The average Canadian can probably reel off two dozen famous “Americans” who actually hail from this country without so much as taking a breath. Deriving from a combination of national pride and collective insecurity, claiming ownership over those who have found success abroad is one of our national personality quirks.
Personally, I couldn’t name a song by Justin Bieber or Avril Lavigne, but I know they are Canadians who made it big somewhere else. Others might claim Paul Schaffer, Wayne Gretzky, Jim Carrey, Céline Dion, Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Pinker, Peter Jennings, Matthew Perry, Sarah Polley and on and on. (If I’ve whetted your appetite, here’s an extensive list of famous Canadians.)
I was thinking of this while watching Olympics coverage, when CTV’s Brian Williams was interviewing the Canadian parents of Missy Franklin who is competing for the US in London. “Is it okay for Canadians to root for Missy?” he asked them. As if we would pass up the opportunity to lay claim to any thread that ties an international star to this country.
I had asthma as a kid. And a lazy eye. And a glorious lack of speed, strength and dexterity. I could never climb a rope, or do the flexed-arm hang, although I did have an above-average knack for getting smacked in the face by assorted pucks, balls, rackets and other team-sport weapons.
“Nurse, come quick! Get this boy an extra-large roll of gauze and a membership card for the chess club.”
That was me.
When I spoke recently to Faye Mishna about online bullying, she showed me, as an aside, a video of an iPad-savvy one-year-old who can’t work out why magazine images don’t scroll and zoom at the touch of a finger.
The video concludes with the line, “For my 1 year old daughter, a magazine is an iPad that does not work. It will remain so for her whole life. Steve Jobs has coded a part of her OS.”
Way to freak me out, Internet.
Neither bullied nor bullier be.
It’s a good philosophy, but incomplete. So I learned from talking to Faye Mishna about Karen Klein. Mishna researches bullying – cyber bullying in particular – at the University of Toronto. Klein is a 68-year-old bus monitor from Rochester, NY, made famous in a stomach-turning, 10-minute YouTube video of teenage boys intimidating and taunting her crassly, cruelly and mercilessly. They taunt her about her weight, her hearing aid, and most devastatingly, her son’s suicide.
However tempting it might be to write these boys off as monsters or budding psychopaths, Mishna doesn’t believe they can be written off so simply.
Is Richard Lachman a technophobe’s nightmare or protector? Though the Ryerson researcher might appear to be the former, he is, in fact, the latter.
Lachman is deeply embedded in a new, multi-faceted, technology-intensive storytelling movement called “transmedia.” If that makes you shudder, fear not – transmedia is all about great stories, not great gadgets. Transmedia goes beyond the now-standard adaptation of books into movies, movies into video games, video games into TV shows and so on.
Transmedia tales can use all of these platforms, but the creators respect the unique character of each medium: They consider each channel’s strengths and weaknesses and its natural audiences. The story that works on the movie screen is likely not the same as the one that works for the comic book miniseries.