Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Film Festival leaps into the 1990s

The Film Festival has announced that for the first time this year, moviegoers will be able to order all of their tickets on-line.

"How cool is that?" TIFF managing director Michelle Maheux asked the crowd assembled for the final pre-festival press conference in Toronto on Tuesday.

"You can sit in your pyjamas and order tickets to the festival," she enthused.

In my pajamas? Is there no end to what you can do on the information super highway?!! I can't wait for the day when I can do my banking or swap music files on-line!

Am I just cynical, or does anyone else think that any event that is this giddy about on-line sales in 2005 is going to screw it up miserably? All I'm saying is that if I end up with tickets to a Lars von Trier movie, I'm gonna sue!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Spicoli in Tehran

There has been a lot in the media lately about Iran. The controversial elections, the nuclear threat, the war in the country next door that has practically the same name! It's all very confusing. Luckily, the first piece in Sean Penn's much awaited series on his trip to Iran has finally been published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Sean will clear it all up for us.

It's the week preceding presidential elections. Candidates attack one another's credibility. Activists push to boycott the vote. Traffic and pollution choke the cities. Leftists support a no-win idealist. Preachers guide their flocks toward political starboard. The media have fallen under the grip of standing power, and should they defy it, they're imprisoned. University students promote human rights, while fundamentalists deny them. It is a culture in love with cinema. With Brad Pitt. Angelina Jolie. And anything Steven Spielberg. It is a nation of nuclear power, where the lobbies of the religious right effectively blur the lines between church and state. But it is also a country of good and hospitable people. And when the local team wins a big match, there is dancing, kissing, drinking and drugs in the streets. Women are graduating the campuses in higher and higher numbers, occupying government in higher and higher numbers. Sound familiar?
Wow, Sean, yes. Iran sounds just like America! Remember when the Canadian journalist went to the States a couple of years back and took pictures of a prison and was arrested and murdered by the government? Oh, wait, that was Iran. Okay, well, remember how the government executed two teenagers in Memphis in July just for been gay? No, that was in Mashhad. That's Iran too, right? Well, alright, you do mention the grip that the media has fallen under. I will grant you that point. Because, in America, Fox News is popular and right wing and changing the channel is hard when you left the remote on the other side of the room, and in Iran independant newspapers are shut down by the state, satellite dishes are illegal and bloggers have been imprisoned just for blogging. Which, you know, is pretty much the same thing.

I'm all for showing that Iranians are not all crazy fundamentalist Muslims. It is a very important point to be made. But the Iranian state is still very repressive. This is not the same thing as having an freely elected government that you don't like. This type of comparison is only slightly less infuriating than the Bush as Hitler analogy. It's lazy thinking, and it is offensive to people who have actually been oppressed by their governments.

Personally, I think I preferred Sean Penn when he was beating up paparazzi and smacking Madonna around (come to think of it, I preferred her then too).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Missing the Point

So our Governor-General-to-be, Michaelle Jean, has publicly declared that she is committed to federalism. I for one am incredibly relieved. After all, it is an extremely important position: she represents the Queen in Canada. It took many hundreds of years of careful imbreeding to create the delicate balance of ugly and stupid that is the House of Windsor and you can't just let anyone represent them.

'Lemon, I can't believe you are being so glib about this', I hear you thinking to yourselves (or is that just the voices again?). Don't get me wrong. I think that the fact that the Prime Minister picked a GG whose commitment to the country can be questioned at all is kinda sad (but that's what happens when you let Liberals make decisions). But I find it much sadder that we don't get to pick our head of state. It is the 21st Century and we have a monarch. And not even our own. We have to share her. Am I the only one that thinks this is the bigger problem?

No one has ever really been able to explain to me why constitutional monarchies make sense. There's that old lie about "stability" that my history teacher used to feed me. But seriously, am I to believe that if we had an elected head of state that all of a sudden the country would become an ungovernable mess? When was the last time that the Queen (or her chosen representative) stepped in to resolve one of our problems? I know things can get pretty hairy with the health care debates in this country sometimes, but somehow I don't envision King Charles using his superior intellect to solve the dilemna.

I'm also not buying the whole argument that we have to have some head of state so why not the Queen. Because that's just laziness, which I don't think is generally a great quality in a nation. I don't want to suggest that it would solve our problems of national identity, but it might help a little if we had a head of state that we actually believed in.

My favourite of all the arguments for keeping the monarchy is that it distinguishes us from the Americans. No matter how bad an idea is, as long as the Yanks didn't have it first, cling on to it for dear life. Let's all go barefoot in January... they'd never think of that!

So yes, Michaelle Jean was a horrible choice -- even ignoring her attitudes about separatism. But when you're picked to represent a woman who is basically trailer trash with lots of money and a castle, it is hard to get concerned. Wake me up when the country cares about the bigger issue.