Is North America Really Devoid Of Culture?


I once had a professor who came to Canada from a communist occupied European country. How he got out of there, God only knows. He was a tight-lipped, taciturn fellow and generally hard to talk to.

One day I tried to talk to him about where he came from. He admitted the standard of living was higher in Canada. But when I humored him on the degree of culture in the old country, he sort of scowled in assent that things were vastly superior in Europe.

I didn’t really agree with that. I was just feeling him out for a response. He tended to give predictable, almost robotic replies to standard questions.

Since then, the encounter got me thinking about the uniqueness of North American culture. I’m tempted to say American culture but in Canada, we have our own thing. And we are equally exposed to both streams. So for me, it’s North American culture.

Take, for instance, this 13-second clip of a TV crew setting up a few blocks away from where I live. We get a lot of this in Toronto. American productions are pretty common up here because of tax credits, the favorable exchange rate, and the great similarity between the US and Canadian landscapes.

I asked a member of the crew how long the scene would be.

“A minute or two,” he replied.

Amazed by the degree of preparation for just a short scene, I chatted with him a while longer before he was called back to work.

The segment will be in a CBC TV show called Workin’ Moms. I admit I’ve never seen it. But the scenario gave me a whole new appreciation for the cool and coordinated crew.

And this was just a short TV stint. Can you imagine how long and involved the planning and execution of a Hollywood blockbuster must be?

To me, it’s not unlike the making the Egyptian pyramids. Seriously. I really believe the art of moving pictures is amazing. And I’ve always disagreed with snobs who think it’s somehow inferior to literature, painting, sculpture, music or architecture.

Ignorance breeds arrogance. Just like the professor who escaped to Canada but strangely feels the old world is more refined.

cbc

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