While #oscarsowhite has drawn criticism from some people who are either way too out of date in their beliefs or who lack the tact to know what they should and shouldn’t say it raises some important questions about our society. The stories we tell matter. They matter more than just about anything else. They shape our identities, our aspirations and provide the lens through which we see the world. If only one type of story is being told (white dudes) then a lot of stories aren’t being told and a lot of people are either being overlooked or put into a box they don’t fit.
As a Canadian I worry a lot about our stories and our culture. When it comes to movies and TV there are almost no Canadian stories. There are some Canadian actors — pointing out who is Canadian is in fact a national pass time — and Canadian locations used to film American locations but not really Canadian stories. For instance when I sat down to watch Orphan Black for the first time with one of my friends she told me excitedly that something really cool was going to happen: our money was going to be shown. This Toronto was Toronto, not New York or an ambiguous Gotham metropolis. It was a Canadian city with a Canadian actress and yes our money. Outside of Corner Gas or Degrassi how often do you see our money and not American money. How often do you watch a show made in Canada by Canadians telling our stories? For me it’s almost never.
As far as I can tell from TV all twenty-somethings live in Brooklyn, except I don’t and nobody I know does. Where are our funny young creators telling their stories about how hard it is to grow up these days and their failures at adulting? Where are the Canadian versions of just about everything? We are so exposed to American culture that I worry about what we are losing.
Within this box of Canadian stories there are the obvious questions about minorities. Will they just be told by white men here too? What about stories by women and first nations and immigrants? What about the different regions?
CBC should do more to ensure that our stories are told and to give them a wider audience. It worries me what I don’t see on my screen and what it’s doing to us.