white settlement of the Canadian west so different from that of the United States?

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That is a matter for historians, of course; but what is easily visible to the naked eye is the complete nonexistence of anything remotely resembling a nation-forming myth of the frontier in Canada. Perhaps the east remained more of a wilderness for longer, and more a formative cultural battle between English and French, and the west consequently a kind of afterthought in Canadian discourse. Subsequent studies conducted by Bruce Livesy and his colleagues suggest that the homogenization of culture imparts preconceptions against working-class people.

Gail Robertson claims that racism, sexism and homophobic views are prominent and obvious even in Walt Disney films geared toward children. It can also be a violent, angry place, and one that is filled with negative stereotypes. There are definite parallels being drawn between globalization and the disappearance of culture. Local culture and media systems are advantageous in various ways.

Producing a Powerful Essay on Canadian Identity

They are actual members of particular societies so they understand and can help to foster culture by acknowledging specific needs. They are unconcerned with international events and speak on behalf of different social groups rather than huge corporations, thereby increasing awareness and accuracy in media reporting. Variance in ownership is important in order to promote diversity and ensure representation of all social groups. Ironically, although local media institutions would certainly aid in counteracting the negative effects of globalization on culture, it is this very globalized media which makes it difficult for them to exist.

It is also quite common for small community networks to be purchased by huge media corporations. Often, small media outlets simply cannot compete for readers with larger, more global media institutions that offer up to the minute international news written by acclaimed journalists. Moreover, audiences tend to be drawn to media that are visually pleasing, attention-grabbing and professional-looking.

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Free Essay: Canadian Culture Canada is one of two countries located in North America and is the second largest country in the world. It is situated just. Free Essay: Culture can be defined as the behaviours and belief characteristics of a particular social, ethnic, or age group. Every country has its own.

Since larger media institutions are more financially sound, they can afford to package products that are more appealing to audiences. In addition, their vast human resource base allows them to thoroughly research market patterns, conduct surveys and target specific audiences by building upon niche markets. Finally, the loss of patronage that small media outlets experience as a result of being forced into competition can result in their demise. In December of , the World Summit for Social Development held a conference discussing issues involving the threats and opportunities of globalization and citizenship. The rights of citizens are often sacrificed during times of uncertainty and rapid polarization.