Here are the last of the photos from my 18-month-stint in Zhongshan, Guangdong, China. NEXT: Chile!
I wanted to know who did it. I was so anxious to know I was on Twitter all day. Which, we should know, is a BAD place to get up-to-date news.
I realized yesterday afternoon I was contributing to the bile by even looking at it, and made myself log out.
In the end, one person was arrested.
From now on, BE PATIENT. Police have a job to do, LET THEM do it.
STOP getting your news off Twitter. STOP. I know that’s hard, given the possible forced deportations which no one can find out anything about. BUT, this happened in CANADA. For right now, we do still have some reliable media outlets. Here they are.
Vote with your money: Start PAYING for news again. We have to. News has gone downhill, and Part of the reason is likely because ad revenue has cratered, so they feel compelled to take “native advertising” and pander to customers instead of sticking to journalistic integrity. PAY FOR reliable news so they can pay reporters and researchers to do the work.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
My goodness. That went well!
But it’s not remotely over yet. Next: the “hard” part.
Immediately after the inauguration, The Village Voice published a series of mini-interviews done with attendees. The very first interviewee said that the new president’s words were being parsed by the media, and he didn’t believe that all of things the president said were in fact going to happen, that it was his, very good, way of saying he was simply putting the US’s interests first. When asked if he had in fact voted for Trump, this man answered:
“No, I’m a Canadian citizen.”
I’m not linking to that article, because I don’t want to contribute to that person being tracked down and bile thrown at him over the internet — if you want to read it yourself, you’ll have no trouble finding it.
The fact that Canada has not one but two proponents of the new president’s ideology running for the PC leadership (you know who I mean — I’m not furthering the indignity they’ve heaped on other people), and that this ideology has support in Canada, might make clear-headed Canadians panic and say “no, we DON’T have time! It’s inevitable.”
It’s NOT inevitable. If you believe that, you’ve said you’re going to do nothing. Which is what happened before and during WWII. THAT’S were we are now. That is NOT inevitable in Canada, we CAN stop it.
And it’s, again, very simple, BUT. Turnout for the 2015 federal election was the highest in ages, yet over 30% of voters still didn’t show up. The only way to prove to the right-wing that the majority does not agree with them IS to utterly prove the majority is against them…that is, to VOTE AGAINST THEM.
The only way to not let either of those those potential PCs have power, is to NOT let them have that power. If the majority of Canadians don’t vote for a party, they don’t get the power to enact what they want to do.
Yes, we have first-past-the-post, we’ve had minority governments in recent history, blah blah. We somehow allowed Harper in power for 10 years, and finally, enough Canadians got sick of him to hand him a resounding Defeat. We can, and we must, keep fascism out of the Canadian parliament. And we can. By voting.
So do it.
The horrors have been coming so thick and fast that no one can process them all. Which is part of the strategy, clearly: throw in all the immigration, abortion, and press bans, one right after the other, and there are too many things to nail down and protest.
Which is why I am — for the moment — still happy and relieved to be Canadian. Because we still have time.
The solution is very simple, so simple we already know what it is, but it does take work. Part of the issue has been simple complacency, the old “we took for granted” that racism, sexism, and hate speech weren’t as bad in Canada, and we made the false assumption that “not as bad as” meant “no problem at all.” Pretty obvious now that assumption was incorrect. So the obvious, simple way to combat all that is to: STOP. IT.
People who aren’t white are being harassed. When you see that, stop it. Call the police. Yell. Start carrying a black marker with you, and when you see hate propaganda posters anywhere, DON’T tear them down, but write this across them: Section 319 (1) . That’s “hate speech”, in the Criminal Code of Canada.
CANADIANS EVERYWHERE, in Canada, living outside of it, ALL OF YOU:
And if the new president wants to get shirty, I am willing to live without avocados. I survived without a car most of my adult life. If things get so tough that I can’t get a job in Canada, I now have the ability to teach pretty much anywhere in the world, and come back…thanks to my Canadian passport. That’s how lucky I am.
Refugees — NOT “migrants” for god’s sake! — are worse than unlucky. They are in danger. People who are anything but white-Caucasian, are in danger.
Canada is better than the US. Prove it, and make the people we elected to represent us prove it.
My mom died when I was fourteen. Remember that for later.
When I was 17, I knew a guy at my Roman-Catholic high school named Jason. He was tall, nice-looking, and the prototypical life of the party. He died of a massive heart attack when we were in grade 12. He’d had a congenital heart defect which he and his family knew about — but very few people at school did. Our school held a memorial service for him, and I happened to sit near the front. I clearly saw Jason’s closest friend, and later wrote in my journal “Please help him God, he looks like I did three years ago.”
He was sitting in the pews beside the altar. With the family.
My first thought when George Michael died was for Andrew Ridgeley. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go was released in 1984. I was 9 years old, in grade 4. I loved George, obviously, but it was Andrew I had a crush on – he looked more attainable to me (for a superstar adult who lived in Britain). He looked nice. It always bothered me a bit whenever I heard a joke about him years later (“the other one from Wham!”), because I had felt overlooked all the time too. But think about this: they’d known each other since they were 17 years old. He was likely the first person George ever told he was gay…in the early 80s. Yes, George Michael was the utterly talented, charismatic sex symbol. Yet I think it’s now very clear, there would have been no George Michael without Andrew.
And in the same week…Carrie Fisher. Whom I adored so much in When Harry Met Sally, but who had to forever after be Princess Leia. Princess. A princess who can lead an army, shoot a laser, fix a spaceship… oh that’s not normal? Oh well, that’s what 10-year-old me thought a princess was. Sorry Disney. Another reason I looked up to her: she was so pretty, yet not unachievably beautiful, like the supermodels my sisters and friends and I were inundated with in the 80s and 90s. , Carrie Fisher I could actually look like! (I didn’t remotely resemble her, but I felt I could.)
Amongst the explosions, taun-tauns, Ewoks, and VADER, my favourite scene in all the Star Wars movies is Luke asking Leia about her mother. Yes, I loved, loved, loved Han and Leia, but I identified with Luke and Leia. They were destined to be best friends. And I always felt that same twinge about Mark Hamill whenever I heard a joke about him. Whatever else happened (or didn’t) after, he was Luke Skywalker. And there would have been no Princess Leia, no Carrie, without Mark.
Hug your closest friends. Be the best friend who becomes family.
I’m still in China, here until February. I had yesterday off work, and I didn’t sleep the night of 8 November (here, because I live in the future). I was anxious about the election in a country I’m not a citizen of, on the opposite side of the world. I sat up at 7 am yesterday, turned on my VPN (because I’m in China), and the shaky live-feed of CBC news because I wanted — hoped — to watch the first woman ever be elected President of the United States.
I don’t want to talk about the reasons the other candidate got in instead — I follow Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter, and she has NEVER referred to him by name on her feed, and neither will I. I can’t dwell on how a woman who has spent all her life in public service lost to someone like…that. And since I’m not American, I don’t live there, and even if I did, I’m white, I’m not even immediately affected, personally, by what’s happened.
Canada is utterly dependent upon the US economically, and our language and cultures make it a permanent fact that I’ll be mistaken for American outside the US. So, there are meta, existential, personal-vanity issues I have with the election’s results.
These are my genuine worries. Half of the popular vote in the election put that man in office, and:
- one of my former co-workers here in China, and my closest friend here, returned home — to the US — in the spring. She’s black. Just typing that has made me stop breathing for a second.
- my sister, brother-in-law, and their daughter live in the US. Daughter. My niece. Little girl. In the United States.
- Being a theatre person, I have met or social-media-communicated with other American theatre people. Some of whom are gay. Some of whom are women. ALL of whom are theatre people, in America, now.
- Half of the popular vote in the election — voters, people — have just told all these people they don’t matter.
- That half of voters genuinely believe that all the non-white people are going to made miserable — why they’d want that, that…I can’t fathom — but all THEIR wishes are going to come true. Everyone is going to be miserable. Half of the US wants misery, and that boggles me.
- I’m a woman. Canada has its issues with pay equity, misogyny, and…sexual assault. That the US has just told the world they think this is all okay, is NOT OKAY.
I’m scared for the people I personally know in the US. I’m scared about how the US will affect Canada. I’m scared because I’m not even in Canada right now, and I more feel alone and vulnerable than I ever have in my life.
And as for the nuclear codes. What is there to say about that except:
I am a theatre junkie. Kabuki is at least as old as Shakespeare. It’s one of THE drama traditions I heard about as soon as I decided theatre was my life. Going to a kabuki play was on my must-do list while I was in Tokyo, but it was also felt, for me, like going to a cathedral and I hadn’t been to confession.
It was utterly amazing. It was actually four short pieces I saw, which — with intervals when you could get full meals and beer to have at your seat! — was three and half hours long. The style of acting and the men playing women (I’ll need to post about that separately—because) took some getting used to, because it’s so utterly different from any show I’ve ever seen before, and that’s part of the reason it was enthralling.
Everything I felt seeing my first kabuki was wrapped up in what I’d felt earlier that day while trying to track down Oiwa…the main character in one of Japan’s creepiest ghost stories, most famous kabuki plays (I didn’t see that one, sadly), and many of the country’s successful horror films.
I have presumed to put her into one of my stories…the short film I started work on in France over the summer, and the related feature-length screenplay I just drafted. They both concern domestic violence, culture clashes, racism, sexism, revenge, and guilt.
Theatre people are, put mildly, superstitious. We call it “The Scottish Play” or “McBoo”. We leave a “ghost light” on in the middle of the stage when the theatre is otherwise empty and dark. And in Japan, whenever an actor onstage, or an actress on film, takes the role of Oiwa, they go to her shrine in Tokyo and ask Oiwa’s permission to play her.
And that’s what I did too.
The trope of the Maiden Ghost, based on Oiwa, has appeared in so many incarnations now that she’s thrown the first pitch in a baseball game. Which sounds silly, but I find it actually shows that Japan takes her as seriously as kabuki; she is embedded in Japanese culture — everyone knows her, and everyone, in a strange way, loves her. She embodies something genuinely wrong — vengeance — but it’s something everyone understands and has, at some point, wanted against someone else. I’m frightened by and enthralled by her.
I hope it’s not cultural appropriation — Gore Verbinski’s remade Ringu, quite well, I thought. Yes, I went to visit Tokyo to see the city, yes I met up with an old friend who’s been in Japan 14 years. However…I also went to Tokyo specifically to visit Oiwa’s shrine and ask “is this okay?” I hope it is.