Tag Archives: Hollywood

My Ever-Evolving Definition of “Being Canadian”

I’m 37 and I’m still not really sure what “being Canadian” means.

We’re a hodgepodge of nations, Spackled together with generational waves of immigrants who land here, retain some of their culture, and absorb others, and blend it all together in a delightful Canadian cultural smoothie that has oddly distinct flavours throughout.

We’re a sum of all our parts, always have been, so, as the world ebbs and flows through times of geopolitical strife, those seeking Canadian citizenship have changed greatly over the decades. From Poles to Jews to Hindus to Cambodian and Vietnamese, decade after decade, we’ve seen changing tides, and it changes who we are.

In a way, that’s a large part of Canada, an ever-changing reflection of the world’s times and its migrating peoples.

Somehow, a line in the sand separates us from our American friends, known around the world as brash and outspoken citizens, and we’re known to all as the continent’s meeker, milder types.

I’m the perfect age for knowing that Being-Canadian-Then versus Being-Canadian-Now has morphed considerable over time. Our sense of national identity has shifted through the decades, which is part of why I’m unsure about what my national identity means at times. Add that my city is the youngest, fastest-changing city in this country, and my somewhat untethered identity kind of computes.

My confusion is compounded when I visit the United States. Cross the 49th, and it’s a country dotted heavily with billboards selling the military as a career choice, and Jesus as Saviour. A land seemingly built on agriculture is littered with fast food chains that barely represent the nation’s great produce. The richest country in the world, at one time, and it doesn’t even provide ongoing medical care to all its citizens. The class divide is like a fault-line cutting across every American city, and Detroit is a harrowing postcard of its industrial decline.

The USA seems a land that comes together as well as any in times of national crisis — like 9/11 and Katrina — and shows the world what a great people it has, but somehow doesn’t provide a social safety net because the belief of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” means no comprehensive safety net for you. It’s a place where socialism is a bad word, despite an “in it together” mentality that comes out with every natural disaster.

You step into Canada, and we’re in it together both in word and in deed, our income tax system is proof. We pay more but get more, but not as much as we once got.

There are problems here, too. Some native communities are like third-world outposts. Vancouver’s Downtown East Side has long been rife with drugs, poverty, homelessness, and an AIDS/HIV rate that once was among the highest in the industrial world, but that’s been changing a lot too. Environmentally, we’re even now committing great sins with our natural bounty, and our personal freedoms aren’t quite as flexible as they once were.

We’re far from perfect here in Canada. But every country is.

Beyond that imperfection, there’s the people, the land, and the humour.

I’ve travelled coast to coast in this country, I’ve lived above the 60-degree line of latitude. There’s no place in Canada that I don’t love.

But how do I nutshell a country that’s this huge? How does a country with 202,000 kilometres of coastline and 10 million square-kilometres of landmass, that’s the most multicultural nation in the world, with only 144 years of history get crammed into an easy-to-define class?

It’s impossible.

From the safe passage allowed to African-Americans during slavery to our shameful treatment of the Japanese in WWII to our not-too-distant slap on the wrist from the UN for neglect of native rights, there’s a long and storied history of Canada embracing human rights in an inconsistent way, but for every failure we’ve had, there’s also been a shining moment.

Today, we’re a country that generally embraces knowledge, human rights, culture, and good times. We tend to love nature and the world around us. Because it’s as expensive to travel to the other side of the country as it is to visit the rest of the world, we’re pretty well-travelled beyond our borders, so we know it’s a bigger world than just us.

Unfortunately, that also means our talent migrates, a problem we domestically call “The Brain Drain.” After all, other countries have more flash and money, like the UK and USA, and money’s a nice thing, since our taxes are high. We get it.

Fortunately, our talent deserves the global recognition it receives. Over the decades, our writers, singers, actors, and painters have been celebrated as world-class. We read more per capita than any other country and we write more, too. From Mary Pickford, Louis B. Mayer, and the Warner Brothers, early Hollywood was built by Canadians. Today, William Shatner is loved around the world and Jim Carrey remains one of the highest paid movie stars.

We’re definitely the mild-mannered types who say please and thank you, but our favourite sport involves black eyes, high-speed collisions, institutionalised fighting, and some of the most aggressive gameplay on earth.

With almost a tenth the population of the United States but only narrowly more land mass, Canada feels like a vast and empty land once you get outside the cities. Sprawling and impressive in its expanse, some of it, like the poet Robert Service once wrote, is so isolated and desolate that there’s “a silence that bludgeons you dumb.”

I’ve always believed that Canada’s geographical spread/disconnect and the long winters with long nights are a part of why we’ve been such an imaginative, artistic, expressive land. To bridge that expanse, we now use the internet more per capita than most of the world. It seems to be changing our sense of disconnect as the use of social media grows.

We’re a changing country, Canada.

In my lifetime, we’ve gone from thinking we were an international afterthought to seeing Pierre Elliot Trudeau spin his famous pirouette behind the Queen, netting international headlines, showing we had a sense of humour and a less subservient sense of self than we’d always had. Some were horrified at the disrespect to the monarch, but many others felt as though the shackles of Commonwealth submissiveness began lifting then.

The Constitution came home a few years later. By then, we were known for the Beachcombers, Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Gordon Lightfoot. Another television show began to get a lot of attention, and would influence Hollywood for the next decade — SCTV.

Bryan Adams would soon be singing about the Summer of ’69. Michael J. Fox would become the heart-throb burning up the silver screen. By age 13, I’d started feeling like being Canadian seemed to mean something more than had been let on to me.

We were starting to feel like we weren’t just the little sibling with hand-me-downs from the United States. Suddenly we were wanted at the party — our music, our books, our stars, our culture, our funny… our natural resources.

These days, our dollar has parity with the United States, we’re the world’s 4th-largest oil producer, and Justin Bieber is King of the World.

I don’t really know what “being Canadian” means right now. I suppose it’s time I find out what the ever-morphing national identity is right this minute, but that’s part of why Canada is so incredible.

We’re not one country. We’re not stoic, stagnant. Where the United States’ founding fathers intended their constitution to be an ever-evolving document, Canada has somehow managed to be an ever-changing land that continually reflects the people who are building it — and, as their faces change, so does ours.

I’m proud of that. We reflect the modern world as well as any nation can. I love what Canada represents in my foggy, identity-muddled brain — even if Stephen Harper is the motherfucking Prime Minister right now.

I’ll forgive you for that, for now, Canada. But sharpen up. If we keep making good beer and bacon, we’ll overcome him, too.

Fuck You, Hollywood.

We’re witnessing the end of an empire at the box office.

Sex and the City 2 is lying there like a dead fish, with all the appeal of a used-up 45-year-old prostitute after a night of chasing 8-balls with gin after running the line for a sex-train at a frat party.

Naturally, Hollywood is CONVINCED it’s because the chicks in it are all old.

“Well, of COURSE Sam needs a vibrator — she’s 54!”

Let’s for a moment forget the ages of the women acting in the show. Let’s forget that they’re all around 50+ now.

Let’s do something wacky and think about the movie itself. And, hey, let’s think about the writing.

First: Have I seen it? No.

Here’s why not.

If I’m watching a show where some lead actor/actress from a flick is out whoring their movie, putting on the charm, and they play a clip — just ONE 30-second clip from a 90-minute movie — and the clip sucks shit? I mean, they’re supposed to be showing the one most appealing, funniest, engaging, COME-WATCH-US clip they have from the ENTIRE movie. And it’s shit? Well, I know the other 89:30 probably isn’t gonna be an improvement.

But if that 30-second clip is from a 2-hour-and-25-minutes-long movie and it still sucks shit?

I’m in favour of euthanizing everyone who views it in the theatres.

The shame!

Everything I’ve seen of Sex & the City 2 looks like has-been writers puked up every failed cliché they’ve ever heard, slapped some pretty weird dresses and shoes I’ll NEVER afford onto fancy-pretty chicks, and spliced that shit together.

Let’s see what some of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes are saying about it:

  • There’s only one thing worse than faking an orgasm: faking laughter. Shame on you, Sex and the City 2, for being a 2.5-hour laughless fake-a-thon that never finds the right spot.
  • Shoes, money, outfits, shoes, vagina, money, shoes, jewelry, outfits, money, shoes.
  • It goes from being what we know and love to… what were they thinking?
  • A flagrant insult to the audience that made the first film a phenomenon. Shame on the writers of this soulless drivel for trying to pass this Canal Street bootleg sow’s ear off as a genuine Alexander McQueen silk purse.
  • Early in Sex and the City 2, I started a list of things that could easily be cut because they go nowhere. It’s a long list.
  • It has no plot to speak of, little in the way of wit or intelligence, and is about 50% longer than can reasonably be justified.
  • A degrading portrait of women through an unfunny story about four Ugly Americans abroad.
  • It’s supposed to be Sex and the City. This is Sects and the Souk.

And that’s what pisses me off.

This movie isn’t failing because of the actresses. It’s failing because a director with shitty judgment had his hands on a shitty script that some fucko chose in a Hollywood office, and Decider Dude’s probably been sleeping with vapid starlets and hasn’t had his finger on the real-life pulse of America for three decades.

YET he thinks he knows what’ll appeal to broad-spectrum women around the world. Yeah. Right.

This movie is failing because it’s nothing of what the original series contained — cynical-but-true jabs at being single, sexy, smart women trying to get by in a big-city life at a changing time in American city culture.

So, it’s got nothing that made it great, except for actresses that play characters who aren’t the characters they were when America fell in love with them. Brilliant. Sure, that’ll be a raging success.

And the problem with these failing movies that have “older” actresses is, they’re usually shit from the get-go. They were shit on paper, they’re shit being shot, and they’re shit when they’re edited together for the screening room.

What’s the deal? Actresses don’t get great money-making projects past 45, so they get all scared about their future, then jump when Hollywood says they’ll slap a couple million payroll for ’em onto this lame-ass “but it’s sure to be a hit, look at all the OLD actresses we’ve lined up to appease the suburban-mom contingent!” movie.

The even bigger problem is with fans who’ll take anything shovelled at them under the guise that it’s even REMOTELY connected to the original story enterprise. Yeah, you know who you are.

This has NOTHING to do with the original series. It’s a bunch of chicks doing stupid, contrived things that only a BAD Hollywood writer would come up with.

We need great indie filmmakers to make awesome movies about women in their 40s and 50s that are edgy, ironic, bitingly funny, and not apologetic about crashing a few stereotypes. (I remember one called The Graduate.)

The movies we’re making for women have NOT improved. This is the same stupid-ass writing that’s brought us horrible, horrible, horrible chick flicks like The First Wives’ Clubs and The Women and The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and all those cliché my-time-of-the-month films.

Apparently all women have to do in their 40s and 50s is to be unhappy about love, confused about life, and needy about having friends.

The problem here isn’t the age of the actresses.

It’s that Hollywood doesn’t know what real life for women actually entails. It doesn’t know that life’s more complicated than soccer-practice “taxi” trips and bill-payments.

Hollywood doesn’t understand that not every woman gets manicures or pedicures.

It doesn’t get that not every woman is sitting around deviously hatching a plan to manipulate a man.

It doesn’t get that some of us actually love ourselves and our lives.

It doesn’t get that my quality of life isn’t determined by the ratio of man-delivered-orgasms versus personally-given ones.

Hollywood doesn’t understand women. At all. It didn’t 20 years ago, it doesn’t now.

I’ll confess: I’ve never been a real fan of Sex & The City.

That’s more because I’m not a girlie-girl and don’t really get into “girl” shows. I enjoyed some of it sometimes, but I’ve always been annoyed at how much validation its characters received from the male sex, or how much they all had to rally together and prop each other up against the un-validation given to them by male characters.

It always was a cliché — but a really well-written cliché with great laughs and realistic characters, and more true to some of the struggles of women in their 30s/40s than it is about them aging.

Now, though, it’s just another money-grubbing cliché-spewing pathetic example of why the mainstream movie machine is still broken.

And you smart, sexy, intelligent, successful women who are giving your money over to the box office to watch this piece-of-shit movie that stereotypes, demeans, and mocks the modern woman:

You’re part of the problem.

Shame on you.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

I had an end-of-the-night chat on Twitter with my friend Tris Hussey (@TrisHussey), one of Vancouver’s best WP blogging smartie-pants, about the strange life of being a vanilla girl in a sex-blogger-world.

It’s had me thinking since, which is why I like smartie-pants like Tris.

See, he thinks the world needs more sex-positive voices — especially from everyday-peoples like me, I guess.

Me, I still have a hard time swallowing the role. So to speak.

That’s what my whole journey in sex-blogging was about. Discovering my own sexuality in a more positive way, where I no longer judged my tastes or worried what things might suggest about me ethically or morally.

It was a hard fucking battle and I’m not even sure where I am on that road right now because I’ve been abstaining for too long. Just… because. I didn’t want to think about sexuality. I had to think about me.

But I’ve thought about me. I’m a better “me” than I’ve ever been. Now I’m ready to be more. Again.

I think the reason my sex-writing has been so successful at being applicable to the average person is because I am one. I’m not interested in burlesque. I couldn’t give a shit if I ever experience a threesome. I don’t have anything too crazy going on in my closet, can’t tell you about any really freaky encounters or swinging parties. I don’t have really odd kinks, I don’t need to push any boundaries. I don’t need more/crazier/harder to get off than I used to.

I like a little bondage, a little kink, trying creative positions, and have a little thing about sex in interesting places if time/lack-of-visibility allow. That’s about it.

I’m not off-the-charts with my sexuality, and I’m not even promiscuous. I’m old-fashioned.

But I think into every sex life a little doggy-style must fall. Or maybe a lot. It’s open for debate — let’s bang-out a plan of attack. What can I tell ya?

I think sexuality is probably one of the biggest journeys we all take.

How many people ever truly get comfortable in that context? How many people not only get comfortable with being truly sexual, but do so in a healthy way — they don’t overconsume porn, hurt others in their quest for fulfilling needs, or develop unhealthy dependencies on any particular activity, person, or lifestyling?

The world doesn’t have enough oft-laid happy “average” people skipping through life with a “I”ve been shagged SILLY” bounce to their step. How many accountants do you see walking bow-legged on Monday morning, huh?

The attitudes we DO have about sex, unfortunately, are being shaped by really fucked-up messages on the media, in Hollywood, and the internet. Sleeping around’s more popular than it’s been since the ’70s,  STDs are on the rise, people are experimenting left, right and centre because media’s showing all these alternative approaches to us…

But where’s the heart?

Where’s the emotion?

Why’s there such a profound disconnect between what we’ll let ourselves feel in the crotch versus what we’ll allow our hearts to feel?

What the hell are we thinking?

Sigh. Don’t ask me, man. I’m only beginning to even attempt to crack that nut.

For the last 2-3 years, I’ve not been considering sexuality and society as much as I once did. Re-reading my work has reminded me of why I’d been so angry about it all in the past, and has rekindled my interest in being one of the voices to bring some reason to the argument.

I think so much of what’s wrong with us as a society can be explained through our skewed perspectives on sex.

I’m not suggesting getting laid equals world peace.

I’m suggesting that it’s the attitudes we associate with sex that matter, not necessarily about whether we’re getting laid or not.

When we do get shagged, how vulnerable do we truly let ourselves be? How willing are we to let our loved ones into our deeper darker places we’re scared to admit exist? How ready are we to open the doors to where we keep our skeletons?

Sex is the physical realm of mental trust. What you’re willing to do mentally SHOULD translate sexually, vice versa.

Yet how often is that true?

Are you open to others, do you accept all ways of life, can you trust those around you, are you comfortable expressing your needs? Tell me what kind of lover you are, and I’ll tell you the answer to those questions. Again, vice versa.

If everyone was open, trusting of others, accepting of other lifestyles and worldviews, willing to be versatile, able to be vulnerable but also strong when needed, and could let others lead when necessary but follow when called for, what kind of world do you think we’d live in?

Don’t tell me sex can’t heal us.

Don’t tell me sex isn’t an important statement on who and what we are as a people.

And don’t even think of telling me we’re okay.

I’m not crazy about standing up here and being the sex-positive poster-girl. I’m not enthused about the judgment or speculation it promises to hold for me. I’m not happy this job needs doing by anyone.

But there’s no one out there talking about sex for ME.

There’s no one *I* get. No one echoes the battles I’ve fought, the lessons I’ve learned, and the thoughts I’ve had in a way that really resonates.

And I know how alone I felt and how fucked up and self-judgey I was, and for how long.

Someone needs to speak for me.

So I will.

And hopefully it’ll mean a few other people feel spoken for.

Because I’m getting real fuckin’ tired of the people who’ve been doing all the talking so far.

She’s The King of The World!

(There are no The Hurt Locker spoilers here, no worries, since about 15 of you have seen it.)

thehurtlockernuevoposterIt took 82 years, but there’s finally a woman who holds the title of Academy Award-winning “Best Director” .

But it’s about more than just a woman taking home the big prize.

As a writer, I saw something incredible happen for a change at the Oscars. A little movie won. A movie won that was all heart, all story, all controversy, and had absolutely nothing “easy” about its content and no sell-out ending.

A lot of people who’ve not seen The Hurt Locker might think the film’s about the Iraq war, but like I was told by more than one person, it’s not. It’s not a movie “about” the Iraq War. It’s about one man trying to find his place. It’s about the hardest, most dangerous job in the world and what drives a man to do it. That just happens to be during the Iraq War.

Ask anyone who’s seen the movie if it’s pro-war or anti-war and they’ll have to stop and think — because it’s neither.
Continue reading

Polanski Finally Pays, Hallelujah

This op-ed assumes you know that: Roman Polanski was convicted of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” in ’78, in which he admitted plying a 13-year-old full of Quaaludes & booze with the intent of having sex with her in every manner possible. He pled guilty, public opinion came against the law who were going to let him off with a lenient punishment, and he fled to France, where he has lived pretty much ever since, enjoying their non-extradition policies. Upon showing up in Switzerland to collect a lifetime achievement award recently, he was finally arrested and will face sentencing for the conviction he’s been on the run from for 31 years.

I love the sense of ironic humour in how Roman Polanski was arrested for his 1977 rape at long last — he shows up to collect a lifelong achievement award, and the cuffs get slapped on. Beautiful. A crime he’s spent 30+ years evading, he’s finally going to be held accountable for. It’s existential poetry. Justice comes at last.

The reaction on the Polanski thing baffles me. Many in the public — probably because they actually KNOW the one in four people who’ve likely been raped — seem elated Polanski’s going to receive sentence for a crime he was long ago convicted for. Hollywood seems to be rallying behind their chosen director-boy.

Like Whoopi Goldberg on The View. Whoopi, in her infinite hit-the-nail-on-the-head articulate genius, said: “I know it wasn’t rape-rape. I think it was something else, but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.” Continue reading

The End of An Era: Godspeed, Cool Hand Luke

Paul Newman died overnight at the ripe old age of 83.

When it comes to Hollywood stars, they just didn’t get better than Paul Newman. The best of ’em, he never let it go to his head. Probably more famous for his salad dressing and tomato sauce, the guy was a different kind of idol.

In a vapid, pointless society like Hollywood, where it seems weight and fashion matter more than anything, Newman never subscribed to being ordinary. He had a Porsche 356 engine put into his VW Bug, for god’s sake. He wore a beer bottle opener as a necklace.

He was a bad boy who wasn’t bad. He gave $150 million to charity. He helped kids. But he celebrated antihero and loser roles in his movies, rather than pursuing the roles of perfect goodlooking people (like Tom Cruise often does, for instance). He embraced that side of him and we loved him for it.

If there’s a Hollywood guy I wish could be emulated more often– from the blue eyes and the incredible ass to the heart of gold and the mischievous smile– it’s Paul Newman.

Later, Paul. It’s been real.