Sunday, May 28, 2006

Canadian Cultural Imperialism?


I am a slave to reality TV. I know it is passé but I cannot help myself. The high drama and the twists and turns of the manufactured mini-contests within the larger meta-contest (like the time each of the aspiring models were required to wear 10 inch heels and walk the runway), draw me in. So now that American Idol and America's Next Top Model are finished for the season I am in reality TV withdrawal. But fortunately for me I live in Canada.

I recently discovered that Canadian Idol and Canada's Next Top Model begin in Canada this week. I love this Canadian nod to American’s basest level - yet another example of America’s cultural imperialism.

With the advent of these copycat programs it got me thinking: are there any examples of Canadian cultural imperialism? I thought not – mostly because Canadians are so polite – but as a true investigative blogger I went on a search anyway.

Within minutes of beginning this search I found a website celebrating the successes of Canadian historical figures. On this site, I discovered a video re-enactment of a dandified explorer named Jean Nicollet who in 1634 sought to find a trade route to China.

According to the video’s narrative, he pushed through the wilderness “searching for the Western sea.” As the video progresses, Nicollet discovers a large body of water and is confident that it is the Pacific Ocean. Nicollet convincingly exclaims, “The Sea. China.”

I, a sucker for any and all underdogs who persevere through seemingly impossible conditions, felt my eyes well up at this early Canadian success story. Then as I was about to leave my desk to find a tissue I heard the senatorial voice of the narrator proclaim, “But Jean Nicollet was wrong – it was lake Michigan not the pacific.” Upon hearing this pronouncement my eyes stopped welling up and I started to giggle, guffaw, and chuckle heartily.

So, as an American very familiar with the process of cultural imperialism here is a note to all Canadians: if you want to take over American airwaves I would recommend that the first step in the process is to stop celebrating Canadian failures. Seriously, I can’t think of any American who, on the fourth of July, celebrates the “other guy” on Paul Revere’s journey through Boston.

It’s just a thought – do with it what you will.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just describing this to my (canadian) mother yesterday. We had a good laugh over it.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Columbus was looking for india, and when he found america, he even coined the term "Indian" for the people living there. Last I checked, he's still important. Not disagreeing with you that it's funny, just pointing out we aren't alone.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

American Idol is really British cultural imperialism. I think its just called Pop Idol in the UK, not British Idol. When FOX bought the rights to it they even insisted that Simon Cowell had to come with the show too. We didn't have enough snarky Americans who could do the job. Judging by Paula and Randy this would seem to be true.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reality TV shows are on the downward trend, so says Kenyon's Wendy MacLeod in an amusing read:

http://www.kenyon.edu/x32209.xml

9:48 PM  

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