Much like two people looking down at a number 6 painted on the ground debating over whether it is indeed a 6 or rather a 9, our histories and traditions are becoming interpretive. The problem is, initially, someone was instructed to paint a specific number on the ground to denote a specific message and just because you don’t know the history behind how that number came to be painted there doesn’t mean there isn’t a right and wrong answer.
Take the case of the currently-running CBC series, Canada: The Story of Us. According to The Globe and Mail today, it would seem that is not so much the “story of us” but the story of how wrong the story about us can be told. Let me say up front that this is by no means a criticism of the CBC – they do good work and some solid journalism and entertainment has come out of them but this was a rushed job and they clearly were hoping no one would notice.
The series in question is apparently an attempt to make Canadian history more relevant – as if it were not before – by updating the narrative and having it retold by Canadian celebrities. Presumably, by employing UFC fighters to narrate key battles in Canadian history, younger viewers will find it more appealing.
The problem is that, in the process, they actually LOST the relevance they were trying to capture while simultaneously alienating their viewers with inaccurate and often offensive depictions of historical events and people. For the record, the battle between Wolfe and Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham is NOT an example of a “surprise attack” regardless of what Georges St-Pierre says though admittedly there can be a fine line between a “surprise attack” and “strategic positioning”.
A spokesperson for the CBC has defended the series by saying in part that, “Canada: The Story of Us is not meant to be a comprehensive and linear account of Canada’s history nor a definitive history of Canada.” What exactly is the point of it then? If you aren’t adding something previously missing to an historical account or re-aligning some detail that may have gone astray or re-enforcing some key message or fact, you likely aren’t bringing anything of value to the discussion.
It is incumbent upon us as a people to ensure the integrity of our institutions remains intact, and that means ALL of our institutions. We have a number of ways to do this however one of the most effective is how we engage with various media. It’s not just about the latest Pepsi ad or celebrity couple break-up. It is about making informed decisions about what we read and what we watch because that will have a significant impact on who we are as a people and a nation.
For the full article in The Globe and Mail, go to: