Getting my fourth wall broken by Deadpool last week is as good of a sign as any that it’s time to change the channel away from actors and movies for now. We’ll come back to cover Canadian TV- Degrassi, Are You Afraid Of The Dark, SCTV, Trailer Park Boys- eventually, and cover a few actors that I know I missed.

Before we travel back to the dorky world of Canadian music, I want to return to a theme I discussed briefly when discussing Canada’s contributions to literature, and that is: Canada is not the progressive paradise it claims to be.

Americans can choose whether they want to listen to Canadian culture mandarins bloviating about how enlightened they are. But things are a little different when you’re raised to believe that you’re just better than those dumb, violent, racist barbarians to the south. You ask why, and they tell you that it’s dangerous to ask why. Soon, you realize that they don’t know either. Then you begin to notice that a single unexpected, well-placed question or observation can reduce a Canadian politician or talking head to a blubbering, sputtering, defensive wreck.

So: You’re not supposed to point out that, in 2019, any list of “famous Canadian actors” is still mostly a list of white men. And you’re really not supposed to point out that the country that makes a (very annoying) habit of claiming to be more progressive than the U.S.A. would rather include Matthew Perry on a list of “actors YOU didn’t know are Canadian!!” than any homegrown talent that doesn’t “look Canadian”. (The same list claims Keanu Reeves is Canadian because his family, and Perry’s, lived in Canada for a time.)

Oneida actor Graham Greene is an example of someone who belongs on that list, but isn’t. You know him as Kicking Bird from Dances With Wolves, or Detective Joe Lambert from Die Hard With a Vengeance. He was nominated for an Oscar, but he doesn’t even have a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Sandra Oh is one of the best TV actresses of all time. When my wife is watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns, I ask her how Dr. Yang, resident badass, is doing. (The rest of the emotionally troubled physicians on the show just kind of blend into one another.) But nobody in Canada ever wondered why the show wasn’t called “Yang’s Anatomy”. Thanks to BBC America (and no thanks to Canada), she is getting her chance to shine in “Killing Eve.”

Indian-born writer-director-producer Deepa Mehta’s fearless takedowns of religious fundamentalism in her home country have led to her being burned in effigy and having her sets destroyed by Hindu extremists, and she was tapped to direct an adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. But when she applies her considerable skills to more Canadian subjects, such as a gangster flick set in B.C.’s Sikh community or a light comedy about a sharp-tongued cook who scams her employers at the Canadian High Commission in Delhi, the critics seem less than impressed.  Compare this….

……to….this. (Oh, look! There’s a 2-4 of Molson Canadian at 0:25.)

This is what happens when you choose multiculturalism over the melting pot: You get talented actors and directors who flounder in the Canadian system because it has no idea what Canadian culture is supposed to be. Because Canada has few if any stories of its own, creators are forced to fall back on their cultures of origin. The system, which is supposed to be telling Canadian stories, plays along because it’s not like they have any better ideas. This vicious cycle perpetuates itself while American actors, directors, and creators just create regardless of their race or background. Many Canadians will defend the way things are past the point of absurdity. I don’t envy them.

And so, if you take anything away from this portion of the series, let it be this: Hollywood may be an immoral snakepit, but it’s an immoral snakepit with a purpose. Controversies over whether movies are diverse enough are annoying, but at least people in and around Hollywood care enough for there to be a controversy at all. And when people- especially Canadians- bash the US for being racist, you can (politely) remind them that they’re not doing much better.

Next week: Back to the 60’s, and the surprisingly southern origins of Canadian rock.


See the previous installments in the series:

Part 1 on Heroes: ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs The World’ Vs Terrance Denby and ‘Sidequest’

Part 2 on “Humour”: The Libertarian Fantasy of ‘Letterkenny’

Part 3 on Graphic Novel Nihilism: The Harsh Truths of ‘Essex County’

Part 4 on Spawn and Wolverine: Banished From The Promised Land: A Tale of Two Canadian Anti-Heroes

Part 5 on Science Fiction Dystopias: Inside Quebec’s – and Canada’s – Replicant Culture

Part 6 on Animation: The Garrison Mentality: More Than Meets The Eye

Part 7 on Pop Music: How To Build A Successful Canadian Musical Act

Part 8 on Anne of Green Gables and The Traumatized Artist: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Treacherous Alpine Path

Part 9 on Avoiding the Serious: Mordecai Richler, Montreal, And Gritty Realism

Part 10 on Southern Ontario Gothic: The Marriage of the Mundane and the Fantastic

Part 11 on Margaret Atwood’s Reign of Terror: Literary Tyranny and The Handmaid’s Tale

Part 12 on the First Nations Fraud: Whitewashing Genocide: Truth, Lies, and Joseph Boyden

Part 13 on the inventive Esi Edugyan: A Novel I Cannot Recommend Enough

Part 14 on Generation X Origins: Douglas Coupland And The Hopeful (?) Future Of Canadian (?) Culture

Part 15 on Jordan Peterson Rising: Canadian Culture Creators And The Intellectual Dark Web

Part 16 on The Awkward Quiet: David Cronenberg’s Silent Hell

Part 17 on The Saddest Music In The WorldGuy Maddin’s Surrealist Madness

Part 18 on Ararat: Atom Egoyan’s Stammering Grief

Part 19 on Paul Haggis’ Superficial Gloss: Promising More Than He Delivers

Part 20 on the Reitman Family’s Blissful Ignorance: Space to Laugh an Easy Laugh

Part 21 on Mary Pickford: The Archetypal (Canadian) Actress

Part 22 on the Modern Prospero Christopher Plummer: As Blue-Blooded and Upper Canadian as They Come

Part 23 on Donald Sutherland: Grit Personified

Part 24 on Leslie Nielsen: The Funniest Thing in a Movie Where Jokes are Delivered Almost Every Minute

Part 25 on William Shatner: Faking It Until He Made It

Part 26 on The Trouble of “Story”: Story Wars: Canadians and the Star Trek vs. Star Wars Battle

Part 27 on Norm MacDonald’s Controlled Chaos: The Holy Fool Personified

Part 28 on the Culture of Newfoundland and Labrador: Long May Your Big Jib Draw!

Part 29 on The Grotesque In Canadian Comedy: Mike Myers and Jim Carrey

Part 30 on Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool: CHIMICHANGAS!!



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