Peacekeeping or crazy Canadians?

I am from a long-standing Canadian family who worked hard and believed in Canada. What did they believe? Similar to many people mentioned in Feeling Canadian: television, nationalism and affect by Marusya Bociurkiw (2011), they believed, “Certain collective, mythical notions of Canadian nationalism – that we are better than US, that we are a peacekeeping nation, that we value ethnic and racial diversity… have gained the status of truth, and making nationalist sentiment an acceptable practice  (p. 25).”

Why did they believe this? I wonder now from reading Mediated Society: a Critical Sociology of Media, chapter 7, on national media events, if it’s from the framing of stories in the media that build on this notion of Canadian nationalism. Or maybe it’s from my parent’s life experiences of working hard, seeing their opportunities and the values put on education and family life. They were both well-educated and avid readers of The Globe and Mail newspaper and devoted listeners to CBC television and radio.

Upon considering these readings and the impact of media, it makes me question whether my parents, like many people living in Canada, believed in the Canadian dream or whether the national media framed the dream and continued to emphasis it through mainstream media. In analyzing and understanding the national media, one can begin to see how media has been used to create a national identity. CBC and SRC “served as important forces in the democratization of each society and that have had a prominent role in reproducing the narratives of a variety of life worlds through music, drama, entertainment and news.” (Jackson et al, p.  147). This shows how the national media has made a significant contribution to cultural tensions between English and French from the evolution of public broadcasting by CBC and SRC,

These English and French tensions continue as history evolves and is shown in stereotyping Canadians. While driving in my car on Feb. 13, 2013, I was listening to CBC and a panel discussion on Canada Reads 2013. There were five distinguished panel members each promoting the book of their choice and defending it through a debate. I found it interesting to hear them compare views on a classic Canadian icon such as Two Solitudes by Hugh MacClelland first released in 1945 contrasted with the Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese released last year. One of the panel members implied it was time for the old icon to move over for the new as the book selected for Canada Reads. However, what caught my interest is how these books reflect Canadian values, morals, interests and beliefs through struggles during the times the books were published. These books also contribute to the stereotype of tensions between English and French, and the treatment of native Canadians.

Another form of media that impacts culture and society is through various forms of advertising. Advertising can be seen as simple truths, descriptive and clever narratives and often they convey “complex symbolic undertones” (Jackson et al, p.  79). In our North American culture it is understood that the goal of advertising is to promote, create a need, sales and profit for organizations. Many people distrust advertising; however “there’s a strong connection between economic and cultural capital in that how one cultivates taste and how one consumes corresponds to how one spends and accumulates wealth.” (Jackson et al, p. 87). For some people it’s the feeling of prestige by wearing trendy clothes or being an early adopter of technology that creates an image of wealth.

When considering the role of advertising and how it contributes to consumption and culture, one can compare an old and a new advertising campaign in support of Molson Canadian beer.  In the old advertising campaign run from 1994-1998 and then again in 2000 – 2005, portrayed stereotypes of Canadians. The most famous was “The Rant” defending what defines Canada.

In the new campaign released on You Tube, shows people from other countries commenting on how adventurous Canadians are. There is criticism of this campaign shown in the news report from  Huffington Post review, where they point out that Molson Coors Brewing Company, is as a result of a merger between Canada’s Molsons and American’s Coors in 2005 and argue this campaign, is trying to capture the Canadian spirit and build on the success of the 2000 campaign but is now owned in part of American company. Does this campaign contribute to the concept of English Canadians have little or no sense of national identity since there’s been a struggle to develop a “symbolic order that would allow an imaginary sense of “Canada” other than anti-Americans?”  (Jackson et al, p. 153).

Do these examples from CBC’s Canada Reads and Molsons’ advertising campaign contribute to stereotypes or define Canadian culture? Are we a peacekeeping country or a country filled with crazy Canadians? I believe that these examples show that Canadians can see the humour of our diverse culture. These examples also contribute to both stereotyping and defining Canadian culture and also show what a complex culture we experience by living in Canada. Being Canadian is not easy to define since we welcome diversity in people throughout our country, and as a result it includes many cultures.

REFERENCES

Bociurkiw, Marusya (2011). Affect Theory: Becoming a Nation. In Feeling Canadian: television, nationalism and affect. (pp. 21-33, 156). Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

CBC radio, Canada Reads, 2013, retrieved on Feb. 22, 2013 from http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads/

Molson Canadian Ad released on Feb. 3 on YouTube and retrieved on Feb. 22 from

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WAsV0HZ0D4&feature=player_embedded

Molson Canadian Ad released in 2000 on YouTube and retrieved on Feb. 22 from

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRI-A3vakVg

Jackson, J. D., Nielsen, G. & Hsu, Y. (2011). Mediated Society: a Critical Sociology of Media. (pp.78-99, 145-164). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Huffington Post Canada.  Posted: 02/06/2013 12:38 pm EST retrieved on Feb. 22 from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/06/molson-canadian-ad-viral_n_2631017.html

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About Sandra

I am a public relations professional who works in marketing communications full-time and teaches part-time. Now I'm also a in graduate studies program working toward my Master of Public Relations.
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