“That’s what you mean, eh?”

Canadians Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis created the Canadian quintessential cultural touch-stones, The Mckenzie Brothers, for SCTV (1980).  Created originally as filler to both satisfy and mock network Canadian content demands, the duo became a pop culture phenomenon in both Canada and the United States. Though initially intended for Canadian TV only, some of the two-minute “Great White North” segments would find their way into U.S. versions of the 30-minute shows due to a shortage of content that week. When NBC ordered the 90-minute shows for the 1981 season, they specifically cited good affiliate feedback on the “two dumb Canadian characters” and requested that the characters be included in every program.

One of the characteristics of the pair was their exaggerated Canadian  dialect, made up of a mixture of  Ottawa Valley and Toronto dialects.  It incorporated real and imagined idiom ( Hoser – false etymology ) to satirize the expectations of Canadian culture &  image. The most famous expression is the ubiquitous “eh”.

“And we thought if we’re going to do these characters, we’re going to slow down our speech a little, certain words we’re going to over-pronounce and we’re going to tag a lot of sentences with ‘eh.’ ” – Dave Thomas

 

For an more expansive article on this topic see Toronto Star-So you’ve heard all about this Canadian myth, eh?

 

Cultural Appropriation : Jesse Wente’s Response

 

Jesse Wente has appeared on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning as film and pop culture critic for 20 years and currently serves as Director of Film Programmes, at TIFF Bell Lightbox, overseeing theatrical, Cinematheque and Film Circuit programming. A self-described ‘Ojibwe dude’ with a national and international lens, he encourages audiences to consider diversity and inclusion into the future view of their organization, industry and country.

Well known as a film critic and broadcaster in Toronto and across Canada, Jesse was the first nationally syndicated Indigenous columnist for the CBC, covering film and pop culture for 20 local CBC Radio programs. He has also been a regular guest on CBC Newsworld’s News Morning and Weekend Edition, as well as Q.

 

Jesse Wente is a leading film critic and programmer of Indigenous cinema

 

Jesse is Ojibwe, and his family comes from Chicago and the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario. He is an advocate for Aboriginal Arts, most notably on screen. He draws attention to the imagery used by Hollywood in portrayals of indigenous peoples and stresses the need for a culture to have influence on their own depiction. His pieces on The Revenant, Beyonce and sports mascots were among the most shared on CBC.ca .  SOURCE: National Speakers Bureau

 

An editorial introducing the concept of an “appropriation prize” for the author who can best embody the cultural experience of a minority group in Canada comes off as an attempt to steal one of the few things Indigenous people in Canada have left — their story, according to one Indigenous author.

“We’ve lost our land, we’ve lost our languages and almost the last thing we have left are our stories and our voices,” said D.A. Lockhart, a member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation in Chatham-Kent.

“To have somebody come in and say we’ll tell those better than you … is sort of a painful kick while you’re already down.”  SOURCE:  Appropriation Prize Controversy an Opportunity for Learning CBC NEWS

Mass Media consumes Mass Media, turning other forms of Mass Media into content  and incorporating/emulating  other Media’s Codes & Conventions.  In this process, appropriation of topics, subject matter and other aspects of content will be distorted intentionally & unintentionally through the Values, Beliefs & Ideologies of those delivering the Mass Media Text/Message. It becomes very easy for Mass Media creators & producers to appropriate a culture other than their own  through adoption & adaptation; we are only confronting the past and potential damage that this creates when a cultural group is overwhelmed by a more powerful (politically/economically) cultural group.  The question of who controls the narrative and to what purpose becomes a significant part of Mass Media, Media Literacy, and society at large.

Steppin’ Out of Reality

steppin-out

bowler-up

 

The 7th Principle of Mass Media Scans is, A new mass media technology will initially borrow the content and imitate the conventions of the mass medium that is currently dominant in a society. As the technology advances, the new medium will consume the older medium, turning it into content.  This  principle and the media text produced in this manner is what is called Necro-Media. This post features some examples of Necro-Media. 

While exploring posts from fellow photography bloggers, I came across some tagged as Polamatic. The Polamatic app enables you to convert your phone shots into a retro aesthetic that turns the shot into a composition that has the features and qualities of an old Polaroid picture.  I have some experience producing the Polaroid look, and PaintShop Pro imaging software includes a simple Polaroid frame effect which allows for the creation of Polaroid Transfer effects.  As a challenge and an experiment, I used two shots I had taken at the local bowling alley, when my daughter was participating in the weekly Special Olympics bowling night.  I tried to emulate as closely as possible the frame & look produced by a Polamatic app.  It took a bit of time to create & modify the frames, and the viewer can judge for themselves these first attempts. 

Let’s now consider how this all fits in with the concept of Necro-Media.  To begin with, the app itself is such an example. The app allows the user to take digital photographs with their phone and turn them into digital representations of old Polaroid pictures. The Mass Media technology allows the user to imitate the codes and conventions of an earlier medium, Polaroid Photography.  What I attempted in my experiment was to use other software to imitate the app.  In one sense I was just doing the same thing as the app, so that is an example of the same type of Necro-Media.  In another way, I was applying the principle to the app itself, by trying to emulate the Polamatic app’s features, including the use of dirt/scratches/folds and colourful text font.  The final compositions are Necro-Media of Necro-Media. 

The Steppin’ Out title for the first composition, brought to mind the classic jazz/swing standard, Steppin’ Out With My Baby, composed by Irving Berlin in 1948 and first performed by Fred Astaire in the movie, Easter Parade.  I selected the 1993 video of Tony Bennet ‘s rendition  of the song.

The music video was very successful at the time of its release. Helping to bring Bennett to the attention of a much younger generation, it established him as an elder statesman of a passing generation of entertainers.  It formed a bridge bridge between very different times. We can see this video composition as both a homage to the past, and as an example of Necro-Media. 

The first obvious  component is the use of B&W to emulate the old classic Fred & Ginger  movie musicals of the 1930s.  The choice of wardrobe combines the Fred & Ginger style with elements of the contemporary look of when the video was released.  The choice of camera angles, distances and staging also plays homage to the past. The mix of the older tap dancer ( could not find his name ) and the younger contemporary black dancers widens the target audience, while acknowledging the past and visually reflecting how much has changed in both the American entertainment industry & society. 

As the technology advances, the new medium will consume the older medium, turning it into content. This is both figuratively and literally true in this video. Besides all the aesthetic imitation and use of codes and conventions, take note of what is included in the limited number of props.  Included were, the early phonograph with the horn amplifier, the large records, the microphones included both 1930s nightclub that Bennett walks up to begin singing and a close-up of a radio studio microphone.  The later goes with the old radio being tuned .  The other technological prop was the fan typical of the early movies as a symbol of emotional heat and cool music.  

Mass Media technology and the forms of media  it generates are constantly changing and adapting. New art forms are created and old one respond to the impact, some adapt while others disappear, still others become specialty forms of art and communication.  The recent changes in the WordPress Reader demonstrate this, but that is for another post.  So now I will conclude & post this analysis; let’s  see  how it looks on the Reader. 

Un tango à Paris and The Goat: Constructing a Reality

 Un tango à Paris — Maria Filali & Özgür Karahan

 

Mass Media constructs realities based on specific sets of codes and conventions determined by the nature of each Medium. The constructed reality of cinema derives from photography. Photography makes use of line, perspective, framing, light & shadow, camera angle and distance and in choice of monochrome or colour. Cinematography add motion, both the subject’s and that of camera’s. The nature of illusion of sequential motion that is created through film allows for editing of shots.

 

 

The Goat (1921) , a Buster Keaton two reeler ( A short silent film, of around twenty minutes running time. ),  plays with the construction of reality in multiple ways to create mistaken identity and confusion. Buster’s character is mistaken for the criminal because of a wrongly posted photograph. Mannequins are mistaken for people and a real Indian is mistaken for a cigar shop statue. Cuts and point of view alter the reality in this early Keaton classic.

The Goat 1921 - Buster Keaton

In Un tango à Paris, reality bends with colour and monochrome slipping  into a tango dance. Director Thomas Baspeyras,   admirably makes use of fades, perspectives, camera distance and angles to portray the transformation in time & place as the couple dances. With only two  GH3s cameras and assistant Marie Astier , he found editing the reality of the dancing challenging. Tangos are often improvised and lack of a specific choreographed  piece and this challenged creating a sense of continuity when editing.

 

 

Dancers (Links) : Maria Filali  and Özgür Karahan