From here it’s starting to look like the U.S. media (and others) are starting to replace one caricature of Canada with another.
For as long as I can remember, say Canada to folks south of the 49th Parallel and they knew little about the country beyond beer, hockey, snow, “socialized medicine”, O Canada and the Mounties.
After the recent change in power in Ottawa a new caricature has started to surface.
Take the New York Times Style Page for January 17. It’s headline reads “With the Rise of Justin Trudeau, Canada is Suddenly….Hip ?”. On the homepage headline writers put it this way: “Justin Trudeau and the Rise of Canadian Cool”.
Below the headline is a discussion whose premise is that”….An expanse once stereotyped as the home to square-jawed Mounties and beer-swilling “hosers” has quietly morphed into a multicultural breeding ground…”.
(By coincidence, the Travel Section in January 17’s New York Times also invokes “hip” in a feature headlined “36 Hours in Quebec City” – who subheadline reads ‘In Quebec’s capital, hip and historic exist side by side, with cultural and culinary enticements for all manner of visitors’).
They sound surprised.
This change has been neither quiet or sudden – at least to many of us not insulated in a world that rarely looks to Canada.
There are many Canadas to Canada. Hockey and beer have not gone away. Being a place of culture is not new to Canada (I resist the words “style” and “hip”).
Canada has long been a place of innovation and creativity – in the arts, popular culture and beyond. Its pride in being a place of fairness and decency has translated into a quality of life that distinguishes it. Hockey and hip are but two complementary aspects of Canadian culture.
One is not exclusive of the other.
One caricature should not replace another.
Canada’s narrative is a narrative of narratives. It is richer, deeper and more varied than the media types from outside would have you believe.
Even the New York Times “Style” article conceded as much quoting, Joe Zee, a Toronto-raised editor in chief of Yahoo Style, who in the article agreed that “Canada has not become hip all at once, with the election of the mediagenic Mr. Trudeau”.
The Times insulates itslef and instead opts to to blame Canadians themselves, “It is partly a dawning of self-recognition” said the paper of record.
“We’ve always had Frank Gehry,” they quote Mr. Zee.
Yes – a page has been turned, but the story is not totally a new one in this new chapter in Canada’s journey.