Poptculture


Take Off, Eh!

Canada, we are who we are regardless of what others think of us.

Ok, who are we kidding? We love to hear what others think of us. We have a reputation for being the ‘nice’ guys, and we all know what happens to the nice guys, they get forgotten about (and it’s not aboot!)

Well, after years of being placed on the back burner of popular culture, Canadiana has finally come into its own.

We all remember Canada’s grainy attempts at self production over the last 40 years or so, and anyone who has a problem with the Littlest Hobo can answer to me! (I love that dog!) But now it seems we have finally caught up with the rest of television and our stories aren’t just about Joey Jeremiah’s band anymore.

With shows like the Trailer Park Boys and Kenny vs Spenny blazing a brand new trail for Canadian adult sitcoms, we’re finally getting the respect we deserve!

Brent Butt, creator of Corner Gas, has opened the door for family sitcoms based in Canada, (ie) Little Mosque On The Prairie), and has developed characters that can be loved for their small town ways and respected for the subtle, sarcastic, truly Canadian way they poke fun at other cultures the world over. He has done the impossible and generated a steadily growing fan base not only inside our boarder but even in the US and Europe.

But wait, lets not forget what the show SCTV did for us back in the 70’s and 80’s! Many of the best comedians of our time got their start on that show, and lets admit it, where would we be with out Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis’s portrayal of average Canadians: Bob and Doug McKenzie, without whom we would not be who we are today. When anyone the world over thinks of Canada, the image of toque wearing, beer drinking, hosers comes to mind, and we as a culture are proud of that!

We are who we are and we take great pride in it, so join me in taking pride in The Great White North Eh!

UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!!

The Trailer Park Boys are Back!  For fans who have not heard, the Boys are back this Sunday, December 7th, 2008 on Show Case, in an all new one hour special!  Though this will be the last regular episode, the Boys will be back in their second (and hopefully not last!) full length feature film this fall!  Lets all join together and tell these guys how much we miss them, and maybe they will stick around!  (Via showcase.ca)

Also, Corner Gas star Brent Butt has a new brainchild soon to be on CTV.  The show will star Brents real life wife Nancy Robertson, Wanda from the show, as a childrens author with anger issues.  Lets hope Brent makes it on for a couple of cameo appearances!  (Via The Hour)

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See, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

This is a sad, sad time to be a Canadian.

I really thought we were above crap like this.

Last week a new fad struck the nation, one where seemingly intelligent individuals took it upon themselves to fall in line with the stupidity of the group and celebrate national “Kick a Ginger Day”.

(please see this URL for a Calgary news clip)

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/index.php?rn=222561&cl=10789507&ch=222562

I have two problems with this development.  First, obviously, is the blatant stupidity of those who participated, and the pain or embarrassment that they caused their red headed peers.  Second is the fact that in their defense, these idiots are trying to pin their crimes on an episode of the cartoon South Park, which aired last year.

red-cartman

The idea was popularized via a Face Book page of the same name, started by a youth in Vancouver.  Those involved in altercations over the ‘holiday’ are currently being investigated and some may even result in criminal charges being laid for committing a ‘hate crime’.

Now common people, are we really this stupid?

At one point, the writters of South Park made an episode in which Erik Cartman tried to trick the townspeople into reviving the Nazi movement to remove all the Jewish people from South Park.  So does this mean we are now allowed to blame Neo-Nazism on the behavior of a few cartoon characters?  I mean really!  This material is from a show that prides itself on social satire and showing the ridiculous side of human behavior.  Stupid, just stupid…

Now this prompts me to ask you all a question one of my teachers posed the other day:  ‘In situations like this, should we blame the influence of a movie or television show or should individuals be responsable for how they respond?’  To me the answer seems pretty obvious, but im open to discussion so please feel free to comment.



Nostalgia, It Just Keeps Coming Back Again and Again

Sure it started as a sickness.  Young soldiers had a yearning to go back home, back to a past they longed to relive, but today it captures our attention and our dollars, and we cannot seem to get enough of it!

We have all at one time or another seen an image or felt a feeling that instantly took us back to better days in our childhoods, sometimes even a smell can do the trick.

And today, a large portion of our popular culture and entertainment aims to do just that.  One of the major influences of this phenomenon is the fact that Gen-Xers and early Millennial s are taking up the reins of large corporations and production companies.  These companies are now remaking and re marketing the television shows, movies and toys of our youth and we have taken it all and demanded more!

One key player in the new market of old memories is actor Seth Green who, along with the geniuses at the magazine Twisted Toyfare, have come up with the highly popular pop culture parody TV show Robot Chicken.

robot-chicken

The show is genius in its simplicity: take comic book superheros, toys and other pop culture phenomenons and put them in adult situations.  The scripts almost write themselves, and the audience is already highly invested in the characters, so the humor flows freely.

Individuals who still have their old toys can have lots of fun taking them out and actually playing around with them again, and trust me it can be hilarious!

03-07-08_182103-07-08_180703-07-08_1754

Incidentally, the common ‘Stick’ was recently admitted into the National Toy Hall of Fame( via The Circuit on Space Channel ) for its unending ability to become a sword or almost any other item one can conceive of in the blink of an eye!

Here are a couple neat sites for nostalgia buffs just in case you’re interested:

http://www.retrocrush.com/archive.html

http://www.retrojunk.com/

All in all, i think we have shown ourselves that nostalgia is a sickness we can live with : )



The Bad (Golden) Eggs

What is it about cartoons that start with “S” ?

Two modest little shows: Simpson’s and South Park, who knew?

They both began as the bad guys of adult cartoon entertainment. They were the scapegoats for what was ‘wrong with television’ (if not our social moral fabric) in the 1990’s.  The Simpson’s glorified the bad behavior of a spiky headed 4th grader, and the hands off parenting style of his drunken buffoon of a father.  South Park was just 4 children with potty mouths, swearing for attention.

It was shameful and offensive, and we loved it!

sims

Both shows have earned respect in their own ways: The Simpson’s for its longevity and multilayer ed comedic genius, and the way they changed the face of television, breaking through the crap so other shows, like South Park, could even have a chance.

In the beginning, viewers saw South Park as a show that relied on shock value for laughs.  But eventually people caught on to what they really were: the no bullshit kings of popular culture and social commentary.

South Park must be respected for its unbiased position on truth.  Whether they’re commenting on homelessness, politics or religion, South Parks creators pull no punches – its a no holds barred mentality that has worked greatly to the shows advantage.

South Park has shown that they even hold themselves and their staff to this all or nothing mentality, in their choice to kill off longtime character Chef (aka Isaac Hayes) in a very unflattering manner, after Hayes publicly voiced his disappointment at the show for making fun of his beloved Scientology.  Matt Stone and Trey Parker responded by saying their is no line that cannot be crossed and that they could not continue the show if they gave in when people were upset by being singled out.

Recently, South Park was honored with the distinguished Peabody Award for their commitment to unbiased social commentary and the unbelievably current production of story lines and episodes (often produced 3 or 4 days after a topic hits news venues).  A very prestigious award not usually given to cartoon types.

No one can argue that these shows have a huge and ongoing effect on our popular culture and entertainment values.  i for one cannot go a single day without quoting a line that fits perfectly into a situation, or smiling when someone shows just how silly we can be.

The Simpsons was recently picked up for 3 more seasons on Fox, and the creators of South Park have said that as long as there are things to make fun of, they’ll keep making new episodes.

Enjoy them both while they last!



Evolution Revolution

When someone sits down to relax they often turn on the TV.

When they turn on the TV, they like to choose what to watch.

This sounds fare, but a new ruling by the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) may change things forever.

The CRTC has decided to reject airing American cable channels on Canadian television screens, effectively cutting viewers program choices in half.

If a viewer is a fan of a particular American television program, they may have to wait months before a Canadian network or specialty channel picks up the show (which often fall behind American broadcasts by almost two seasons), to even see a new episode!

As good as Can-Con (Canadian content) laws are for making sure Canadian produced programming has a place on Canadian television, they should hardly have the ability to restrict (from the source) the variety of programming available to viewers in the modern age of satellite and digital cable.

Some viewers pay hundreds of dollars per month to get the channels and events they choose, because those are the things that interest them most!  It seems a backward step to encroach upon ones freedom of choice in the world of ‘customization of entertainment’ that has arisen to compete with other forms of entertainment media such as the internet.

Maybe that will be the slap in the face that the CRTC needs to smarten up and realize what they are doing.

The ease of modern downloading software, combined with the rising popularity of television archive host sites, may be the answers frustrated viewers are looking for.  Most people can now navigate the internet well enough to find what they’re looking for, and with the help of massive search engines, like Google, those who can’t can still find something or someone to help them get there.

If the law makers want to force the issue, then the people will turn to the lawless land of the internet to get their entertainment.  Most modern computers have the ability to produce high deffinition audio and video output, that rivals what is offered by cable and satellite companies, and yet only costs a one time fee.

The freedom of the internet (pun intended) could destroy the grip that historical television entertainment rule makers have had on us up to this point.

Come on people, the revolution is only a click away…



Take Off Eh!
October 30, 2008, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Canada, we are who we are regardless of what others think of us.

Ok, who are we kidding?  We love to hear what others think of us.  We have a reputation for being the ‘nice’ guys, and we all know what happens to the nice guys, they get forgotten about (and it’s not aboot!)

Well, after years of being placed on the back burner of popular culture, Canadiana has finally come into its own.

We all remember Canada’s grainy attempts at self production over the last 40 years or so, and anyone who has a problem with the Littlest Hobo can answer to me! (I love that dog!)  But now it seems we have finally caught up with the rest of television and our stories aren’t just about Joey Jeremiah’s band anymore.

With shows like the Trailer Park Boys and Kenny vs Spenny blazing a brand new trail for Canadian adult sitcoms, we’re finally getting the respect we deserve!

Brent Butt, creator of Corner Gas, has opened the door for family sitcoms based in Canada, (ie) Little Mosque On The Prairie), and has developed characters that can be loved for their small town ways and respected for the subtle, sarcastic,  truly Canadian way they poke fun at other cultures the world over.  He has done the impossible and generated a steadily growing fan base not only inside our boarder but even in the US and Europe.

But wait, lets not forget what the show SCTV did for us back in the 70’s and 80’s!  Many of the best comedians of our time got their start on that show, and lets admit it, where would we be with out Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis’s portrayal of average Canadians: Bob and Doug McKenzie, without whom we would not be who we are today.  When anyone the world over thinks of Canada, the image of toque wearing, beer drinking, hosers comes to mind, and we as a culture are proud of that!

We are who we are and we take great pride in it, so join me in taking pride in The Great White North Eh!



Well They’re Just Super!
October 23, 2008, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Wait! Whats that?!? Up on the screen! Its every Super Hero you’ve ever seen!

Super Heros have exploded back into our attention, and they’re doing it in style.

From the comic book page to the big screen, modern Hero tales are being delivered with the special effects and street cred to back them up.  Thanks to Sam Raimi’s brilliant big screen interpretation of Spider man, Super Hero movies are now on the fast track to becoming the biggest box office draws in Hollywood.

Nearly all of the most popular Heroes from our childhood have been presented or are soon to be released.  Rumors of upcoming crossover/group films are also highly anticipated.

Arguably, the 1980’s and 90’s had their share of block buster hits like the Batman franchise (at least pertaining to the first two films!) but the new milenium has brought with it the realization that it isn’t all about campy throwbacks, somtimes it needs re-invention and reinterpretation (and the ease of modern computer generated special effects doen’t hurt either). Though some have had false starts, as in the case of Ang Lee’s Hulk, which needs no more mention, for the most part stories have held true and plots have captured new fans.

Theaters haven’t been the only arena which has been jump started into super-mode: televisions top show is a tip of the hat to the X-Men style genre of Super Heroes, aptly named ‘Heroes’, which garners millions of viewers every Monday night.

Specialty shows now have an avenue into mainstream prime time with the likes of ‘Ink: Alter Egos Exposed’ which delves into the psyche of Super Heroes and examines their motivations and existential meanings.

Other inroads have developed for entrepreneurs who have used other mediums to tell their Heroes tales, like Claudio Sanchez, lead singer of the band ‘Coheed and Cambria’.  Sanchez writes a quarterly comic book by the same name, which follows along with the bands concept albums, telling the tale of its two heroes Coheed and Cambria.  Styles like this are so ahead of the rest that many fans of the band don’t even know of the comics existence.

Be they the classic originals or the new releases, Super Heroes will always have the power to capture our attention and the strength and stamina to remain relavent and contemporary in a changing world.