and Sex theSTRAND VICTORIA UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT NEWSPAPER VOLUME 60, ISSUE 9 | 13 FEBRUARY 2018
Love on screen
What’s in a soulmate?
Date The Strand
The best love stories in film
I have approximately 300 of them and you probably do, too
Don’t leave us stranded on Valentine’s Day!
elena senechal-becker editorial page 04
the strand masthead features page 08
sabrina papas and harrison wade arts and culture page 10
EDITOR | AINSLEY DOELL NEWS@THESTRAND.CA
Mandated Leave Policy withdrawn after Human Rights Commissioner expresses concerns Delay expected to be temporary nicholas freer staff writer
The University of Toronto has decided to withdraw its proposal for the controversial University-Mandated Leave of Absence Policy. The withdrawal came at the request of the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner who compelled the administration to address the policy’s human rights concerns; namely, its failure to meet the duty to accommodate, and its stigmatization of students with mental illness. The Mandated Leave Policy is expected to be presented to the Governing Council for consideration again later this year. In an open letter published in The Strand in November 2017, Students for Barrier-Free Access (SBA) wrote that this policy “specifically targets students with mental health disabilities and would allow the University to place these students on a mandatory leave of absence if (1) the student’s behaviour poses “a serious risk of harm to themselves or others” or (2) if the student is deemed “unable to engage in activities required to pursue an education.” The proposed policy raises numerous concerns for disabled and mad students, and our allies.” A full version of the SBA’s letter can be found on The Strand’s website, under the headline “The university-mandated leave of absence is discriminatory and harmful.” Before the withdrawal, Vice-provost Sandy Welsh had argued that the Policy was to be used in “exceptional circumstances…with very significant procedural safeguards.” In a statement to The Strand, UTSU president Mathias Memmel said that, “the letter from the [Human Rights Commissioner] expresses the same concerns the UTSU has been expressing for months.” Memmel points specifically to the Policy’s ‘Scenario 2,’ in which the student “[does not pose] a risk of harm to self or others…[but] is unable to engage in activities required to pursue an education at the University,” as a concern, calling it “too broad.” The lack of a clear definition of what constitutes academic engagement gives
the University discretion to decide what constitutes a “threshold for intervention.” “We’ve also argued that there should always be a mental health professional involved in the leave of absence process. The commission agrees with that, too.” Memmel continued.
As the Policy continues to be reviewed, Memmel said that the UTSU is “hopeful that the university will work to address these concerns in the months ahead, and the UTSU is looking forward to being part of the process.” photo
| hana nikcevic
UTSU and UTMSU to renegotiate Associate Membership Agreement uma kalkar associate news editor
On January 25th, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) and University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) began the renegotiation process for their Associate Membership Agreement (AMA) with the help of a third-party facilitator. The AMA, created in 2008, is an agreement that brings together the two campuses’ student unions. Fulltime undergraduates at UofT’s St. George campus are also members of UTMSU, and vice versa. Under the AMA, UTSU and UTMSU also share governance and fee remittance. This means that a UTSU executive acts as a liaison and member of UTMSU’s Board of Directors, and a UTMSU liaison is part of the UTSU’s executive committee. The AMA’s goal is to unite the unions and develop a symbiotic relationship between the two campuses
that provides the best advocacy and representation for their UTSG and UTM members. Speaking to The Strand, UTSU President Mathias Memmel stated that “[b]oth parties recognize that the UTSU-UTMSU relationship has changed since 2008, when the agreement was signed.” From the negotiations, the UTSU and UTMSU hope to gain some autonomy and become less enmeshed. “The agreement forbids the UTMSU from doing advocacy work on university-wide issues,” Memmel continued, “which doesn’t make sense anymore. UTM is also much larger than it was in 2008—it’s no longer a ‘subsidiary’ of UTSG, and the agreement should reflect that.” UTMSU President Salma Fakhry furthered this, saying that “[the UTMSU] see[s] the importance of the UTM campus having a voice and stake in a union with an almost 120-year history of student activism. We believe in a strong, united, and principled students’
union that seeks to fight for the marginalized and ensuring our fight for accessible post-secondary education is always maintained.” UTSU and UTMSU now have 60 days to come to an agreement; if they fail to deliver, the existing agreement will be terminated. The AMA states that the agreement can be terminated “by a [three-quarters] vote in favor of terminating…[by] both the UTSU Board and the UTMSU Board, followed by a [threequarters] vote in favour of terminating…at a general meeting…of both UTSU and UTMSU” or “by a [twothirds] vote in favour of terminating…[by] both the UTSU Board and the UTMSU Board, followed by a simple majority vote in favor of terminating…by both UTSU and UTMSU.” As of now, Fakhry says UTMSU is “hopeful to engage our members in this time to discuss what we see in building a cohesive bond with our St. George counterparts over the course of the next 60 days.”
@STRANDPAPER THE STRAND | 13 FEBRUARY 2018
Province ensures safe access to abortion clinics ainsley doell news editor
On February 1st, the “Safe Access to Abortion Services Act” came into effect in Ontario. The act establishes “safe access zones” surrounding abortion clinics, to protect the safety of those seeking services as well as their health care providers. The “safe access zones” extend in a 50 metre radius from Ontario’s abortion clinics, of which there are eight. According to the news release made by the Ministry of the Attorney General, within the safe zones it is illegal to stage abortion related protests; advise against using abortion services; intimidate, interfere physically with, or record those using or providing these services. The act defines “abortion services” as “lawful services provided for the termination of pregnancy including prescribing, dispensing, or administering a drug to terminate pregnancy.”
Other healthcare facilities that provide abortion services, including but not limited to hospitals and pharmacies, are able to apply for safe access zones of 150 metres, and all abortion services providers have 150 metre zones around their homes. Penalties for the violation of this act may include six months imprisonment and/or fines of up to $5000, or more if the offence occurs multiple times. The “Safe Access to Abortion Services Act” was announced in October 2017 by Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. While widely supported, the act continues to be met with protest. In the release made February 1st, Naqvi says “No one should ever be intimidated or have to fear for their safety while accessing abortion services. These changes will have a far-reaching impact on patients, providers and communities across the province, helping to ensure these spaces are safer and more secure for everyone.”
City consults students in the development of campus Secondary Plan ainsley doell news editor
On February 6th, the City of Toronto and the UTSU hosted a presentation and consultation meeting with students regarding the proposed changes to the University of Toronto St. George Campus Secondary Plan. City Planner Paul Johnson delivered a presentation outlining the primary concerns of the Secondary Plan and the ways in which the proposal differs from the plan currently in place. He then fielded the questions of concerned students. The University of Toronto St. George Campus Secondary Plan applies to the development of “the lands generally bounded by Bloor Street West to the north, Spadina Avenue to the west, College Street to the south and an irregular boundary generally running along Bay Street to the east.” This includes 77 hectares affiliated with UofT, and another 33 hectares owned by others. Johnson explained that the University would like “the planning framework to be updated sooner than [the city’s] timelines would allow, so they submitted this application and we are trying to work together to come to some sort of resolution that we can support.” The Secondary Plan was last updated in 1997, and the university first submitted their new application in September 2016. Ideally, says Johnson, these plans should be reviewed every 5 to 10 years. “The scope of [the proposal] and the level of intensification and development that is proposed pretty vastly exceeds what would currently be permitted” explained Johnson. The Secondary Plan proposal seeks to “provide an updated policy framework that would manage change and guide new development” surrounding the St. George campus. These policies address, among other things, height restrictions for buildings, and land use restrictions. The Secondary Plan is organized around the protection of heritage locations, expanding the “public realm,” and mobility policies. It seeks to see spaces “protected, conserved, and enhanced over time.” Johnson emphasized the aim of the city’s revisions to the proposal as finding a balance between
allowing flexibility of guidelines for growth and development, and certainty of guidelines that ensures the protection of the integrity of the area; currently, the city would like to see more certainty in the proposal. They would also like to see the inclusion of more environmental policies. One main focus of the meeting was the “public realm framework” which dictates the functioning of public streets. The proposal would like to transition streets into being more pedestrian-friendly. Students brought up specific areas of concern, many of which Johnson acknowledged the city was already aware of, or in the process of addressing. Crossing Queens Park Crescent, both near Hart House and by Museum subway station, was mentioned as dangerous and inaccessible. Accessing the architecture building at 1 Spadina was also brought up by multiple students as being particularly hazardous. Johnson shared that issues with sightlines at the crossing to 1 Spadina are already being explored. UTSU VP External Anne Boucher brought up the 4-way stop at Huron and Russell Street, at which the streets are not aligned. The city would like to see the calming of traffic generally across the campus, but has identified this as a particular area of concern. West Campus is viewed as needing the most development, and Huron Street was highlighted as a particular area that is currently “uncomfortable.” Dark and less aesthetically appealing, Huron Street could benefit from more green space, Johnson said. The Secondary Plan limits the heights of buildings in order to preserve “view corridors” for what are identified as “protected views.” “Protected views” include Knox College, Old Vic, University College, as well as the Legislature building. Students presented concerns that the restrictions on building height would prevent the possibility of campus development – in particular, the development of more student housing. The revised proposal will be presented on March 26th, 2018. Johnson says that the hope is to have the final report prepared in June, but adds that this is “a pretty aggressive timeline.” A map of the affected territory as well as updates and further details can be found on the City of Toronto’s website.
What’s going on around campus this month? Marie Henein at Hart House Debate February 14, 7-8:30PM Hart House, Great Hall Hart House Debates & Dialogue is hosting a discussion of the legal treatment of women “both by the law and in the law,” featuring Marie Henein, criminal lawyer and former defense counsel to Jian Gomeshi and Michael Bryant. The event will be moderated by Kim Stanton, Lawyer at Goldblatt Partners LLP and former Legal Director of the Women’s Legal Education Fund. Queer Valentine’s Day February 14, 11AM-4PM Sid Smith Free “queer-friendly” Valentine’s Day cards will be available for pick up in the lobby of Sid Smith. The cards were developed as a collaboration between Get REAL, INpride, NewPRIDE, and St. Mike’s United as part of Get REAL UofT’s annual Love is Love Week program. Music & the Marketing of Kensington Market February 15, 6-8PM Ethnography Lab, 19 Russell Street, room 330 UofT’s ethnography lab is hosting a panel discussion about current research exploring how Kensington Market has developed as a result of “urban development, immigration, [and] local and counterculture scenes.” Dr. Farzaneh Hemassi, Assistant Professor of ethnomusicology at UofT, and her team of research assistants are “developing a podcast and music app to capture the sounds and music of Kensington Market.” The discussion is free for all to attend.
Hairspray! The Broadway Musical presented by the SMC Troubadours February 15-16, 8PM; February 17, 2PM and 8PM Hart House Theatre The SMC Troubadours are putting on a production of Hairspray! The musical follows Tracy Turnblad, a teenager who wants nothing more than to dance on the “Corny Collins Show.” Set in Baltimore in 1962, the show addresses themes of racial tension, following your dreams, and standing up for what you believe in. This production is directed by Armon Ghaeinizadeh. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for general audience, and can be purchased through the Hart House box office online, over the phone (416-978-8849), and at the door. Ecology and Spirituality: A Winter Retreat February 18, 9AM-6PM Hart House Farm (Caledon)—busses from Multi-Faith Centre, 569 Spadina Avenue Hop on a bus to Hart House Farm to experience nature through faith-based traditions. The trip will feature walking meditation as well as spiritual teachings. A vegetarian lunch is included. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the Multi-Faith Centre (room 309), the Hart House front desk, or online at eventbrite.com/e/multi-faith-eco-spiritualityretreat-tickets-42277101950. Food Solutions Challenge at UofT February 28, 5-7PM The Grad Room, UofT’s Graduate House (66 Harbord St.) Join Regenesis UofT to learn about the global impact of food waste, and team up with others to work through solutions to interconnected issues of climate change and “the need to feed a growing world.” Your team could win an opportunity to develop your ideas at an event in San Francisco this spring. There will be food and door prizes. Registration is free at goo.gl/forms/ JQPSIYdxcxKugOtS2.
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF | MOLLY KAY AND ELENA SENECHAL-BECKER EDITOR@THESTRAND.CA
What's in a soulmate?
I have approximately 300 of them and you probably do, too
strand V O L U M E
| mia carnvale
molly kay elena senechal-becker
tanuj ashwin kumar nadine ramadan
arts and culture
firstname.lastname@example.org tristan mcgrath-waugh
annika hocieniec sonya roma
carol eugene park
email@example.com editorial assistants
elena senechal-becker editor-in-chief
renna keriazes georgia lin anna stabb
contributors sumeeta farrukh, nicholas freer, tamara frooman, uma kalkar, ali kehl, arin klein, kody mccann,
wilfred moeschter, leo morgenstern, tara moulson,
max nisbeth, harrison wade copy editors
alyssa dibattista, lauren lacey, mariah ricciuto, julia wyganowski
When I realized I would be writing the editorial for our Love issue, a few days before Valentine's Day, I was less than excited. It's not that I'm not a proponent of Love with a capital L, or even that I "hate Valentine's Day and think it's a baseless, purely capitalist neo-liberal holiday invented for the sole purpose of fuelling consumerism" (I do think that, of course, but that's another story). photo
| augenblick studios
design team amy jiao, molly kay, hana nikcevic illustrations mia carnevale, humpreet dhoat, grace king, emily fu,
wren turner, yilin zhu photos
the atlantic, augenblick studios, hana nikcevic cover illustration varvara nedilska
The Strand has been the newspaper of record for Victoria University since 1953. It is published 12 times a year with a circulation of 1200 and is distributed in Victoria University buildings and across the University of Torontoâ€™s St. George campus. The Strand flagrantly enjoys its editorial autonomy and is committed to acting as an agent of constructive social change. As such, we will not publish material deemed to exhibit racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or other oppressive language. The Strand is a proud member of the Canadian University Press (CUP). Our offices are located at 150 Charles St. W., Toronto, ON, M5S 1K9. Please direct enquiries by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions are welcome and may be edited for taste, brevity, and legality.
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Truthfully, I just wasn't feeling it because I recently ended a long-term relationship. As you can imagine, I'm not in the best mindset to be planning romantic V-Day plans or buying people flowers. I've been having conversations with my friends and peers about how "love is fake,â€? how nihilism is the only viable life philosophy, and how to stop U-Hauling with the first person you have even a slight connection with. Needless to say, these conversations have not been extremely conducive to what I'm about to write; in a way, though, they have, because they were with people that I cared about. They made me realize the incredible depth of my love for... a plethora of things that aren't a monogamous romantic partner! Of course, I've always known
that I love my family, friends, etc., but I came to a point recently where I realized that the emotional intimacy I need and want is provided to me through many different conduits. At the risk of sounding like a New York Times Modern Love columnist, I'd like to advance the idea that we all have an indefinite number of soulmates, not all of them human (!), who manifest themselves in different ways in our lives. I like to think of these people/places/things as my soulmates because they are often lifelong while being fluctuant, often passionate and simultaneously patient. The word "soulmates" is extremely loaded with connotations of monogamy, exclusivity, and romantic love, but I believe that not only can soulmates come in any number; they can also take shape beyond the typical format of lover/lover. Here are some examples I can think of in my life: My close friends, the kind who I don't have to make plans with because we always inevitably end up at each other's houses anyways. My baby brother, who I rarely talk to now that we live in different cities, but who will occasionally send me a video of our cat or a meme that reminds him of me. My roommates, who I share a space with and along with that, the incredibly intimate geography of my dayto-day life, my comings and goings, and my moods. My best friend from high school who will always know exactly how I'm feeling in any situation, because he knows me so well. Poetry, both reading and writing it, has been a constant in my life since I was fifteen years old, and has gotten me through a lot of shit. The idea of being "star-crossed" with any of these things is both very meaningful and kind of irrelevant to me; does "destiny" or "fate" really matter if we're just trying to survive and find peace and comfort in every day? Love IS a neuro-chemical con-job and I live for it! I don't think it's wrong to admit that we don't know anything about love or why we feel it or how it works, but that we still desire it and search for it everywhere. To avoid the disappointment and heartbreak that often comes with romantic love, it might be easier and more productive to find our soulmates in the small, day-to-day things.
EDITOR | KATHLEEN CHEN OPINIONS@THESTRAND.CA
#MeToo in the media How coverage of the Ansari story reflects and reinforces the normalization of sexual violence photo
tara moulson contributor
When allegations of sexual assault against Aziz Ansari surfaced, dozens of articles were quick to respond, not by denouncing Ansari, but by denouncing the #MeToo movement—characterizing it as a monstrous witch hunt. In the wake of the Ansari story, newspaper reporting of the #MeToo movement has taken a downward spiral. When the #MeToo movement first started in mid-October of 2017 it was an incredible breakthrough. Survivors now had a platform where they could share their stories and assailants were finally facing the consequences of their actions. While initial reporting was sympathetic and supportive, it was quickly replaced with backlash, even before the Ansari story broke. In a Globe and Mail article published less than a week after the hashtag surfaced, Margaret Wente was, unsurprisingly, vocal in her opinion of #MeToo. She encouraged women to “tone down the outrage,” assuring readers that the situation was “not that bad.” In addition to the surge of negative reporting from right-wing newspapers, The New York Times surprisingly also added criticism. In late 2017, it published several opinion pieces levelling complaints against #MeToo. A November piece by Bari Weiss questioned the extent to which we can believe all women, while an opinion piece by Bret Stephens in December criticized the movement for not separating severe acts of
violence from other “misdemeanours.” These articles appeared in the wake of allegations against “good guys” Matt Lauer, Al Franken, and Louis C.K. Much of the reporting following the Ansari story has criticized the woman who accused Ansari of assault, who goes by the pseudonym Grace. Articles depict her as being shallow and weak, and as asking for attention. Buzzfeed published one of the few articles examining the Ansari story that celebrated Grace for coming forward. In the article, for-
THE #METOO MOVEMENT HAS BEEN CRITICIZED FOR CALLING OUT SMALLER INSTANCES OF VIOLENCE; THIS POINTS TO HOW DEEPLY OUR SOCIETY HAS INTERNALIZED AND NORMALIZED SEXUAL VIOLENCE. THE FACT THAT WE ARE UNABLE TO RECOGNIZE THAT THESE SOCALLED MINOR ACTS ARE HARMFUL IS REFLECTIVE OF HOW PERMISSIBLE SEXUAL VIOLENCE HAS BECOME.
mer prosecutor Moriah Silver pointed out that “most women are sharing their stories as part of a national conversation, [and] it makes no sense to apply a courtroom concept in such a fundamentally different setting.” Applying legal definitions to stories of sexual assault allows the system to define the parameters of what is and is not assault. Ultimately, we need to redefine how society understands sexual violence, to stop people from falling back on legal definitions as a justification for supporting aggressive behaviour. Repeatedly, male actors—from Matt Damon, to Mark Wahlberg, to Liam Neeson—have argued that sexual violence exists on a “spectrum of behaviour,” where some instances of violence are permissible while others are not. Believing that sexual assault exists on a spectrum allows us to selectively invalidate and diminish the experiences of those who have faced so-called “lesser” forms of sexual violence. To borrow a quote from Aleida Assmann’s work on European memory studies, “to acknowledge one trauma must not mean to marginalize or even discard another.” The #MeToo movement has been criticized for calling out smaller instances of violence; this points to how deeply our society has internalized and normalized sexual violence. The fact that we are unable to recognize that these so-called minor acts are harmful is reflective of how permissible sexual violence has become. The media is a powerful tool for the #MeToo movement in shaping how we view sexual violence. In the Ansari story, journalists should have re-focused the conversation away from Ansari and onto examining our culture. A conversation of this nature would be much more productive. Articles should shift the dialogue away from attacking the veracity of victims’ statements by instead addressing our deep-rooted culture of victim-blaming that normalizes
minor forms of assault. Some articles have done just this, such as Moriah Silver’s article in Buzzfeed and an article by Lili Loufbourow in The Week. These articles delve into societal problems, exploring why sexual assault is commonplace rather than sensationalizing individual stories. Despite these strengths, these articles are largely heteronormative, reflecting another blind spot in media discussions about sexual violence. The LGBTQ community has the highest rate of sexual assault, and even higher rates of cases go unreported. A multitude of factors makes it harder for members of the LGBTQ community to report acts of sexual violence. A Vice article by Steven Blum outlined some of these reasons, ranging from police prejudice, to societal stigma, to a reluctance to associate fear with spaces that are supposed to be “liberating” when the aggressor is part of the community. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, 65 percent of trans individuals will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. While the majority of reporting frames issues of sexual violence as involving a man and a woman, we need to make room for stories from the LGBTQ community to be heard as well, recognizing that sexual assault manifests itself differently within the queer community. At the end of the day, the media is both the key vehicle for the #MeToo movement and its biggest adversary. The media can give space to marginalized voices, and it can confront the individuals who try to silence them. The media can and should do better. Survivor testimony should not be treated as celebrity gossip. The media can and should open up productive discussions about the systemic cultural problems of sexual violence. Only then will change be effected.
EDITOR | KATHLEEN CHEN OPINIONS@THESTRAND.CA
What’s in a name? The etymology of immigration georgia lin editorial assistant
My legal name is my Chinese name: 林耘非. In Mandarin, the surname (林) comes before the first name (耘非). However, the anglicized translation reverses the order to “Yun Fei Lin.” The fact that we refer to a Chinese name as a “first name” reflects the hegemony of Western thinking. My legal name is my Chinese name, because my parents decided against changing it to “Georgia” to avoid the hassle of altering dozens of formal documents. I am, however, immensely grateful for their passivity toward the name-change process, as I have come to tie my Chinese name to my cultural identity as a Taiwanese-Canadian immigrant. I used to associate my Chinese name—one that Westerners would twist with inaccurate inflexions— with the annoyance of having to correct it to “Georgia” instead. Teachers would preface its pronunciation by sheepishly saying, “I’m going to butcher this, I’m sorry.” Being addressed with the same words one would use to describe the use of a cleaver, when the meaning of each character and stroke in my Chinese name actually has traditional significance, only increased my feelings of shame about my name. Its symbolism is ingrained in my mind, and yet, I struggled to separate the racial slights I received from its personal definition. Racialized names are simultaneously political and deeply personal, prompting questions and choices about self-identification, assimilation, and culture. I interviewed three students of East Asian descent—Erica Sung, Joyce Ou, and Yvonne Chen—about their experiences with having multiple names, and what it means for their individual cultural identities. The Strand: What is your given name, and what is your preferred name? Erica: My given name is 성시현 (Sung Sihyun) and my preferred name—the name I most often go by—is Erica. It was originally my Catholic name, given to me by my aunt/godmother. Joyce: My given name is 区嘉琦 (Ou Jiaqi) and my preferred name is Joyce. My legal name is Joyce, but I don’t have a legal Chinese name, so whenever I travel in and out of China I don’t give them my Chinese name. Yvonne: My given name is 陳一方(Chen Yi Fang) and my preferred name is Yvonne. I’ve actually never had to spell it in English before. Was there a time when you exclusively used your given name? Did you ever feel ostracized while using non-Western names in Western society? ES: I almost exclusively use my preferred name with anyone who isn’t family or a family friend. I’ve never personally felt ostracized by having a non-Western name because the school environment in which I grew up had many peers who were in similar situations to mine. I’ve only ever associated the name “Sihyun” with family. JO: Up until kindergarten, I used my Chinese name in a local school in China. When I started attending international school at age four, I didn’t even know that I had an English name. I just remember I had to pick a name tag with my English name, provided by the teacher, and I didn’t know which one was mine. I’ve never had to use my given name in Western society. YC: I’ve used my given name in Chinese school and in Taiwan. A lot of my relatives use a weird mashup of my Chinese and English names. I’ve never used my Chinese name in Western society.
Have you ever grappled with choosing to use one name over the other? I’ve certainly had conflicting emotions about whether using my preferred name meant submitting to assimilation as an immigrant, and if doing so meant I wasn’t staying authentic enough to my culture. ES: Since I immigrated to Canada very young (at two years old), I didn’t feel very strongly one way or the other until I was old enough to understand the implications of the decision. At this point, I still haven’t experienced too large of a personal conflict in using either name. It’s actually comforting to me that my given name is solely associated with my family because it holds a connotation exclusive to my Korean identity.
sus my cultural identity, and both are important to me for different reasons. My parents had to give up so much of their own culture in immigrating to Canada to provide a better life for me, but I don’t want any of us to give it up entirely because it’s an imperative part of who we are—if only because it’s what connects us despite the generation gap and language barrier. I also like my English name because it refers to who I’ve been given the opportunity to become because of my parents’ sacrifices. Both names are indicative of me being a Canadian immigrant and my identity as a result of it. JO: I know that a lot of names have special characters, and every character has a story/moral behind it. It’s just that using ethnic names makes you subject to more micro-aggressions—you would be treated differently. Things like when teachers call on you and they don’t get it right, and you have to give them a nickname instead; my last name is Ou and they’d pronounce it like “Ooh” since it sounds French. I don’t really feel Canadian because I just moved here; I just have it as a nationality. I don’t have a Chinese citizenship. It’s almost like there’s a sense of shame attached to it when there shouldn’t be.
| wren turner
JO: No, I’ve always lived in Asia, and went to international school there before university. Chinese classes were also mandatory up to sixth grade, and everyone was kind of in the same boat as I was. If I met someone who didn’t speak English, I’d give them my Chinese name. In international school I’d use my English name, but in Chinese society I’d use my Chinese name. YC: I find that having both names gives me the ability to have a place in both societies, and I never have to choose because they’re quite separate. Have you ever thought about legally changing your name to your preferred name, and what would the implications be on your cultural identity? ES: I’ve considered including “Erica” on my legal documents, but I would never want to replace my given name entirely. I wouldn’t want to remove my given name because it would feel as though I’d be erasing an aspect of where I’ve come from and what my parents have given me.
YC: For our generation, I find that we’re in a world of in-betweens. For me, having a name to identify with in both Taiwanese and Canadian cultures is important. My Canadian name is literally a pun on my Chinese name (my parents thought it sounded similar), and though I use Yvonne more often, it’s interesting to note that my Chinese name came first. Have you ever experienced discrimination or confusion regarding your given name, or were told it was “beautiful” when translated into its anglicized version? ES: Because both syllables of my name don’t exist in the English language, I prefer not to disclose it to others if I think it will only lead to multiple botched attempts at pronouncing it. It’s not important for it to be known to those who aren’t my family or friends of my family. JO: No, but other Chinese people ask what my Chinese name is. But if a white person asks, I’m more reluctant to say it, because it’s not like they’re going to call me by my Chinese name. YC: People call me Yvonne. When people ask me my Chinese name, it’s with polite curiosity. I’ve never been faced with an “Oh my god, that’s so cool!” reaction.
What do you think the significance of ethnic names is for first-generation and second-generation immigrants? Do your names tie into being Canadian versus being an immigrant?
Interviewing Erica, Joyce, and Yvonne about their experiences with their names both surprised me and reaffirmed my convictions. Although my Chinese name has been mocked and mispronounced with various intentions by others, including a fetishization of the “exotic” Asian stereotype by labelling names as “beautiful” without knowing their significance, keeping it creates a shared affinity between myself and other immigrants. Our diverse, multiple cultural identities are both separate and intertwined. I don’t think I could ever legally change my name to simply “Georgia,” because losing 林耘非—even its anglicized version—on the passports and papers I carry with me between Taiwan and Canada would be losing an integral part of myself. Having my Chinese name present in my academic life on assignments and attendance records reminds me of how formational my immigrant experience was and continues to be. My Chinese name allows me to keep a firm grasp on my Taiwanese culture, and I have no intention to divest from tradition for the sake of convenience.
ES: I associate each of my names with my national ver-
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Have you ever thought of using one name over the other? JO: I don’t think so. Personally, I don’t tie my identity to my name. YC: I would rather use Yvonne over my Chinese name. I identify more with my Canadian nationality and most of my social functions are in English, which is why I use my English name more often. But I like having the option to use my Chinese name when I want to.
@STRANDPAPER THE STRAND | 13 FEBRUARY 2018
When social media is complicit Facebook’s reckless censorship reinforces systemic biases kathleen chen opinions editor
After coming under fire for not doing enough to prevent the spread of misinformation and fake news during the 2016 US presidential election, Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to fix Facebook; be it “protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” There is no doubt that, given Facebook’s level of influence and reach, it has the responsibility to be more editorial and to remove content created with the intent to deceive or to promote hate. However, the way Facebook has been editing out certain voices has disproportionately silenced marginalized groups. In early January, Facebook shut down Sesh Safety, a group providing harm reduction information to drug-users, on the basis that it violated Facebook’s Community Standards. The drug-related sections of the Community Standards indicate that Facebook does not allow the sale of drugs, and “prohibit[s] the use of Facebook to facilitate or organize criminal activity that causes physical harm to people.” However, Sesh Safety is not a platform for drug sales and, in fact, educates people about the safest way to use drugs to reduce physical harm and save lives. Facebook’s decision to deactivate the group without warning took away a support network for over 40,000 people. Though eventually reactivated, the group has been repeatedly shut down throughout January, and most recently, on February 9th. Facebook’s censorship of harm reduction discussions reflects a narrow and stigmatized view of drug use. The group is being flagged by the system simply because it talks about drugs—reflecting automatic biases on the part of the human reviewers as well as the coders who developed these algorithms. Having this community space is all the more crucial in the context of societal stigma against substance use, which makes governments hesitant to support harm reduction policies. Facebook’s move took one of the few resources away from people who already receive so little assistance and compassion from society. Sesh Safety is an example of the type of community-building that Facebook should be trying to promote and encourage. From the grassroots, the group fills a needed gap on the Internet in providing harm reduction advice in real time, from people who have lived experience. Fundamentally, it provides a space where people are comfortable sharing, both in offering and asking for advice, which is of immediate and practical help, but is also a way to dispel internalized stigma. Zuckerberg mentions in his resolution post that: “A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people's hands. (The first four words of Facebook's mission have always been ‘give people the power’.)” Content on Facebook should absolutely be user-driven; it should not reflect and perpetuate systemic biases. Unfortunately, there are many other
examples of Facebook targeting marginalized groups. Black activists have had their accounts banned for speaking out against racism; activist Leslie Mac, co-founder of Safety Pin Box, was temporarily banned from Facebook after posting, “White folks. When racism happens in public—YOUR SILENCE IS VIOLENCE,” which apparently violated Community Standards. When Korryn Gaines was broadcasting her standoff with the police, during the last few moments of her life, Facebook decided to take her account offline in compliance with requests from the police department, consequently removing video evidence of the police brutality. Facebook also bowed to pressure from the Israeli government to remove content the government considers “incitement,” that is, accounts of Palestinian activists. Facebook has also taken down accounts of Rohingya activists who speak out about the injustices they experience at the hands of the Burmese military. Facebook seems to be consistently following the position of governments, appearing naïve to the fact that governments do not always—and in fact, rarely—have the interest of marginalized groups at heart. Facebook claims to empower “the people,” but they are doing the opposite by simply reinforcing systemic biases. Facebook has declared that it is committed to actively monitoring content on the site, but warns that there are bound to be errors, since “the cases we review aren’t the easy ones: they are often in a grey area where people disagree,” and Facebook
Furthermore, a ProPublica article from June 2017 published Facebook’s internal learning materials for reviewers, one of which was the quiz question: “Which of the below subsets do we protect? Female drivers, black children or white men?” The correct answer was white men. This question conveys a sick sense of humour. According to Facebook’s logic, if a group belongs to a protected category in one respect, and an unprotected category in another, they are considered unprotected. Since “drivers” and “children” are unprotected categories, content attacking female drivers or black children would be allowed. Even from a purely logical standpoint, this does not make any sense, as astrophysicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein remarked on Twitter, “Where did @face-
THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT, GIVEN FACEBOOK’S LEVEL OF INFLUENCE AND REACH, IT HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY TO BE MORE EDITORIAL AND TO REMOVE CONTENT CREATED WITH THE INTENT TO DECEIVE OR TO PROMOTE HATE. HOWEVER, THE WAY FACEBOOK HAS BEEN EDITING OUT CERTAIN VOICES HAS DISPROPORTIONATELY SILENCED MARGINALIZED GROUPS. must moderate a high volume of them. These challenges are certainly overwhelming, but they do not excuse, nor fully explain, the frequency of mistakes made. Facebook’s actual approach to reviewing content is systematically problematic, and ill-suited to the task at hand. Facebook defines hate speech as “content that directly attacks people based on their: race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.” Not included on this list are categories such as age and social class, which Facebook deems “unprotected” categories. Facebook will only take action against content that attacks what they call “protected groups.” First off, Facebook’s ability to decide who is worthy of protection is unsettling.
book’s engineers take their math classes? Members of subset C of set A are still members of A.” Moreover, Facebook completely misses the point of moderating content for hate speech concerns. Their procedure systematically protects those who already benefit the most from the system, perpetuating inequality. It is equally alarming that nobody was concerned about the effectiveness of an anti-hate speech procedure that protects white men over black children. Nobody considered this to be an indication of flaws in the procedure. Another absurd example: migrants can be called “filthy” but not “filth.” The document states that “when the comparison is in the noun form,” this is not considered permissible. The procedure here is even more blatantly arbitrary, and ineffective.
| hana nikcevic
In an article entitled “Facebook’s Community Standards: How and Where We Draw the Line,” Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert expressed that “being as objective as possible is the only way we can be consistent across the world.” This emphasis on so-called “objectivity” seems to be reflected in the standardized procedure prescribed to reviewers, which, in addition to being both illogical and regressive, does not encourage reviewers to pay attention to context (which would make it obvious that black children are a subset of black people, and therefore vulnerable to hate speech attacks). There is little intrinsic value from the standardization of reviewers’ responses: it is far more important to execute appropriate responses that make Facebook a safe environment for those who are not white men. Facebook should provide better quality equity training to its staff. Equity is not Facebook’s dichotomous breakdown of groups who deserve protection and groups that don’t. There does not exist an exhaustive list of types of discrimination. It is therefore futile to prescribe formulas to identify hate speech. Instead, Facebook should educate its staff about historical events that led to current systemic inequality, and the important role and responsibility that Facebook has to break down these barriers. It would also help to hire a more diverse staff. In 2017, women held only 19 percent of tech jobs at Facebook, and in the US, Hispanic people represent 5 percent of employees, while Black people represent just 3 percent. Marginalized groups have already demonstrated their drive and willingness to carve out spaces for themselves on Facebook. Facebook has the potential to be a platform where communities can be free to contribute underrepresented opinions to influence public discourse, to push back against systemic oppressions and stigma. Facebook should be a place where people reclaim power, where people come first— and not just white men.
This article is part of an ongoing series in which The Strand tackles issues relating to systemic oppression, privilege, and identity. All are welcome to contribute to the discussion. Pitches should be directed to email@example.com
EDITOR | ERIN CALHOUN FEATURES@THESTRAND.CA
Don't leave us stranded on Valentine's Day!
ILLUSTRATIONS BY HUMPREET DHOAT
ELENA SENECHAL-BECKER / DADDY / b What is your relationship status? Happy Describe your ideal date. You come over, tell me I'm hot, and then leave me alone so I can go to sleep What is your dating website of choice? Instagram is just one long foreplay session What's a "deal breaker" for you? Not liking Sufjan Stevens
HANA NIKCEVIC / PALAEONTOLOGIST What is your relationship status? Do Not Disturb What is your dating website of choice? JSTOR Why should someone want to date you? I am an exciting opportunity for you to learn about Bronze Age civilisations in the Aegean What’s a “deal breaker” for you? Gluten
MOLLY KAY / LOVER OF FUN, FUN-LOVER, FUN LOVER / c What’s your relationship status? Dating another journalist (brave of me) Describe your ideal date. You come to my house, we cook asparagus, and then we watch BuzzFeed Unsolved What is your biggest turn-on? If you throw away your copy of Infinite Jest for me What's your "type"? Conspiracy theorists—must have tape over your webcam
KODY MCCANN / SERIAL RECYCLER OF NEWSPAPER What is your relationship status? Army husband Worst dating horror story? She said yes in person but then texted me 45 minutes later saying no Why should someone want to date you? I know all the words to “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado ft. Timbaland What is your biggest turn-on? Someone who tweets the Good Content
@STRANDPAPER THE STRAND | 13 FEBRUARY 2018
KATHLEEN CHEN / OPINIONATED EDITOR Describe your ideal date. We get tattoos of each other's names Why should someone want to date you? Well, I can make you instant oatmeal What's your "type"? Sleep-deprived, undernourished TAs What's a "deal breaker" for you? Not acknowledging white privilege
CAROL EUGENE PARK / PODCAST EDITOR /
What is your relationship status? SINGLE AF and PROUD What is your dating website of choice? Tinder, my one and only Why should someone want to date you? As Lady Gaga eloquently put it, I am: "Talented. Brilliant. Incredible. Amazing. Showstopping. Spectacular. Never the same. Totally unique. Completely not ever been done before."
TRISTAN MCGRATH-WAUGH / SEÑOR COPYEDITOR / Worst dating horror story? One time, this guy asked to meet in person What is your dating website of choice? thestrand.ca/masthead Why should someone want to date you? “Can’t help you there” - BF What’s your “type”? Esteban Julio Ricardo Montoya de la Rosa Ramírez
REBECCA GAO / VERS / h What is your relationship status? Currently being a Loyal Queen to a Savage King What is your dating website of choice? The comment section of thestrand.ca What is your biggest turn-on? A deep and nuanced understanding of the band Green Day pre the Uno, Dos, Tre albums
MAIA KACHAN / ASSOCIATE ARTS AND CULTURE EDITOR /
What is your relationship status? Happily in a relationship—let's go on friend dates! What’s your dating website of choice? Tinder because I love knowing half of the queers in Toronto Why should someone want to date you? Because I write weird sad poetry about my relationships so you'll always be ambiguously mentioned, and also I'm really good at making risotto and will cook for you (but only that dish)
ALYSSA DIBATTISTA / COPYEDITOR /
What is your relationship status? A lot of peanut butter Worst dating horror story? Frosh Week: Person X seems to think we are on a date; we are not on a date What is your biggest turn-on? Em dashes What's a "deal breaker" for you? My "deal breaker" is a "person" who "refuses" to "squeal" with me at the "mere presence" of "copiously chubby" Queen's Park squirrels
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EDITOR | SABRINA PAPAS ARTSANDCULTURE@THESTRAND.CA
You've Got Mail (Nora Ephron, 1998) The quintessential 90s romantic comedy. Kathleen (Meg Ryan) owns a children’s bookstore in the Upper West Side of New York. The opening of Joe’s (Tom Hanks) family’s bookstore chain, Fox Books, serves as a threat to Kathleen’s independent shop. Although they’re rivals in real life, Kathleen and Joe are falling in love with each other online, through AOL, and know each other only as “NY152” and “Shopgirl.” Eventually, “NY152” reveals his identity to Kathleen and the pair can be together. You’ve Got Mail is a film that I return to for its cozy feeling—it’s wholesome, sweet, and always makes me cry. Also worth mentioning is Ernst Lubitsch’sThe Shop Around the Corner (1940), the source material for You’ve Got Mail. –SP Say Anything… (Camera Crowe, 1989)
| hana nikcevic
The best love stories in film sabrina papas and harrison wade arts and culture editor and associate editor
Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945) Laura (Celia Johnson) and Alec (Trevor Howard) meet in a train station’s refreshment room. Laura has a bit of dirt in her eye and Alec, a doctor, helps her get it out. They talk until their trains arrive and like each other enough to meet again the following week. They’re both married, and seemingly happy, but there is something exciting and completely ordinary about their connection. Romance is made from close-ups and unattainable fantasies. Laura and Alec want only each other, but cannot break from the patterns of their lives—their time together can only be re-lived in Laura’s voiceover. Brief Encounter turns every train whistle into a deadline. Every camera movement is imbued with the emotion these lovers cannot express. –HW Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004) In Before Sunrise (1995), Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met on a train and briefly fell in love for one night. They exchanged only first names, but agreed to meet at the Vienna train station in six months. In Before Sunset (2004), we learn they never did. Celine’s grandmother died and
with nothing more than Jesse’s first name, she was unable to get in touch with him. Nine years later, Jesse, now married, has recently published a book about his initial encounter with Celine. He’s doing a reading at a Paris bookshop, Celine shows up, and the two reconnect. Despite their time apart, Jesse and Celine’s feelings for each other have remained the same. The love between them can be felt in all that they cannot express in words. Jesse ultimately misses his flight back to America. –SP In the Mood for Love (Wong KarWai, 2000) It is the 1960s in Hong Kong. Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung) and Su LiZhen (Maggie Cheung) move into adjacent apartments with their spouses. Their building is all tight corners, narrow hallways, and pleasantries. In the Mood for Love pulls Chow and Su together with a rhythm of him, then her, in visual echoes. As they fall for each other, they realize their spouses are having an affair. Their unconsummated romance is thrown into a state of yearning; they define themselves by “not being like them.” The cinematography captures this yearning in each image, be it Chow’s lonely cigarette smoke curling against a ceiling, or Su’s dizzying descent of a staircase, replayed until she seems both caught and in flight. –HW
At his high school graduation, Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) falls for valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye). He is a self-proclaimed “nobody” and she has a fellowship lined up in England. He calls her, and she agrees to a date, wanting to connect with her classmates before she leaves. Say Anything… is an end of high school romance, caught on the precipice of “real life.” Their time together is both timeless and brief. A graduation party and a night spent in a car during a thunderstorm last forever—and their responsibilities arrive too quickly. Diane’s father embezzles funds from the retirement home he runs, and Lloyd’s friend is suicidal. Yes, Say Anything… has the now famous boombox serenade, but the film says a lot about living well: with consideration, joy, and honesty. –HW Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012) Frances (Greta Gerwig) is “undateable”—the love story in Frances Ha is one of platonic love. Her best friend and roommate, Sophie (Mickey Sumner), drops out of their lease to move in with another friend from college, leading to a falling out between the pair. We see Frances move from apartment to apartment, unable to get her life together and move on from the hurt of Sophie leaving her. All Frances wants is a single moment—to be at a party, make eye contact with the person she loves from across the room, and to know that they’re her person. After a moment of realization, however, she finally finds her footing and sees that Sophie can still be her person despite their different directions in life. –SP The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993) In the mid 19th century, Ada (Holly Hunter), a mute Scotswoman, is sold into marriage by her father. She is sent with her daughter and her grand piano to New Zealand, where she meets her husband, a rural colonizer (Sam Neil). The love story is not with him, but his friend, Baines (Harvey Kei-
tel), who lives with the Māori people. When Ada and Baines meet, The Piano shoots them intimately, using the conventions of melodrama to suggest they are meant to be together. But their love is never clean or comfortable. To buy back her piano, Ada must perform for Baines. They create a relationship of exhibition and exploitation centered around music. There is great beauty in The Piano, but it is never without the violent histories of colonialism and sexism. –HW Weekend (Andrew Haigh, 2011) Russell (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New) meet at a bar, and what would normally remain a one-night stand becomes something more. They spend the weekend together, but their time is limited. On Sunday, Glen is leaving England to move to Oregon for a twoyear art program. They share stories of past hook-ups and their experiences of coming-out. Every conversation feels honest—nothing is off-limits. In their last moment together at the train station, I found myself wishing that Glen would stay. The brevity of their love, however, makes it all the more meaningful. –SP Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004) When Keng (Banlop Lomnoi), a young soldier, meets Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee), a farmhand, there’s no cinematic emphasis. Tropical Malady treats their encounter with the same patient gaze it lends every image. But Keng and Tong meet again in the city, and soon they spend hours together. The men flirt in small gestures and brief glances, at the movies and during karaoke performances. Just as this realism begins to feel inadequate, Tropical Malady transforms: the second half of the film is a re-telling, or perhaps a continuation of the first half ’s romance, through the lens of a Thai folk tale. A tiger-shaman (Kaewbuadee again) hunts an unnamed soldier (Lomnoi again) through the jungle and the pent-up desire of the film’s first half is finally released, both spiritual and animalistic. –HW Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953) In Rome for her European tour, Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) becomes fed-up with the constraints of royalty. She flees from the control of her guardians to explore Rome on her own, and meets Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck). As a reporter, Joe sees this as an opportunity for an exclusive story and withholds his career from Ann. They spend the day together, with his photographer Irving (Eddie Albert) trailing along. Joe ultimately decides to scrap the article, realizing that he has fallen in love with Ann. The next day, at a press conference, the two meet again, and Ann becomes aware of his occupation. Irving hands over his photos to the princess, and Joe and Ann say their final goodbyes. –SP
ARTS AND CULTURE 11
@STRANDPAPER THE STRAND | 13 FEBRUARY 2018
tamara frooman contributor
Dedicated to the only ex-boyfriend I’ve ever managed to actively remain friends with, who iconically texted me 15 minutes after we broke up to ask if he could still use my Spotify account because “some breakup music would really hit the spot right now.” Organized by the five stages of grief. Denial “I Miss You” by blink-182 Don’t waste your time on me you’re already the voice inside my head The voice inside my head has a dual interpretation: is the voice diminished, relegated to merely being inside my head? Or is this a reference to the absent presence of your outline, still tracing its habitual routes along my neural pathways? It is both simultaneously. “Featherstone” by The Paper Kites And my love is yours but your love’s not mine / So I’ll go but we know I’ll see you down the line This song sounds like fairies singing in a moss-covered forest clearing. Initially the sentiment felt right. As it turns out, both fairies and seeing you down the line are fantasy narratives. Denial songs are crutches to be used until what’s broken can support itself alone, though it might never heal completely. Anger “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus All I wanted was to break your walls / All you ever did was break me The anger comes from the unrequited willingness to work things out, compromise, and build something together. It comes from the futility of endeavouring to break the walls only to have them reinforced from inside. You can’t fix anyone who doesn’t think they need
to be fixed—you’ll only break yourself in the process. “Sweet Dreams” by BØRNS You flipped the page and slipped away... You didn’t even call to wish me sweet dreams It hurts when someone who meant so much to you one day just vanishes the next. “Stars” by Grace Potter I lit a fire with the love you left behind... And if I know you at all / I know you’ve gone too far Suddenly, I have all this extra love and it can’t be redirected—it burns up, until it turns to ashes. You’ve gone too far. By leaving me you have done something I did not think you were capable of doing, and now I’m not sure I even knew you at all. Bargaining “Party Police” by Alvvays I never really know what’s on your mind / is it ever me, or just someone you’ve left behind? This song is about trying to know someone when you never really can. We bargain when we try to squeeze people into moulds they are not interested in fitting into. “If You Wanna” by The Vaccines It’s alright if you wanna come back to me Bargains are what we cling to. Moving on would be easy if the end was certain. But what if he changes his mind and I’ve already moved on? Why is my own happiness the saddest thing I can imagine? Depression “Pills N Potions” by Nicki Minaj I’m angry but I still love you This track articulates the unique type of anguish that comes from the combination of anger and unrequited
love—the anger doesn’t turn into distaste, it just amplifies the pain. “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell Surely you touched mine ‘cause / Part of you pours out of me / In these lines from time to time Just like blood and wine saturate material, leaving stains, so, too, do you saturate my thoughts. Your ghost remains with me and it feels unbearable. Acceptance “Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean Or do you not think so far ahead? / ‘Cause I been thinkin’ ‘bout forever Acceptance is learning to sit with the uncertainty of whether they have been thinking about you too. It’s the parts of you that emerge when your existence brushes up against another’s. “Girls Chase Boys” by Ingrid Michaelson All the broken hearts in the world still beat I always thought the lyric was “bleed” but it’s actually “beat,” so maybe I’ve been optimistic all along. I’ve been thinking about love as a series of small wounds we allow others to give us. Endurance is kind of amazing that way; it allows us to accept as sufficient what we are given, even when it is not enough. “Green Light” by Lorde Oh, I wish I could get my things and just let go I didn’t like this song until it played one night when I was driving around the highways of my hometown. And I realized it’s the type of song that demands to be played loud and at fast speeds in the dark. It’s a song that builds over its duration as well as its lifespan— each time I hear it now it sounds more triumphant. It certainly expresses anger, but ultimately it expresses acceptance. Not in the sense that Lorde is finally able to “just let go,” but because she reaches a point where she is able to sit with the awareness that she might never
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EDITOR | SABRINA PAPAS ARTSANDCULTURE@THESTRAND.CA
Love isn’t easy—that’s why they call it love Exploring how romance is portrayed in Call Me by Your Name and The Big Sick kody mccann distribution manager
The past year has given us some tremendous movies, but two especially stood out for me—Call Me by Your Name and The Big Sick. After watching both films and discussing them with friends, I realized that they both had very unique approaches to depicting love on screen. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name follows Elio (Timothée Chalamet) as he spends his summer in Northern Italy with his parents. Oliver (Armie Hammer)—a grad student hired by Elio’s archeologist father (Michael Stuhlbarg)—arrives to live with them for the summer. Tension gradually builds between Elio and Oliver until they finally allow themselves to be together. The setting is mystical, enhanced by the cinematography, with long pans of the landscape peppered throughout the film. The score is curated perfectly with the scenes. Elio has another relationship with a girl in the village, Marzia (Esther Garrel). As they explore their sexuality together, Elio fights his feelings for Oliver and feels conflicted. Over the course of the film, the townhouse in the Italian countryside begins to feel more and more like the Garden of Eden. There is a palpable sense of lust as passion develops, and the love story unfolds with forbidden fruit imagery. One of Call Me by Your Name’s defining traits is that it is unapologetically artistic, especially in the way Elio discovers love and explores his sexuality. With Oliver, he is much more cautious than he is with Marzia. The paradise that Guadagnino creates allows for a heightened focus on feelings. The focus is on the love, the intrigue, the push and pull, Elio’s conflict and coming to terms with who he is, and by the end, his heartbreak. Long scenes pull at heartstrings as an unlikely friendship develops into a sexual relationship. The Big Sick is the story of how comedian Kumail Nanjiani met his wife, Emily V. Gordon, and the film was written by the now-married couple. Soon after they met, Gordon was diagnosed with a severe infection and placed in a medically induced coma. The film presents an alternative way of depicting love in movies. The setting and the plot are important, but the love between Kumail and Emily (Zoe Kazan) is depicted through conversations, fights, laughter, and silence. While Call Me by Your Name is unapologetically artis-
tic, The Big Sick is unapologetically realistic—funny and extremely relatable. The Big Sick is a comedy, but I found myself engrossed in the relationships and characters that developed throughout the movie. I find myself returning to the scene where Emily’s father, Terry (Ray Romano), sleeps over at Kumail’s apartment. After much tension between Kumail and Emily’s family, we see the two men connecting through an intimate conversation. Terry tells Kumail, “Love isn’t easy—that’s why they call it love.” This statement carries out the scene’s true purpose of bringing Kumail and Terry closer together as they work through the tragedy of Emily’s illness. Despite their differences in representing love, I was ultimately able to appreciate these two films for the same reasons. We see so much growth in Elio, and the final scene, after he learns Oliver has gotten engaged, is captivating. We stay with Elio in that moment and experience his catharsis.
| emily fu
Such moments exist throughout The Big Sick, when a smile or shared silence takes us out of the comedy, and we experience the emotion of the characters on screen. We feel a natural connection to love, both imperfect and realistic, and to longing. Exploring who we are can be accurately expressed through art and stylistic approaches that require interpretation. We feel the love in The Big Sick because the conversations are realistic; they could be conversations you have had yourself. We feel the love in Call Me by Your Name because we all interpret love differently but understand its sensation. When Elio hints at his feelings to Oliver, he refers to them as “the things that matter.” He never explicitly confesses his attraction, but the viewer feels what he is trying to say. When Oliver asks, “What things that matter?” we all think of someone we love. And we think about who matters to us.
Review: Equity Commission’s Art at the Intersections First VUSAC showcase of women and trans artists of colour a success rebecca gao stranded editor
On February 9th, the VUSAC Equity Commission held their first Art at the Intersections showcase in Old Vic. Despite the snowstorm, Alumni Hall flooded with guests who were buzzing with excitement. The event showcased and celebrated the artwork of women and trans people of colour at UofT, featuring visual art, poetry, photography, and performance art. Before the performances began, guests were invited to walk through the gallery of visual art pieces arranged around the foyer. The pieces centered around themes of intersectionality and sparked meaningful conversations among the attendees. With the art displayed in front of, and partially obscuring, the portraits of past Victoria College presidents, it was hard not to think about the mostly straight, white, cis, men who have run and continue to run institutions that disenfranchise, tokenize, and oppress women and trans people of colour— institutions like Vic and UofT. With their art foregrounding these portraits, it felt like the women and trans artists of colour were stepping out of the shadow of these cis, white, male-dominated systems. The second half of the evening delivered
equally impactful performances. The showcase featured diverse forms of art, including spoken-word poetry, poetry readings, vocals, and classical music. The performers touched on topics of diaspora, identity, and tradition. Most importantly, the performances allowed women and trans artists of colour to showcase their talents and their multiplicities. When asked about the importance of the event, Georgia Lin, first-year student and Equity Commission member who spearheaded the event, said: “This showcase values and recognizes the power of women and trans people of colour, and provides a necessary platform for the talents of the artists whose abilities are often underestimated because of their identities. As a woman of colour and performing artist myself, I had never found a truly equitable [and] diverse outlet to share my work.” Lin also noted that she “wanted to create a space that honours intersectionality in a sector that has traditionally excluded marginalized groups. Art at the Intersections came together in a way that celebrates the voices of women and trans artists of colour at UofT.” A critical part of the showcase was its compensation of the artists for their participation. It is common for local artists, especially trans artists and artists of colour, to receive little to no compensation for their
work. Art can often be seen as a free commodity, one that is meant to be consumed by an audience with little to no regard given to the artists. Lin said that, through this funding by the Victoria College Performing Arts Endowment, “to be able to both showcase and financially [support] our artists for their dedication and labour to their works was a great joy.”
Overall, the showcase was a great success. Not only did it draw attention to issues of intersectionality and representation, it also provided an exhibit for the immensely talented women and trans artists of colour at UofT. Here’s to hoping VUSAC Equity’s Art at the Intersections becomes a Victoria College tradition. photo
| hana nikcevic
ARTS AND CULTURE 13
@STRANDPAPER THE STRAND | 13 FEBRUARY 2018
In conversation with UofT student playwrights An interview with Cy Macikunas and Gianni Sallese photo
arin klein staff writer
Every year, the University of Toronto presents a drama festival at which original student works are performed. This year, two drama societies are presenting student works in their regular seasons: Cy Macikunas’s A Brand New Sky with UC Follies, and Gianni Sallese’s Invasion of the Molepeople with SMC Troubadours. The Strand sat down with Cy and Gianni to learn about their shows and to hear their thoughts on the opportunity to present original works in the mainstage season. The Strand: Can you tell me briefly what your show is about? Cy Macikunas: A Brand New Sky is a work in progress about grief, the construction of identities and identifiers, abuse and how it becomes a language, longing, and how goddamn hard it can be to say what we want to say and have it mean what we want. Overall, how words are too clumsy for the incredibly vague heart, and how Canada’s “melting pot culture” ultimately feels like a band-aid on a festering wound. Gianni Sallese: Invasion of the Molepeople is an homage to the horror sci-fi schlock Bmovies of the 1950s and ‘60s. It’s lighthearted, zany, and a love letter to those ridiculous overdone tropes we know and love. But it also holds a pretty straightforward and topical message: the importance of knowledge, the dangers of ignorance, remembering the faults of our past, as well as a satirizing of xenophobia (which is unfortunately topical). Where did the idea for your show begin? CM: My only living grandfather has been in and out of hospitals, and this idea came to me in the days we thought would lead to his death. I’ve been living with this work for two years now, but have lost incredible amounts of progress after some horrific things that
happened to me this summer—hence why I am hesitant to call it complete. This show is primarily about my hometown and my friends there, where being a person of colour is very commodified. I’ve had hundreds of late-night phone calls with those friends about how we experience our racial identities and family relationships. GS: The idea comes from my love of classic cinema and genre films, and the fun of easily recognizable, cartoonishly-exaggerated tropes. I wanted to play with the idea of a show where these understood tropes were heightened to an excessive degree, where things that might seem ludicrous are treated with deadly seriousness. There’s something so funny about playing the most ridiculous thing as if it’s the most serious thing. Do you think the fact that your shows are being put on in the regular season is a step forward in getting student work out there? CM: It feels like a next step, but it’s also a lot of pressure. There’s this expectation that student work won’t hold up against professional work, and with opportunities like this one it feels very much my job to try and subvert that expectation. GS: I don’t really think there is anything better or worse about having a show in the festival versus the main season. I think the Drama Fest is a fabulous opportunity! The only real difference and benefit is that a main season show gets more freedom in terms of venue, budget, tech, time, and number of performances. Both are amazing means of getting student work out there—they’re just different. Cy, your show centres on a biracial character and deals with navigating the cultures of our parents. In a media world of predominantly white-focused narratives, it is important to bring non-white-focused narratives to the forefront. Do you think that theatre is an effective medium for am-
plifying voices like those in your play when they are too often silenced elsewhere? CM: I don’t think silenced is an effective word in this case—overlooked or ignored may be more accurate; deliberately passed over as it’s often assumed those needs are being met elsewhere. For every show centred on someone explicitly written as a person of colour at UofT, I’d argue there’s at least 20 intentionally or unintentionally about white people, and if you look around a room of artists at UofT, those demographics don’t match up. As a younger artist, I made a promise to myself that I didn’t have to care about art that didn’t care about me. Think of A Brand New Sky as a follow-up to that promise. I think theatre is an effective medium to bridge the gaps of emotions and connections between groups of people, but primarily I hope that the show proves that just because it is not centred on the “common” person (i.e., a white cis het middle-class man in his mid-20s), it doesn’t lose ground with its audience. This show is explicitly not for the homegrown white people who want something relatable to the idealized Canadian experience, or a voyeuristic view into my home life. This show is for my fellow mixed kids and anyone who feels they fell into the gap where their parent’s culture ends and the Canadian one refuses to let them in. But I do hope everyone gets something out of it. I don’t know if I’d say theatre is an effective medium to amplify this kind of voice and story, and I can’t speak for everyone—but I can say the visibility that will come with it will hopefully allow for some change. Gianni, why did you pick the specific genre and era to pay homage to in your show? GS: I love distinct genre; I think its tropes provide a great shorthand to communicate things to the audience. Everyone recognizes the cackling villain, the wise eccentric scientist, or the plucky, naïve hero. These are familiar to audiences and can be a convenient
| hana nikcevic
way to get a story and message across. Also, it’s fun. Obnoxiously exaggerated tropes too distinct to be realistic are so much fun, so writing the stuff I find enjoyable was a factor. I love history, and any history student or buff can tell you how much you learn from the mistakes of our past. I use the particular era (a time revelling in its own glitz and glamour, while also a period of great prejudice, violence, corruption, and suffering) because it mirrors a lot of what society is like now. The prejudices of the past, the conflicts of the past—they’re still alarmingly real and potent, they’re just happening in different ways. What do you think is the importance of the UofT theatre community providing this space and platform for student-written work to be produced? CM: Student-written work has an incredible amount of relevance and connection to its audience and performers, completely unmatched by work from other sources. It’s connected to its community, location, and demographic and in tune with the culture surrounding it. We should continue creating an environment where works that can say what others can’t are supported and allowed to grow. GS: I think a platform for student creation, and getting new student voices out there, is incredibly important in the wider university community. It should be a safe and secure space in which people can develop these ideas. It provides this great base for future creators to build on and move forward with ideas. Plus, it’s in line with what a school’s purpose should be; a place for innovative and important discussion. A Brand New Sky will be presented in late March. Invasion of the Molepeople will be presented March 1st to 3rd at Alumni Hall 100. See the UC Follies and the SMC Troubadours on Facebook for more information. Interview has been edited for clarity and length.
EDITOR | REBECCA GAO STRANDED@THESTRAND.CA
How to find The One ali “not a narcissist” kehl and max hopeless romantics
At this time of year, we can get caught up in our internal loneliness, all because of a holiday that sells cards with romantic parodies of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on them. But I’m here to tell you that there is hope. Better yet, there is a way to find The One you’ve been waiting for (as opposed to the three you’ve been really holding out on—I’m sorry to say that those will never work out). The first step to finding The One is easy: collect 30 different contestants—sorry, love interests—as chosen by a board of ABC executives (because who else are you going to trust to find The One, a board of NBC executives? Please). In doing so, you will slowly eliminate—excuse me, choose—which individuals you don’t see a future with, in a way that is exciting, weekly, and filled with commercially suspended cliff-hangers. Also, you will alert the ones you intend to keep dating, not through words, but through a single, trimmed rose. This way, your horde of dating partners will feel validated without any emotional attachment or expression on your behalf. This keeps them on the hook. Similarly, your entire process must be broadcasted on national
television as a method for you to immortalize your mistakes in standard definition, while simultaneously having others publicly ridicule you for decisions you’ve already made (this will be important later when you get to Paradise—I mean if it doesn’t work out—which it won’t, obviously). One of the most imperative steps in this process is the villain. There must be a villain! This way you can communicate to your potential spouse that you are also interested in terrible people, and that you have no influence over what the producers decide. Preferably this individual, let’s call them Krystal, should be clearly identified as a villain early on in your love-seeking quest to divert potential fans’ attention away from the fact that you are incredibly boring. To avoid revealing your complete lack of charisma, try to tell your love interests that you are excited by excitement and that you used to race cars, so that they forget you’re a real-estate agent. Once you’ve done all this and have finally narrowed it down to The One, you will realize that you actually were on The Bachelor all along. As effective as this method may be for finding true love, I can safely guarantee that a group of ABC executives won’t facilitate this—ultimately, it’s up to you. Go out there and take
a risk! The One is out there, so now give them a way to find you… by going to a tropical paradise where other unsuccessful, but popular, contestants go to be famous. Stop waiting around! Start being on The Bachelor!
Nuts about you! <3 UofT’s hottest squirrels wilfred moeschter and the squirrels of uoft nut-crazy fools
Do you find that Valentine’s Day is approaching, and nobody’s name is written on that generic card/bouquet of nearly-dead flowers you’ve been saving? Nuts About You is here to help! We’re UofT’s #1 dating site, and we cannot wait to help you find that special someone. Once you dig into our website, ACORN won’t be the only page you’re checking all day! Here are the profiles of some of our newest members who just can’t wait for a Valentine’s date!
Name: Sammy Colour: Brown Age: 2 Location: Outside Hart House Likes: Nuts, scurrying around Dislikes: Rain, people who scare squirrels About Me: I’m outgoing, funloving, and always down to meet new people! :-) Some people say I’m a bit too flirty, but I think I’m just the right amount! If you’re a fun person with a good sense of humour, I’d say I’m the right match for you! xox
Name: Tippy Colour: Brown Age: 3 Location: Victoria College Quad Likes: Apples, climbing trees Dislikes: Candy bar wrappers, birds About Me: In case you haven’t heard of me, just tell your friends that you’re going on a date with the cutie with the white-tipped tail, and let them do the talking. ;) If you’re hot, single, and looking for a little fun, I’ll treat you right. You know where to find me!
Name: Sexy Leo Morgenstern Colour: Brown Age: 20 Location: 1062 McCaul Street Likes: Taylor Swift, coffee Dislikes: Muji pens, ties that are too short About Me: I was always afraid this would happen.
Name: Chips Colour: Brown Age: 3 Location: Near the brown food truck Likes: Eating trash, dropped French fries Dislikes: Cars, forgetting where my acorns are About Me: People tell me I’m pretty nice, and you bet I enjoy a dinner date. If I’m lucky, people drop their food a lot. You should come over and I’ll take you out for a nice meal! We can chill out and you’ll see a side to me that everybody ends up liking. :-)
@STRANDPAPER THE STRAND | 13 REBRUARY 2018
The Strand: Why have you chosen not to date since notable animal conservationist Steve Irwin died? Terri Irwin: I’m content. I have two beautiful kids, a really full plate. I’ve already had my happily ever after. (Editor’s note: By “happily ever after” Terri is referring to her 15-year marriage to notable animal conservationist Steve Irwin.) Leo Morgenstern: When Steve died, I had a lot of laundry to do. Like, a ton. So, I said I’d wait until I finished all that laundry before I started dating again. But I didn’t feel like doing my laundry, because I was sad that notable animal conservationist Steve Irwin had died. Then the years just kept passing, and the laundry kept piling up, and now here we are.
How do you spend your time since you aren’t dating? TI: Well, I’m a television star, a mother of two, I own my own zoo, and I travel around the world advocating for endangered species—so I manage to keep busy. Oh, I’m also a best-selling author. LM: Making tie-dye t-shirts. Would you start dating again if another notable animal conservationist died? TI: No… What a horrible thing to say. Well, maybe Al Gore.
LM: Crossword puzzles. (Editor’s note: It appears that Leo misread the question.) Any “not dating” advice that you’d like to share with our readers? TI: Do what makes you happy. Whether that involves dating, or crocodiles, or alligators. Personally, I like crocodiles. LM: Other people will call you weird because you’ve decided to stop dating since Steve Irwin died. But they’re all hypocrites. No one judged the Queen for dating after Prince Phillip died. (Editor’s note: Prince Phillip is not dead. We don’t know what Leo’s talking about.)
@STRANDPAPER THE STRAND | 13 REBRUARY 2018
My punny Valentine illustrations
| grace king
And we couldn’t help but wonder Were we all just victims of conditioned responses? rebecca gao and molly kay samantha with a miranda rising and definitely a carrie
So i am really confused because i fall in love so easily and fast, I’m talking like a matter of days. I’m not desperate, i have everything going for me, looks, social and financial status but yet i feel like I’m still not good enough to be in a relationship. Every time i fall in love with someone i end up getting really hurt. I really need this to stop. — Former U-Hauler Molly: Step one is to forgive yourself. Step two is to assess yourself and find out what your strengths are, what your good points are, and what you are good at. Step three is to learn to appreciate yourself for all those things that you are good at, and to start telling yourself that you are a good and worthy person, and that you deserve to be happy. Step four is to periodically do something that will improve you. It could be to start an exercise program or to do something you have always wanted to do, like learn to speak French. Whatever it is, it should help you in your life, and make you happier about yourself. Step five, every time someone gives you a compliment, you have to say “thank you” and mean it, and accept it as a truth. Every day after that, work towards being the person you always wanted to be. Good Luck! Rebecca: In my Expert Opinion, everybody dies eventually. Picture their dead body lying on the ground, decaying, rotting, flesh falling off and riddled with worms, being
picked at and torn away by vultures dining on a tasty meal. See yourself looking into the sockets where their eyes used to be, gazing into the places where those eyes you enjoy so much used to be. Do you still love them? When is it too soon to message a potential suitor? I don’t want to come across like I care too much. How can I maintain that I’m a strong independent woman who doesn’t need a man, but wouldn’t mind some attention and some free carbs? — Carb Loading Molly: As a general rule of thumb, I tend to adopt the three-day texting rule, lest they think you’re too eager to go out again. Good Luck! Rebecca: Carbohydrates are essential to good nutrition. They are a type of naturally occurring sugar that our bodies use for energy and glucose production. There are two types: simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates take longer for our body to digest and they release glucose at a reasonable rate. Simple carbohydrates release glucose at a higher rate. This causes blood sugar to spike and can make us feel hungry sooner, causing us to eat more. Hey, ladies! My ex broke up with me by saying he wanted to marry me but also sow his wild oats. What do you think? — But are the oats gluten-free? Molly: After consulting the Literature, I can conclude that this is the worst excuse in the
book! I’d be upset too... but probably mostly hurt. Because he’s obviously not thinking how this “spreading of his wild oats” is going to affect you. You might need to let him go... or at least confront him about how he’s making you feel... or maybe you start farm-
ing your own wild oats... if you know what I mean. ;-) Good Luck! Rebecca: All I can say is that the oats are likely NOT gluten-free. illustration
| yilin zhu
Another Valentine's Day, another opportunity to Date The Strand—lucky you! In this issue of Sex and the Strand, read about love in cinema, l...
Published on Feb 12, 2018
Another Valentine's Day, another opportunity to Date The Strand—lucky you! In this issue of Sex and the Strand, read about love in cinema, l...