Wednesday, July 13, 2005

All tucked away down there...

"I’m just going to plow on here, and you can correct for my native bias. First, in an uncharacteristically brash generalization, I have to say that Canadians tend to be a good deal more introspective and self-effacing than Americans, much slower than their southern neighbours to celebrate their triumphs and much quicker to expose their flaws. This is a disposition, note, that is ripe for the development of satire. Another fundamental difference is that many Americans believe – are in fact raised to believe – that everyone else in the world lives like they do, or else wants to live like they do, and that the American way of life is compelling to pretty much everyone. Whereas Canadians are raised with the absolute certainty that not even their closest neighbours live like they do, nor want to, and that their way of life is not even particularly compelling to those neighbours. America’s enormous global influence – politically and economically as well as culturally – and Canada’s comparative invisibility confirm these beliefs to some degree. America sees itself everywhere, Canada almost nowhere. The former thus develops a highly insular and inwardly focused culture, the latter an obsessively outward-looking culture. And the place Canadians most often gaze out upon is their big, brash next-door neighbour. This has provided Canada with a point of view utterly unique in the world: Canadians are by nature and circumstance experts in American studies, nearly as well versed as Americans themselves in the society and culture of the United States, able to identify every cultural referent, able indeed to pass for Americans – to produce pop culture that an American audience frequently mistakes for its own. Canadians almost instinctively get American culture, but at the same time they are profoundly aware that they are not entirely of it. And this allows Canadians to be critical of it with a degree of detachment impossible for an American, even as their privileged point of view ensures that their criticisms ring true."
-Chris Turner, Planet Simpson, page 49

What do you think?


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