NEWS The Price of the McGill Dream BUSINESS & TECH Look Before You Learn
Graduate Job Seeking in 2017
ARTS & CULTURE Curation of Taste Algorithms and the Cu
THE BULL & BEAR
OPINION The Millennialâ€™s Dilemma
A PUBLICATION A PUBLICATION OF THE OF THE
The BULL & BEAR CONTENTS FEATURE 3 The Price of the McGill Dream 6 Look Before You Learn Graduate Job Seeking in 2017
8 Algorithms and the Curation of Taste 10 The Millennial’s Dilemma
NEWS 12 SSMU Announces Year-Long Building
Closure Via Facebook Event
The famed Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan once declared, “The medium is the message.’’ His axiom that the form of communication, rather than its content, is what determines its value is a truth living and breathing before us today. In our current age, traditional news sources are becoming increasingly obsolete: many individuals now get their information from platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.
13 Students Emphasize Necessity of
Put simply, if video killed the radio star, social media has all but killed the video star.
15 McGill Weighs In
In this increasingly digital environment, people are coming up with new and innovative channels to express themselves. From memes and hashtags to geotags and gifs, we’ve entered a new landscape where people can express themselves and interact with one another in what seems like an infinite number of ways.
Specialized Eating Disorder Treatment
Municipal Election Edition
BUSINESS & TECH
17 Student Capitalism Takes a Front
18 What a 300% US Tariff Means for the
20 For Canada to Win, We Need to Learn
How to Fail
ARTS & CULTURE 21 McGill’s Own Soft Girl 22 Cohousing and the Cure to Loneliness 24 Between Ego and Art: Aronofsky’s
26 Homecoming Away from Home 27 The Self-Help Industry Only Helps Itself
FALL 2017 The Bull & Bear is published by the Management Undergraduate Society. The content of this publication is the responsibility of the Management Undergraduate Society and does not necessarily represent the view of McGill University.
Indeed, the way we communicate has become increasingly marked by the tools that we, as individuals living in 2017, are offered. Our politics, on every level, have been affected by these changes. I hardly need to mention how the current President of the United States has changed the way we think about Twitter. But living in such a time can be overwhelming. There are perils that surround the Age of Information: social media addictions, cyberbullying, and a stunting sense of numbness toward a news cycle that sends push notifications anytime an atrocity occurs. Perhaps more pertinently, many of us still don’t know how to process these new channels of information. What does it mean to be living in an era with so many tools at our disposal, but limited understanding of how to navigate them? How can we cope with the fact that, by the time we have mastered the latest medium of communication, society has already moved on to the next? In this issue, our editors and writers have attempted to unpack what it means to be a student in this increasingly unpredictable world. The challenges ahead seem daunting, but our generation is surely up to the task. This semester, campus publications like The Bull & Bear have served as springboards for larger conversations about the world we live in. And in a time where politics, both on and off-campus, have become so fraught, mediums that promote healthy discourse are vital in helping us preserve clarity, and so too, sanity. Jonah Silverman Executive Editor Michela Karen Rakotondralambo Managing Editor (Layout)
Jordan Devon Managing Editor (Editorial)
Evelyn Dom Managing Editor (Media)
Ali Schwenk Operations Officer
Dan Schechner Managing Editor (Business Unit)
Seng Chiat Haw Managing Editor (Web)
William Horwitz Sr. Sponsorship Officer
THE PRICE OF THE McGILL DREAM NEWSFEATURE
THE PRICE OF THE McGILL DREAM BY TIJANA MITROVIC & MOLLY HARRIS
any McGill students take similar academic paths to graduation. Though the courses they take, the major and minor concentrations they enroll in, and the extracurricular involvement they busy themselves with varies, the trajectory from first year to convocation tends to be fairly homogeneous: find your bearings as a freshman, get a few bad grades, realize there are subjects you’re actually passionate about, declare a major, and enroll in more courses you genuinely enjoy. In second year, your electives may be more relevant to your interests than the supposedly “easy-A” courses you chose in first year were. You’ll probably start getting better grades, acclimating to longer papers and more rigorous assignments, as well as getting to know your professors. By third and fourth year, your study habits will be well ingrained, you’ll feel comfortable asking for help, and you’ll have started to think about what you might want to do when you graduate. You’ve almost definitely had a job, internship, or volunteer experience thrown in that will ultimately make you more “hireable” down the line. However, the path to a McGill degree isn’t so simple for everyone.
Tijana Mitrovic Molly Harris News Editors Gordon Milne Business & Tech Editor
KC Moore Katrina Brindle Arts & Culture Editors Quinn Halman Jack Morris Opinion Editors
Harry Turner Will Pang Jeremy Steele Lauren Kranc Copy Editors Logan Hall Sr. Marketing Officer
Abigail MacKenzie-Armes Sr. Finance Officer
Elif Kurkcu Nick Madden Jr. Marketing Officers
Patrick Timmer Emmy Wang Layout Editors
Léo Wang Jr. Finance Officer
Jared Gaffe Esteban Herpin Jr. Sponsorship Officers
Amina Magnin Cherlyne Mok David Diao Photographers
Erik Friedman Elena Symmes Felix Lu Irina Lee Keyan Long Sarah Waters Zeyna Benbrahim Photographers
4 FEATURE The Reality of the Dream Academic success at McGill is inherently costly. Beyond tuition, books, technology, and living expenses, succeeding academically comes at a steep price. Many of these transactions are made in the first and second years of study, and going without them can be detrimental to this now-common trajectory. A year of tuition, books, and fees ranges from $4,855 to $44,594, depending on where you are from and what you study. This figure does not include living expenses, which, for those living in McGill residences, run from $14,015 to $18,922. For low-income and first-generation students, these fees can be incredibly burdensome. First-generation students are commonly thought of as students who are the first in their family to attend a postsecondary institution, yet this simple definition misses specific challenges that these students face. Disproportionately, first-generation students have other intersecting identities, such as being part of a marginalized racial minority or coming from a low-income family.
introductory economics, math, chemistry, physics, biology, and pharmacology courses. These classes have corresponding “crash courses” conducted by outside companies, such as Prep 101, which typically run over weekends and cost over $100 per session. For students who work part-time, which many students in the Work Study Program may do, missing a full weekend of work is impossible, and can cost more than the price tag of each crash course. Additionally, not all students even know of the existence of these sessions, which have essentially become a necessary component of academic success. Doing poorly in these first- and second-year courses is generally not an option because of their requisite nature. A thorough understanding of the material and a good grade is necessary for progressing on to upper-level classes. While this example may seem trivial in the scope of the three to five years spent as a McGill undergraduate, it evidences a systemic issue that McGill has done very little to address. Though financial aid from the university and the government may be relatively accessible, the supports necessary for students who come from low-income families, or who are the
“My parents have no idea what university is like, and no one was able to provide advice to me.”
Making Ends Meet Even financial aid at McGill can be out of reach for some: the Entrance Bursary Program, for example, requires that eligible students “demonstrate financial need” and “apply for and accept the maximum available government student aid for which they are eligible.” However, sometimes the latter criteria works against students. “I am supported by the Ontario government,” one student stated anonymously, “so McGill doesn’t give me financial support even if I ask for it.” McGill also offers entrance awards to students based on merit. All applicants are automatically considered for some, whereas others require a separate application. However, the conditions for receipt are lofty: Canadian students from provinces other than Quebec must have a 95% overall average in all Grade 11 and 12 courses to be considered, and rank in the top 1-2% of their high school class. While these parameters speak to the exceptional quality of the students that McGill attracts, they are up to 19% higher than the margins for admission into a McGill undergraduate degree. For students who narrowly miss the threshold for need-based aid, the inaccessibility of these awards can be a tremendous burden.
McGill’s Work Study Program, open to the same pool of students who qualify for financial aid, allows students to find jobs on or near campus. The program offers an extensive list of opportunities on both the downtown and MacDonald campuses, but the requirements for each position vary, and can be highly specific. Additionally, eligibility for the program A major challenge that first- first in their family to attend university, does not guarantee employment: decisions generation students face is the lack of are not. The recently released 2017are made by the employers, and some academic advice from family members 2022 Strategic Plan includes language postings require niche or technical skills, rooted in direct experience. “My peers advocating for increased financial aid such as scientific knowledge, computer have mentors in their parents who and increased “physical accessibility and programming capabilities, or fluency became lawyers [or] doctors,” said one cultural inclusivity,” and members of the in French, a skill many students at an first-generation student, who wished to McGill administration stated at a Senate English-speaking university like McGill remain anonymous. “My parents have no meeting this fall that they intend to focus idea what university is like, and no one on making a McGill education more do not possess. As noted by a student who accessible for first-generation students. wished to remain anonymous, “I qualify was able to provide advice to me.” What remains vague is how these goals for Work Study, but I think it’s hard to The Faculties of Arts, Management, will be achieved, and what will be done to find a job even with the smaller pool of Science, and Engineering each have a help students who require more than just candidates.” set of courses that are either required monetary assistance. Furthermore, to qualify for Work division-wide, required for certain majors, Study, students must be enrolled full-time. or simply very popular. These include
Taking four or five courses, maintaining the necessary GPA to be eligible for aid the following year, and working 15-17 hours a week is a large burden for even the most organized student to bear, particularly if they intend to participate in extracurricular activities or maintain some form of a social life.
experiences of first-generation students at McGill and suggested how to make their experiences more positive. The report found that McGill was “lacking in targeted recruitment, retention, and support strategies for first generation students, and… [has] fewer first generation students than across Canadian universities.” Suggestions included the creation of specific need-based bursaries for first-generation students, the development of mentorship programs, comprehensive data collection, and the expansion of the SSMU Equity portfolio to include the implementation of these recommendations in its mandate.
their background with their peers. “It’s something to be proud of,” one student stated. “My mom took university classes online and never went to a campus, but somehow [became] a registered nurse through a small community school. My dad never graduated high school and had a successful business.”
The budgeting resources that McGill “I’m really proud of my family and provides, such as the Frugal Scholar myself for being where we are now,” they Program, are not tailored to students said. “I have nothing in [common] with from low-income backgrounds, or to most people at McGill, but it doesn’t those who are first-generation. “Things bother me much and has never really like budgeting workshops work better affected my friendships.” for richer students who never learned to Not all students feel this way: 42.9% manage their money. From what I’ve seen, of respondents to a survey conducted first-generation, low-income kids grew up Despite the suggestions outlined by The Bull & Bear this month said that knowing how to save and spend wisely,” in the report, as of yet no progress has they do not feel comfortable disclosing one student maintained. been made on its execution. Though their family and financial background to services such as Midnight Kitchen, the friends. One student said that “most of SSMU Daycare, and McGill Health the students I know at McGill come from a Fostering Accessibility Services all exist for the purpose of position where they cannot relate to mine, In August 2017, McGill announced providing necessary services to the or find it hard to relate even if they try. the launch of a new pilot program called McGill community at low costs, they As a result, I feel judged and inadequate.” the “Youth in Care Bursary Guarantee,” are not specifically tailored towards first- Another student stated, “I don’t want to a project to help current and former generation or low-income students, but be defined as a first-generation student, youth in the foster care system finance rather to the McGill population as a or stigmatized in a room networking or their undergraduate education. While whole. otherwise. I do feel dumber.” the project aims to help overcome McGill is unique in that 79% of Ultimately, first-generation and financial burdens and make McGill more undergraduates have parents with at least low-income students want to be able to accessible for youth in care, its status is one university degree; at other Canadian discuss their experiences without stigma. not well-known, even amongst the McGill universities, just 40% of students do. “Make it more common to discuss in administration. During a recent forum The experience of being a minority on public,” one student expressed. “It feels between the administration and campus campus in this sense varies among firstlike a taboo subject and that makes it press, no high-level administrator was generation and low-income students at even more awkward and uncomfortable able to provide details about the initiative, McGill. Speaking about their time in for us.” stating only that “it’s a great program.” residence, one student said that they lived The efforts that McGill and the SSMU have made to change the culture are worthy first steps in addressing a systemic issue that runs far deeper than offering financial aid and opportunities to work part-time. However, the McGill dream of a steady march forward from Frosh to convocation will only be truly obtainable when no McGill student feels “dumber” than their peers because of their financial status or their parents’ educational attainment.
“I don’t want to be defined as a first-generation student, or stigmatized in a room networking or otherwise. I do feel dumber.”
In January 2017, a report was submitted to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) entitled “Striving to Place: The First Generation Student Experience at McGill University,” which outlined the
in Molson, “where there wasn’t really a wealth class divide. We were all just first years and [they] loved that.” Other students have expressed that they do feel comfortable sharing
BUSINESS & TECHFEATURE Do Undergraduates Anything Valuable?
The answer to this question may seem fairly obvious. Undergraduates at Canadian universities receive instruction from some of the world’s leading academics. Regardless of your academic concentration, you receive excellent training in your field, and are well-equipped to contribute as a new hire. Unfortunately, employers don’t necessarily think the same way. In fact, in contemporary economic models, education is viewed through one of two lenses: productivity improvement and signalling.
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEARN Graduate Job Seeking in 2017 BY GORDON MILNE
As a student or recent graduate, chances are you’ve been asked the question: “What are you going to do with your degree?” It could be the rallying cry of our grandparents’ generation. With baby boomers approaching retirement, we millennials have reason to be excited about our employment prospects. However, even top students increasingly express concern about their career prospects once they exit university. A bachelor’s degree, once considered the most important step toward a fulfilling and lucrative career, is no guarantee of future success, or even of getting hired. Even in an environment where unemployment is reliably low and economic growth is strong, competition for entry-level positions is fierce. In light of this, it can be crucial to understand how managers evaluate candidates and what we can do as students to bolster our profiles and help us kick off our professional lives.
The theory that education increases a worker’s productivity is the one that seems most intuitive. The assumption is that humans are largely similar in their inherent productivity, but they can improve their value to employers by going to school and learning new skills. These new skills make them more effective in either a particular job or in several. As such, they are more valuable to employers, who in turn pay educated employees more. The increased compensation serves as an incentive for people to pursue higher education. Perhaps the strongest argument in favour of this theory surrounds future lawyers, engineers, and doctors. Since a certain level of postsecondary education is required to receive license to practice any of these professions, the productivity of a person with no university education as a lawyer is zero. However, earning a law degree and passing the requisite certification exams render the individual highly valuable as a legal professional. On the other hand, signalling theory asserts that workers are born with inherent differences in capabilities, and that some people’s relative ease in completing a university education indicates a higher level of skill and productivity. Furthermore, we assume that people who are somewhat less productive will choose not to pursue higher education. As such, under
signalling theory, education does not result in a person being more productive. This theory has some obvious flaws, and is often only used as a simplifying condition in economic modelling. However, there are some examples of university concentrations that lend themselves to signalling theory. For example, most of a painter’s talent is a product of innate ability, and a university education helps them to hone their skills. As such, the education of a painter has a larger signalling component than that of an accountant, for example. When undergraduates hunt for jobs, they often assume that their degree will be recognised as evidence of their extensive learning in a certain field. However, as an increasing proportion of Canadians pursue tertiary education, hiring managers are increasingly searching for graduates who have some level of experience in their industry. However, a university degree is required for a growing number of jobs. In other words, recruiters are assigning less value to the education as a way to improve workers’ productivity, and more to its role as a signal of intelligence, character, and other productivity-improving qualities. The Internship Race In today’s competitive employment environment, it is ever more important to get hands-on experience while studying as an undergraduate. Landing one of a few prestigious positions at Wall Street banks or Silicon Valley tech firms can put a young graduate on the fast track to career success. As a result, top students compete fiercely for this small collection of placements. Rejection rates at companies like Goldman Sachs regularly outpace those of the most selective Ivy League schools. Even ignoring these highly soughtafter internships, the landscape for undergraduates looks bleak. A number of entry-level internships are gained through personal connections. It’s not
uncommon for a student to begin their Additionally, the Government of Canada undergraduate career at their aunt’s is continually cracking down on the small business or to leverage their parents’ practice of offering unpaid internships. professional acquaintances to start their Both of these factors are contributing to career. This obviously tilts the playing ameliorating the challenge of accessing field in favour of undergraduates from internship opportunities for university wealthy professional families, and against students. first-generation students and children of Cooperative Programs immigrants. Moreover, the experience Similar to internships, cooperative gained through these advantages can be education programs (co-ops) are a coupled with further leveraging personal popular way for students to bolster their connections. This deepens the divide resumes. Co-ops are arrangements between different people’s opportunities. between universities and businesses in Finally, students must be careful to which students get the opportunity to avoid the trap of unpaid internships. When work for a firm and earn course credits. a recruiter looks at a recent graduate’s The benefits of these arrangements resume, they seek to understand what are twofold for students: They have the kind of value the candidate will bring to opportunity to gain valuable experience their firm. Jobs and internships that are without having to compromise their paid – even minimum wage – reveal that focus on schoolwork. It also establishes the candidate generated real value as an a program in which the placements are employee. On the other hand, unpaid promoted and managed by the university. internships often have the reputation This helps to integrate classroom learning for being somewhat less professional. with real-world applications. Moreover, it As a result, an undergrad with an offer also leads to the development of a system for an unpaid internship in their target in which students are more aware of the industry must carefully weigh the benefits opportunities available to them. of that placement against a low-wage Co-op education is gaining job. Moreover, this discussion assumes popularity in Canada. Schools like that the student in question can afford to Waterloo, Concordia, and the University forego a summer’s worth of earnings. In light of rising education costs, taking an of Toronto all tout their co-op programs unpaid position could be an unrealistic in their marketing efforts. McGill, on the other hand, does not offer co-ops in many option. of its faculties. Some, like the Faculty of
“As more Canadian students finish school co-op experience, graduates of McGill will fall behind the competition when it comes to hands-on work experience.” However, students can be heartened that internships in a variety of fields are becoming more fair and accessible across the board. Many firms now post all of their internships online, which makes them open to applications from anyone with access to the web. Therefore, while internships used to be attained through word-of-mouth and cold-calls, potential interns can now browse the web to see the world of opportunities open to them.
Arts, offer credit for internship experience, but it is a complicated process that involves the student finding their own employment opportunity and seeking approval from the faculty. As such, it’s clear that McGill could take notes from the successes of its counterparts. As more Canadian students pursue co-op experience, McGill graduates will fall behind the competition when it comes to hands-on work experience.
What McGill Students Can Do Today In light of the increasingly competitive job market, students often find themselves seeking ways to heighten their profile in the eyes of recruiters. The first step is to understand how firms hire, and how you can make yourself as appealing as possible as a candidate. This means developing a polished, professional resume. It also means reading up on how to stand out in an interview. A candidate can have outstanding experience, but one of the biggest considerations for a recruiter is: “What is the candidate like to work with?” This is where confidence, poise, and character can allow a potential hire to distinguish themselves. Students can also elevate their candidacy by obtaining hard evidence of the value that they bring to an employer. These include “hard skills” like computer programming, fluency in foreign languages, and learning how to use standard programs like Microsoft Excel. Students in certain disciplines can also pursue various certifications that serve as evidence of their talents. Common choices are Google and Hubspot, both of which offer free online training and certifications. However, these skills are particular to specific jobs. Events like case competitions, hackathons, and literary competitions also offer students an opportunity to prove their individual talents and distinguish themselves. These activities represent experience in solving realistic problems, and a graduate can refer to this experience when making a case for themselves in job applications. The moral of the story is that graduates are up against a highly competitive job market. That being said, new industries and careers are appearing at a remarkable rate. Moreover, McGill students benefit from a highly rigorous education, and graduate with a degree that is recognised throughout Canada and internationally. McGill graduates can make their resumes jump out of the pile, provided they take certain steps to highlight their experience and apply their education.
he curation of taste is not new in The conversation surrounding arts and culture. Taste, almost taste is expansive and lacks any form of by definition, extends past the individual descending consensus. We all have that and forms communities through one friend who knew that band before commonality. The interests that these they became popular, the one that watches tastes reflect have correspondingly been movies with subtitles, and the one whose popularized, ghettoized, and streamlined house is decorated like an Ikea catalogue. into easily recognizable genres and subcategories. In the contemporary context of Netflix, Spotify, and algorithms that are fine-tuned to predict what will/ ought to be popular, one could argue that entirely personal taste has now become a romantic illusion reminiscent of a simpler time. Conversely, it can be said that these algorithms are simply a natural continuation of trends we’ve had in our lives ever since William the Conqueror hyped up his court minstrels’ first EP. Before embroiling ourselves in arguments that will come across either as Elon Muskstyle revisionism or “throw your Samsung Whether we choose to admire or despise TV off a cliff because they are watching such people, we can all agree that each you”-style paranoia, let us venture into individual has a sense of taste, and yet asking and optimally answering certain separate from the individual, no one questions. First, what does it mean to can quite agree on what taste looks like. have good taste? Second, how, if at all, The Oxford English Dictionary defines does technology affect taste? If so, does taste as “good or discerning judgement, this have any lasting effects on individual especially with regard to what is taste and its place in our social lives? aesthetically pleasing, fashionable, polite,
“Art and life are subjective. Not everybody’s gonna dig what I dig, but I reserve the right to dig it.”
or socially appropriate.” Oscar Wilde once wrote “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best,” while Whoopi Goldberg simply put it: “Art and life are subjective. Not everybody’s gonna dig what I dig, but I reserve the right to dig it.” Regardless of whether you find Wilde, Goldberg or the Oxford English Dictionary a more credible source of information (these names were placed in order of who we personally find to be the most authoritative), all of these agents point to some defining features of taste that make it so hard to pin down: subjectivity, relation to sociability, and the assessment of quality. The subjectivity and the sociability of taste inherently leads to the mass variation of communities that exist within the arts. If taste wasn’t social, communities would not be formed, and if it was in any way objective, the range and eclectic nature of these communities would not make any sense. Despite this subjectivity, these communities have functioned with internal actors who have placed a hierarchy on personal taste, ranging from good to bad, to Nickelback , to the duet Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger made during their brief marriage (RIP
Love), all the way down to rock bottom. particular, also codes each individual Determinants of formal taste for the song into comparable ones and zeros in longest time were vertical, meaning that order to get over the “cold start problem” authority was vested in certain key actors - when there is no data about a recently (critics, cultural elites, publishing houses, released product or track - to recommend record companies etc.) to assess the those obscure songs without many plays. quality of any given artistic venture. The Advertisers track your browser history exponential growth of the Internet and using cookies to send you a targeted its various media platforms has given rise footwear ad after you scroll through a to a more horizontal approach to quality Buzzfeed article entitled “25 Stylish Pairs assessment. When the hierarchy of taste of Fall Booties For Less!” This reminds is pushed onto its side, anyone can give you not only that Buzzfeed is a sad place their two cents on the latest movie, album, where your productivity goes to die, but or exhibit. Now, the “professional’’ voices also that your activity online is constantly that once determined good taste are interpreted, encoded, and then targeted.
“The cautionary tale of advanced technology in arts and culture is that sometimes, to make something easier is not always worthwhile.” placed in a democratic forum where anything can be critiqued, questioned, and reconsidered.
The main issue presented by such algorithms is that they are personalized, but not personal. Taste is deeply Regardless of whether it is connected to the arts, and there is understood as vertical or horizontal, taste something inherently un-analytical and has always been influenced (although not unprogrammable about what touches entirely dictated) by the presence of a an individual and what one identifies third actor, whether it be the professional with. Algorithms can also fatally miss the critique or the majority voice found nuance of our preferences and can falsely through online chatter. Algorithms hold assume many common denominators an interesting position in this dynamic that tie together our assumed preferences. because they are a synthesis of both Netflix often makes these leaps, offering the professional critique that benefits suggestions such as: “Because you from a wealth of information and the watched Knocked Up you will LOVE horizontally democratic structure that is The Revenant” (this is a true example). It centred on the consumer. all comes down to predicting human Here is a brief introduction to this new preferences and behaviours, but it’s being third-party participant: recommendation done by lines of code sifting through data, algorithms, from Spotify or Netflix, a less than perfect process. currently direct millions of streamers Algorithms have the enhanced ability towards new content using an ocean of to streamline a bottomless banquet of data, often placing media in the hands media into digestible portions, but do so of consumers that they might not have in a way that affirms pre-existing biases otherwise discovered. These algorithms that one may already have. Seeking out generate their suggestions based not affirmation to strengthen one’s preferences only on one’s preferences and recent is not new or individual to the technology listening history, but also using a method of streaming services, but by God, is it called “collaborative filtering” where done faster and with more accuracy. The they compare any given individual to technology used in streaming servers similar users - a classic case of “people cannot create individual taste; they can who like A also like B.” Spotify, in only make assumptions and predictions
on pre-existing preferences encoded in data. It takes the introduction of human agency to accept these predictions, and make them real. We live in a time where we can still trust that cool and slightly manic friend who stays up all night going into the depths of Soundcloud, or appreciate recommendations from that other friend who, for reasons we don’t want to get into, has watched every single movie under Netflix’s “Thriller” section. Algorithms as a third-party agent in the curation of taste are revolutionary in the way they facilitate the access, digestion, and acceptance of media, but when seen for exactly what they are, will not end individual taste as we know it. The cautionary tale of advanced technology in arts and culture is that sometimes, making something easier is not always worthwhile. To only enjoy the options that are presented is to create an individual echo chamber, something highly self-affirming, but ultimately limiting. The use of technology in the curation of taste only has something to add to our experience of art, and yet it risks replacing some of the dialogue and debate that characterizes culture if we allow it to do so. Algorithms are a natural continuation of how we have engaged with taste formation, but like any innovation, they deserve a debate and conversation equal to what lies at the foundation of every artistic community and individual preference. In short, don’t throw out your Samsung TV (it is watching you, but ultimately you aren’t that interesting), but also don’t copy and paste Spotify’s weekly feature list into your journal under the title “Songs that Define my Essence.” Although it is complex, and decisive answers are scarce, it is important to recognize and work to reconcile the tension that exists between robotic algorithms (and all the baggage that comes with them, such as corporate profits and privacy infringements and the ‘‘datafication’’ of society) with what ultimately makes us human - our ability to unanimously hate Nickelback under the guise of subjective taste.
OPINIONFEATURE THE MILLENNIAL’S DILEMMA BY QUINN HALMAN & JACK MORRIS
hings used to be simpler. Gone are the days when people’s media consumption was predominantly comprised of leisurely reading the Sunday paper and tuning in to the local evening news channel. Our media diets have grown substantially, both in quantity and complexity, because there are now so many more offerings than there used to be, made possible by significant technological progress. And while there are plenty of “health nuts” these days who write listicles and film vlogs about superfoods, few of us are thinking about the impact of our media consumption on our health, despite its similar effect on our lives. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book on the healthy consumption of food, author Michael Pollan discusses how, as omnivores, we have a preponderance of choice when it comes to what we eat. Despite being able to eat as much of whatever we’d like, his conclusion is a simple one: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Millennials now face a similar dilemma, as we have more options than ever in which media and technologies we can consume. Thankfully, it can be solved through a similarly simple and temperate approach. For every year since today’s university students have been in middle school, a new social media app has come to prominence, some with serious staying power that have launched the celebrity careers of many ordinary people (RIP Vine). Middle schoolers today are hooked on screens at a younger age than
millennials were, and have to navigate through all the platforms all at once, instead of year by year. Take the iPhone, which came out in 2007 and revolutionized the way we use the Internet. Suddenly, it wasn’t just omniscient, it was omnipresent as well. In 2009, Apple launched their iconic “there’s an app for that” campaign. It came out in the age of the iPhone 3G, when there were only 500 apps available; As of July 2017, there are approximately 2.2 million apps. Today, apps are equipped with push
But we are paying for these services, just not through monetary fees. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we start doing a better job of recognizing these costs. Firstly, there is the fact that we are paying with our data, which is to the digital age what fossil fuels were to the industrial age. Thus far, companies have been extremely successful in convincing consumers to give up their privacy for fairly little. To industry giants like Google and Facebook, referring to
“Middle schoolers today are hooked on screens at a younger age than millennials were, and have to navigate through all the platforms all at once, instead of year by year.” notifications, begging you to engage and constantly demanding your attention. To some, this is a complete overreach; to others, being constantly plugged into the world is synonymous with having endless opportunities to engage with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Too bad the internet is full of trolls.
people as customers is less accurate than calling them products. This oversight, on the part of the consumer, allows a disproportionate amount of value to be captured by the companies offering these goods and services.
Secondly, there are the less direct costs: those that affect our general Additionally, social media companies wellbeing. A first memory of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and for those of us that lived through the time Snapchat are leveraging our social of online chatrooms, is the notion of the instincts to become more ingrained in our person on the other side of the screen daily life. We sign up because our friends easily being a creepy old man. Now there do and don’t think too much about the is a whole show on MTV dedicated to the costs—well, because all of this is “free.” phenomenon of “catfishing.” However,
the current safety discourse surrounding social media has less to do with others, and more about how one is affected by these apps. Social media has us constantly criticizing others while being criticized. The numerical value assigned to these superficial judgments makes us a very anxious generation, no more narcissistic than any prior cohort. Social media is a #filtered highlight reel of everyone’s life that is always accessible, even in our own lowest moments. It is only natural to compare ourselves to others—we interpret the world through a framework of who and what is around us. We can see what others are doing and whether we’re being excluded. Although it is nothing new, exclusion via social media has a more visceral effect because it is seen rather than heard, and seen by many, at that. Too often, we get caught up in our technological “manifest destiny,” forever increasing our ability to do various things, to the point where we forget to question whether doing so is making us better off. Sure, there is undoubtedly a great amount of instant gratification created by these devices and websites. The dopamine released every time someone “likes” a photo of you is a type of intoxicant, plain and simple. And guess what? Humans love intoxicants. But, as is becoming ever more apparent, the long term effects of
this diet are less than pleasurable. It takes no more than three seconds to delete an app. But experiencing “fear of missing out” (FOMO) on a generational and cultural level, while friends are engaged online? Ludacris. How else are we supposed to keep up with the Kardashians? Also, why do so many of us care? In this age of meme culture, trends
No one can say for certain how much of our time is spent staring at a screen—we would be more than a little nervous to find out. And even when we’re not staring at a screen, all it takes is a buzz or a ring to get us to do so. Checking one’s phone is so reflexive for most people, you’ll see everyone in a room check theirs when one buzzes.
“The dopamine released every time someone ‘likes’ a photo of you is a type of intoxicant, plain and simple.” come and go like SSMU scandals; memes are what we try most to keep up with. This leads to binge-watching Stranger Things, getting chided by younger siblings for a stale reference, or having symptoms of a mental illness being thrown back at us as if the creator was in our heads. These things are unifying, yes, but they too are overwhelming. Mindfulness of what one consumes has always been a good idea. People have been choosing good books over bad for as long as we’ve been reading. It is only until recently that the forcefulness with which media is presented to us has grown by several orders of magnitude. Starting with the widespread use of the internet, the level of access we have granted to our personal lives has continuously grown.
This level of consumption and engagement is not sustainable. Our generation is already showing the signs of fatigue as mental health issues become more prevalent, and the problem will likely only worsen for the coming generations. Disentangling ourselves from this web of frivolous technology is not a simple task. Phones are important communication devices, social media can be helpful for staying in touch with friends, and the authors of this piece write primarily for the internet. But if we begin to think critically about how we use these tools, we can separate the good from the bad, and hopefully begin using them to their full potential.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SENG CHIAT HAW
Molly Harris Tijana Mitrovic Jordan Devon
SSMU Announces Year-Long Building Closure Via Facebook Event
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2017
he William Shatner University Centre will be closed as of March 2018 due to the replacement of the building’s heating and ventilation systems. The building is estimated to reopen in Winter 2019. On September 29, an event entitled “Building Closure Information Session” was posted on Facebook. For many students, the event, hosted by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), was the first they had heard of the closure.
announcement. One student noted that he had heard rumours of the building’s closure for months, and was disappointed that the SSMU “chose to keep it secret and announce it in a really half-assed way with short notice.” To this point, the SSMU responded that it “understands and [encourages students] to keep pressing this issue.”
Clubs requiring a unique space to operate, such as Players’ Theatre, will also be forced to relocate during the closure. When asked why information regarding the University Centre’s closure was kept from students until recently, VP Student Life Jemark Earle stated: ‘‘McGill University owns the University Centre and is responsible for all building maintenance including the HVAC project. We did not have verifiable information about the project approval, scope and duration until recently.’’
Phoebe Warren, a U4 Political Science and History student, stated that she is “not so much angry about the closing down of the building, as renovations are necessary for the safety of Earle acknowledged the burden this students and staff, but rather the manner will place on students, conceding that Comments in the event ranged from in which this whole fiasco has been dealt concerns about how the SSMU broke the with.” She had “questions surrounding ‘‘we [the SSMU Executives] realize that news of the University Center’s closure, future cohesiveness of student life, as this puts our membership in a difficult to anxieties about the impacts of the well as concerns surrounding adequate situation and we have been doing the move on services such as the daycare, to space for organizations that are being best we can to ensure that we release information as it becomes available to “I should have gone to Concordia.” displaced and proper accessibility us in a timely manner. As a result, we A number of students took issue with accommodations.” released all the information available the lack of transparency and accessibility, The University Centre’s closure will to us as it became available and will citing the absence of an official press have wide-ranging implications for its continue to do so.’’ release. Others complained that the members and tenants. In addition to the SSMU has committed to recording information session occurs during class shutdown of Gerts, La Prep, and Liquid the information session so as to make it hours, and that the SSMU has yet to post Nutrition, student services housed in the more accessible to its members, and states anything to answer simple questions in building will be moved as well. These that it will “be continuously updating advance of the session. services include the Legal Information everyone as the closure approaches. Other students referenced the Clinic, the Sexual Assault Centre of [The Facebook event] is the first of “hilarity” of finding out that the SSMU McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS), many notifications.” McGill students, is moving for a year via a Facebook McGill Student Emergency Response however, seem displeased both by the event, highlighting the “inappropriate” Team (M-SERT), Midnight Kitchen, The circumstances and by the way in which and “irresponsible” nature of the Black Students’ Network, Queer McGill, they were informed of them. and many others.
Ryan London News Writer
Students Emphasize Necessity of Specialized Eating Disorder Treatment
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON OCTOBER 14, 2017 Content warning: discussion of eating disorders
n September, McGill Student Services drastically reduced many of the resources allocated toward the Eating Disorder Program (EDP) without informing students. The story was leaked to the CBC after the university placed the EDP under review and drastically restructured it. In response to mass upset, Martine Gauthier, Executive Director of Student Services, issued an explanatory statement as to why these cuts were made, and detailed how McGill plans to help students suffering from eating disorders without a specialized program. “Student mental health needs have expressed themselves as a 57% increase in demand for counselling services over the last three years,” Gauthier wrote. “EDP was the only treatment program we offered [specifically for students with eating disorders], even though the range of mental illness and disorders is substantial.”
disorders, and 50% want to lose weight. Logan Hall, a U4 Arts student, Many educational institutions across detailed a frustrating experience with Canada feel they must act accordingly, and McGill Mental Health Services. Though several universities, including Concordia, never placed in the Eating Disorder the University of British Columbia, Program at McGill, he suffered from and the University of Western Ontario, anorexia between the ages of twelve and provide ample information pertaining thirteen. He says that the psychiatrist he to eating disorders on their websites— saw at McGill Mental Health from Fall including warning signs, symptoms, 2015 to Winter 2017 helped him “through and how to seek support. Despite the the worst parts of [his] depression, and accessibility of this information, the helped [him] make the decision to take a majority of Canadian universities lack semester off, which saved and eventually specialized programs to support students revitalized [his] academic trajectory.” affected by eating disorders.
“Reflecting back, the [program] at McGill operated the best they could with the resources they had [...] a lot of
people could find value in the services they had to offer,
but alternatively, a lot of other people may have found that the resources [were not] tailored or personalized enough.”
Comparatively, the list of resources McGill provides does not include any explicit information, only the names of community partners and a list of recommended books. There is a worry that this may limit accessibility for students who remain unsure of how to classify what they’re going through.
The program, which remains advertised on the McGill website, included access to a nutritionist and meal planning, as well as individual and group therapy. Gauthier specified that Student Services will be implementing a model of “shared responsibility,” meaning that Ella Amir, Executive Director of students will be connected with McGill Action on Mental Illness-Quebec, a Counselling and Psychiatric services, mental health organization, worries that as well as services within the Montreal without a specialized program, students community—though it is not specified with eating disorders will slip through the which—to treat their disorders. The new cracks. “Eating disorders are complex model, Gauthier says, will better allocate and may include anxiety and depression,” resources to the students who need Amir explained in an email. “The new support, as opposed to the specialized structure appears to be lumping different program that existed before. conditions together, which may end up According to Statistics Canada, not providing the proper care for some.”
1.5% of Canadian women from ages 15A McGill student who spoke on the 24 report having been diagnosed with condition of anonymity shared that they an eating disorder, putting university actually never got into the Eating Disorder students especially at risk. The results of Program, despite a self-identified need for a study at Queen’s University showed that specific treatment, because of the length 5% of students are struggling with eating of the wait list.
Last winter semester, Hall’s psychiatrist was let go from Mental Health Services for an “administrative indiscretion.” He was given no further explanation, and though he “really likes” his new psychiatrist, the transition was difficult. Hall thinks that “it’s a travesty that funding is being cut for the Eating Disorder Program. In a world that is overwhelmingly digital, and in a culture that idealizes body types that, for most people, are virtually unattainable, eating disorder treatment is that much more vital.” Hall contends that he was “lucky enough to receive specialized treatment at an age where [his] brain was still rapidly developing and [his] behaviours were still fairly ephemeral,” but “at the college age, this is less the case, which makes specialized treatment that much more important.” According to a student who used services offered by EDP for the past two
years, “reflecting back, the [program] at McGill operated the best they could with the resources they had [...] a lot of people could find value in the services they had to offer, but alternatively, a lot of other people may have found that the resources [were not] tailored or personalized enough.” The student held that while “McGill [was] one of the few universities in Canada that even [had] an eating disorder program to begin with [...] there definitely should be more of a push to give more resources to help students [suffering from eating disorders].”
of her mental health professionals, and stressed the importance of having specialized care for students with eating disorders on campuses. “I’m fortunate enough to receive private care. However, not everyone is so lucky. Cutting McGill’s Eating Disorder Program would be a huge disservice to those struggling with this disease and I hope the school reconsiders their decision,” she said. McGill Counselling services will continue to be available to all students struggling with mental illness, including eating disorders. In addition, McGill
“McGill may like to find out why there is such an increase in anxiety and depression; digging into the root causes
may suggest other interventions [...] It may not be the role of the current mental health services but someone may be interested to explore it further.”
“Having struggled with an eating Psychiatric services are open to all, though disorder for years I can confidently say a referral from a general practitioner that having access to specialized eating is required to get an appointment. disorder services has literally saved my Previously cancelled group therapy life. This disease is so overpowering and sessions will restart in the Winter semester. consuming and I would surely not be “[This] is a good thing,” said a student where I am today without specialized who wishes to remain anonymous. “But help,” said a Queen’s University student what about the students who need [group who wished to remain anonymous. therapy] now?” Though this individual has never used the mental health services at Queen’s, she is registered for academic accommodations at the recommendation
In her statement, Gauthier specified that McGill Student Services will be increasing their efforts in awareness and prevention, areas she claims students
are seeking more assistance in. There is a concern that this may not be enough, and that perhaps McGill should be doing research as to what is causing the substantial spike in students suffering from mental illness. “McGill may like to find out why there is such an increase in anxiety and depression; digging into the root causes may suggest other interventions, this may be real prevention,” Amir suggests. “It may not be the role of the current mental health services but someone may be interested to explore it further.” In response to voiced concerns, Vera Romano, Head of Counselling Services, assured the McGill community that there is no need to worry. “Students will continue to have access to a full array of support services […] the Student Service team has been supporting this student population for years and will continue to do so,” Romano explained. “Their wellbeing is of paramount importance to us all.” Within McGill, resources for those struggling with eating disorders include Counselling and Psychiatric services and the Office for Students with Disabilities. Externally, organizations such as ANEB Quebec, NEDIC helpline, Clinique BACA, and CBT Clinic have specialized programs for assisting those with eating disorders.
Luca Brown News Writer
McGill Weighs In
Municipal Election Edition
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON NOVEMBER 4, 2017
ontrealers head to the polls on November 5 to elect their next mayor—or at least they are supposed to.
fleet and making public transportation more affordable for seniors, children, and those struggling financially, Plante’s proposed additions may help improve public transportation for those who wish to access all the city has to offer.
Many people find themselves disillusioned with city politics. Denis Coderre, for his part, criticized Differentiating between the roles of the feasibility of the Pink Line proposal, the municipal, provincial, and federal choosing instead to focus on the upcoming governments, and attributing the effects of extension to the existing Blue Line (which each to everyday living can be challenging. will extend past terminus St-Michel to And yet, Montrealers interact with their Anjou), as well as the Réseau électrique city and the decisions it makes on a daily métropolitain (REM), a light rail train basis. system that would extend west and south Central to the success of mayoral in order to connect Deux-Montagnes, the candidates Denis Coderre and Valérie West Island, the Trudeau Airport, and the Plante will be the ability to engage the South Shore to the metro system. youth vote, which can influence elections Plante’s ambitious vision for in powerful ways. But amid widespread Montreal’s transportation system has voter apathy and low election turnout, attracted the interest of several students, how are young people engaging with this including Christopher Ciafro, a U2 important level of governance? How do Political Science student and Plante students view the candidates and their supporter. proposals? Perhaps most importantly, how do young people perceive their city and “So much of our lives is determined their role within it? by our geography,” Ciafro said. “And for To find out, The Bull & Bear that reason, [Plante’s] plan particularly for conducted an informal survey on the Pink Line and improvement of public Montreal’s municipal election to gauge infrastructure makes Montreal smaller the interest and general opinions of in the sense that time between places is young people. 65 students responded to decreased. For that reason, [she’ll] create the survey, shedding valuable light on stronger communities.” these key questions.
Hope and Frustration: STM Edition Where the city overwhelmingly loses admiration among students is its public transportation system. Coupled with construction and traffic, the Société de Transport de Montréal’s (STM) unreliability was the most popular issue among respondents, many of whom rely on the service for their mobility. This is why mayoral candidate Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal hopes to add a new Pink Line to Montreal’s metro network. The Pink Line would run diagonally through the city from Montréal Nord to Lachine. Along with adding 300 new hybrid buses to the existing STM
“[Bike lanes] are a part of [Plante’s] platform that really does appeal to me— that and her platform in terms of increasing metro service. Coderre also has a plan to increase bike lanes, though not to the same extent […] I think that’s one area where they both shine.” Love and Hate for Denis Coderre Opinions were generally mixed regarding Montreal’s incumbent mayor, Denis Coderre. Just over 20% of student respondents indicated they would cast a vote for Coderre, compared to 56% support for Plante. Many of those displeased with Coderre’s tenure cited frustrations over seemingly endless construction projects, displeasure with perceived overspending, and concerns over perceptions of corruption associated with previous municipal governments. Coderre’s response to Uber’s threat of leaving Quebec, as well as the implementation of Montreal’s pitbull ban, were among other criticisms. Despite this, many appreciate Coderre’s leadership concerning the cultural, artistic, and architectural additions to the city, especially with regards to Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations. Several respondents indicated that they value initiatives by Coderre to make Montreal more attractive to those living in and visiting the city.
“Montreal has a pretty good public transport system, and I run completely on public transport,” said Sean Lee, a Communications student at Concordia University. “But other people from bigger “The [Montreal 375] celebrations cities have told me that [their public transit have caught a lot of flack, but I think overall systems] blow our city out of the water, so they’ve been pretty good, and I think that I think that as such a huge city we should [they] reinstalled a sense of pride in the have some new projects for public transit.” city,” said Figueiredo, an undecided voter. Student cyclists, such as U2 “There are more jobs than ever, there are International Development student more businesses opening up in Montreal, Andrew Figueiredo, are also hopeful for [and] people are moving to the city. So I investments in bike infrastructure, which think the [Coderre] administration has were proposed by both Coderre and been effective in reforming and reshaping Plante. the Montreal economy.” “[Montreal’s] bike infrastructure is Ciafro generally concurs, highlighting pretty good, but I would like to see more the artistic additions to Montreal’s urban bike lanes as a cyclist myself,” Figueiredo landscape, but also emphasized that said.
surface-level additions to the cityscape are not enough for Montreal.
by low voter turnout. Canada’s youth turnout has historically hovered at around 40%. Over a third of respondents to The Bull & Bear’s survey indicated that they were not interested in municipal politics, and just 56% indicated they would certainly participate in Sunday’s election.
“On the outside, a lot of what [Coderre] has done has been really good for the city of Montreal. The redevelopment of the [Bonaventure] Expressway, […] the revitalization of urban spaces to make them more pedestrian-friendly, the flags Figueiredo believes that the reasons on Sherbrooke street— these are things young people are so apathetic to that have made Montreal seem alive,” municipal politics come down to a loss Ciafro said. of faith in the political process and the “These are aesthetic improvements relative lack of media attention given to […] the focus has not been on people; local government.
it’s been on business,” Ciafro said. “Economic development is important, but Coderre has been trying to put Montreal on the world market. He’s been trying to make it seem as though it’s a world city. But what does being a world city do for the people that live here?” “For example, [Coderre] wants to build a baseball field, but it’s not like the MLB (Major League Baseball) doesn’t have millions of dollars to build their own field. So him pursuing a plan to build the baseball field is just one giant government subsidy for an industry that is already raking in millions of dollars. It’s unneeded investment,” Ciafro maintained. Being a City Dweller Montreal’s last election was plagued
“With all the high-profile cases in Montreal as of late, people just feel like city government is never going to change. They feel like nobody is going to go in there and clean things up,” Figueiredo said. “There’s also not as much visibility around municipal politics. You can catch Question Period on CBC, but it’s kind of hard to catch a city council meeting. While [city politics] impact them, [people] just don’t see the high-profile candidates, the big names and the big faces on the TV commercials.” Despite the apathy towards municipal politics, survey respondents indicated that students seem to appreciate most of what the city has to offer. Over half of all respondents rated Montreal’s cuisine, people, nightlife, arts, and culture highly. Given the benefits Montrealers derive
from living in an urban environment, Lee believes engagement in city politics is a crucial form of civic involvement. “The city is meant to fill in the gaps that other tiers of government don’t take care of. But living in a city is more than that. You feel connected to everyone around you. Everyday, everyone is going through the same thing. We’re all going through Montreal together,” Lee said. Ciafro goes even further to emphasize that city politics are something that link citizens together in pursuit of common goods such as living spaces, services, and culture. ‘‘City politics is about how we come together to make decisions that aren’t solely for the individual,» Ciafro remarked. «It’s about making concessions to each other in the sense that what might not directly benefit you will benefit the society as a whole.’’ “You see city politics everyday. It’s the roads that you use, the buses you take, the metros you ride, it’s the home that you live in. It’s where your house is in relation to your place of work, your family and friends,” he said. “So local government has immense effects on geography, and that geography is what determines so much about how your life is lived.”
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PHOTO COURTESY OF CARL ATIYEH Jacques Taschereau Business & Tech Writer
Student Capitalism Takes a Front Row Seat
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON OCTOBER 2, 2017
n a rainy Wednesday night, a Saint-Denis art gallery was home to a unique event. The launch of Front Row Ventures (FRV), Montreal’s first student-run venture capital firm, on September 27 at the Livart, provided a window into the company’s novel business model. Ultimately, the goal of FRV is to unlock the potential of student-run startup companies. However, what sets this company apart is that its investment decisions are influenced and ultimately decided by a crack team of student capitalists.
of the student-run VC model across the globe. The new student-run VC will identify 24 startups which will all receive an equal investment of $25K in order to boost the company’s cash reserves at its early stages. In return, FRV will take at least 2.5%, with a cap at $1M valuation. If the company is worth $10M, for example, then the 5% equity will be calculated on the $1M basis, instead of 10. FRV is built to help students in exchange for future returns. The startup will also receive expert advice from prominent consulting firms including Lavery, Deloitte, Volume7, and Immersion. This, along with the far-reaching contacts of the FRV and Real Venture teams, form an incredible offering for any early-stage startup.
To create FRV, all it took was three students and their determination. The story of this new student-based venture fund starts with three student entrepreneurs. Raphael Christian-Roy, The student-run VC model has Éléonore Jarry Ferron, and Nicolas already been implemented in the USA Synnott, the founders of FRV, first pitched (with Dorm Room Fund) and in Asia, the idea of a student-run Venture Capital which partly inspired the FRV founders (VC) fund to Real Ventures, a Montreal- to make the jump. Although many based tech VC. After subsequent meetings doubted these VCs, it seems most of them and frequent conceptual remolding, have created great value for their initial Real Ventures finally moved forward to financial backers. Most VCs wouldn’t provide $600K of initial capital in order touch the campus startup market, which to conceive FRV. The inception of FRV in turn created the opportunity for firms marks the first company of its kind in such as Dorm Room Fund and FRV to Canada, while underlining the growth tap into this market.
More recently, Raphael, Éléonore, and Nicolas were tasked with building a team of student investors. These students, constituting a balanced cross-section of the Montreal student population, are united in their resilience, passion for startups, and ability to search for talent. This group of 17 student investors was chosen out of 80 candidates. After a year of preparation with field trips to meet VC gurus and conducting deep research into specific industries, the group was finally ready. This training period was pivotal in getting everyone to the same level of knowledge about all relevant industries. The group is divided into 4 clusters, with each being responsible for their respective campus in Montreal (UQAM, UdeM, Concordia, McGill). Each cluster, led by a partner, scouts for talented founders of startups, and, after their approval has been given, takes the founder to meet and eventually pitch to the rest of the FRV team. The investor meetings occur every month and a vote is taken to decide to invest or not. The two main criteria to assess value, according to FRV, are the team and the idea. The team composition is important because only a founder with a resilient and driven team will be able to
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execute the project with conviction. The product must be innovative, unique, and needs the potential to eventually make a profit. With the financial backing they have received, FRV is in a prime position to judge startups on criteria beyond shortterm returns. This could open their eyes to more important growth factors such as the talent and commitment of the people involved.
their partners’ opinions are as valuable as theirs. This theme is pivotal for the sustainability of the company, because team members need to be replaced when each year’s seniors graduate. Thus, founders are incentivised to give as many responsibilities as possible to student investors so that they can learn, and eventually become part of the executive team.
After the pitch, the voting takes place. There are 8 voters, 3 founders and 5 cluster partners, and a two-thirds vote in favour is required. Cluster partners can decide either to voice the opinion of their cluster or to exercise their own judgement. This voting structure is fairer and more rigorous than most VCs, emphasizing that the founders truly believe that
As far as McGill students are concerned, there are 5 student investors within our ranks, hailing from different faculties. They will be scouting the campus for startup founders by hosting events and reaching out to people both inside and outside of their social circles. Student entrepreneurs in Montreal are encouraged to apply online or reach out
Jesse Wu Business & Tech Writer
directly to the student partners in order to get their ideas noticed. Although this is great progress, Montreal still has a lot of ground to cover in terms of venture capital and startups. The name of the city has yet to be included in both the Top 20 in Startup Genome’s startup index and Martin Prosperity Institute’s total venture capital investment rankings. The recent advancements in AI-oriented ventures, including the recent announcement of a McGill-Facebook research lab collaboration, provide hope for the future. This, combined with the new FRV venture, lends legitimacy to the Montreal startup community.
What a 300% US Tariff Means for the Bombardier C-Series
n 6 October, the International biggest factor in Delta’s purchase is the fund, while the Canadian and British Trade Commission (ITC) of the unduly low prices offered by Bombardier, governments subsidised $350 million and United States Department of Commerce though Delta insists that it bought the $188 million respectively. determined in a preliminary anti-dumping fuel-efficient C-series because Boeing Bombardier’s current debt of $9 ruling to impose a 79.82-percent tariff on does not offer any comparable products. billion necessitates this financial aid, a the C-series jets of Canadian aerospace Edward Bastian, CEO of Delta, called factor in the company’s consideration of company Bombardier. The total tariff the ITC ruling “absurd” and said that bankruptcy in 2015. The company lost a will be nearly 300-percent, including with these new tariffs, the Bombardier merger deal with German rail company a previous subsidies ruling. These two jets are now entirely unaffordable. Siemens AG on the day of the ITC ruling, decisions are the result of accusations and its shares plummeted from American 14-percent at the TSX open manufacturer Boeing “Edward Bastian, CEO of Delta, called the ITC the day after. Bombardier is that the Canadian ruling “absurd” and said that with these new unmistakably in no shape government unfairly to fund the manufacture of subsidized the tariffs, the Bombardier jets are now entirely the C-series, and desperately C-series program, needs the Quebecois and unaffordable.” allowing Bombardier Canadian governments to to sell each airliner However, Boeing has proved, in its act as its saving graces. for $19 million, a figure that Bombardier official complaint to the Department Regardless, the Quebecois and contested, in light of its roughly $80 of Commerce, that the governments Canadian governments stand united in million listing price. of Canada and Quebec have injected defense of Bombardier. Quebec Premier Boeing had already filed a complaint large sums of investments and additional Philippe Couillard lambasted the ruling against Bombardier in April 2017, a subsidies to support Bombardier’s by calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to year after Delta Airlines placed an order C-series program. To date, the Quebec ensure that “not a bolt, not a part, not a for 125 C-series jets from the Canadian government has contributed a total of plane from Boeing [enters] Canada until company. The American corporation $3.25 billion through Investissement this conflict is resolved in a satisfactory alleges that this contract undercuts the Quebec – the government’s funding way,” and labeled the trade dispute as a sales performance of its 737 airliners. division – and the Caisse de Dépôt et war, one that Quebec “shall win.” Boeing additionally suggested that the Placement du Québec (CDPQ) pension Similarly, Trudeau threatened to
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cancel Canada’s order of 18 Super Hornet fighters from Boeing, and affirmed that the government “won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue and put [Canadian] aerospace workers out of business.” British Prime Minister Theresa May was “bitterly disappointed” and worried about the employment of the 4,000 workers of the Bombardier plant in East Belfast, Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, both leaders have implicit political intentions with their statements: Trudeau’s Liberals need to win extra seats in Quebec during the 2019 parliamentary election, and May’s minority government currently remains in power by a few legislators from Northern Ireland.
employees at a potential disadvantage. Yet, Ross is inflicting damages on some Americans themselves, as much of the C-Series content comes from American suppliers, including Pratt & Whitney, who manufacture the airplane engines. The Bombardier program could generate $30 billion USD and 22,700 jobs in 19 states, but will only do so if the Department of Commerce removes the tariffs.
and Canadian officials that Secretary Ross – a billionaire and a staunch supporter of President Trump’s “America First” policy – would take measures to subdue any foreign companies that put its American counterparts and their
Boeing, as the subsidies Bombardier received undermined the Brazilian aerospace company Embraer SA as well. The Brazilian government took a step further by requesting that the World Trade Organization (WTO) open
an investigation into the C-Series jet program, to which the WTO agreed on September 29. Embraer labeled the subsidies in question as an “unsustainable practice that distorts the entire global market, harming competitors at the expense of Canadian taxpayers,” and the WTO will soon name three members on the ruling panel for this issue.
In response to Embraer’s claims, Bombardier was confident that the government-funded programs comply with WTO regulations. The company released another statement with regards to Boeing, saying, “it is pure hypocrisy for Boeing to say that the C-Series launch pricing is a ‘violation of global trade In response to Trudeau law’ when Boeing and May, U.S. Secretary “The Bombardier program could generate $30 does the same for its of Commerce Wilbur Ross new aircraft.” Boeing said, “The US values its billion USD and 22,700 jobs in 19 states, but did receive $457 relationships with Canada, will only do so if the Department of Commerce million in federal but even our closest allies grants between 2000 must play by the rules. The removes the tariffs.” and 2014 and $64 subsidisation of goods billion in federal by foreign governments is something at absurdly low prices, made possible loans and loan guarantees from the U.S. that the Trump Administration takes by a major injection of public funds, in government, which seems to be just as very seriously, and we will continue to violation of U.S. and global trade laws.” generous as its Canadian counterpart in evaluate and verify the accuracy of this Moreover, Curran identified the trade the aerospace industry. Perhaps the issue preliminary determination.” dispute as a “classic case of dumping.” is not as cut-and-dried as Boeing would like consumers to believe. It was not a surprise to Bombardier Unexpectedly, Brazil agreed with Regarding Prime Minister Trudeau’s statement, Boeing replied specifically that it is not “suing or attacking Canada.” The company spokesman Dan Curran asserted that “this is a commercial dispute with Bombardier, which has sold its C-Series airplane in the United States
The conflict between Boeing and Bombardier is far from over, and not all of the details have been finalised. Be sure to watch out for the final ITC ruling, due in 2018.
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Sara Avramovic Business & Tech Writer
For Canada to Win, We Need to Learn How to Fail:
Anthony Lacavera’s New Book Discusses the Canadian Innovative Spirit
nthony Lacavera is a Canadian entrepreneur from a small town in Ontario who disrupted the Canadian telecom industry by establishing Wind Mobile in 2008. In the almost ten years since, Lacavera has sold Wind Mobile to Shaw, and has been an outspoken advocate for Canadian entrepreneurs. He recently released How We Can Win (and what happens to us and our country if we don’t), a book that discusses Canadian attitudes and approaches to competition with countries such as the United States. Throughout the book, he makes bold assertions about Canadian talent and how we can change our competitive posture to lead certain industries.
argues that Canada has been playing second fiddle to the US for too long and that it is time for Canadian businesses to start “going for the gold, not the bronze.” When it comes to Canadian entrepreneurs, Lacavera is looking to the future. In the tech age, Lacavera believes that it is irrational for the Canadian economy to be so reliant on natural resources instead of moving into service industries that will bolster a stronger middle class. Coming from a tech background, Lacavera has seen firsthand how new technologies impact the workforce. He asserts that “the technological revolution isn’t going to be a big leap to where everything is automated right from the start, it is mostly going to be humans and machines interacting together and right now Canada isn’t training people to do those jobs.” In other words, he envisions a world in which traditional humans increasingly work alongside their robotic counterparts. “Lacavera argues that ‘coddling students too much, and celebrating mere participation’ is an illness born of Canadian amicability that holds Canada behind its innovative peers.”
Canadians are known for being a polite, inclusive and diverse people that are open to ideas and discussion. Our neighbours to the south, however, do not have the same reputation. Cutthroat, aggressive, and demanding are not attitudes generally associated with Canadians (outside of the Winter Olympics), and according to Lacavera, that is reflected in our competitive position globally. He argues that the United States has aggressively competed to gain their global primacy in innovation. Lacavera
Strengthening the middle class is something that Lacavera views as a top priority for Canada, and he believes that starts with education. At top schools like McGill, applications are reductively simple. Students submit their grades and test scores and await the result. Whereas highly competitive American schools challenge their applicants to “describe a challenge they’ve overcome in the past,” Canadian schools tend to focus on quantitative measures. This clinical application process represents what is
wrong with the Canadian education system, according to Lacavera. Since primary education is increasingly geared toward test scores, minimum requirements and grade point averages, Canadian students take unchallenging and unhelpful courses because they are too afraid to fail and lose an opportunity to pursue higher education. When asked what Canadian universities and schools should do to create more competitive and innovative Canadian entrepreneurs, Lacavera doesn’t mince words. He believes that Canadian students need to learn how to fail. As an entrepreneur, he has experienced failures and setbacks every day in his professional and personal life. This is true of many professionals who make a career of operating outside of their comfort zone. He cites discomfort and experience overcoming innovative obstacles as a key to his success as an entrepreneur and business leader. Lacavera argues that “coddling students too much, and celebrating mere participation” is an illness born of Canadian amicability that holds Canada behind its innovative peers. By teaching students such as ourselves how to fail and come back from those failures, Lacavera believes that Canadian entrepreneurs will stake their rightful claim as world leaders in business. Ultimately, Lacavera has an optimistic view of Canada’s prospects. He views the next few years as an opportunity for Canada to assert itself as a global innovation hub. He cites Canadian leadership in quantum computing, machine learning, and online business as strengths that Canadians can leverage to compete in the global landscape. In this way, How We Can Win is a passionate call for Canadians to take advantage of our collective talents. It is an excellent read for anyone seeking to gain a snapshot of the Canadian competitive position and to understand the entrepreneurial viewpoint.
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PHOTO COURTESY OF MIRANDA WAIBEL KC Moore Arts & Culture Editor
McGill’s Own Soft Girl
arys Peterson-Katz is a poet, an buy a book if you publish this.” I decided artist, and a McGill student in to self-publish because I wanted a physical U2 Honours Cognitive Science. She copy for those requesting it and I wanted recently self-published a collection of my thoughts in one space. poetry entitled Soft Girl that explores her B&B: Many poems have references to struggles with love and mental health. “soft girl” in them. Why did you decide to The Bull & Bear had the chance to sit make it the title of your book? down with her and discuss her writing. KPK: I’m a person with a lot of jagged edges, so it’s more aspirational than it is a Bull & Bear (B&B): Can you take us true account of who I feel I am. through why you first began publishing B&B: You’ve written hundreds of poems; your poems online, and why you decided what was the selection process for the to create a self-published collection? poems that went into this collection?
and she carves her drawings into pots, vases and mugs. She does really thick charcoal work. What drew me to her was her life drawings. A lot of my writing is about being or feeling naked and she does such beautiful line drawings of the human form. That’s something I really wanted to incorporate. Many people don’t feel at home in their bodies, but she makes the drawings feel home-like to me. B&B: Do you have a favourite poet? Which writers have influenced your work?
KPK: One of my favourite poets has Karys Peterson-Katz (KPK): It originally KPK: The poetry book is called Soft Girl, significantly influenced my writing and started as a project when I was entering so it’s mostly the poems I’ve identified my book. Her name is Susan Minot, and high school. At the very beginning of the with through the past few years. There she has this poetry book called Poems year, I decided to do a personal project are poems that I’ve written for other 4 A.M. I would specifically only read it where I was writing one poem a day for people, and poems I’ve written during at 4 AM. It’s a collection of her travels, a year, and I actually managed to write certain periods in my life, but I wanted and each place she went, she had a new 365 poems in my first year of high school. the poems to reflect where I am currently. collection of poetry. I found it at the The transition from elementary to high I wanted something that encapsulated bottom of a thrift store bucket for twentyschool was very hard for me, and writing how I have been feeling throughout my five cents, and I’ve kept it with me ever was a good outlet. I started by publishing university life, rather than how I felt in since I started writing. on Tumblr, because it was a good way high school when I was doing the project. B&B: Two major themes running through to keep a collection, and I wanted to your poems are love and mental health. see what other people thought about B&B: Your book features artwork by What is it about these two topics that keep it. I started getting positive feedback - Madison Powers. What about her you coming back to them in your writing? I’ve been posting on Tumblr for about drawings made you want to use her work? KPK: I found it’s easiest to write six years now, and I’ve had followers KPK: She’s absolutely amazing. I went to about what you know, and, like you said, following me from the very beginning. elementary school with her, and I’ve been love and mental health are very big topics They’re the ones who have been sending following her on Instagram and Facebook in my life. I have Bipolar Disorder type me messages saying, “We’d really like to for many years. She mostly does ceramics, II and I’m vocal about it because many
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people don’t talk about it. In one of my poems, I say: “The angry people spoke with their hands, the happy people spoke with their eyes, and the sad people never spoke at all.” That’s very scary to me. I would never want people to feel like that, like they can’t talk about it. I find writing poetry helps people identify with something they’ve been feeling and may not have been able to say for themselves. B&B: Do you find that harnessing your emotions within poetry helps you make sense of them? KPK: One hundred percent. When I’m having my bad nights, I’ve found writing is very calming and releasing. It’s a way to really harness and ground yourself if you can’t find any other way to do it. I’ve honestly found that writing for me is more beneficial than therapy. B&B: You touched on being passionate about mental health. What makes you
Zoe Peterson Arts & Culture Writer
feel so strongly about being vocal? Have you found issues with the way others portray it? KPK: Mental illness is severely romanticized. It seems like it’s a beautiful thing that people are hurting, and this is a huge problem happening right now, in all forms of media. I hope that my writing didn’t come across as that. That was not the intention. It’s very important to me because I had a friend in high school who passed away from his mental illness. For me, writing was how I found peace with it, because I believe if I had spoken to him more outwardly when he was around, things could have ended differently. I feel very passionate about speaking out about getting help because some people never had the opportunity to do so. B&B: You said mental illness is severely romanticized in the media, but you write about both love and mental illness. How do you balance the two?
KPK: There’s this quote that says, “You can’t love anybody else until you love yourself.” I find that I can be completely full of love for other people and for life, even on the days that I am struggling the most. Mental illness and love are not at war with each other. It’s not as if you can’t have one and not the other. There’s a difference between romanticizing mental illness and romanticizing yourself… I am my mental illness but I’m also a person that is completely full of love for life, and it’s a hard and delicate balance. I hope I’ve shown that you can be so much more than the things you are struggling with. Karys’ Instagram handle is @karyspk, and you can read her poetry on Tumblr. Soft Girl is available for purchase on Amazon and Createspace. You can check out Madison Powers’ artwork on Instagram, her handle is @morethanclay.
Cohousing and the Cure to Loneliness
ommunal living can be a tricky the benefits built into cohousing models, many factors, such as an urban versus thing to talk about. The most I found myself asking the question: wait, rural setting, financial structures, and the widely-known iteration of communal why isn’t it for me? philosophies of each group. Even with living, which is bound to pop into most all of this variety, each of these different Did you know that former U.S. minds when they hear the term, are the Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy cohousing and co-living arrangements hippie communes of the 1970s. Visions declared loneliness to be a public health do share common themes. They believe of free love, long hair, and vegetable epidemic? That more and more studies in radically rethinking the way that we patches dance in our heads. Modern re- are finding that loneliness shortens your organize and think about our homes. imaginings of communal living situations lifespan? That loneliness is mentioned They are reimagining the division seem to be aware of this and the biases alongside smoking and obesity as causes between public and private lives. And that come along with it, and largely avoid of premature death? Not only do you importantly, they believe that intention is calling themselves the key to community “communes.” Instead, “The sprawling suburbs of single-family homes, pillars of building. they prefer such terms Intention is the as “cohousing” and the antiquated American Dream, are no longer adequate.” word you’ll hear over “co-living.” and over again from Still, talking about communal living can be met with derisive dismissals or, perhaps more commonly, a reply along the lines of “sure, I guess that can work for some people, but it isn’t for me.” Fair enough, and when I started researching this piece, that was exactly what I thought too. But when I sat down and looked at all
have to study for that midterm and write that essay, you also have to make more friends or risk an untimely demise.
Let’s back up for a moment. If these places aren’t hippie communes, what exactly are they? Unfortunately, there is no one standard model for cohousing. Cohousing situations vary depending on
members of cohousing communities. Grace Kim is an architect who designed and developed the cohousing community in which she now lives. She has presented a compelling TED talk on the subject in which she invites us to rethink our built environments. Kim’s lecture asks us to take a step back and consider the way
FALL 2017 FALL 2016
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our homes and cities are designed, and Indeed, it’s more difficult and more human. the ways those designs influence our daily uncomfortable than it seems, and it The commodification of privacy lives. The sprawling suburbs of single- goes against many of the traits that we has pushed cohousing to the fringe of family homes, pillars of the antiquated are taught make us “grown-ups.” I was what is deemed either acceptable or American Dream, are no longer adequate. taught that adults are independent; that desirable. Mansions surrounded by high, Cohousing models do not ask you to they make their own doctor appointments thick hedges, penthouses advertised for throw away your privacy. They ask you and update their credit card information their state of the art soundproofed walls to create spaces for community activities, when the car2go app prompts them to - privacy, exclusion, and status are deeply and, most importantly, to use them. (instead of ignoring the notifications until intertwined in our collective psyches. Successful cohousing requires they eventually get booted off the app, Cohousing asks you to simply throw away common spaces, areas for people to bump at which point they decide they don’t what you’ve known your whole life about into each other, eat together, vent about need car2go anyway and are currently independence and privacy. Like I said, a the day’s trials at work, and to ask for an in their third month of a car2go-free life). tough pill to swallow. But, whether you egg or a favour. Streets lined with single- Independence often translates as “going like it or not, it is also an increasingly family homes do not make room for these at it alone,” and being able to do it all necessary change. spaces. Many apartment buildings do not yourself, but that isn’t what it means at all. The recent resurgence of communal have communal spaces, living is a response to unless you include “Cohousing models do not ask you to throw away your many realities of life the handful of chairs in the 21st century. one inspired manager privacy, they ask you to create spaces for community Loneliness is one such decided to scatter reality, a reality that we around the lobby. This activities, and, most importantly, to use them.” have all experienced at is changing, and some one point or another. apartment buildings are beginning to Independence can be understood Whether you see it as an issue in and of include communal spaces, but they’re still as being free from outside control and itself, or a symptom of a larger problem, missing the key ingredient: intention. not depending on another’s authority. it is something that affects our daily Building a strong social network that links happiness and long-term health, and And this is the thing that can make you to your neighbours, as is the central communal living is one possible solution. communal living a tough pill to swallow, aim of cohousing, is not putting yourself The spread of communal living doesn’t because it doesn’t just happen. It requires under someone else’s authority. Having have to involve an overnight revolution; continual effort. Perhaps more than we people you know who you can count in fact it’s much more likely it will be a are ready or willing to put in. But if it is on to cat sit when you go on vacation slow evolution - the next natural step in literally going to save our lives, is it our or lend you some butter in a pinch is, if human housing models. responsibility to put ourselves, to force anything, increasing your ability to do the ourselves, into these uncomfortable things that make you a happier, healthier situations?
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Jacob Klemmer Arts & Culture Writer
Between Ego and Art: Aronofsky’s mother! Film Review
Content warning: movie spoilers, discussion of extreme violence
arren Aronofsky’s new film is a two-hour practical joke on the audience. Everyone reading this should go see mother! for no other reason than to prove to yourselves that it exists. It is by far the craziest, most pitch-black film to come out of the studio system since Killer Joe, and is bound to polarize audiences and critics because it is relentless and furious in its vision. It is the unwavering and passionate execution of an idea, which is always admirable no matter how bad the idea may be. If it succeeds for you, it will touch a part of your psyche that no other movie could. If it fails for you, it fails so spectacularly that you can’t help but wonder if maybe it’s succeeded after all.
concern themselves with an artistic sort of darkness and obsession. They both Darren Aronofsky, an auteur who fear, hate, and empathise with women, walks along the thin tightrope between frequently making films about female being self-aware and being totally martyr figures. The same tension between clueless (and sometimes falls off), achieves self-awareness and cluelessness pervades something remarkable. His films borrow both their filmographies, though only relentlessly from every classic European Von Trier capitalizes on it. If Aronofsky is auteur under the sun, and yet they the American von Trier, then mother! is his belong solely to him. Aronofsky never Antichrist, beginning as a vacuous chamber met a brilliant filmmaker whose style drama and ending in daring body horror; he couldn’t misapply. He borrows the these films will either repulse the viewer Dardenne Brothers’ handheld close- or convince them of the filmmaker’s quarters camerawork—a style used in brilliance. their films for chaotic, drifting narratives— and uses it for stories as rigidly formulaic “Aronofsky never met a as The Wrestler. Having bought the rights to Perfect Blue, he lifts Satoshi Kon’s brilliant filmmaker whose nightmare imagery—which Kon uses style he couldn’t misapply.” in conjunction with strange, elliptical editing and stories about shifting reality to hypnotic effect—and uses it for films To briefly summarize: Jennifer as moralistic and simplistic as Black Swan Lawrence plays a homemaker who and Requiem for a Dream. spends her days doting on her husband
More than anyone else, Aronofsky wants to be the American Lars von Trier. They’ve both made three films using elegant formal tripod compositions and then switched to handheld camera for a renewed sense of rawness. They both
(Javier Bardem, on autopilot), a poet struck by writer’s block. One day a doctor (Ed Harris, much too mannered) arrives in the house, and since he just so happens to be a massive fan of Bardem’s poetry, he’s welcomed in despite Lawrence’s
discomfort. Eventually his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer, glorious) turns up, and later, their two sons, giving no indication that they will leave anytime soon. This familiar unwanted-guests chamber dynamic intermittently achieves the uncomfortable anxiety it aims for, but it’s mostly a bore. Pfeiffer, by far the most fun to watch, plays a casually invasive alcoholic, asking much-too-personal questions about her hosts’ love life. She’s unsubtle, but then so is the film she’s in. Lawrence is reactive and sensitive, but not quite expressive or intense enough to really invest the audience in the drama, which is troubling since Aronofsky puts the entire drama on her shoulders. What’s more, Aronofsky, admirably committing to her point of view, shoots the film with incessant handheld photography, either over-the-shoulder or close-up on her face. This is neither the only way nor the best way to commit to cinematic point of view, but it’s the most obvious one, and therefore it’s the one Aronofsky uses. Since we’re so stuck on Lawrence, there’s very little stillness and no sense of blocking. The editing is intermittently striking, but mostly jittery and annoying. Besides butt-ugly CGI
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shots, very little is done with colour or focus. Coupled with the bizarrely blunt lighting and a house that looks pretty but evokes nothing, the filmmaking regresses to drab, ugly realism that doesn’t serve the story. The film’s gonzo second half demands a stylishness that Aronofsky either withholds or lacks. “Aronofsky is a great artist, a godlike figure, who writes with his penis and is doted on by his wife, who is an idea, a vessel for his creativity.”
Soon it’s not just a family. When one of the sons (Domnhall Gleeson) kills the other in a fit of rage, Bardem decides to hold a wake at the house, bringing even more strangers to the home. Justifiably at wit’s end, Lawrence finally banishes all his houseguests. While confronting Bardem, it is revealed that they both want children, and yet he can’t bring himself to have sex with her. At its peak, the fight is consummated, conceiving a child, and the very next morning Bardem begins writing his newest work. Nine months later, Bardem’s work is finished, and the previous structure repeats: a couple fans come to his door, then dozens, then hundreds, then thousands. The film turns to surrealism without warning. The fans start exploring, breaking things, using the bathrooms and sneaking off to the bedrooms. We’re taken on a guided tour through a hellish landscape: the fans begin to worship his biblical masterwork, and this worship escalates toward fights, some small, some big, and soon mass executions, explosions, riot police, and angry mobs fill the screen, and we haven’t even left the house. This segment, divorced from any deeper meaning, disorients and dazzles, providing the most cinematically satisfying portion of the film. There is no lead-in to it, so it plays like a dream sequence, except Lawrence never wakes up. The delirium is exhilarating, but no
sooner than it starts, we’re unfortunately pulled back into the story. Lawrence gives birth in Bardem’s barricaded study, and he begs her to let him bring the child outside to the patiently waiting mob. She refuses, but soon falls asleep, and runs outside to discover the crowd lifting her baby above them. One of them snaps the child’s neck. Lawrence runs up to the altar and finds the carcass of the infant being eaten by the crowd. She attacks them, and they turn on her, throwing her to the ground and beating her. All this sounds downright biblical, and that’s the truth but not the whole truth: it’s like a seven-layer cake of allegories, the rare film which offers a wealth of interpretations, and no matter which one you apply, it’s dumb. The biblical metaphor takes centre stage: Harris and Pfeiffer as Adam and Eve, the house as the earth, the study as the garden of Eden, the two sons are Cain and Abel, and the child is Jesus. This reading makes perfect sense, and it’s frankly a bore. Aronofsky’s baffling Noah demonstrates that he’s no stranger to biblical texts, and also no stranger to environmental ones. mother! could be mother earth, perhaps, inviting humans to her dwelling, which they chaotically mistreat, destroy with their wars. Aronofsky peddles this reading in the press cycle, but frankly I don’t buy it. Does it justify the horrible violence on Lawrence’s baby?
with his penis and is doted on by his wife, who is an idea, a vessel for his creativity. Aronofsky’s work is great, biblical, Christlike, and so it is worshipped by his fans and torn apart by his critics, who simply don’t understand his genius. Does Aronofsky know what the hell he’s doing? He wants to create a chamber drama; does he know that so many moments in the first half are so funny? He wants to empathize with the Lawrence character, to show that the life of the wife of a Great Artist is painful and empty (he cast his own partner in the part, for God’s sake), does he know that he’s conceived her as a literal object, with no agency, beaten and burned when it serves his narrative? He wants to examine his own vanity, but does he know that his stand-in is a god, and a god played by one of the sexiest men alive? He wants to appreciate his “audience” for loving his creation, and ridicule his “critics” for ripping apart his work, but does he know that this film is destined to be hated by audiences? Does he know that as soon as a critic dissects it, it falls apart? Most critically: he wants to position himself as a great artist, but does he know that there are no truly great artists who constantly make art about how great their own art is? Is he self-aware or clueless? mother! wants to dazzle, and it succeeds for one breakneck reel of film,
“It’s like a seven-layer cake of allegories, the rare film which offers a wealth of interpretations, and no matter which one you apply, it’s dumb.” The film reads most plausibly as an allegory for artistic creation, but through this lens mother! reveals its true nature as a deeply egotistical and misogynistic work. Bardem, the creator marred by both artistic and sexual impotence, impregnates his idea and births a finished creative work, which is worshipped by his followers and torn apart by his hateful critics, while the original idea lays beaten on the ground next to the carcass of the work. Assemble these metaphors and the full picture slides into focus. Aronofsky is a great artist, a godlike figure, who writes
but the rest of it indulges in storytelling as subtle and dumb as a bag of rocks. The recent cliché that “it’s not a film made for the critics, it’s made for the fans” unreservedly applies here. It is for the fans, specifically Darren Aronofsky’s number one fan: himself. These days, it’s rare to see a film so unapologetically tailored to an auteur’s vision. It proceeds like a demented nightmare that he had and absolutely needed to get out of his system. If that’s the case, it’s a good thing he got it out; let’s hope he got it all out.
Sergio Rodriguez Opinion Writer
Homecoming Away From Home
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON OCTOBER 12, 2017
However, I believe that a strong school city-like campus—not to mention the spirit can fix that, especially at a school “craziest homecoming in the country”— as culturally and intellectually diverse as and McGill has the best professors and McGill. academic reputation in the nation.
id you know that McGill University was the host of the first organised indoor hockey game? Did you know that a McGill alumnus invented basketball? Did you know that the first “modern” football game was between Harvard’s Crimson and the McGill Redmen? I bet the majority of you went 0 for 3 with these questions, but you know who didn’t go 0-3? The Martlet basketball team and the Redmen baseball team, as they both won national championships last season.
Imagine all 25,000 seats at Percival Molson Stadium filled with fans dressed in red and white while the drums of the McGill Fight Band (yes, we have one) roar. For one afternoon, all divisions would be forgotten, and everyone would simply be proud to be a McGill student.
and not just because they are missing out on “dope street parties and keg stands.”
touch with the university that nurtured them.
At a time when political and social divisions have made their way onto campuses, there are limited options to restore the type of camaraderie that was seen when our parents went to school.
When I was touring universities during my senior year of high school, every school had a selling point about their student life. Queen’s has their castle and tri-color apparel, Western has a
By promoting important rivalry games to the McGill student body, I guarantee that games would see an increase in attendance. As an avid sports fan, I would rather go to a Bishop’s versus McGill lacrosse game on any given
On my tour of McGill, the guide did not mention anything about McGill’s traditions, sports, or other forms of school spirit. I presume that many prospective students, especially Americans, are disappointed by the lack of epic tailgates, parades, and rallies that their high school friends would be experiencing at big state schools.
Creating a more vibrant school Every year around this time, my social spirit is an investment, both socially and media is flooded with pictures of Queen’s financially. It is no surprise that McGill has infamous purple jackets, videos of their an extensive network of successful alumni “jacket slams,” pictures captioned across every industry sector. “#LocoForHoco” from Western, It is also not surprising that and other examples of school “Imagine all twenty-five thousand networking is an essential part spirit. While I love being a seats at Percival Molson Stadium of a student’s career, but what McGillian and am honoured to filled with fans dressed in red and if networking events weren’t have the opportunity to study at white while the drums of the McGill so formal and intimidating? such an illustrious institution, I Fight Band (yes, we have one) roar.” What if, rather than suits and can’t help but feel my student cocktails, alumni could connect experience is incomplete. with students at a tailgate in the As October 14 approaches, I would Saturday than watch NCAA college parking lot of Percival Molson Stadium, wager that there are more McGill football through a laggy online stream. or lower field, in casual dress code? students with tickets to go to Queen’s But if I, the avid sports fan, don’t even Believe me—establishing relationships homecoming than our own homecoming know when the lacrosse team plays, how and passing along traditions would ultimately result in a stronger McGill weekend. And why should they? McGill’s can you expect the average student to? lackluster athletic culture and school School spirit is not only beneficial for community. And who knows, maybe a spirit allows for this to happen year after the current student body, but can be used strengthened sense of community would year. This disadvantages the McGill as a tool to recruit prospective students, as inspire even greater generosity from our student body and community at large— well as re-engaging alumni who have lost alumni donors. I know it is difficult to compare a town like College Park, Maryland to a city like Montreal, or the decades-long traditions that are ever so present in big State schools. But one can’t help but wish that there was more school spirit at McGill.
Danielle Nisker Opinion Writer
The Self-Help Industry Only Helps Itself
I used to love going to the bookstore as a kid. I would run up and down the aisles, looking at adult books that I knew would get me into trouble, laughing at the inappropriate content that I was still too young to understand. My sweet escape consisted of sitting in the children’s section, reading the majestic books off the fiction shelf (Harry Potter was my favourite) and ignoring my own life, completely immersed into the lens of a fictional character. I now wish to go back to that time.
“We as a generation have succumbed to the pressures of society and the expectation that we should have an answer and solution to everything.” We’ve been called the most apathetic generation in history. Yes, we, the scolded millennials, are scapegoats for a world that is getting crazier by the minute. Sorry, baby boomers, but it’s not our fault that Donald Trump is the leader of the free world and sees Twitter as a platform to feud with North Korea. These are dire circumstances, and buying a six-dollar pumpkin spice latte really does serve as an adequate coping mechanism. Growing up surrounded by the latest and greatest technology is not as glamorous as it sounds. There is an immense pressure on millennials to constantly improve ourselves, making us increasingly vulnerable and susceptible to changes in the market. I can’t even get through a Tasty video without an ad interrupting it. While I do believe society has been a tad too hard on the millennial generation, I will put my pride aside and identify what I believe is the tragic flaw of our generation: our constant and frantic search for answers, answers that are supposedly right at our fingertips. We as a generation have succumbed
to the pressures of society—primarily the expectation that we should have an answer and solution to everything. The good old days are called the good old days for a reason, and meeting up with your friends in the park to blow off steam just doesn’t cut it in the modern world. The self-help industry is worth an estimated $11 billion in the United States alone. An industry that claims to help you become better, in every sense of the word, is one that does not know you at all. It is all a bit unsettling. Today, everything is about being better, faster, smarter, and newer. This puts immense strain on the market—everything is a means to an end, and the end is money and greed. Capitalism, folks. There is so much focus on how mainstream media affects our own perceptions of how we look, but really, we have failed to realize how our minds are constantly being manipulated—namely by an industry that claims to enable us to improve ourselves. Most of the revenue comes from self-help books, a majority of which are not written by medical professionals.
titles ranging from Dr. Oz’s YOU(r) Teen: Losing Weight to comedian Russell Brand’s Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions. The self-help industry has laid a perfect trap. Millennials are being manipulated into believing that self-help books are akin to the compassionate guidance we are so desperately searching for. Fact is, our generation is the generation most likely to suffer from mental health issues, which makes such exploitation even more devastating. Faced with the prominent rise of mental illness, the last thing we need are empty, mainstream, exploitative book covers that claim to fix our lives in ten days or less. Not only does this give us false hope, it also gives us a false sense of compassion—a quality that is already so scarce and absent in a world that is shallow and materialistic. This false hope serves as a money-pocketing tactic for the marketisation of mental illness.
“The last thing we need are empty, mainstream, exploitative book covers that claim to fix our lives in ten days or less.” So stop looking for answers, stop giving this industry what they want, stop proving them right. I can tell you from experience that the answer to your problems cannot be found in Relationships for Dummies. By succumbing to this exploitation, our generation is taking the easy way out.
The other day I was browsing through the shelves of Paragraphe Bookstore, minding my own business, trying to find an aesthetically pleasing work space where I could find my zen, unplug from the world, and pretend to study. As I turned into the sci-fi section, BOOM, I was bombarded with book
We must accept that not everything can be fixed by flipping through a few pages.
THE BULL & BEAR
Published on Dec 1, 2017