VOLUME 18, ISSUE 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DISCOURSE ON NORTH KOREA COVERAGE Memes are funny, humanitarian crises are not.
WHEN I TRAVELLED NORTH TO THE CANADIAN ARCTIC, I DIDN’T QUITE KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO EXPECT Some things need to be seen in person to understand.
FOREST CITY: WHERE THE WOMEN PROUDLY WEAR PANTS The street preachers won’t quit, but neither will we
RESISTANCE THROUGH ART; AN INTERVIEW WITH PALESTINIAN ARTIST REHAB NAZZAL
Resistance art: Through the lens of Rehab Nazzal
MOURNING WESTERN TV’S POST-MERGE LIFE WTV is still here, it’s just not being its old self
13 10-12 INFILTRATING THE PRO-LIFE CLUB ON CAMPUS Dead babies, and other things we don’t want to see on our way to class
ROB MCCALLUM: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORYTELLER An interview with the documentarian behind Kittie: Origins/Evolutions
CARTOON NETWORK IS WORKING TOWARDS AN INCLUSIVE SATURDAY MORNING EXPERIENCE The intersectionality of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe
SOCIAL (ANXIETY) Revealing prose
20-21 22-23 QUIET HOURS
A collection of headlines from across the nation
The longer I’m in FIMS the more I realize it’s everywhere around us. And the more I realize not many people want to talk about it. We cover tough topics, but the hardest ones to discuss are the ones we have a personal connection to, and consequently, feel guilty about.
For example – how can we celebrate Thanksgiving and Canada’s “150th” anniversary when the country we live in is a settler colonial state and was built upon acts of violence? How can we possibly be #thankful of this? On another note – how can we eat without contributing to the destruction of environments, both natural and social? Even vegan lifestyles support cheap labour, pesticides which runoff into water systems, and CO2 emissions that come from transporting vegetables. There’s no way to truly escape. It’s hard to be hopeful once you start realizing things and I think sometimes it’s good to just sit and be a sponge. But eventually we have to get back up to breathe. We have to start somewhere – and that start usually happens through education. Whether that be in class, while watching a documentary, or reading the news – keep an open and clear mind and absorb all the information you can. Then talk about it, even if people get frustrated with you. We can all do small things in our daily lives to make the world a brighter place – by reading a book by an Inuit author to hear their perspective, or something different like planting your own sweet potatoes (they grow really well indoors, just FYI).
Hope you all enjoy this issue, and please discuss all the ideas expressed in the articles with your loved ones! This issue is dedicated to all the FIMS professors who turn our worlds upside down. -Ksenia
LIKE US // facebook.com/OPENWIDEzine FOLLOW US // twitter.com/openwidezine WRITE FOR US // email@example.com Disclaimer: The sole responsibility of this publication lies with its authors. Contents do not reflect the opinions of the University Students’ Council of Western University (“USC”). The USC assumes no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission, or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such information by the reader.
KSENIA KOLODKA EDITOR IN CHIEF
VERONICA CHEUNG MANAGING EDITOR
KIA ANDERSEN WORLD EDITOR
BRIENNA FRENCH ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
ALEX PRONG WESTERN LIFE EDITOR
ANMOL CHANDLA & ALEXANDRA BURZA GRAPHICS
HANNAH ALBERGA, CREATIVE EDITOR
MELISSA HOFFMAN & BRIELLE GOULART PROMOTIONS
TALA AL-RAMAHI WEB EDITOR
JEYASRI PAKEERATHAN PHOTOGRAPHY
DISCOURSE ON NORTH KOREA COVERAGE WORLD WAR 3: NO RTH KOREA NUCL EAR STRIKE WOULD BE ‘DISASTER’
TEST NORTH KOREA GETS READY TO NUCLEAR MISSILE NORTH KOREA VOWS TO SHOOT DOWN U.S. PLANES It is hard not to encounter a news headline featuring North Korea. Seemingly overnight, the small country of North Korea has come into the spotlight. It is portrayed on the world stage as a dangerous character, ready to make a dramatic plot twist anytime. The country’s dictator, KimJung-Un, has become one of the most ridiculed political leaders in current media discourse. With his signature dead stare, double chin, and strictly parted hair, Kim-Jung-Un has been a popular subject of memes. All social media sites have content making fun of Kim, as well as his faithful people who worship him as their Great Leader, Saviour, and even God. Numbed and obsolete, the North Koreans are often portrayed as strange beings without any capacity for individual thought and critical reasoning. Recently, an interview conducted in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, went viral on Facebook and Youtube due to John Oliver’s profile on North Korea on Last Week Tonight. When asked about her opinion on Barack Obama, the past president of the U.S., a North Korean woman responded with a harmless smile, “If he is standing right here, I will shoot him.” People on social media mocked this “savage lady” for proposing a death threat with such calmness and casualness. But have you thought of the reasoning behind her answer? She might have never spoken to a foreign reporter before. She might know nothing about Obama, but was made to believe that all Americans are evil. She might have been aware of a hidden camera set up by the North Korean government. She knows that if she did not say what she said, they might have shot her. We live in a fairly democratic society, yet we continue to fight for our rights. As students, we strive to get our voice heard by the school board; as citizens, we ask the government for improved policies on social benefits and the environment. The degree to which the North Koreans are oppressed and silenced by their dictatorship is far beyond
// VICKY QIAO
our imagination as Canadians. They are deprived of the basic human rights we take for granted - freedom of opinion and information, freedom from torture, right to social security and a decent living standard. We must remember that their “ignorance” is rooted in their total isolation from the rest of the world, their abolished rights to acquire knowledge, and the systematic propaganda, if not blatant lies, that perpetuate their entire lives. However, even the lack of basic rights seem minor in the overall North Korean human crisis, where poverty and hunger remain the largest issues that affect the citizens’ lives. According to 2007 data, 33% (or 7.8 million) of the North Korean population were malnourished. Starved and impoverished, people pick wild fruits, grass roots, and tree bark to cope with the daily hunger. Adults in poor households choose to skip lunch and eat only two meals per day. Their digestive systems are often irreparably damaged due to longterm starvation, failing to properly absorb nutrients even if given nutritious diet. A nation-wide drought this year has severed the food security crisis; meanwhile, food prices have reached a historical-high - 2000 Won for one kilogram of rice and 5500 Won for one kilogram of pork (the average monthly income of a North Korean is 6000 Won). Many of us may not be aware of the correlation between North Korea’s hunger crisis and its military aggression. The regime has been devoting most of its money on the development of nuclear weapons instead of its citizens’ welfare. As a country consisting of merely 23 million people, North Korea has 1 million soldiers in the regular army and 3.5 million in armed forces. In 2016, the total military expense of North Korea amounted to 1.6 billion US dollars, accounting for 40% of the country’s total GDP. The enormous amount of military expenses is among the top factors that contribute to the country’s poverty and hunger, directly contributing to the human crisis. Memes are funny and they make our lives so much better. But it is hard to laugh at the North Korean memes when I know the stories behind them - the tyranny, the struggle, the danger. Funny portrayals of Kim Jong Un often mask the real issue by drawing humourous media attention. It is a humanitarian crisis, a world problem, and I encourage us all to look deeper into the issue. After all, the first step to change is to be aware and sympathize.
WHEN I TRAVELLED NORTH TO THE CANADIAN ARCTIC,
I DIDNâ€™T QUITE KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO EXPECT
his summer I had the incredible opportunity to join a Students on Ice educational expedition in the Arctic as part of my role with Parks Canada’s Northern Engagement Team. I spent the whole summer preparing by learning as much as I could about the Canadian North’s history, Inuit culture, and the arctic environment. However, as a southern Canadian, there has always been something about the Arctic that has eluded me. I could never quite wrap my head around how any living organism could survive, nonetheless thrive, on the barren tundra in harsh weather conditions. As I stepped off of the plane in Qausuittuq (Resolute Bay) on the Southern tip of Cornwallis Island I felt like I had been transported to a different planet – which is not a far-off assessment given that nearby Devon Island is the sight of NASA’s Mars program experiments. From Qaussuituq I sailed through the waters of Tallarutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound) which is a critically important area for marine life, and I was honoured to witness a historic announcement designating the borders of Canada’s newest and largest marine conservation area. I spent a lot of time on the deck of the ship just looking, trying to take it all in. I felt so small squinting my eyes to see a pale-yellow dot on a stretch of sea-ice and then realizing it was a polar bear. I felt humbled looking up at the 870 foot cliffs on Prince Leopold Island that provide a nesting site for thousands of seabirds. Leaning over the bow
of a zodiac, I collected fresh water dripping off of an iceberg and sipped the purest liquid I’ve ever tasted. I watched attentively as an Elder from Pond Inlet demonstrated how to use a traditional women’s knife to skin a seal that was likely caught in the marine-rich waters we were travelling through. I listened as another Elder traced his family history back to a small sod house in Sirmilik National Park which is not an archaeological site. I was blown away by the richness of Inuit culture and the pride Inuit youth feel towards revitalizing their traditions. I watched in awe as two talented Inuit women held each other intimately and swayed back and forth as they proudly demonstrated throat singing by playfully copying each other’s notes until they erupted in laughter. Afterwards, I bumped along to the beat of a group of men drum dancing - a sacred practice which was banned for many years when the Moravian missionaries “civilized” the north. In revitalizing these traditions that had been repressed for so long, it was clear how important these cultural practices are for connecting generations of Inuit and shaping their identity. I realized that in order to begin to understand the Arctic, you have to experience it – taste it, smell it, touch it, wonder at its beauty, connect with its people.
health epidemics, housing crises, and extreme levels of poverty. These conditions are a direct result from the oppressive institutions created by the settler-colonial “founders” of Canada. The Inuit were once a seasonally nomadic people with a subsistencebased way of life that held the utmost respect for the land and water. Many Inuit were relatively untouched by the Canadian government until the middle of the 20th century, where in
an effort to claim sovereignty over the high Arctic, Inuit were forcibly relocated from their traditional land to high Arctic communities. They were promised homes and game to hunt but arrived to a land much different than where they had come from. The trauma of this forced relocation is still felt today. An Inuk woman I became close with on my trip told me that her father named her after his sister who he never saw again after she was forced to resettle thousands of kilometers away. The North is also home to many Although Inuit have thrived in the Residential School Survivors who Arctic for thousands of years prior were just kids when they were taken to European contact that “civilized” from their families in the 1950’s. the North, the majority of Inuit today This recent history still haunts much are struggling with food insecurity, of Nunavut where Inuit families
are dealing with the impacts of intergenerational trauma. However, the same resilience that has forged their history of survival in the harsh Arctic environment has enabled the Inuit to take power back into their own hands. The signing of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the subsequent creation of the territory of Nunavut in 1999 speaks to the resiliency of the Inuit who are now more empowered to bring back the traditional ways of life that had been subjected to repression since settler contact. Instead of sitting back and watching southerners exploit the resources around them, the Inuit are now empowered to demand their rights, as the rightful land owners of the
territory of Nunavut. By developing the economy of Nunavut, the Inuit would benefit from much needed health and social improvements in their communities. However, there is an inherent contradiction to developing the North that lies in the balance between economic, environmental and socio-cultural interests. Nunavut’s economy has developed from a subsistence-based lifestyle pre-contact, to trading with whalers and fur-traders who over-exploited their subsistence
resources, to the lucrative discovery and extraction of minerals, oil and gas. As the government of Nunavut continues to grow the economy and improve the lives of the Inuit while respecting the land, they are now faced with a new challenge threatening to once again shift their way of life: climate change. It is a cruel irony that the least developed population, are adversely affected by the impacts of climate change whose main contributors and benefactors have been countries who have developed through exploitative resource extraction and heavy pollutants. During my time in the Arctic, I heard first hand accounts from Inuit young and old who have known hunters that have fallen through the ice because traditional ice forecasting has been affected by the changing climate or stories of their houses sinking into the melting permafrost. One of the things that has stuck with me is the blue bits of plastic I saw embedded into polar bear feces, I left thinking how plastic could have ended up in the stomach of a polar bear hundreds of kilometers away from the closest community. Living in Southern Canada, it is often hard to see or understand the impacts of climate change which makes it easy to ignore. However, in the Arctic, the unrelenting reality of climate change is the new normal and Inuit are forced to adapt their way of life yet again and this poses a challenge to how the territory can grow and benefit from development. One of the good things about the delayed growth in the north is that the
Inuit have been able to witness the development mistakes in the south and learn from them. Organizations like the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Qikiqtani Inuit Association work hard to protect and promote Inuit rights and values. When a company expresses interest in Nunavut, Inuit are involved in every step of the process through consultations that produce Inuit impact and benefit agreements and co-management structures. I’m returning to my initial level of understanding about survival in the Arctic where I was perplexed as to how anything living can call the High Arctic home. I realize how resilient Inuit are for their ability to not only thrive in the North for thousands of years pre-contact but re-establish their cultural practices and traditional ways of life even after enduring 150 years of Settler governance that suppressed the very things that enabled them to survive in the Arctic. On my Arctic expedition I was able to talk with elders and youth from Inuit communities, climate scientists, politicians, mining executives and many others about the complexity of development in the North and what the future of the Inuit will look like in the age of climate change. These discussions never ended with an agreed upon single answer but instead explored the balance between economic, environmental and socio-cultural interests with Inuit leading the way.
... the Inuit are now empowered to demand their rights, as the rightful land owners of the territory of Nunavut.
openWIDE// ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
MOURNING WESTERN TV'S POST-MERGE LIFE WTV’S NOT DEAD YET, BUT WE’RE READY. // SAMIYA HASSAN
Today, we grieve the loss of Western TV. What once was a growing media outlet for students, by students, tragically passed away last year after a long battle with mediocrity. Gone is its soul, leaving behind nothing but the name it bears. For some, WTV was a place to discover love of reporting, editing, or producing. For others, it was a group on campus that felt like a family. WTV’s inclusive, explorative and pure spirit swelled through its short years, making its mark on the people who were lucky enough to be a part of its life. WTV was built on raising students up and and providing creatives the space to do what they wanted.
“What once was a growing media outlet for students, by students, tragically passed away last year after a long battle with mediocrity.” I’ll never forget the day I walked into my first meeting at WTV. There were thirty-something upper year students laughing around a big USC conference table. They welcomed new members to the WTV crew and made it clear that collectively our goal was to create content that did not have to answer to anyone. The pillars of WTV: inclusion, creativity, and expression. Its ethos was visible through the content it supported. The loss of WTV is felt greatly by friends and content creators alike. It will always be remembered for covering a broad range of events, giving student musicians and school clubs alike a platform to showcase their message. Despite its low viewership, WTV never gave up on its passion for originality and ingenuity.
Battling monopolization in the final stages of its life, WTV struggled to stay independent. It kept its hopes high to maintain its identity as an outlet that could provide a stage for the many talented students on Western’s campus, regardless of the likelihood of it metastasizing. The decision to join forces with the Gazette was a hail Mary, but alas, WTV succumbed to homogeneity and died. WTV took its last breaths pumping out cheap videos for viewership and personal gains, leaving behind a team of uncreative, view-hungry robots. Let us instead remember the times of the Minute Update and Backyard Music Sessions. Our newsfeeds may be flooded with clickbait videos showcasing yet another Drunk Interview Segment or the ‘FIMS show’ Mr. Conopoly has turned it into. I will not remember it like this. I will continue to hope for a day when the spotlight dims and WTV can share the stage with other creatives looking for a platform.
“The decision to join forces with the Gazette was a hail Mary, but alas, WTV succumbed to homogeneity and died.” The legacy of the real WTV will always remain close to my heart. In this trying time, I take comfort in remembering the sense of integrity and inclusivity that Western TV once gave its audience. Let’s all remember what this channel used to stand for.
G N I T A R B T I U L L C INF E F I L O R S P U E P M TH A C ON
An exercise in self-control // ARIANA KARAKATSANIS
openWIDE// WESTERN LIFE Content Warning: This article contains information related to abortion and sexual assault. A couple of weeks ago my friend told me about protestors standing by Western campus for the “ProLife” movement. Their signs were covered in images of live and dead fetuses, impossible to miss on your way to class through the University gates. Although I completely disagree with “Pro-Life” beliefs, I wanted to further my knowledge of their perspective so I decided to sign up for their club “Lifeline,” a USC approved club, and attend their first meeting.
possible define when a human life begins. Many claim it is when the fetus can live on its own, or when it is birthed, and many points before. The club stated that this idea was backed by science, but the debate of when a fetus becomes a human life is ongoing. These claims are more opinion than they are a scientific fact.
I am pro-choice. I believe and stand up for women making their own decisions and having autonomy over their own bodies, so you can imagine this was the last place I wanted to be. I wanted to use this opportunity to understand their side of the debate rather than ignoring their voice and beliefs. Upon further investigation however, I found the majority of their arguments were based on fallacies and subjective examples that when taken into the perspective of larger society become insignificant.
A young man was walking past the pro-life activists and was asked if he was pro-life. He said: “No, I think women should have choices.” The activists’ response went along the lines of asking multiple questions with obvious answers in order to persuade the listener into thinking his beliefs had changed. She asked him if he would support a woman’s choice to go to the bar and drink (if she was legal), he said yes (obviously, well I hope you think that). Then asked him if it was okay for the girl to choose to drive home drunk, he said well no, of course not. These two questions produced/constructed/manipulated the argument. It was said that this woman made a choice, but the wrong choice, and while it’s amazing to support women’s rights there is a fine line to which we cannot cross. Interesting side note: the pro-lifers claim that the name “pro-choice” is propagandistic, as it makes the assumption that they are anti-choice when they actually claim to be anti-murder.
Definition of a Human Life The first claim in the Lifeline argument was about the science concerning when a fetus becomes a human life. The President of the club explained that there was a spectrum of where this could be possible, before conception, during conception, and after conception. The examples for the three were: before the egg and sperm met, during fertilization, and when a child was two years old. It was then stated that a woman could not get pregnant without sperm (obviously), and that a two year old cannot poof into existence (no shit), so it must be during fertilization that the egg and sperm become a human life. While I am not a science student, this “argument” is being used as a tactic in order to convince listeners to believe their message. Two out of the three examples are on extreme ends of the spectrum forcing the listener to agree with their opinion by default. They are missing multiple points in the spectrum that could 10 //v.18.2
A woman’s choice
The comparison of abortion to drunk driving is a little far fetched in my opinion. Claiming that a fetus’ rights are equivalent to a human walking on the street is absurd. A fetus, especially early on in the pregnancy, cannot live on its own, it is dependent on a woman’s body.
Compassion A young woman walked up to the pro-life booth and told the President she was raped and got an abortion, and wanted to know how she felt about it. Compassion was what she responded with. Claiming that they
openWIDE// WESTERN LIFE needed to use compassion before anything else, especially in these specific circumstances. She asked her if she was safe, and continued talking to her about their movement. I do not know specifically what she told her, but to the group she said that the goal of their club was not to make people hurt over their “bad” decisions, but help them make “better” decisions. Most of these stories I am writing down are infuriating, but this one takes the fucking cake. I can respect the thought of wanting to be nice to someone and support them if they chose to do something you do not agree with, but you cannot be compassionate to people while still using images of aborted fetuses in order to scare people into agreeing with you. These images are real, and I do not think they need to be banned but blasting them all over campus in order to push your own agenda on students is disgusting. The shock factor is the only thing being used here. Telling a woman she made a bad decision after having an abortion is far from being compassionate. Saying “better” decisions, argues that they know right from wrong when they really know nothing about her personal experiences to make them capable of judging.
have a disability but are loved and cared for, and these are incredible situations, but the reality is that someone has to have resources to raise a child. This includes caregiving and monetary support. While some women are able to support their children, we cannot ignore the other women and families who are not as privileged to provide time, money and love for their children. It was said that pro-choice activists believe that all babies with possible disabilities should be aborted. This statement is ridiculous and completely false. It is about giving women the right to decide for their own future and their own bodies; Pro-Choice, not Pro-Abortion. I was surprised at how welcoming they were at the club, I sat and listened, but it was extremely difficult not to speak up. Although my perspective has not changed, it was an interesting experience at least. The president did offer to buy me coffee to chat another day, but it’s safe to say I won’t be taking her up on that anytime soon.
CRITICAL PREGNANCIES Another point of discussion were critical pregnancies, where either the woman’s life is at risk during the pregnancy or possible birthing defects are predicted. There were many shared stories about positive experiences of women who pushed through harmful pregnancies with support and ended up having their child and were glad they did. They were using isolated incidents and inductive reasoning to exemplify the broad possibilities of such circumstances. Privilege is something I noted down when I was in this meeting. There were many stories about children who
openWIDE// WESTERN LIFE
WHERE THE WOMEN PROUDLY WEAR PANTS ... AND WISH TO CONTINUE DOING SO My liberal arts education has ruthlessly shattered my worldview. It has taught me to think critically, embrace openmindedness, and challenge what I have taken for granted. Through studying complex issues of gender, race, and class, I’ve come to believe that we need to put an end to the use of divisive tactics and imagine a more inclusive future.
Having spent the last three years living in the right-wing city of London, Ontario, I’m constantly reminded of how the state often turns a blind eye to abuse and injustice. I’m not foolish enough to believe that everyone is on the same page when it comes to fighting sexism, homophobia, and racism, but it never ceases to appall me how certain groups remain to be the prime targets of harassment by virtue of their gender, sexuality or skin color. It was just another typical day in Forest City. I was out and about running some errands when I passed the corner of Dundas and Richmond, one of the busiest intersections in London’s downtown core. As I was walking across the road, I saw two street preachers howling offensive comments at women through their amplifiers. “Women shouldn’t wear men’s clothes – that being pants,” one of them righteously proclaimed. He went on about the “abomination” of women who wear trousers. I felt a sense of uneasiness as I quickly hurried pass them in my denim jeans. Even though a million thoughts raced through my mind, I was at a loss for words. Later that night, I fired up my laptop to look up the street preachers and I found articles written about them on popular news outlets like CBC London and London Free Press. After doing a bit 12 //v.18.2
//KEI WA LEE of research, I found out that these street preachers – Matthew Carapella and Steven Ravbar – are actually notorious in the London community for targeting women and LGBTQ people. They call women “whores” and “prostitutes” and argue that they should stay at home to raise children. Two local churches have already barred them from entry; there’s also a Change.org petition against them and multiple complaints filed to the police with regard to their offensive propaganda. Look, I get it. There are misogynists everywhere, why should I make such a big deal out of this? What enrages me the most is the blatant inadequacy of the London city council, or rather its slack, in properly addressing this issue and taking actionable response. There are so many voices condemning the actions of the street preachers. It’s clear that they make people in the city, especially women, feel unsafe and uncomfortable, so why hasn’t the city council done anything about it? It wasn’t until recently when a CBC story came out about the street preachers getting involved in physical confrontation that the London mayor finally pointed a finger at them. Even now, Carapella and Ravbar can still be seen on the streets. When being confronted with derogatory accusations, it’s important that I’m able to properly defend myself and get my voice heard. For that reason, I’m thankful for my liberal arts classes, which have not only taught me to be more aware of the inequalities in our daily life, but also given me the language I need to speak up about the issues that affect me locally.
An I nter view Arti st Re with Pal estin hab ian // Ta Naz la A z al* l-Ra m ahi
openWIDE// ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Resistance. Opposition. Struggle. These are feelings that are all too familiar to people of oppressed populations. Often, these feelings can erupt in violence. That’s not what I’m interested in. I’m interested in ways to take these feelings and funnel them into other outlets. Art is one that stands out: it offers a meaningful way for oppressed populations to express their frustrations, their cultural history, and their collective anxieties. I spoke to contemporary artist Rehab Nazzal, who displayed her exhibition titled Choreographies of Resistance at McIntosh Gallery over the summer. We talked about the difficulties and benefits of political art, particularly within the context of Palestinian resistance and the volatility surrounding the subject.
In your own words, what do you do and what is the subject of your work? I mainly work art connected to decolonization and reclamation of history. My major focus is the Palestinian struggle for freedom, dignity, and rights. That is why I often face attacks and attempts to silence me. Every exhibition I had in this country, I faced opposition, many of which I dealt with openly because I believe in debate, so let’s debate. I respect the diversity of opinions that reflect the diversity of the society we live in. It reached an unprecedented level in 2014 when the Israeli ambassador to Canada Raphael Barak attacked my exhibition Invisible and along with Zionist pressure groups attempted to censor the show. Have you faced similar opposition to displaying your work at Western? Yes, this time Zionist pressure groups attacked the exhibition. They had nothing to say about the merit of the artwork. Is it your identity as a Palestinian artist that breeds opposition? I would certainly not be targeted if I was a Palestinian artist making art about flowers and trees. It is the subject of my artwork that cause hostility. My work deals with the suppressed narratives of Israel’s human rights violations and its non-compliance
with international law. In desperate attempts to prevent Canadians from seeing my artworks, pressure groups level at me accusations of glorifying “terrorism”. That is not surprising, settler-colonial oppression anywhere is similar: denial of the rights of indigenous people to exist and to resist is manifested throughout the New World, which was built on the suffering of the native people including here in Canada. Has this opposition ever made you doubt your work, or think “maybe I shouldn’t go forward”? Never. I actually become more determined after each attack. My work is about who I am and about my experience. No one has the right to silence me. What inspired you to switch to political art? I left Palestine in the 1980s to pursue my university education. When I finished I was denied my right to return to my home and family. After 20 years in exile, I visited my country with a visa, like a foreigner. When I walked through the country... the shock was indescribable. The change that I witnessed in the community: segregation, tormented landscapes, illegal colonies, checkpoints, military zones. That visit made me decide to leave the bubble of my studio where I used to work with painting and drawing. I turned to media art: photography, video and sound. Media art is less subjective, more effective, and more socially engaging. What is the main message you’re trying to show through your art? Choreographies of Resistance is the result of a year-long research trip in Palestine. While I was there it happened that a third uprising erupted. The daily scenes of unarmed
civilians facing heavily armed soldiers were shocking but the resilience of the Palestinian people was inspiring too. Symbols of resistance, the youth message: “We’re here. We resist your occupation and colonization, and we will continue our resistance”. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time. Two people lost their lives in front of me. I myself was shot intentionally, in the leg, by an Israeli sniper. What if the sniper was aimed at my heart? Suppression and dehumanization of the Palestinians by the occupying forces is hard to imagine. Protesters throw stones at the soldiers; rarely reaching them, and the soldiers shoot to kill. There’s kind of a preconception, I guess, that art isn’t really a brave or true form of resistance. That isn’t true though is it? Well, the cultural field is so significant in resistance to oppression anywhere. In the Palestinian struggle, art played a great role in the resistance to colonization. For example: music. When I was there, when someone would be killed, within a few days a song would appear in his name. It just pierces your body, how effective. Socially engaged art is committed to social justice and human rights. And this is universal. If you are against Israel’s settler-colonialism, you are against any form of colonialism, oppression, exploitation, and discrimination including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. When I think of the Palestinian resistance, I think of so many artists. In a way, they keep hope alive amongst the people.
openWIDE// ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT us” are responses I often receive. Simply put, now the Palestinian narrative is emerging. I don’t want to say dominating, because there are so many obstacles, but it’s emerging and forcing its presence.
Do you think your work, or work like it, will ever be something you’d see in the mainstream? It never ever would be a concern for me. I’m not aiming for the mainstream. Our institutions are corrupt anyways. Many mainstream art institutions are either tied up to On the opposite side, have you the governing powers or to private received any responses of support donors, dictating their politics and that have reaffirmed your ideology. I don’t care. I’m making art for the people about the people. dedication? Exactly. You identify any society through their culture. Art resists obliteration. Poetry, literature, music, visual arts, all of those expressions defy suppression and persist in history, beyond human mortality.
Of course. It’s tremendous. The support from across the country was amazing, because every artist and activist themselves felt insulted by such interference and attempt to censor an art form. When there’s an attempt to limit the freedom of expression, it’s not a threat to me only- it’s everyone. So the artist community and the activists mobilized across the country. During Choreographies of Resistance there was pressure on Western University to shut down the exhibition but the exhibition continued as planned. There was nothing they could do.
Is there anything you would say to someone who doesn’t believe in art as a form of resistance? Simple advice: see the art. Experience it. Don’t judge it without seeing its effect. Everyone is entitled to think what they want, as long as they are informed.
Alternatively, do you have any advice for someone who would want to create resistance art? My advice: be authentic. Start with your own space, represent your experiences. Don’t fear judgment of any form. Educate yourself, see and It leaves a powerful impact, this research political art. type of art. Political art. I believe so. “Thank you for your You can see more of Rehab’s work art” and “thank you for informing in a group exhibition titled Silence Pressure Noise, at Western’s McIntosh Gallery. It runs from November 10, 2017 - January 13, 2018. * The interview has been edited and condensed to fit spatial restrictions v.18.2// 15
ROB MCCALLUM THE STORY BEHIND THE STORYTELLER With the exception of Unearthly, a project he laughingly describes as “Canada’s greatest B movie”, most of independent filmmaker Rob McCallum’s feature-length films probe his lifelong passions: Nintendo; He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; the quest to find his missing mother. In his latest documentary, Kittie:Origins/Evolutions, he explores a new fandom in the 20-year legacy of London’s heavy metal sensation, Kittie. I met up with McCallum at a downtown coffee shop to learn more about what it took to tell the tale.
a producer and writer for Tiny Titan Studios, the London-based gaming company he recently moved back from the US to join. Indeed, McCallum’s prolific work ethic and talent for crowdfunding has served him well thus far. In the sharply competitive landscape of the Canadian film industry, he suspects his business savvy is largely what sets him apart. “A lot of [filmmakers] Raised in London Ontario, McCallum graduated don’t think from Western University’s film program in 2004. His of it as a professors noticed his enthusiasm and offered him business,” he the opportunity to make films instead of writing says. “Canada essays in his last year of classes. 20 shorts and several is guilty of this festival awards later, McCallum enrolled in Sheridan College to further hone his skills in writing, producing, more than any other country directing, and design. In the subsequent 15 years he divided his life between the US/Canada border to run – it’s one of the reasons I went to make films in the States, because they see it as being about profit rather his production company, Pyre Productions. than cultural expression, which is going to be inherent to any piece of art.” 2015 saw the successful release of Nintendo Quest: The Most Unofficial and Unauthorized Nintendo McCallum posits that a change in the way Canada Documentary Ever, wherein McCallum gleefully documented his friend’s undertaking to collect all 678 showcases its films may be a step in the right direction. Nintendo Entertainment System games in just 30 days “Canada is doing so much more to promote music without the help of online shopping. The film caught than they are for cinema. You look at CRTC the attention of proponents of nerd culture around regulations, 60% of what we hear has to be Canadian. the world, and eventually led to the inception of the If 60% of the screens in Canada had to be filled with spinoff series, Nintendo Quest: Power Tour. Canadian content, we’d see an explosion in the amount of quantity that had to be produced.” McCallum’s more personal film, Missing Mom, was next to win over audiences. Telling the story of the search for his mother 25 years after her mysterious disappearance, Missing Mom garnered numerous honours, including Best Documentary at the 2016 Forest City Film Festival.
McCallum is now on the hunt for a distributor for Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, while completing post-production for Box Art, a series exploring the world of video game cover art. He also works as
Interestingly, the federal government signed off on a $500-million investment to a Canadian Netflix production house mere days after McCallum’s eerily prophetic comment. Considering the experience he gained making his latest release, Kittie: Origins/ Evolutions, the accuracy of this insight comes as no surprise. Kittie: Origins/Evolutions was the first feature documentary McCallum was hired to do by an outside
client. In hindsight, there was no one better suited to make the film. McCallum grew up at the same time and in the same city as sisters Morgan and Mercedes Lander, the founders of Kittie, one of the world’s most successful heavy metal acts. He even attended Sheridan College alongside Trish Doan, the band’s late bassist. It was through her that he learned the band was in the process of making a documentary covering their lengthy career. When a prospective director fell through, McCallum stepped up to the plate without hesitation.
Courtesy of Rob McCallum, Pyre Productions
He soon found that when rebellious teenage girls form a band that stays intact for 20 years and counting, they amass at least four terabytes of archival footage. “It took a long time to go through that footage and find the spine of the film,” says McCallum. “The spine is, here’s your golden opportunity that everyone wishes for, how far are you willing to go for it, and guess what – sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” Until now, Kittie has been tight-lipped about their origins and evolutions. The high volume of unseen material posed a challenge for McCallum, forcing him and the band to produce two versions of the film: A two-part version of the film with each part covering 10 years of the band’s history, and a 90-minute theatrical cut to be shown at a private screening hosted by this year’s Forest City Film Fest. The theatrical version will appeal to audiences curious to know more about how the band got their footing, but the denser two-parter has been made especially with fans in mind, particularly those who backed the film’s financial campaign. Exempted pieces of the theatrical cut will later be made available online. In varying amounts of detail, both versions essentially tell the same real-life coming-of-age tale about a group of young women dealing with
the highs and lows of the music biz in the new millennium. Having conducted interviews in Australia, LA, Atlanta, and finally in London’s own Call the Office, McCallum was adamant he would limit his narration as much as possible to allow the members to tell their own story from their own words. He also made the conscious choice to neutralize the focus on gender, as it was clear the topic had been picked over ad nauseum in the media throughout Kittie’s history. “For me it was about a band that made music and this is about what they went through. It’s obvious that most of the people you see on screen are women – this is about women. You don’t need to underline in bold that this is a girl band. Their story is significant regardless of gender,” says McCallum. McCallum dove headfirst into the project with a vague awareness of what film he was about to make. But as production moved forward and interviews became more personal, he realized more and more that his previous films had prepared him for this unique opportunity. Nintendo Quest was a trial run at making a film marketed to an established fanbase with high expectations, while Missing Mom made him an empathetic interviewer during emotionally charged moments with his subjects. “Making this film was cathartic for me,” says McCallum. “It was like seeing Missing Mom on some levels but stepping back because I wasn’t a part of it, and that’s why I was able to handle the tenser sessions with this band that had ten members. I could do it delicately and respectfully with everybody involved, without sensationalizing it, which I think was pretty important.” It is this delicacy and dedication to authenticity that promises to make Kittie: Origins/Evolutions a landmark on multiple levels – music, film, and underground culture. With a head for business and heart for stories, it’s clear McCallum has been through his own evolution to set the precedent for future filmmakers in Canada. And he’s just getting started.
IS WO R KI NG TO WA R DS A N I NC L US IVE S A TU R DA Y M O R N I NG E X P E R I E NC E
// Carmen Mallia
As a child, my Saturday morning consisted of an oversized bowl of Lucky Charms, annoying my older sister, and binge watching YTV and Teletoon cartoons. As a 7-yearold, I sometimes noticed but didn’t think too much of the underlying racist, misogynist, and transphobic characters and puns in shows like Johnny Bravo, or The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Although, after being in a university program that has fostered my understanding of the negative ideologies that cartoons instil in adolescents, it’s clear that some of my favourite childhood characters, including Killa from Dragon Ball Z, exemplified stereotypes as a means to get a chuckle out of viewers. That is why I was reinvigorated when I heard of Steven Universe, a fictional Cartoon Network series centred around 14-year-old Steven, the youngest member of what is called the Crystal Gems, and his humanoid family of non-binary alien guardians. Steven Universe is a show that has successfully showcased intersectionality while creating a safe space for marginalized children to feel a sense of identity when they’re watching Saturday morning cartoons. The show is centred around three aliens, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, that call themselves Crystal Gems; sentient stones that take on humanoid forms and protect the world from villainous monsters. The show follows these Crystal Gems as they try to take care of Steven and teach him what it means to be a Gem and control the powers he inherits from his deceased mother while also balancing his desires as a prepubescent outsider. Steven Universe starts off with a charming mix of action and emotion while Steven learns about himself and his relationship with the Gems. It conquers the notion that cartoons can’t be inclusive by introducing topics such as ethical diversity, body confidence, and LQBTQ+ rights. I am impressed that a Cartoon Network series has been able to talk about these topics with children, because I didn’t know about most of these issues until I came to university.
Steven Universe has two fundamental topics; identity and feminism. The creator, Rebecca Sugar, states in an interview, “To me, the show is specifically about intersectional feminism. The characters are very, very different from each other. What they’re struggling with is very different”. One of Steven Universe’s biggest strengths is characterization, as of the Crystal Gems have dynamic personalities that are believable because of their complexity. Part of the pleasure in watching this show comes from how Garnet’s, Amethyst’s, and Pearl’s personalities interact with each other, always creating a heartfelt plot-line. This is an excellent show for children growing up today because it breaks the stereotypes of the nuclear family, and includes characters that are both gay and transgender, finally acknowledging intersectionality. Even though the Crystal Gems are not human, and technically do not have ascribed races, their skin tones and facial features suggest that they are people of colour. This show is important, as a proper form of representation has been needed in children’s television since its creation. The dynamic of Steven Universe fosters comfort and identity, as it consists of real, intersectional characteristics and plots. This is necessary, as children representing all backgrounds and lifestyles watch Cartoon Network. As author, feminist, and social activist, bell hooks notes, “identity is constituted not outside, but within representation”, meaning that it is important for each individual to have representation within entertainment media. Cartoon Network did not adequately represent marginalized groups in the past, as their shows either used dangerous tropes, or did not represent at all. They have tried to fix this reputation in recent years with Steven Universe, but the fact that this is a noteworthy show for this reason, means there is still more than enough room for improvement.
SOCIAL ( ANXIET Y ) // REBECCA MCLAREN
find it easier to open up to strangers. Because I have not yet established a connection that I fear losing. Or a connection where I can be responsible for disappointment. I’d rather lay it all out there from the beginning. Determine if somebody accepts me before I grow too attached myself.
The people I surround myself with have grown to like me. The way I am. For what I’ve done. Or so I think. How can I continue to meet their expectations? What if I change? What if they change their minds? Who am I? Which version of myself do they like best? What do I say next? Why did I say that? “I’m a nuisance,” my mind likes to chatter. Chatter. Chatter. I’ve lied to people in the past and I can’t help but think others are lying to me. All the time. Repeatedly. Chatter. Chatter. Chatter. Apparently, if you have social anxiety, or if you’re “normal”, you get less anxious as you get to know people. You start to feel “comfortable” with them. What’s normal anyways? The more and more I like somebody, the less 20 //v.18.2
comfortable I am. There is so much more at risk. If I make a mistake. If I say the wrong thing. I probably like them more than they like me anyways. How can I be “socially anxious” if my favourite thing in the world is the attention of strangers? A friend asked me why I don’t fear dancing in public. If I try to fit in, if I try to impress others, and they laugh or patronize me, I have failed. If I act ridiculous on purpose and they laugh, I hold the power. I would rather be in control. I want to read minds, yet I can’t read my own. I want to know how people feel about the things I do and say. Control is my solution. How can I force genuine feelings of care? How can I make them like me? “Just be yourself,” isn’t an answer I can accept. Whenever I do something stupid - whenever I fail - I have to announce it to the world. If I laugh before others do, I tell myself that I win. I’ll pretend not to notice my friends’ mishaps to save them humiliation; I know they’d do the same for me, but I don’t want their pity. They’re allowed to fail. I’m not. I don’t want to be helped by
anybody but myself. I’ll call out my flaws and faults before others can. I’ll never leave them unspoken at risk that somebody else could bring them to light. I am cruel to myself so there are no tools left for people to hurt me with. “I’m horrible,” I mutter, praying that somebody will contradict me. Making plans is tough - I’m always nervous to see people. I’m always nervous. Chatter. Chatter. Chatter. Do they even want to see me? Maybe I should just cancel. All I can think about is if they are having fun. Who cares if I’m having fun? I just need to be more interesting. I need to be funnier. I need to be more engaged. I need to be. More like them. I don’t want to waste their time. Silence is awkward. Their laugh isn’t genuine. Why can’t I make them laugh? I feel so bad. I feel so bad. I feel so bad. About myself. But mostly for them. Why is there more pressure when I know somebody? Or maybe
not if I know them, but if they know me? There is this bar I set for myself - that others have set for me - that proves I am succeeding. Sometimes. It also sets me up for failure.
explode. I can’t call a taxi. Order a pizza. What if I stumble over my words? Order pepperoni by mistake? I’ll be too flustered to correct myself. I’ll end up with something I don’t want. I don’t want this.
Repeatedly. Repeatedly. Repeatedly.
I didn’t ask for this.
“I’ve heard such good things about you!” What things? From who? How do I live up to these standards? What can I do? I can’t live up to expectations.
I can’t play team sports because I can’t let anyone down. I don’t want to be partners because I will fail and disappoint. I don’t think people will yell at me – but that’s why it’s worse. Even if they tell me everything is okay - everything is perfect - I’ll know they’re lying. If they are. And if they’re not, I’ll just spin myself into a mess for no reason.
Let alone surpass them. I am cold when you first meet me. I try to be the sassy version of myself that makes me feel most whole, but it’s a defense mechanism. It comes across as rude. I don’t want to be fake. No smiles. No rainbows. I attempt to be the bold and funny person my peers expect me to be - the person I expect myself to be. Instead, I seem patronizing. I am never happy with my interactions. I analyze them without end. I watch the bar drop each time I’m approached. Appreciating your talents is difficult when you’re still not convinced you have them. I love being on stage. I love to act, be photographed, and filmed. I crave attention.
As per usual. Repeatedly. Repeatedly. Repeatedly. It’s hard to be an artist when you care so much about what other people think. Isn’t art for sharing? I make abstract paintings with no real vision and stuff them in my basement, only to be seen by me. Realism is too much pressure. I gave up on that a long time ago. What if I think that I’m better than I am? I guess my time is worth something, but how could a skill that comes so
easily to me be considered talent? How can I make people pay for globs of paint? A piece that only looks good by accident? Does it even look good? Why do I crave approval from others so desperately if I don’t believe them anyway?
Maybe I’m not “shy” if talking to somebody new excites me. If I want to participate. If I want to lead. But if I can’t connect with those I am closest to without fear, social anxiety is still a part of my life. Because I can’t participate without running out of air. Because I can’t lead without self-deprecating humour. Because my mind makes up cruel tales that my heart believes. Shy people may envy my apparent confidence, but what if it’s all rooted in insecurity? I’m obviously social, but I’m sure as hell anxious about it.
“Why do I crave approval from others so desperately if I don’t believe them anyway?”
As long as I’m in control of it. Blood pounding. Blurred-vision flashes. I can’t raise my hand in class without feeling like I’m going to
Peak District //Tracy Xie
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