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XTRA! MARCH 8, 2012 TORONTO’S GAY& LESBIAN NEWS
Roundup MARCH 8, 2012
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Muff Scouts Jane Farrow (left) and Kirsti Wynne after a target practice event.
Skydiving in stilettos Xtra chats with activist Lia Grimanis, founder of the Muﬀ Scouts, a group of adventureseeking queer women who oﬀer a space where members can conquer their fears and perhaps change their lives.
OUT IN THE CITY
You Can Play
Move over, Ronald
Brian Burke, the GM and president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has launched a daring anti-homophobia campaign targeting the macho world of sports. Xtra’s Andrea Houston chats with Burke. › xtra.ca
Members of Pride Toronto are divided on bylaw changes that would create membership fees and change rules regarding age limits and volunteer hours. › 9
Queer History Month A group of activists wants to launch Canada’s ﬁrst-ever Queer History Month later this year. Xtra chats with those involved and gets the inside scoop on the UK’s successful LGBT History Month. › 12
Morro and Jasp are not your typical clowns. The homegrown duo that trained under Montreal clowning expert Richard Pochinko take on puberty, environmental awareness and sex. One of them also recently came out of the clown closet. › 15
Gay sex in Mass Eﬀect 3 Xtra blogger Jeremy Feist delves deep into the “uncanny valley” of gay sex in the video game Mass Effect 3. Check out a leaked cut-scene from the game in which protagonist Shepard seduces, and subsequently gets into bed with, another character named Cortez. › xtra.ca
Gay blood ban An Xtra investigation looks at how the Canadian Blood Services’ ban on gay men donating blood has divided the student union at Hamilton’s McMaster University. On one side are those who want to join the Canadian Federation of Students’ End the Ban campaign; on the other are those who want to continue to hold blood drives. › 14
Bully rating controversy The controversy over the R rating given to Bully, a documentary about bullying in American schools, continues to grow. More than 182,000 people have now signed a petition started by Michigan teenager Katy Butler in protest against the classiﬁcation. › xtra.ca
Comment ›6 Xcetera ›7 Xposed ›21 Guidemag Travel ›24–27 Index ›28 Classiﬁeds ›28 COLUMNS
Editorial ›6 Toronto at Night ›18 Porndoggy ›30 LISTINGS
Art & photography ›16 Health & issues ›16 Leisure & pleasure ›16, 19 Music ›19 Stage ›19 COVER PHOTO BY ALEX NIRTA
Rotman School of Management
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Toronto’s gay & lesbian news
XTRA! MARCH 8, 2012
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Comment Bring back customer service Editorial Danny Glenwright
EIGHBOURHOODS LIKE the Church-Wellesley Village don’t change as much as people think they do, urban planning expert Jane Jacobs once wrote. Rather, people’s feelings about their neighbourhood change. There has been a lot written of late about so-called inevitable changes coming to Toronto’s gay village and its environs. Some say big bad Loblaws will crush smaller businesses with its lower prices and greater variety; others that the tired, complacent attitude of long-standing Church St businesses will eventually do them in. I lean toward the latter. When Xtra has reported on changes to the Village, numerous comments on our website and social media pages have noted that many downtown retailers and restaurateurs seem to have stopped caring. They provide poor service and expect clients to return simply because they have no other options. This bad attitude isn’t unique to the Village; it trickles down from elsewhere in the city. Take our mayor. Despite all his political ﬂaws (and there are too many for this space), the quality that irks me most about Rob Ford is the one thing council can’t alter by outvoting him — he just does not seem like a nice man. I do not get the impression he likes his life or his job — or that he cares if we care. What about the much-maligned TTC? What an embarrassment; what a farce. The TTC has had numerous discussions about how to progress. Every time it comes up with the same priority: improve customer service. Yet the fact remains, coming upon a friendly TTC staffer is as rare as ﬁnding a story worth reading in a Sun Media newspaper. If you really want to feel depressed about the state of our city, visit a subway station. Finally, my oldest bugbear: phone companies. I have lived and worked in dozens of places and nowhere been provided with such shockingly poor customer service as I have received from Canadian phone companies. It’s no surprise that when confronted with ineptitude and poor service in these other aspects of our lives, it hurts that much more when we gay folks also receive it in our own neighbourhood. It’s also bad business. Thing is, as a customer, I don’t re-
quire the type of saccharine, phony customer service that has to be spread on with a serrated knife. I am quite happy to simply feel that business owners (not just frontline staff ) care about my needs, listen to my complaints (when I have them) and make me feel that I am important and my money is important. A recent experience with the management at the Dundas Square Extreme Fitness helps illustrate this point. While the gym at ﬁrst seemed to offer plenty of space and services, I increasingly became frustrated with my workout experiences. I was usually there between 5 and 9pm, and it was always packed to the rafters with long lineups for equipment and weights. I sometimes waited 20 minutes just to find a free bench or machine. The gym was also regularly equator-hot and out of towels (and because a towel service is offered, I wouldn’t bring one from home). When I wrote a complaint email to the manager and head-office staff suggesting they turn down the heat and buy more equipment, I was ignored for almost a week. When they did write back, they responded with snark. “We hope you are aware that in [sic] retail environment there are peak and non-peak hours,” wrote the marketing department’s Mukesh Gupta. “May we suggest you adjust your schedule?” To me this is like a restaurant seating your table of five, taking your order and your money, and then not serving you food. The gym manager later wrote to say all my problems had been ﬁxed. But when I visited the gym a week later, nothing had changed — the lineups were worse, no new equipment had been purchased, the gym was out of towels, and the staff ignored me, as usual. They were too busy trying to sell even more memberships. I spoke to friends about my experience and have found many feel the same way. Three of us will cancel our membership as soon as our contracts allow. There has to be a better way. What type of business model suggests it’s acceptable to treat customers with disdain? Do downtown businesses like Extreme Fitness truly believe Toronto has an endless supply of new customers who will accept poor service? Most surveys suggest the opposite: that service-driven companies grow faster, stay in business longer, and can charge more for services. Makes sense to me. Until downtown and Church St businesses realize this, the chatter about mass closures and devastating neighbourhood changes will not subside. Nor will people’s feelings about the neighbourhood trend back to the positive and proud.
“The outcome that we seek is this — gay and lesbian people daring together to set love free.” Xtra is published by Pink Triangle Press, at 2 Carlton St, Ste 1600, Toronto M5B 1J3.
MY PARTNER HAS RENEWED MY STRENGTH AND I AM UP FOR THE CHALLENGE! STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT!
INBOX Gay in the army YES, THE CHARTER OF Rights and Freedoms allows gays to participate in the military, but you can’t go running to the judge every time a slur or violation occurs as a result of being gay in the military. The military depends on bureaucratic indifference to bog down accusations of homophobic treatment and keep gays from seeking legal redress concerning employment grievances. The unions at DND are useless and human resources has thousands of potential soldiers in the inventory — so who needs you? As a civilian male employee at DND in Ottawa, I can assure you that gays are no more accepted today than they were in 1991. I always cringe when I see misguided soldiers (if that’s who they are) on the ﬂoats at Pride presenting the military as a viable career choice. I myself have witnessed both Canadian and American soldiers probe suspected gays to out them. The Canadian military still despises the three groups — gays, blacks and Asians — and none of these groups will have a happy long career with good memories. Also, potential gay candidates should be advised that posttraumatic stress disorder is rampant in the Forces and most soldiers cannot ever integrate back into civilian jobs afterward. Most will only be security guards chasing kids around the mall. Bryan Charlebois Toronto, ON WHEN MY PARTNER DEcided to join the Canadian Air Force I was scared. We both take a very clear stand on homophobia, and my fear was that he might pick up some homophobic habits due to the fact that he was surrounded by it and he wouldn’t want to rock the boat with his fellow members. It turns out I was wrong. The second week in basic and he was explaining to his platoon why it is ignorant to assume women who are in the military are lesbians. I realize that due to the nature of the Forces we will continuously be confronting people about homophobia, but my partner has renewed my strength and I am up for the challenge! Stand up for what’s right! Candace MacFarlane Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador
Jason Kenney I’VE WORKED FOR CITIZENship and Immigration [“Refugee Groups Respond to Jason Kenney’s Letter to Xtra,” xtra.ca, Feb 24] in the past, and while the people I worked with weren’t visa officers per se, they were immigration ofﬁcers who did determine the fate of refugees who arrived at our borders undocumented. Not all of the immigration officers I worked with back then were anti-LGBT bigots, but there were certainly enough of them to make it so I did not want to work
Send your correspondence by mail to 2 Carlton St, Ste 1600, Toronto M5B 1J3, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or log in to xtra.ca and comment directly. We may edit letters.
there long-term. Plus, Harper has appointed to the refugee board an anti-LGBT activist, not just a bigot but someone who actively worked to make our lives harder or worse. We have already heard of far too many cases where a gay refugee was denied status because the immigration officer didn’t consider them “gay enough” to be at risk in their home country, or claimed that they could be safe by remaining closeted. Even though they would never tell a refugee ﬂeeing religious persecution that they’d be safe if only they pretended to be of the dominant religion, oth-
comment I don’t care if someone is gay or straight [“Gay in the Army,” Xtra #713, Feb 23]. If he/she is willing to pick up a gun and fight for my safety and freedom, then I am thankful to him or her. Unfortunately, homophobia is not just a problem in the military; it is a societal problem. It is getting better, but we are still not near where we should be. Why one soldier would care about another’s sexual orientation is beyond me. All they should care about is that that person has their back and will protect them and fight alongside them. —Karen Cunningham Burlington, ON To comment, go to xtra.ca.
ers have been denied refugee status by the claim that they had a safe area in their home country they could’ve ﬂed to — and then when sent back were found murdered a short time later in the alleged safe area. One of the biggest problems with our refugee system is bigoted, anti-LGBT CIC/IRB employees. Denying it’s a problem at all is totally disgraceful, especially when there is so much evidence of their bigotry out there for all to see. Rich R Toronto, ON
TTC trans harassment LIFE IS HARD. LIFE IN THE wrong body is obviously harder [“Trans Woman Says She Was Harassed by TTC Driver,” Xtra #713, Feb 23]. Trying to bring gender recognition in line with one’s gender identity must be a living hell. This TTC schmuck knew exactly what he was doing when he chose to
humiliate Bianca. It was an abuse of power (imagine a TTC driver powertripping!) and clearly intended to be hurtful to a customer of a public service. As a citizen of Toronto, I am outraged. Our mayor has repeatedly spoken out about his insistence on respect for the taxpayer and a high level of customer service. Where is his outrage? Must be at the cottage with all his other LGBT concerns. At any rate, if no one else will “man up,” so to speak, and offer this woman an apology, I will. Bianca — you have every right to expect better behaviour and absolutely positive attitudes from TTC employees. As a citizen of Toronto (with no inﬂuence at the TTC, unfortunately) I offer you my sincere apology for the attempt to single you out and degrade you in public. My Toronto is trans-positive. James Frost Toronto, ON
Goon poster IF I SAW THIS ON THE STREET, there’s no way I’d be calling people up to have it removed [“No Hometown Advantage for Goon Posters,” xtra.ca, Feb 27]. Honestly, I don’t even think it’s that provocative, even if I think it’s stupid. Aren’t there far more disgusting things in advertising to be offended about? Lindsay Stevenson London, ON
Oscar best & worst [SACHA BARON COHEN] IS A comedian and he was promoting his next movie [“Best and Worst of 2012 Oscars,” xtra.ca, Feb 26]. He did what most movie producers would kill for. He got half the world to see him pull a stunt and then talk about it afterwards. We are now doing exactly what he wanted and intended. Plus, his comedy always has an edge that makes the viewer squirm or cringe a little. Amidst all the “Are we not just so fabulous” red-carpet bullshit, he threw a dose of “Get the fuck over yourselves, you are just a bunch of overpaid entertainers.” I loved his stunt; it was one of the few interesting moments of the night. Michael Halwa Vancouver, BC
Xtra told to Repent SO SOME IN THE RELIGIOUS right want Xtra readers to repent [“Christian Fundamentalist Tells Xtra Readers to Repent,” xtra.ca, Feb 15]. I have a better idea. My idea is that those who use religion and misinterpret scripture out of context to justify their fearmongering, lying and hate should be the ones who repent. Being gay, lesbian, transgendered or bisexual is a gift, and as a Christian, I believe it is a gift from God. Wayne Madden Edmonton, AB
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XTRA! MARCH 8, 2012
noteworthy › updates › ephemera
Compiled by Jeremy Feist
A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE
Record views on queer suicide prevention website after Glee episode Following the airing of an episode of Glee where — SPOILER ALERT — the character of David Karofsky attempts suicide, The Trevor Project, which is dedicated to preventing queer suicide, received record page views and a 300-percent increase in traﬃc to its website. However, Quinn’s texting-and-driving accident prompted very little interest in preventing iPhone-related car crashes. For more information on The Trevor Project, visit thetrevorproject.org. Visit the Ontario Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line at youthline.ca or call 1-800-268-9688.
NOH8 IN RIVERDALE
Archie Comics deﬁes hate group American hate group One Million Moms, best known for its homophobia and an inability to count (the group has just 44,000 Facebook followers), launched a campaign against Archie Comics to try to force the long-running comic to remove an issue in which gay character Kevin Keller gets married. Archie Comics stood its ground, saying Kevin would remain happily married and that homophobia had no place in Riverdale. However, there is still no word as to when Archie will nut-up and choose between Betty and Veronica. ARCHIECOMICS.COM
UFC FIGHTER’S GAY-FOR-PAY PAST
–George Clooney weighs in on gay rumours BOOZE NEWS
GRINDR WINE? OMG! Is Grindr venturing into oenology to seduce new customers with booze? Nope — turns out it’s just a new-style South African wine — coﬀee pinotage (red wine and coﬀee in the same glass? What’s not to love?) — that’s making its way to Ontario. Of course, if you’d like some Grinder while on Grindr, there’s nothing wrong with pulling out a bottle whilst you look up some hookups.
GRINDING FOR A CAUSE
Grindr throws support behind equal rights Having reached the three-million member mark (side note to One Million Moms: ha!), smartphone hookup app Grindr launched a new outreach program called Grindr for Equality. It’s meant to raise awareness of equal rights causes and bring together its members into one cohesive community, which means you can now write oﬀ your drunken late-night ﬂings as activism. Yay for the cocksuckers!
Dakota Cochrane, a contestant on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter, opened up about his past as a gay-for-pay pornstar for Sean Cody (he starred in more than 15 ﬁlms), telling blogger Mauro Ranallo that he “deﬁnitely made a mistake and want to put it in the past. Just trying to move on to bigger and better things now.” Yes, now he’s getting pounded in the face instead of the ass. Kind of a lateral move, really.
I’m not going to let anyone make it seem like being gay is a bad thing . . . who does it hurt if someone thinks I’m gay? . . . I don’t give a shit.
B R E A K I N G N E W S › SE X WO R K I N C A M B O D I A › C A R O L E P O P E O N WO M E N , SE X A N D H E R N E W C D › M E E T N D P L E A D E R SH I P MOR E AT XT R A.CA CAN DI DAT E NAT HAN C U L L E N › N E W ANONYMOU S VI DE O M E N T IONS 2008 X T R A STORY › N E VE R B LO OM E RS ›
XTRA! MARCH 8, 2012
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Upfront PRIDE NEWS
WE’VE PRETTY MUCH ERADICATED HOMOPHOBIA AND HOMOPHOBIC LANGUAGE IN THE SCHOOL. Elly Barnes › 12
Pride Toronto proposes rule changes Board considers possible membership fee and age restriction Andrea Houston PRIDE TORONTO (PT) MEMBERS TOLD THE BOARD TO put the brakes on controversial by-law changes that would institute a fee for membership, add an age restriction of 16 years or older, and prevent time spent at PT meetings from being considered as volunteer hours. The changes would alienate youth and members older than 40, long-time PT member Lisa Duke told the board at the March 1 meeting at the Central Toronto YMCA. “This is entirely disrespectful to older members. If meetings are no longer considered volunteer hours, where does that leave people like me?” she asked. “This would make people go through the membership process every year. Pride should honour its history. Elders like me represent the history of the organization.” Furthermore, paying a membership fee could be ﬁnancially difficult for some people, Ross Chapman noted. Outreach committee member Giovanni Temansja agreed, noting that charging a fee could even put some youth in a dangerous position. “It’s concerning because it could ac— long-time Pride Toronto tually out youth to member Lisa Duke their families. Youth would have to ask their parents for money,” he said. “We want to make it easy and safe for youth to get involved in Pride.” No dollar amount has been suggested for the fee, but the general consensus is that it should be less than $20. Member John Bell said it’s normal for large community organizations like Pride to charge modest fees for membership. “Perhaps a sliding scale? Or pay what you can?” he proposed. Because the changes were rejected, the old by-laws remain in effect. These state that membership requires a contribution of eight volunteer hours, attendance at three meetings — general meetings or AGMs — and a nomination by the board, or members can be employees of PT. Three less-contentious by-law changes were approved. One change takes power out of the hands of the chair. It states, “Each member, or proxy holder for a member, is entitled to one vote. In the event of a tie vote, the motion shall be deemed to have lost.” Previously, the chair had the power of casting the deciding vote. Prior to the meeting, PT decided to delay electing three new board members in the hope that more women would decide to run. There is only one woman on the board. Two woman were elected at the last AGM, but Paola Solorzano resigned in December for “personal reasons,” said co-chair Luka Amona. The vacant board seats will remain empty until the next AGM, in October. Members also cast their votes to decide on a theme for the 2012 festival. The winner is “Celebrate and Demonstrate,” submitted by Proud FM’s Acey Rowe.
PRIDE SHOULD HONOUR ITS HISTORY. ELDERS LIKE ME REPRESENT THE HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZATION.
Grant Gordon wants to start a buylocal campaign in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood. ROB SALERNO
Grant Gordon hopes to take Toronto-Danforth ‘Playful’ campaign speaks to candidate’s personality Rob Salerno IT’S A RARE CANDIDATE WHO MAKES national headlines for launching a nomination campaign to be a third-party candidate in a federal by-election, but Grant Gordon accomplished just that when he launched his “Get Me on the Ballot” campaign for the Liberal nomination in Jack Layton’s former riding, Toronto-Danforth. The web-based campaign raised eyebrows for its tongue-in-cheek bid for supporters of other parties to join the Liberals to get Gordon on the ballot, if only to raise the quality of debate in a riding the New Democrats are widely expected to win. Gordon’s no stranger to bold campaigns. As the owner of an ad agency that specializes in “branding the good guys” — environmental organizations and sustainable companies — Gordon created the “Flick Off” campaign and other successful ads. But his frank assessment of his party’s odds in the by-election caught many by surprise. “I just wanted to create a piece that reﬂected me,” he says of the ballot campaign. “I just wanted to put that out there in an
ironic voice and sort of say, ‘Since it’s over, why not get me in there because I’ll be fun.’ I just wanted to be playful because that’s the way I am. That’s the way I talk.” His approach indicates the party has become less centralized, he says. “The party really got walloped in the last election. It was disassembled and it’s getting put back together. They’re rebuilding
THIS IS ME RUNNING WITH THE FULL SUPPORT OF THE PARTY, AND THEY’RE NOT PUTTING WORDS IN MY MOUTH. from the ground up,” he says. “I am writing all my own campaign material. This is me running with the full support of the party, and they’re not putting words in my mouth.” Gordon says the riding has been neglected and needs a community-minded MP who’ll advocate for small business.
“The small businesses are really struggling. When you start going into store after store and you ask, ‘How’s business?’ a lot of stores are saying it’s very difficult,” he says. “I know what that’s like. I run a business, and sometimes at the end of the year I have to write a cheque to my own company,” he says. “I think an MP can be an advocate for them. There’s no buy-local campaign, and I think people who live in this riding should feel a compulsion to shop here and dine here as much as possible.” Asked what he’d do for the queer community, Gordon says he’d like to address the problem trans Canadians face with identifying their sex on passports. He thinks the Australian model that allows a neutral option is best. Gordon says the riding’s diversity, including its growing gay and lesbian community, is its key strength. “I have an uncle who never came out, and he got HIV and he had a terrible death,” he says. “He was much older, from another generation, where it wasn’t okay to be gay, and it had a profound effect on me. I just feel such regret that he wasn’t in a community that made him feel safe.” “I want my kids to grow up in a community that’s not just culturally diverse, but socially and economically diverse as well,” he says. The Toronto-Danforth by-election takes place Mon, March 19.
Torontoâ€™s gay & lesbian news
XTRA! MARCH 8, 2012
No hometown advantage for Goon posters Movie ads taken down after complaints Johnnie Walker THE PICTURE IS A CLOSE-UP OF A manâ€™s face sneering at the camera as he shoves his tongue between two of his own outstretched ďŹ ngers. It comes across as provocative, sexually suggestive, perhaps aggressive and deďŹ nitely silly. The kind of thing you might see on the cover of Xtra, actually. But it happens to be one of the posters for the new Canadian hockey comedy movie Goon, and where you wonâ€™t be seeing it is on any of Astral Mediaâ€™s bus shelters. The posters for the ďŹ lm, which opened on Feb 24, were removed by Astral by order of the City of Toronto on Feb 22 â€” a mere two days before the ďŹ lmâ€™s premiere â€” after a single complaint was ďŹ led against them. The offending tongue and ďŹ ngers belong to none other than Jay Baruchel, a Canadian actor best known for his roles in the American comedies Knocked Up and Undeclared. When quizzed about the removal of 38 posters featuring his likeness, Baruchel (who also co-wrote the filmâ€™s script) called the incident â€œanother classic example of the cultural divide between Quebec and Ontario.â€? But it appears that he spoke too soon: on Feb 24, 70 posters were removed from metro stations across Montreal after the SociĂŠtĂŠ de Transport de Mon-
trĂŠal declared them offensive. Whether you consider the removal of the posters censorship or an appropriate response to an offensive image, most would agree that losing a large chunk of advertising two days before a ďŹ lm opens is hardly ideal from a marketing perspective. But could it actually be an unexpected boon for Goon? â€œPeople have said itâ€™s the worst possible time for the posters to be taken down,â€? says Charlie Keil, director of the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. â€œI would argue that itâ€™s the opposite. Because if the posters had been taken down right after they were put up, everyone would have forgotten by now. This is exactly what you want: to be in the news cycle just as your ďŹ lm is opening . . . Itâ€™s extending the degree of controversy about the ďŹ lm, beyond the obvious hook of hockey violence.â€? Even before the poster scandal broke, Goon, which tells the story of an aggressive, simple-minded man, played by Seann William Scott, who becomes a highly sought after minor-league enforcer, was making the news because of its depiction of ďŹ ghting in the rink. â€œIâ€™ve read enough about the movie to know that itâ€™s extremely violent,â€? Keil says. â€œItâ€™s clearly aimed at a more adult audience, and so the question that arises then is, Is it okay for advertising
for something thatâ€™s only directed to a speciďŹ c portion of the population to be available to everyone? Because, the argument would be, the movie isnâ€™t available to everyone. So, should advertising that is done in the spirit of the movie be available to everyone?â€? Then thereâ€™s the gesture itself. Just how offensive is Baruchelâ€™s two-ďŹ nger salute? Does it rank up there with ďŹ‚ipping the bird? Keil doesnâ€™t think so: â€œItâ€™s not as universal as that recent MIA incident where she gave the middle ďŹ nger during the Super Bowl. There, you have an understanding that is widely acknowledged â€” and it means only one thing â€” and many feel that gesture cannot be shown. But I donâ€™t know if this quite ďŹ ts into that category as easily.â€? The prudes who might be put off by Baruchelâ€™s gesture also might not, you know, get it. And even if they do, is a code for oral sex absolutely taboo on a movie poster? Would the reaction be the same, say, for a poster of Megan Fox suggestively holding a Popsicle while winking at the camera? â€œI think that if you had a woman doing it,â€? Keil says, â€œit would probably be construed as much more sexual than a man doing it.â€? And not just sexual, but sexy. Because while Baruchelâ€™s gesture is certainly the former, itâ€™s arguably not the latter. â€œIt isnâ€™t sexy,â€? Keil says. â€œAnd
Canadian actor Jay Baruchel in the offending poster.
no offence to him, but I would say that heâ€™s not, either. Itâ€™s not the same as having Brad Pitt do it on a poster.â€? Ironically, the posters that two major Canadian cities have deemed too risquĂŠ for public consumption appear to have been designed specifically for a Canadian audience. US and UK advertisements for Goon focus
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