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UTSU ‘Takes Back The Street’ with street fest WENDELLE SO Tents, tables, and a performance stage on St. George Street instead of regular motor traffic? It was just a taste of what might happen if St. George is pedestrianized for students, said student union president Shaun Shepherd of the UTSU-sponsored street festival near College and Harbord last Tuesday. “This event shows that the closing of St. George Street is possible,” said Shepherd. “It shows what events we can host with a pedestrianized street, and the drastic, dynamic shift that pedestrianization will create.” 187 clubs lined both sides of the stretch of St. George Street fronting Sidney Smith Hall in an effort to recreate frosh week’s clubs fair for students who missed the opportunity to review the university’s extracurricular offerings. Clubs were clustered according to type, with the cultural clubs occupying the northern part of the street, and technical clubs located farther south. Levy groups, sports clubs, course unions, and UofT groups also participated, while the UofT Dance Group and PhysEd members offered



music and dance performances on a stage set up at the south end of the enclosure. The street festival was funded through contributions from the university and campus partners. “Everyone involved was very supportive, from the clubs being here, the UTSU offices being here,” said Shepherd. He

also said that it was not difficult to close down St. George. “All we had to do was file a street closure permit,” he said. “The hard part was the logistics of it; making sure that it was safe.” He also stressed that the street fest had two purposes. “It’s an orientation for all students, a big welcome back to UofT,” he said. “It also shows that

a permanent street closure can happen.” The closure of St. George Street for exclusive student use was a major part of Shepherd’s campaign platform last year. Student reactions to the street festival were mixed. “It definitely helps students who didn’t have an opportunity to get to go to the clubs’ fair,” said Anastasia Bizyayevo of the Philosophy Course Union. “There’s a lot of people who come up to us for our club.” However, others felt that using street festivals and staged events as an argument for street pedestrianization was unconvincing. “I do believe that the pedestrianization of [St. George Street] is a good initiative, and there are many fine arguments for it,” said Charles Dalrymple-Fraser, founder of the Initiative for Inspiration and Innovation, which participated in the festival. “But I think they should prioritize other arguments [than the festival] in order to sway a vote. The event itself was not necessarily convincing of the need [for pedestrianization].” Among the problems DalrympleFraser raised were issues of mobility and sustainability. “Because everyone SEE`STREETFEST` ON PAGE 3

From priority enrollments to priority neighbourhoods APPLONIA CORNELIUS Two University of Toronto life science undergraduate students with a vision to bridge life sciences with healthy lifestyle education began a new volunteer program called Supporting Education, Empowerment, and Development, through Science (SEEDS). Focusing on mental health, nutrition, oral health, and physical activity, SEEDS. provides after-school programming and workshops to youth aged 9-14, affectionately named SEEDling programs. The SEEDer program provides leadership opportunities for underprivileged high school youth and UofT students. With many Life Science students vying to join extracurricular activities

to improve their professional school application, SEEDS provides a different avenue of growth through leadership for University of Toronto students. Akanksha Ganguly, co-founder of SEEDS, emphasizes that youth aren’t taught to think about healthy options in school through a scientific lens, nor are they taught Life Science in an engaging enough way to spark an interest. Sherryn Vykunthanathan, a 3rd year Religion Specialist student, agrees with the phenomenon: “I hated science growing up because it was so boring.” According to Statistics Canada’s 2004 Canada Health Survey Report, 1 in 4 children aged 2-17 are overweight. SEEDS hopes to address this issue along with inspiring youth to

pursue life science, perhaps even having participants sitting in Convocation Hall in a few years - a dream many of their parents never thought would be possible. During the development phase of SEEDS programming this past summer, executives Eric Bracciodieta and James D’Souza created a curriculum that balanced healthy lifestyle and life science education. When Bracciodieta





Kimberly Rivera p. 8-9

A letter to Robert Pickton’s victims p. 5

Argo: America, Fuck Yeah p. 12

NEWS Send your kids to Vic! Send your kids to Vic! Victoria College frosh take off on an Orientation Week “Adventure”





“Orientation Week is a time when everyone can come together and have fun. It doesn’t matter what type of person you are—you’ll find other people to be friends with.” So says fourth-year student Liviu-Mihai Calin, who participated for the fourth time in Orientation Week, this time as an executive for Adventure: Victoria Bound. It began with students gathered in the quad for the Grand Meet and Greet to shake hands, play Ninja, and learn some cheers—as well as the frosh dance. This year the dance was set to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” and what soon became the unofficial song of the week; Psy’s surprisingly catchy KPop single “Gangnam Style.” On Tuesday night—for those who didn’t stay up too late at Monday’s #YOVO dance party—the Victoria College Casino Night was the place to be. Hosted in Old Vic and drawing crowds that lined up out the doors, this event didn’t require students to gamble away their OSAP funds—free chips were in plentiful supply. Day three was an amalgamation of free stuff. If nothing else inspired you to check it out, the UTSU clubs day had the added perks of free pen handouts and complimentary first aid kits. There were secret ceremonies, (everyone is very hushhush about what happened at these events; all first-year residence student Ben Atkins would say on the matter was, “I shook a lot of hands.”), and parties (including the annual Scarlet and Gold

well, grand. For those impatient many who didn’t care to stand around all night waiting for a bus, Games Night Around the World was a fun, low-key alternative. Thursday’s highlight was the Wacky Tacky Boat Cruise, a tradition which has been happening at Vic since at least 1979. After taking the subway en masse down to Harbourfront, and ‘gracing’ every passerby with obnoxious cheering and unsolicited advice (“Send your kids to Vic! Send your kids to Vic!”), students boarded either the Kajama or the Trillium for a wild night of dancing as the Toronto skyline drifted by. The week closed with a fullcampus parade, followed by a concert featuring Kardinal Offishall on back campus and the UTSU party at The Guvernment nightclub. First year student Geoff Baillie had it right when he said that it “was cool that all of UofT was there,” including many UTSC and UTM friends, and if you could get past the humidity and pressing crowds, the party wasn’t half-bad. All in all, from commuters to residence students to fifth-year executives, it seems that everyone would agree that Adventure: Victoria Bound was a success. Parama Talukder, a first-year commuter student, said, “The Dons, Execs, and Frosh Leaders all did a really great job. We had the best Frosh of all the colleges!” THOMAS LU


event). The only gripe many students had was the lack of timely transportation to and from the “secret location” at which the party was held—though those who did make it out said that the Eglinton Grand was,

Looking for yet another extracurricular activity?

The Strand wants you

A possible preview of pedestrianization

Bring life back to the life sciences leadership in other undergraduates, and to create a sustainable program that remains in Toronto for years to come. As the new year begins, most UofT students are worrying about whether or not to drop a course, if they should get off of a waitlist, or whether they will be able to achieve the GPA to get into grad school. However, some students’ main concern is about whether or not they can pay for textbooks, or how they will pay off their tuition loans. These students may be from one of the 13 Priority neighborhoods in Toronto. With the help of co-founders Ganguly and myself, as well as our main affiliates, University Health Network and Thorncliffe Neighborhood Office, these students may find their way into a life science program not unlike our own. If you’re interested in joining SEEDS or have questions regarding the group, please e-mail them at com.

`STREETFEST` FROM PAGE 1 was walking amok, it made navigation to a class extremely difficult,” he said. “Cyclists, too, were largely annoyed at being asked to dismount...Those cyclists may take the experience as chaotic or an annoyance.” “Furthermore, if there is argument for the pedestrianization coming from sustainability and going green, this would be a bit of a stab back: this festival would make it seem like commuting students trying to go green as cyclists would have to compromise on their routes and la-

bours.” Philosophy student Nima Vi Khodabandeh also raised practical issues. “I’m all for pedestrianization of St. George street, if nothing else then for the mere aesthetics of a vehicle free road,” he said. “But with the street closed, it will become difficult for food delivery trucks to service Morrison Hall, and future frosh will have difficulty on moving day as well.” Whether it was convincing or not in its argument for the pedestrianization of St. George Street, the UTSU street fest provided a day of fun that was not limited to the freshmen.

COMING UP: DISORIENTATION 2012 MON SEPT 17 FRI SEPT 21 Come out for a week of exciting discussions lead by UofT staff and Torontonians alike, shedding light on some of the big political issues of our university, city, and country alike. Organized by UTSU and OPIRG-Toronto.


VOLUNTEER` FROM PAGE 1 was asked about why a group like this is important to UofT students, he passionately said, “the world needs less people who can write good lecture notes and more people who are engaged with their community.” With that passion, he, along with the other SEEDS executives, were able to have approximately 40 children aged 9-14 partake in SEEDS pilot workshops over the summer in partnership with the “Something for the Girlz” summer camp. The camp was funded by the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office. SEEDS will be piloting their after-school program at Samuel Hearne Middle School in Crescent Town beginning in October. When asked how SEEDS will be like a year from now, Ganguly sees the group successful in Toronto, and expanding to the GTA. SEEDS also hopes to expand the group to other universities in order to encourage

A link between memory and emotion

UofT study shows that emotionally significant memories are remembered more vividly Psychologists at UofT, the University of Manchester, and UC San Diego, recently published a study showing that the vividness with which we perceive past experiences is related to the emotions associated with the experience. The study, published Aug 15 in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that memories containing significant emotional importance cause an increase in the activity of the amygdala; the part of the brain responsible for forming and storing emotional events. We all have some memories that we can recall in much greater detail than others–for example, your first breakup is quite memorable in comparison to what you watched on television last night. The reason behind the difference in vividness of memory is emotion. Rebecca Todd, a post-doctoral fellow at the UofT’s psychology department and lead author

of the study, calls this enhanced ability to recall memories with emotional significance “emotionally enhanced vividness.” The research team began their experiment by showing participants images that were emotionally stimulating and positive (mild erotica), emotionally stimulating and negative (violence and wild animals baring their teeth), and neutral (people on an escalator). On top of each image a varying amount of “visual noise” was superimposed, much like the snowy pattern seen on an untuned analogue television screen. The subjects were asked to compare the amount of noise in the image to the amount of noise in a standard image with a fixed amount of noise, stating whether each image had more, less, or the same amount of noise as the standard. Subjects rated emotionally arousing images, whether positive or nega-

tive, as having less noise than the image truly depicted. “They actually saw the picture underneath more clearly, as if there is more signal relative to noise in the emotionally arousing picture,” says Todd. This confirms that we can remember emotional scenes more vividly. But the research team wanted to see whether this enhanced vividness could help subjects recall details from memory more easily. “In two different studies, we measured memory for the images, both right after seeing them in the first place and one week later,” explains Todd. During both instances subjects were asked to describe the images in detail, and in both circumstances images deemed as more emotional were remembered more vividly. In addition, the researchers used electrophysiology (EEG) to examine the activity of the visual cortex to determine whether the vividness is due to seeing vividly or thinking vividly.

“We found that the brain indexes vidness pretty quickly … which suggests it’s about seeing and not just thinking,” says Todd. They coupled the EEG results with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to see what regions of the brain become more active when remembering emotionally significant memories. Both the visual cortex and amygdala’s activity increased when remembering emotional memories. The results from this study show that emotionally significant memories are seen and processed by the brain differently from more mundane memories. Aided by this information, further research can be done into the differing degrees in which people perceive “emotionally enhanced vividness.” This, in turn, can be used to predict an individual’s susceptibility to trauma, and hopefully help those who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

News • 17 Sept. 2012 •




Canada’s ‘neutral’ ethnicity? JOHANNA LEWIS STAFF WRITER You’ve probably heard the news story by now: the Bank of Canada was redesigning the 100-dollar bill to honour Canadian scientific contributions. But after two of their focus groups expressed concerns that a depicted researcher ‘appeared to be Asian’, they pulled the original image and have replaced it with a woman who looks white. The racist motivation and justification for the change sparked controversy and a couple of headlines, but this incident also raised questions around racialization, ‘multiculturalism’, and Canadian identity. The idea emerging from a Fredericton focus group that the original image of an Asian woman was inappropriate because it didn’t “represent Canada” is racist—it’s based on an assumption that a Canadian identity is a white one. That’s a pervasive underlying sentiment that takes on a particularly violent char-

acter given Canada’s history as a settler colonial state and status as occupied indigenous land. The Bank of Canada justified their choices by pointing to their policy of not representing any particular ethnicity; their decision to replace the image with that of a woman who appeared Caucasian was an attempted move towards a more ‘neutral ethnicity’. This notion of whiteness as being default, neutral, and not really a ‘race’ at all, is crucial to how race has been constructed and racism has been structured. They claim to not want to make a statement by highlighting a given ethnicity – perhaps the fact that they only include white people in their representations is statement enough. Interestingly, the backlash has generally centered on a perceived betrayal of Canada’s cherished ‘multiculturalism’, a policy that has itself received widespread critique from many angles. While some of these have certainly come from the conservative right, many other activ-

ists and academics have also raised important critiques of the rhetoric of ‘multiculturalism’ and its impact. What violence does this language perpetrate when it upholds a façade of Canada as being an ‘accepting’, ‘inclusive’ place? How does this silence and erase the experiences of people of colour in Canada? ‘Multiculturalism’ may encourage us to enjoy foods from all over the world, but it is not a policy that has meaningfully dealt with structural racism in this country. “If Canada is truly multicultural and thinks that all cultural groups are equal, then any visible minority should be good enough to represent a country, including [someone with] Asian features,” said Mu-Qing Huang, a Chinese Canadian graduate student who was quoted in several of the news piece following the incident. This may be true, and releasing a hundred dollar bill with an image of an Asian woman would certainly be perceived to be upholding a Canadian ‘multicultural’

‘Multiculturalism’ may encourage us to enjoy foods from all over the world, but it is not a policy that has meaningfully dealt with structural racism in this country.

identity. But this country would still have structural racism deeply embedded in our immigration system, legal system, policing system, and more. Poverty would still be heavily racialized, and many people of colour would still face racism and discrimination on a daily basis. This incident betrays insidious racism. But if, ten years down the road, the next bill design represents people of colour, we should not be deceived into thinking that its falling in line with the Canadian state’s branding as ‘multicultural’ means structural racism is no longer a problem.

The dangerous gendering of heart attack awareness PAULINE HOLDSWORTH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

does the gendering of anxiety act as a barrier to women getting appropriate health care—whether their symptoms are “just” a panic attack or signs of a heart attack? How does using predominately male symptoms as the default in pop culture contribute to the invisibility of women’s health issues in our collective consciousness? The Go Red for Women Campaign released a video last year in which an over-worked mother, played by Elizabeth Banks, lies on the floor and tells the 911 operator, “Sorry to bother you, but I think I might be having a little heart attack…nothing really.” Women are socialized to downplay symptoms which might cause others to perceive them as anxious or neurotic—rather than to take their health seriously and expect it to be taken seriously by the health care system. The construction of anxiety as a particularly “female” (read: illegitimate) complaint is something with far-reaching consequences for other areas of women’s health, and something which reflects, once again, how essential it is for the health care system to consider patients’ health holistically and treat mental health, physical health, and their many intersections as equally worthy of serious attention.


The heart attack symptoms we’re familiar with from TV medical dramas are fairly consistent with warning signs we’re taught to look out for in health class: deferred pain in the arm, chest pain, and shortness of breath. What we’re less aware about is that these symptoms predominately reflect the way male bodies* react to heart attacks, and that approximately 42% of women never exhibit these “classic” heart attack symptoms, according to a study led by cardiologist Dr. James Canto. Women experiencing heart attacks often present with symptoms consistent with a panic attack. And a lack of cultural knowledge about gender-based reaction differences, when combined with a tendency for health care providers to downplay symptoms related to anxiety and mental health, can prove deadly and contribute to the five-percent disparity between inhospital heart attack mortality rates for men and women. “Women are coming in saying they’re nauseous, they’re fatigued, they’re sweating, and doctors say, ‘You’re fine,’” she says. “Doctors will say it’s anxiety and it’s all in your head,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, a spokes*Note: when we refer to “male” and “feperson for the American Heart As- male” bodies, we are limited by the study’s sociation. These discrepancies point use of exlusively cisgendered patients. to several larger conversations: how



LIBATIONS * Drinks can be purchased at Green Room following the recruitment event (19+)

Wed. Sept.


8pm Cat’s Eye

To the Missing FLICKR: RENEDGADE98

DEANNA HENDERSON STAFF WRITER You should never have been ignored. You are the mothers, aunties, daughters, sisters who were murdered by the pig farmer Robert Pickton. You are the families and friends who called for help and were told your loved ones were better lost. Police began to link these missing women with foul play and suspect Pickton in 1997 and 1998. Pickton was arrested in 2002. Why did it take so long? At the Missing Women’s Inquiry the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) points an accusing finger at the RCMP, who respond in kind. What else are they expected to do? They cannot plead ignorance when dozens of women were reported missing in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES), when the remains and DNA samples of 33 women were found on Pickton’s farm, and when he claimed to have murdered 49 women. The other option for these law enforcement institutions is to confess culpability, to admit rather than omit their wilful indifference and ineptness. Independent counsel Jason Gratl’s 102 page report, “Wouldn’t Piss On Them Even If They Were on Fire: How Discrimination Against Sex Workers, Drug Users, and Aboriginal Women Enabled A Serial Killer”, exposes how

Family members of Pickton`s victims rally outside his appeal

you, the Missing, were overshadowed by racism and police discrimination. The calls of family and friends didn’t fall on deaf ears - they were tuned out. Many of you whom Pickton murdered were First Nations women, some of you were women who worked in the sex trade and some of you were women with addictions. To the VPD and RCMP you were faceless, without heart or will—you were just the hookers and the cokeheads and, as Donalee Sebastien, the daughter of Elsie Sebastien of Pacheedaht First Nations, was told by a Native Liaison Worker when she tried to report her mother missing,“nobody wants to look for a 40-year-old native woman.” But

law enforcement took action when they violated and betrayed your 15th Amendment Right to “equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.” They did not protect you and they did not look for you. What they did do was alienate you and make you less than human. This is how Pickton viewed you; this is why Pickton has victims. RCMP Corporal Catherine Galliford, former spokeswoman for the Missing Women Task force, charged that a group of her male colleagues told her how they pictured Pickton escaping imprisonment to hunt her down and kill her by gutting her with a meat hook. Even from prison Pickton

remains an agent of trauma: representing both the threats and the acts of violence towards women and their communities and allies who try to protect them. This isn’t a revelation for you because, as the Missing, you remember what’s been disregarded and silenced: the abuses of residential schools; when Dudley George of Stony Point First Nations was shot and killed by Sgt. Ken Deane at Ipperwash; the unsolved disappearances and deaths of women along the Highway of Tears in BC; the deadly “Starlight Tours” where Sasakatoon police left young men on the outskirts of town to freeze. As of 2010, after five years of research, 582 women have been counted as missing or dead by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) Sisters in Spirit Initiative. You have not forgotten because you know an amnesiac relationship with history is a violence that breeds more violence. Gratl’s report proposes changes in law enforcement, that the sex trade be decriminalized and the children of the victims receive compensation: recommendations that are voiced and only listened to after these women’s bodies were piled up and counted. You should have never been ignored and you need us to remember, not as an act of hindsight but one of foresight to recognize and call out oppression for what it is. You are the Missing: you will be the Remembered.

You certainly don’t live twice ISAAC THORNLEY YOLO as an idea is not a new one. According to Wikipedia, the phrase “You Only Live Once,” has been used in the English language for well over a hundred years. As kids in school many of us were taught the older Latin phrase “carpe diem,” directly translated to “seize the day.” On a basic level “carpe diem,” “you only live once,” and “YOLO” all share a common meaning and perhaps represent an idea that is universal to humankind: namely, that with the harsh reality in mind that every life must end with death, one ought to make the most of every moment and live life to the fullest. With that said, YOLO in its most recent cultural outburst (spearheaded by Aubrey “Drake” Graham’s hit single “The Motto,” released in late 2011) has departed substantially from its related antecedents. Its earlier forms connote a more humble and thoughtful reality, i.e. you only live once, therefore you ought to do the most with your life. YOLO is different; rather than promoting con-

templative action it has rather been used as a hash tag justification for making short-sighted, risky decisions. As in, get a speeding ticket? #YOLO; knock up your girlfriend? #YOLO; drunk drive yourself to death? #YOLO. The list is long and stupid. The danger of YOLO, however, is not to be found in these small individual cases of risk-taking behaviour. It’s what YOLO represents that is dangerous. As a generation, we have been born into a world that is forcing us to work through what sometimes seems like an impossible tangle of global issues. Young people in this day and age are being bombarded with an overwhelming to-do list. Resources are running out; the environment is deteriorating; the economy is unstable; etc. YOLO’s rapid ascent in pop culture represents a longing for young people to turn away from the ghastly list of responsibilities that has been thrown in our face. YOLO is carefree, unconcerned, and perhaps a little bit selfish as well. That attitude unfortunately won’t help things much.

The most frustrating part is that YOLO need not represent such a selfish carefree attitude. As has already been said, YOLO’s older, related phrases, such as carpe diem, reflected a far more productive and positive viewpoint. That goody two shoes bullshit doesn’t sell records anymore, though. Or at least that’s how the record companies see it. Taste is personal; it is something that every person ought to discover for themselves and put some thought into. I’m also not going to get into that played out conversation about how all this new music is poisoning the minds of the youth and that if we just went back to those golden days of the 1960’s when people made “real” music all of our problems would be solved. Good music is made every day and always has been. The difference lies in what is popular and what gets exposure. Whether music is popular perhaps depends largely on timing. Good music, however, is timeless. YOLO to me has always seemed like a stylized cultural blindfold. It’s just the newest, trendiest way of

still not giving a shit about anyone or anything else. I will say it again, but this time for a different reason: YOLO is not a new idea. Mainstream music media have been telling us all not to give a shit about what really matters for some time. From what I can tell there has been a steady decline in the politicization of pop music for over 50 years. Perhaps that is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ll leave that up to you. Right now what we’re getting is a glimpse into a celebrity fantasy world: a world of millionaires who genuinely don’t need to give a shit about anything or anyone else because they have their lives handed to them on a silver platter by the CEO’s of the music industry. For the rest of us, I say let’s let the pop stars live in their “live fast die young,” YOLO fantasy world while the rest of us pick up the slack, put in work, and change things the right way. You only live once. That’s always been true. So try to fix things before you die.

Opinions • 17 Sept. 2012 • opinions@thestrand.

The culture of YOLO and what it means for people of our generation


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“We can’t even pronounce her name”: Xenophobia, racism and the PQ MUNA MIRE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF The recent Quebec election that cost Jean Charest his seat also instated the first female premier-designate in the province’s history, Pauline Marois. The election was a historic one, to be sure. Some of the folks who have thrown their support behind Marois and the PQ (Parti Quebecois) did so because the election was in many ways a referendum on the tuition hike, austerity measures and other, larger social justice issues. As much as I would like to feel comfortable supporting what has been called “a victory for the student movement”, it has become clear that Marois and those who stand behind her political platform are not to be trusted. The time has come to critically interrogate the vision that Marois and the rest of Quebec’s “progressive” left have for the province. In a Facebook note that was reposted to, Montreal native Ali Rahman asked where the progressive left was when Marois introduced a “Secular Charter” that disallowed niqabs and yarmulkes but insisted that articles of the Christian faith (such as the crucifix hanging

over the Speaker’s Chair in the National Assembly) remain. Or where they were when Marois proposed legislation barring non-French speakers from running for office. Called out by Indigenous leaders for her racism, Marois managed to somehow dig herself into an even bigger hole by stating that the proposed legislation would only be applied to newcomers to Quebec. I wish that were the worst of it. Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay feels comfortable going even further in his xenophobia. On a popular radio show, Tremblay remarked about fellow PQ candidate Djemila Benhabib from Trois Rivieres: “I am shocked that we, the softies, the French Canadians, will be told how to behave, how to respect our culture by a person who comes from Algeria, and we can’t even pronounce her name.” Not a single “progressive” has come out denouncing his words. Rahman notes that the protests against tuition increases and Bill 78 have become a focal point for social crusaders of all stripes. Much like the Occupy movement, he says they represent many concerns of the left, all linked to a larger agenda that stands in opposition to neoliberalism. But if Marois and the PQ are lead-

SEX200 LEC0202 WITH Dear Dr.


I’ve been single for about a year now, ever since my boyfriend moved away to do a Master’s degree last year. We parted amicably; long distance just wasn’t for us. At the time of the break-up I didn’t really give any thought to the possibility that we might live in the same city again in the near future, and I had accepted that it was the end of our relationship. Well, lo and behold, he’s moved back to Toronto! We’ve hung out a few times since he’s been back and it was so nice see him. It felt as though our year apart hadn’t even happened; we were so comfortable together. Things being so much like they were before, we eventually slept together and, I assumed, got back together. But after I left his place, he sent me an email telling me that he is in a seri-

ing this charge, we need to ask ourselves if we support it. For people of colour, religious minorities, immigrants, and generally anyone who is not what Marois deems “Quebecois” (white, Christian, francophone)— this is especially relevant. We need to question the fact that the PQ which has undoubtedly emerged as a movement party, is also emerging as a movement by and for people who look and think a certain way. The xenophobia and linguistic imperialism that Marois is pushing has racialized undertones. If her election is a victory for the student movement, what sort of students is the student movement for?

We need to question the fact that the PQ which has undoubtedly emerged as a movement party, is also emerging as a movement by and for people who look and think a certain way.

Dr. SexLove

ous relationship with a girl, but not to worry because they are not monogamous. He expressed an interest in seeing me under the terms of his new relationship. I’m floored! It’s been so good reconnecting with him and I’ve missed him so much that, on the one hand, I want to accept his offer just to be with him. On the other hand, I’m really hurt that he didn’t tell me about his situation before we had sex. What should I do? - Never Expected That Dear NET, No wonder you were taken by surprise! You were under the impression that you were not only rekindling a sexual attraction, but an intimate relationship as well. You are completely justified in feeling hurt that your ex didn’t tell you he was in a serious relationship, regard-

less of whether it was open or not. That, my friend, is a classic case of leading you on and it was a breach of your trust. Considering your history, your ex-boyfriend should have taken extra care to make his intentions clear before engaging in sexual activities with you. And with all the time you spent together, I find it suspicious that he never once mentioned his serious partner to you. I’m not here to bash open relationships; they work wonderfully for many people and can lead to enriched sex lives. But they key to success in open relationships—as with any relationship—involve honesty and respect between those in the relationship, as well as with their prospective sexual partners outside the relationship. It’s just common courtesy to inform a potential partner that you are in a relation-

ship so that they can decide if they are ok with it or not before becoming intimate with you. And I have a hunch that he didn’t mention the other woman because he was worried that that it might negatively affect your decision to sleep with him. It’s the dishonesty that is wrong here, NET. And you have to decide how you feel about that. And if you are comfortable having casual sex with your former boyfriend, and you are ok with him having an open relationship with someone else, then you should go for it and enjoy yourself. But it sounds to me like your emotions are still a bit wrapped up with this guy, so I’m more inclined to advise you to move on. -

Dr. SexLove

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Editorial • 17 Sept. 2012 •

In OLD VIC 91 Charles Street West (at Museum Subway Exit)  For more information call 416-585-4585 Proceeds to Victoria University Library








ince the United States unilaterally invaded Iraq in March 2003, numerous American soldiers have sought refuge in Canada to avoiding fighting in an illegal war. Rather than accepting them as Canada had during the Vietnam War, the Conservative government has attempted to deport all Iraq War resisters. Responding to accusations of bias and abuse of procedure when judging resisters’ refugee claims, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has justified this policy of deportation by referencing Canadian and international laws of desertion. However, his ministry’s handling of American war resisters’ applications suggest that ideology has played a much larger role in the formulation of this policy than any legal considerations. In the most recent case, former soldier Kimberly Rivera, her husband, and four children were ordered to leave Canada by 20 Sept. due to the recent rejection of her refugee claim. Though her only crime was her refusal to participate in an illegal war and occupation, recognized as such by Canada (including Stephen Harper), she risks being separated from her family and imprisoned upon returning to the US. Canada’s complicity in this punishment has spurred groups such as Amnesty International, the Canadian Council of Churches and the War Resisters Support Campaign to denounce the immigration minister’s decision. The validity of this claim is verified by an examination of Rivera’s experiences in Iraq and the legality of the American occupation in general.


ivera’s story begins in Mesquite, Texas where she enlisted in the United States Army on March 1, 2006, with court documents from her 2009 hearing explaining that she had


joined the army in order to improve her family’s standard of living. After several months of training, Rivera was deployed to Iraq with the 704th Support Battalion on 27 Oct. 2006. While serving, Rivera acted as a guard for Forward Operating Base Loyalty in eastern Baghdad. Doubts about the integrity of her mission and battalion started to trouble Rivera when she began to overhear conversations of soldiers who had raided civilians’ houses. She explained to the Phoenix New Times News that soldiers would come back bragging about tormenting families, celebrating that they “tore their house up.” Rivera also cites the death of her Iraqi partner’s sister by a US mortar round as a major turning point in her view of America’s involvement in Iraq. After many such incidents, Rivera came to view the American occupation as illegal and unjust, realizing that if she continued to serve she would be required to commit actions against her morals and faith. This conviction grew so strong that at one point she refused to carry her rifle when on duty. While in America, on a two week leave in 2007, Kimberly decided she would no longer participate in the war and decided to head for Canada with her family, despite the risk of being imprisoned for desertion. However, her claim for refugee status was denied upon her arrival. She then applied for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) — used to determine if an applicant will be persecuted in their country of origin if deported — as well as applying for refugee status on humanitarian and companionate grounds, measures similar to those taken by the tens of thousands of Vietnam War resisters accepted by Canada in the 1970s. However, her PRRA was denied by an officer of the Immigration and Refugee Board, who refused to acknowledge the

probability of persecution by the United States government. The case was then referred to judicial review, where a judge quashed the officer’s decision and assigned the case to another officer. According to the judge, James Russell, there is good reason to believe that the US army is targeting Iraq war resisters “based upon their political opinion,” which would make Rivera a legitimate refugee. Russell’s claim is supported by the cases of deported war resisters Robin Long and Clifford Cornell, who were both given year-long sentences in America. Despite this ruling, Rivera was again denied refugee status by another officer on Aug. 30.


ith the most recent ruling, Rivera has been left with few options, aside from requesting special ministerial intervention on behalf of Minister Kenney – an option Kenney’s department has already refused. Kenney’s spokesperson Alexis Pavlich explains that this policy is informed by the belief that war resisters will not be subject to legitimate persecution by the Obama administration. She argues they are not considered “genuine refugees under the internationally accepted meaning of this term” found in the United Nations High Commission of Refugees’ (UNHCR) 1951 Convention. Pavlich considers Iraq war resisters’ claims unfounded and argues that they are “clogging up the system for genuine refugees.” These comments fly in the face of international law and parliamentary resolutions. In terms of international law, Rivera’s actions are completely in accordance with United Nations’ conventions, making her a valid refugee claimant. For instance, Principle IV of the Nuremburg Principles requires an individual refuse orders to engage in war crimes if “a moral choice was







in fact possible.” The “Iraq War Logs”, released by Wikileaks in 2010 reveal incidences of torture by American soldiers and their Iraqi allies, confirming that American soldiers were required to commit war crimes. This claim is further validated by testimony given by former America soldiers deployed in Iraq at the Winter Soldier Investigation in 2008. In the investigation, former Marine John Turner recounts night raids, where soldiers would “terrorize the families” and discipline uncooperative persons either by “choking them or slamming their heads against the wall.” In a case where similar actions are committed in one’s battalion- as Rivera claims occurred in the 704th Support Battalion- desertion becomes a legal requirement under the Nuremberg Principles. Rivera is also considered a legitimate refugee under the rules set out by UNHCR’s Handbookbecause she refused to fight in a conflict “condemned by the international community.” According to the Handbook, any punishment that Rivera could be subjected to for her desertion is regarded as persecution, due to the illegality of the Iraq War in the eyes of Canada and the international community. This discounts Pavlich’s claim that Iraq war resisters are not subject to legitimate persecution, making them genuine refugees.


ossibly more troubling than Minister Kenney’s disregard for international law is his complete lack of respect for two parliamentary resolutions. The first motion, passed in June 2008, stated that the government should “allow conscientious objectors …who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations … to apply for permanent resident status and



remain in Canada.” The resolution passed in March 2009 contained the same demands. These resolutions are given further legitimacy based on their correspondence with the opinion of 64 percent of Canadians. However, in both cases the Harper Government completely ignored the will of both parliament and the public. In fact, Kenney went as far to call war resisters “bogus refugee claimants” and in 2010, issued Operational Bulletin 202. This is a directive that orders immigration officers to red flag Iraq War resisters as “criminally inadmissible.” Yet labeling criminals seems to be a malleable affair in Kenney’s Ministry, with definitions intermittently altering based on the applicant. Only month’s before Kimberly Rivera’s refugee status was denied due to her “criminal” background, Conrad Black, the wealthy newspaper mogul and Conservative insider, was granted a temporary residency permit while still serving his prison sentence in Florida. Apparently fraud and obstruction of justice are no longer considered crimes by Kenney and his officials. Both Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney insist there was no political influence on his case, pointing to the 907 other applicants with criminal records that had received temporary residence permits in 2011. But according to immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann, Conrad Black’s case is still extraordinarily rare. He explained to the Globe and Mail that in most cases those accepted to Canada with criminal records must demonstrate that they have rehabilitated. “How on earth do you prove that a guy has rehabilitated when he hasn’t even finished his sentence?” Mamann asked. But for the Conservatives, such things do not have to be proven for a man like Black; because his ideology and


status correspond with the conservative vision of Canada, even if his actions violate our laws. On the other hand, Kim Rivera and other Iraq War resisters are being prejudged as criminally inadmissible because they directly contradict the Harper Government’s worldview, even if they are in correspondence with our laws and parliament. They are subjected to Operational Bulletin 202’s rigid and skewed interpretation of Canada’s immigration regulations in hopes of keeping these potential dissidents out of Conservative Canada.






n both cases, it is clear that ideological considerations have played a greater role than legal concerns in determining who is eligible for entry. It seems that this double standard is not created because the Immigration Minister is ignorant of international laws and parliamentary will, but simply because he does not care about them. Law and democracy are not the most prominent principles guiding his decisions. Despite the fact that Kenney’s actions and comments are contrary to and in violation of the law, parliament and the opinion of the Canadian public, his government still insists on deporting Kimberly Rivera. Unfortunately, this is just another case of the Harper Government placing ideology and strategic interests over morality, democracy and law. As Rivera’s deportation date moves close members of the War Resisters Support Campaign aims to stop the Harper Government’s decision by holding a peaceful demonstration at the Federal Court Building, 180 Queen Street West, on Wednesday September 19th from 4:30 to 6:00. •

Features • 17 Sept. 2012 •




ARTS & CULTURE Audio Advice

Unsolicited recommendations on non-musical audio This Week: Comedy podcasts

How Did This Get Made? Who doesn’t love a good bad movie? Every two weeks, comedians Paul Scheer (from the sadly short-run MTV sketch show Human Giant), Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael sit down with a special guest and try to answer the titular question in the face of one unfathomable film. From recent flops like The Green Lantern or The Smurfs, to classics like The Room and Battlefield: Earth, the gang covers a range of genres and categories of incomprehensibility. For nearly an hour, they’ll point out plot holes, overt racism, absurd technical failures, terrible acting, and wonder at the bizarreness these things create. A lack of structure and editing down allows comedians to take jokes in whatever direction they like. Although a great deal of the show’s humour is rooted in the genuine funniness of bad filmmaking, it’s the fine comedic instincts of the hosts (and often the guests) that strain out the best of the worst and make the podcast fun to listen to. Between each episode a “mini-episode” is released, revealing the next movie on the chopping block. The assumption is that listeners will find time to watch the movie themselves, but the beauty of HDTGM is that it doesn’t matter whether you’ve even heard of the movie. Listening to the Godzilla episode may be satisfying if you’ve seen it, but fear not, more obscure episodes will never alienate those out of the loop. Start with: Crank 2: High Voltage with Jensen Karp Because Jason Statham keeps himself alive with electricity and kills almost everyone. If you don’t watch it before listening, you’ll want to afterwards.



The Pod F. Tompkast “It’s nighttime on the internet.” So claims the opening of each episode of The Tompkast, setting the stage for the strangeness that occurs while normal people are asleep. As far as humour podcasts created by and based on a single comedian go, the Pod F. Tompkast is the epitome of a well crafted and executed format. Veteran comedian Paul F. Tompkins (the title is endlessly smile-worthy) brings us lullaby-like ramblings, recordings from live comedy shows, and recorded conversations with friends. Tompkins himself is, understandably, the best selling point of the hour long episodes. His monologue introductions and intermissions, spoken over a meandering piano, are often the highlights, being

Why Suits speaks volumes KATARINA SABADOS “Don’t play the odds, play the man,” advises Harvey Spektor, a cut-throat lawyer on Bravo’s original television series, Suits. The lawyer dramedy is only in its second season, but has already garnered a cult following similar to those of more seasoned situational dramas, like Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order. The series revolves around Mike Ross, a college dropout with a brilliant mind, and Harvey Spektor, a suave corporate lawyer who recognizes Mike’s potential and makes him an associate at Pearson-Hardman. In between high-profile suits, power struggles among the partners, and complicated love lives, the show is filled with witty banter, noir villains posing as allies, and just the right amount of innuendo. Not only is the script well written, but the exceptionally talented cast, including Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson) and up-andcomer Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross), execute the humour in a way that is both entertaining and realistic. Though the show does boast a smart dialogue and attractive cast, the secondary female characters of Suits tend to fall under stereotypical roles such as the mistress or the damsel in distress. In contrast, Jessica Pear-


son stands out as female managing partner of the Pearson-Hardman law firm, while Donna Paulson (Sarah Rafferty), Harvey Spektor’s secretary, transcends the Mad Men-esque secretarial role and operates on a level of friendship and equality with her employer. In addition to entertainment, Suits offers insight to the workings of the corporate sphere, and because it falls under the genre of comedy-drama, it’s able to bypass the laugh track in exchange for a more refined, cinematic aesthetic. In Canada, the show appears on the premium channel Bravo. Though Suits isn’t designed the same way as other specialty channel shows like Game of Thrones or Walking Dead, it does share the same strong allegiance to the viewer as those programs and it has a responsibility to cater to the consumer. It can discuss political, economic, and social issues, if that is what the viewer wants to see. Suits is intellectually stimulating, while being entertaining and most importantly, reflective of society in regards to women in the corporate sphere whose strong characters come from more than their wardrobe choices.

absurd, unpredictable, genuine, and hilarious all at the same time. His comfort at the mic and natural ability to bring the funny makes it impossible to fall asleep while listening, despite the after-hours tone. Tompkins’s phone conversations with comic friend Jen Kirkman can be comedy low-points, but provide an interesting insight into the world of stand up. With great variety and overall quality of comedy, The Tompkast should be what puts everyone to sleep. Start with: Episode 1 Because you’ll want to hear the ongoing series The Great Undiscovered Project from the beginning, in which Tompkins’s impressions of Ice-T, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John C. Reilly, The Cake Boss, and others create a lively audio serial.

Upcoming Events

Word on the Street September 23 As close to campus as you can get, the book and magazine festival which takes place in Queen’s Park looks like a literary camping ground. Expect CBC-residents David Suzuki and Jian Ghomeshi as well as many vendors and exhibitors offering plenty of books and other printrelated goods for sale. No word yet on Margaret Atwood. JFL42 September 21-28 Described simply as “42 of the most hilarious, riveting, and/or awesome things we could find over an 8-day period in Toronto,” JFL42 is a pass-based comedy festival where patrons use “credits” towards whichever of the 42 things attracts them most. This Just for Laughs Festival spin-off looks largely promising as it boasts the likes of Kate Beaton, Reggie Watts, David Suzuki, Louis C.K., and more. Every pass includes a ticket to see stand-up comedian Louis C.K. (a bonus or downfall, depending on the person). The festival as a whole promises a unique experience in both mainstream and alternative comedy definitely worth checking out.

Antidote for the universalized narrative STAFF WRITER Christopher Guest’s brilliant mockumentary For Your Consideration tells the tale of a low-budget film being produced in Hollywood, with whispers of Oscar buzz changing everything in the film’s production, from the actor’s pretensions to the film’s significance to the studio. The film produced, Home for Purim, bundles many tropes of the “thoughtful, independent film” into one hilarious mess. In one bitingly satirical scene that changes the film’s nature completely, the studio tells the writers to “Just make it more palatable...Just tone down the Jewishness, so everyone can enjoy it … I’m just saying, the film as a whole, the whole theme of the film, the whole thrust of the film, the whole in-your-face Jewishness of the film – tone it down.” This scene elicits laughter because of the sharp truth it lays out plainly: that the idea of a “universal” family narrative, among other narratives, requires the erasure and replacement of cultural, religious, and ethnic diversions from “the norm.” Theatre Panik’s production of The Corpse Bride, presented at this year’s Ashkenaz Festival at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, served as a kind of antidote to this not uncommon treatment of folk tales and stories with ties to particular cultural, religious and ethnic groups. For some, The Corpse Bride may conjure images of Tim Burton’s 2005 animated film featuring “Victorian” singing stop-motion figures dancing across a greyed screen.


In the wake of Toronto’s “festival of festivals,” it is common to be intimidated by the immense availability of consumable culture.But in the urbanscape of the country’s largest city, and with film fests, all night expositions, city wide art exhibits, and street parties aplenty, shyness is not an option. Festivals allow us to cultivate or corroborate interests, hobbies and passions, while transforming familiar spaces into bustling bazaars, packed concert halls, and little slices of Hollywood panache. It comes down to knowing which festivals to visit, when, and with whom. With at least fifty different film festivals, dozens of food festivals, cultural celebrations, and literary festivals, along with Nuit Blanche, Luminato, and Just For Laughs. Transforming Toronto’s streets and squares, selection is limited by taste and time alone. With so many festivals

On watching the film, one would have no inkling of this morbid tale’s roots in Jewish folklore, as the film shadows the tale’s skeleton quite closely, but notably replaces the rabbi from whom the tale’s participants seek guidance with a pastor, and the shtetl with a “Victorian” town. Niki Landau’s adaptation of the Jewish folktale most commonly referred to as “The Finger” was excellent. The play used intense movement theatre and almost no dialogue, with the actor’s exaggerated movements, expressions, coupled with projected text not unlike silent film intertitles, deftly telling the macabre tale. And, unlike Tim Burton’s darkly whimsical film, this version is drenched in Jewishness: from the young intended couple’s delightful names, Gumpcha and Pinkel, to the distinct Jewish sensibility that permeates the story and the way the story is told. After experiencing this version it is hard to envision again Tim Burton’s variation which seems to declare that the dark “English” countryside has a monopoly on the macabre. It is this play’s intense saturation in its cultural, religious, and ethnic roots which serves to make the play effective and evocative. The cultural particularity of the fable emphasizes a narrative truth and leaves the viewer with a distinct sense of a culturally interesting and authentically supernatural tale.

going on year round, you will no doubt participate in a few. For the individual, festivals offer up a onestop shop for cultural entertainment; they provide an opportunity to explore art, literature, cuisine, film and theatre, often for free. For the arts themselves, the festival scene is often one of the most visible sources of income outside of government grants or private studios (film festivals being the most obvious example), often spawning works whose sole purpose is to be offered up to the festival gods. Music festivals give the summer months a festive and social air, while showcasing often undervalued talent. From a distance, people may be concerned about funding, space, and security at these festivals (it’s a well-known fact that events such as this often fall prey to underage mischief). As larger acts often come with a bigger price tag for festival hosts, programmers may be forced to include more independent

content, and expose artists and performers who might otherwise be overlooked. One may argue that this intrinsically lowers the value of cultural offerings, making them more popular than classically haute. But this may be exactly the goal: to reach the widest possible audience, and force the entire notion of ‘high art’ to take a back seat. One may not see paintings by Velasquez or Egon at this year’s Nuit Blanche, but that’s besides the point. Most people at festivals are uninitiated in the subject they’re enjoying, and that’s a good thing: they are there to see something new. With this in mind then, it must be agreed that, in urban centers, rural fairgrounds, and all venues in between, the festival is an opportunity for one and all to delve into new worlds of sight, sound, taste, and sensation while enlivening one’s social sphere, right outside your front door.

Arts & Culture • 17 Sept. 2012 •



Theatre Panik’s The Corpse Bride reclaims the tale’s once-buried Jewishness



TIFF 2012

Reviews Hellbenders MADELINE MALCZEWSKA To call Hellbenders irreverent would be the understatement of the century. The movie, which was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness Series, does its very best to mention every taboo known to man in eighty-five minutes. The plot of the film is ridiculous, and I highly doubt that director JT Petty would refute that statement. Hellbenders is about a group of six Christian priests from different denominations (Catholic, Unitarian, etc.) who perform exorcisms under the banner of the Hellbound Saints of Brooklyn Parish. In order to fight demons, they are required to keep themselves in a state of sinfulness. What this boils down to is that a great portion of the movie is spent showing pastors and priests halfnaked doing bong hits and talking about cheating on their significant others. Of course, there is a great demon to exorcise. He is trying to open the gates of hell

(which are represented by vaginal flames) and the Hellbound Saints have to try to close them, all while under the threat of losing funding from the Church. Despite being one of the least serious films I have ever seen, Hellbenders still provides some food for thought. Specifically, it addresses the tension that exists between sin and virtue: Is a virtuous act still virtuous when performed out of vanity? Is a sin necessarily evil when it is performed in pursuit of the salvation of many? Hellbenders had some great lines— like when the Unitarian pastor, the sole woman of the group, says to the Catholic priest, “I’m a woman and you’re a Catholic: everything I do is a sin.” I also took great joy in the gratuitously gory exorcism scenes, which were rife with shots of toes being bitten off and blood spurting in all directions. I would recommend this movie for anyone wanting to indulge in a bit of politically incorrect insanity.

Beijing Flickers FAN WU STAFF WRITER In Zhang Yuan’s frenetic new film Beijing Flickers, San Bao—our brash protagonist, poor and in love with a girl who leaves him — exclaims, “Impulse is a demon.” Five minutes later he appends, “Memory is also a demon.” From this uncomfortable dichotomy/ intertwinement of impulse and memory rises one of the potential themes of Beijing Flickers: the powerful back-and-forth motion between dualisms, between the poor and the rich, between a traditional China and a westernizing China. The nouveau riche and the poor both carry with them a damning newfound privilege. One can tell this is a privilege that doesn’t yet fit perfectly into a culture still transitioning from traditional Chinese values—such as family and frugality—to more decadent Western values like partying, promiscuity, and decadence. The film’s hypermodern settings suggest a certain acquiescence by the protagonists

to those Western ideals, but never let us forget the growing pains of a culture whose past is at odds with where it wants to be. A pulse of selfishness runs across the Beijing society-scape. In the film, no one escapes the selfishness that has become almost a stereotype of Chinese behaviour: in one scene, a character attempts suicide by stepping in front of a truck. The truck driver responds only with “Are you suicidal or something? Don’t get me involved!” and drives off angrily. This kind of ‘serve oneself first’ mindset sometimes disturbingly does away with the idea even of consent in Beijing Flickers. In the end, Beijing Flickers tells us that impulse is what turns memory demoniacal: when every self is a foreign self who lacks all responsibility, regret seeps into memory and sours it. Beijing Flickers suggests that as it is with San Bao, so it might be with China: the impulsive, fast-paced transformation of the nation runs the risk of leaving its populations reeling, unable to harmonize the past with the future.

Argo: America, Fuck Yeah ALEX GRIFFITH FILM EDITOR Steady there, press corps and Twitterverse. Ben Affleck is not a great director. Not yet. We might get there, but not until he stops playing fetch with Oscar. While Gone Baby Gone and The Town pulled us into pathos-heavy working class worlds and sprawling plots, Argo fantasizes a little known aspect of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Affleck opens strong, machinegunning through an ensemble of characters and settings without overloading us with exposition. An illustrated prologue, professorially reminding us the movie is ‘Based On True Events,’ takes us through the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The American embassy is stormed by protestors furious at President Carter’s offer of asylum to the deposed Shah. As the staff are taken hostage by the Revolutionary Guard, six escape to the Canadian ambassador’s residence and secretly await rescue from Tony Mendez (Affleck), an exfiltration expert.


Like all the characters Affleck ever plays, Mendez is restrained, heavybrowed, always with a lost past or family pulling at the edge of his mind. In Argo he’s got long, shaggy, grey-flecked hair (it’s the 70s), but the Rugged Yet Emotional Inner Man remains. Plenty of Costellos balance out Affleck’s Abbot: John Goodman and Alan Arkin chew scenery as Hollywood veterans; Bryan Cranston steals his every scene as a CIA executive. Mendez’s plan (“the best bad idea we have”) is to disguise the stranded Yanks as Canadian filmmakers location-scouting in Tehran. For a while there are enough one-liners and creative expletives (Cranston: “Carter’s shitting enough bricks to build the pyramids”) to keep you going, but Affleck wants his Oscar-bait two ways: Argo is a glassy-eyed fantasy for the U.S.A., combining the cojones of cando America with the glitz and spectacle of Hollywood. It’s easy enough to get us nostalgic for an age when people wore cool suits and Led Zeppelin was still releas-

ing music. More difficult is mining genuine tension out of a crisis whose outcome we know. The Americans escape; no spoiler needed here. All of Affleck’s attempts to keep us biting our fingernails feel contrived. Will the evil Revolutionary Guard put two and two together in time to make a phone call? Will the phone be answered in time to stop a flight to Zurich? By the way, the Canadian ambassador (Victor Garber) is little more than a frumpy landlord who awaits American instructions. Not a stereotype that is entirely untrue, but it’s a bit annoying next to all the full-throated pro-Americanism. Hand in hand with patriotism comes the demonization of the enemy. It’s not offensive that the Guard are represented as women-hating, arrogant scum – Iranians in my family can testify to the power-tripping meanness of the regime’s officials at every level. What is off-putting is how every Iranian is a hairy-faced shouting lunatic, taking offense at the smallest slight. There is not a single sympathetic Persian. In one scene, a local shopkeep

throws a fit when one of the Americans takes a photo of his merchandise, nearly causing a riot in the process. This, apparently, is so we can all feel for the poor, endangered Westerners as they leave the Bazaar. The end of the movie feels like a squirt of Purell after using a public washroom. Perhaps the overriding problem with Argo is that too often we are dictated to about what to think and how to behave, not seduced into reactions without realizing it. Such is the case with Alexandre Desplat’s anonymous heart-pulling music, which is surprising given his talent. Whenever Affleck is talking to his estranged son, dragging on a Belmont, or sipping whisky (from the bottle!), the piano starts meandering, the strings sigh, and we’re thrown down the Well of Manly Sensitivity. I know the cast is great, and the music is good, but let’s not get carried away. This movie tells Americans what they want to hear, at a time when the West wants to feel like it can get something done in the Middle East.


Tai Chi 0

FILM EDITOR If you liked the wise-cracking Kung Fu Hustle, then you’ll love Stephen Fung’s Tai Chi 0, part one of a trilogy on the life of Yang Luchan, founder of modern tai chi. It’s pure popcorn fun, exploding with action and eye candy, while still kowtowing to the greats of the kung fu phenomenon. In this fantasy-historical-satirical hybrid of an action movie, Luchan (played by newcomer Xiao-chao Yuan) is born with a small mole that, when activated by slaps or punches, turns him Hulk-style into a martial arts beserker. A wise doctor tells him to go back to basics and work on finding “his body’s channel currents”, which can only be done properly by seeking out Master Chen, patriarch of a small village about to be demolished to make way for British railroads. By shifting the setting from the early 1800s (the coming of

age of the real Luchan) to the peak of the industrial revolution, Fung introduces steampunk to kung fu, probably for the first time ever. Really, it’s history in the making, and I can’t wait for Chinese fandom to make the genre its own. Fung was born Hong Kong in 1974 and attended a German high school before studying graphic design at the University of Michigan. He had acted in dozens of Chinese movies before trying his hand at directing. He and his partner Daniel Wu founded Diversion Pictures, which might become a very important production company if the Tai Chi trilogy does well. Though Tai Chi 0 is not a great film, Fung is clearly a smart guy drawing on a “mixed bag of influences”, Western and Eastern, to bring a new kind of high-octane entertainment to China. “It is somewhat of a gamble to have a six minute silent movie at the beginning,” said Fung of the opening

sequence, but added the studio gave him a free hand. The steampunk tanks and cannons were also new territory. “There is not a huge awareness of [that genre] in Asia. But people will recognize the style. To them, it’s an alternate history piece.” He also throws in fake technicolor, Japanese manga, and songs from Swedish heavy metal band In Flames. Which brings Fung to Peter Stormare. Yes, Stormare the silent killer who shoves Buscemi down a wood chipper in Fargo. Yes, Stormare the German nihilist with a pet ferret in The Big Lebowski. Tai Chi 0 ends with a trailer for the sequel, Tai Chi Hero, in which Stormare commands British troops in bubble tanks. Stormare owns a management company that reps Scandinavian bands, and it’s thanks to his contacts that Fung got In Flames on the soundtrack. Stormare is one of a growing number of actors working in China (Fung shot on the outskirts

of Beijing). While there’s more gunfire in Tai Chi than most kung fu, the heart of the movie is still the martial arts. Legendary action director Sammo Hung (credits include Ip Man and Ashes of Time) handled choreography. Action directing “is very similar to, let’s say, in the West, shooting a car chase, [because] you need an expert in car chasing to shoot it for you.” The problem is keeping the tone consistent from dialogue scene to fight scene; in bad kung fu, the changeover of directors is obvious. In Fung’s own words, his film is a “little bit of a tribute to all these film stars” from Hong Kong’s Golden Age. Many actors, like Bruce SiuLeung, are announced in loud titles as “huge film stars from the 70s”, as if Fung wants us to study up on the canon, even as he pursues his ambition to add to the genre’s gilded history.

Shanghai: The Chaos of Modern India ALEX GRIFFITH FILM EDITOR The very last line of Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai, uttered by one civil servant to another, is: “We could have beaten China.” The other bureaucrat stares his colleague straight in the eye with—according to no greater authority than Mr. Banerjee himself—a “fuck you” look. In India, municipal leaders tout development projects as part of the Shanghai-revolution. Shanghai is set in an Indian town being cleared of ancient neighbourhoods to make way for a business park. The decentralized plot circles around a number of characters from facets of society: a Western-educated academic speaking for the displaced poor, a thug inciting mob violence

for a politician, a lower middle class videographer trying to climb his way up, and a high-ranking civil servant, the backbone of the Indian middle class, living his own Shanghai dream. The way these elements interact does not feel that different from the broad view of institutional corruption we came to know in The Wire. “It can be easily presented as a postcard picture,” Banerjee tells me when I ask him about the misleading title. “It’s a picture of highrises, flyovers, cars, malls, you know. To get that lifestyle flowing, consumerism has to blast in full force. And there is nothing to balance it. There is very little non-government organizational support. The tradition does not exist. Ten years ago, when everything was controlled, everyone was asleep.

Now India is wide-awake. And there is no one to tell you to rest. It’s like being on an upper all the time and you know what it’s like,” he leans in confidentially, student to former student (I should note Binarjee paid for my drink, saying “I was a student once”), “it’s like partying all the time, man.” In Banerjee’s thriller, social activist Dr. Ahmedi is hit by a truck during a rally against the proposed business park. The provincial government hires Christian, a civil servant, to handle a benign inquiry into the matter. Out of his detached desire for thoroughness, Christian stumbles across a far-reaching plot to assassinate Ahmedi. He then has what Bannerjee calls a “crisis of conscience.” Our interview quickly turns into Indian Sociology 101. “Christian has

been sold the dream hook, line, sinker. He’s the guy who can enjoy the huge salary and the big car.” Banerjee acknowledges himself as part of this upper-middle strata. “Frequently we are in such a bubble we forget that India is not us. What Christian forgets is that his dream is not the nation’s dream.” As our conversation winds down, Banerjee senses the moment for a good conclusive idea. “In India […] you have a society that is fighting off a schism between its spiritual drive and its functional drive, and the functional drivers are spinoffs of Western government, and the spiritual drivers are Eastern and homegrown. And the gulf between the two creates the chaos that is India.”

Film & Music • 17 Sept. 2012 •



Stephen Fung on Kung Fu


When words fall short SINÉAD DOHERTY-GRANT As a child, I once sat in a dark hallway, a sort of room between rooms on the second story of my grandparent’s house. I must have been four or five years old. It was night, and moonlight poured through the window of one of the surrounding rooms and through the open doorway. My mother was beside me and with a mixture of childish horror and misery I was recounting the happenings of my day. A boy in my preschool class had been yelled at by the teacher. I do not remember what egregious sin he had committed, but the teacher had reacted with a sudden harshness that had shocked me to tears. This harshness was new and terrible to me and I wanted my mother to explain away the experi-

ence into something kind so that it could be placed neatly into my limited understanding of the world. Whatever my mother’s explanation of that day I could not rest with what had happened. A small warm yellow glow emanated from the doorway at the bottom of the stairs and I could hear my family’s great Friday hoopla, the buzz of laughter and good-natured banter, maybe even a impassioned argument (I remember it was a Friday, because those were the only days we dined at my grandparent’s after the grind of the week was through). And as I sat in the white carpeted hall under the eerie twinkle of the chandelier I perceived for the first time the party from the outside. Before this moment I had always been in the thick of it, the talking and the music, and I had taken in every voice and sound, relished the magical appeal of

floating candles in a dimmed room on the dining room table. How joyous, yet incredibly far it seemed from up here. A strange emptiness sat in my chest that I could not name or place. The emptiness was not awful or terrifying or depressing as emptiness is often believed to be. I was an open space, an eternity, and a longing to understand this eternity became a pressure rising in my throat. What was beyond the sky? Who would I be? What was I part of and where did I come from? And what was this world where a teacher could yell at a student for reasons unknown? In the clouded yet astoundingly focused mind of a child I wondered all these things without really being aware that I wondered them. Throughout my life, music has brought me back to that wonder and even then

only at certain moments. Each person has a style or even just a piece of music that they are intrinsically drawn to, that fulfills them in some inexplicable way. Each time I happened upon some exquisite fragment within a song, I would cling to it, longing for its return. Most times the fragment would return, usually with more complexity or with added instrumentation, yet always retaining the unmistakable quality of the first fragment. These musical fragments were often as short as one to three notes, arousing a sense of wonder and deep curiosity. These fragments have always been remarkably beautiful and strange, mirroring my own human passion to discover, if just for an instant, the evasive quality or life that cannot be verbalized. It is these fragments I cling to, desperately hoping to retain them long enough to imprint their beauty upon my heart. Yet I am certain that it will only be through ceasing to cling that I will ever come closer to sensing that wonderful mystery that resides within all life and echoes across the world.

Sound swept away Jamie Shilton’s take on the new xx album


The xx arrived in 2009 with an album whose sound was so confident, cohesive, and well developed that it must have posed a challenge for the band as they prepared for the follow-up. Would they double down on the debut’s sparse British indie pop filtered through contemporary R&B? Or would they look to producer Jamie Smith’s more beat-driven solo and remix work under the name Jamie xx, which has included production for Drake, the Jesus of Toronto music? Now that Coexist has arrived, the verdict is in: a little of column A, and a little of column B. The xx certainly haven’t abandoned the style that worked so well for them in the past. Coexist is full of the familiar hushed vocals, guitars drenched in reverb and delay, and minimal beat programming. Songs like “Chained” slowly build, picking up tension and instrumentation, as vocalists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim breathe melancholy lyrics to one another until the climax. On “Reunion”, Jamie’s recent interests are more readily apparent. Sampled steel drums, used to great effect on Jamie’s one off “Far Nearer” single from

last year, emerge from the silence at the beginning of the song, which closes with a harder section in which the bass and drums are further out in the mix than in any other xx song yet. It’s a perfect distillation of their established sound and Jamie’s new directions. More than anything else, it’s the slowness and silence of Coexist that distinguishes it from its predecessor. With the exception of parts of “Swept Away”, there is nothing here as energetic as “Crystalised” and “Intro” are on the debut. Instead, there is the gorgeous, drumless open space of opener “Angels”; the heartbreaking, glacial “Try”; and “Missing”, which has a minor flourish at its midpoint before dissolving almost completely. Coexist is altogether more sombre, haunting work than the debut. While The xx experiment with their formula on a few songs, Coexist represents less of a stylistic shift than a tonal one. There isn’t a lot that’s radically new here, and the album’s lack of variety make it a slightly less rewarding listen than the debut. Still, the sound that’s being reused is really good, and Coexist is definitely one of the better albums to come out this year. Let’s just hope that the next one is a little more adventurous.

STRANDED Ask the Oracle! WILL PETTIGREW AND PYTHIA, THE ORACLE OF DELPHI Stranded got in touch with long-time Strand contributor Pythia, the oracle of Delphi, to answer some questions that are on everyone’s minds as the new school year gets underway. Q: Hey oracle, I don’t know if I’m completely satisfied with my course selections, what should I do?

rifices and maybe he will be smitten with all the wrath of the gods. Maybe. Q: I really don’t think I’m going to be able to finish the Oresteia. Can you fill me in real quick? A: I didn’t finish it either.

A: Easy! Just completely fuck everything you thought you came here to study, switch classes like three or four times before the drop date, create a false sense of enthusiasm for the random classes that you ended up taking because they were the only ones with spaces, and don’t forget to late withdraw from them when it’s clear that you just skipped the midterm. Q: The guys across the hall are always yelling and playing loud music and it is really dampening my residence experience but I’m too nervous to tell them to keep it down. A: Don’t worry, their raucous behaviour will eventually alienate them from the university community and condemn them to an eternity of wondering why they don’t have more friends. Q: When it comes to pants, how tight is tight enough? A: Preferably you should be able to tell what kind of iPhone you have just by the imprint it makes in your pocket. Q: I don’t have Twitter because I really don’t see the appeal, don’t have Facebook because I’m concerned about my personal information being collected, and I don’t use Reddit because, well, it sucks. Is this going to affect my social life? A: Whoa, wait, you don’t even browse Reddit? Good luck being interesting.

A: There is a direct relationship between amount of alcohol consumed and number of years it takes to finish your undergrad. An increase of alcohol consumption usually equates to an increase of credits required to graduate. So if by “ruin university” you mean fail, then no, but if you mean “miss out on all the drinking and parties”, then yes. All the best experiences take about twenty years anyways.


Q: I’m not really that into drinking and partying and stuff. Is this going to ruin university for me?

I was gonna divine your fate, but then I got high

Q: I have a crush on my Prof/TA but I don’t want to sound Q: I’m having trouble meeting girls, any advice? creepy. A: Tell people you have a crush on your Prof/TA but don’t tell them how you flirted with her/him to get an extension for on your paper. A: The going rate for Greek right now is about $30 extra (Source: back pages of Now). Other than that, you should probably not let At least it’s not your mother. anyone know you read Stranded. (Editor’s Note: seriously, why the fuck are you reading this right now? No wonder you’re not meeting Q: This guy in my class is such an ass: he thinks he knows every- any girls) thing, is always making bad jokes, interrupts the teacher and his pants are so tight I can see his vas deferens. How do I tell him to shut the fuck up? A: You can’t. You can however keep up with your tributes and sac-


In the news! Global happenings and things of that nature WILL PETTIGREW PHOTOS: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

I’VE NEVER READ ANY HUNTER S. THOMPSON, BUT I HAVE SEEN FEAR AND LOATHING, SO YES, I AM A JOURNALIST. GONZO AS FUCK Here are some brief news updates from around the globe that you were probably going to talk about with someone eventually, but I’ll ruin those conversations for you here now. Thank me later (source: Drake). iPhone 5 coming out sometime: who.the.fuck.cares. Also, it has a new cord/plug thing. Mitt Romney and the Republican party are horrible people that should die: Easiest conversation topic ever and somehow no one gets sick of it.

Let’s play guess the iPhone version! If you guessed “that’s not the iPhone 5”, go fuck yourself “They say ‘what up killer man’; stop bringing up my past.” - Weezy

Obama is a fascist, Romney is the capitalist Jesus: The other easiest conversation topic ever, except you’re sick of hearing it immediately yet it never goes away. Student protests all over the world! Viva la revolucion! Lol not at UofT. There’s probably more Romney supporters here than people who go to the protests and we don’t even live in that fucking country. Hint: go to a protest, because “this shit is fuckin’ ridiculous” (quoth Kanye).

“Watch out for the medallion my diamonds are wreckless, it feels like a midget is hanging from my necklace.” - Luda

Rob Ford is still the mayor of Toronto: OMG have you heard about the mayor yet? I’m sure that guy in the tight pants/girl in the tights in the park could tell you all about it as he/she seduces you with his/her vast political knowledge and conviction until you find yourself awkwardly making sweet, sweet love in his/her dorm with hardcovers of The Odyssey and Simulacra and Simulations uncomfortably jabbing into your back.

“Yeezy taught me.” - Baudrillard

Stranded presents: Sports! WILL PETTIGREW



Stranded • 17 Sept. 2012 •


Vol. 55 Issue 2  

The Strand Vol. 55 Issue 2