Not any more

The Real Canada got that groovy thang – the PM, not so much

In Canada on August 31, 2010 at 09:26

I come back with news – there are only two Canada’s. Coming to grips with this crazy place has nothing to do with multiple regions and this coast or that coast. There’s the Official Canada and the Real Canada. That’s it. Stick with me here.

First, this: Barack Obama is all over TV tonight. A Presidential Address at 8 p.m. on multiple U.S. channels, about Iraq, Afghanistan and what happens next. You can say a lot about Obma, and people do, but you can never say he’s hiding. Guy shows up, speaks directly to the camera and gets on with it. Can’t imagine him on TV, posturing on an ice floe, pretending to be on-guard for the free world and stuff. Not like some people.

Last week, watching TV at home as a civilian, was vastly entertaining. On occasion, without a drop of drink taken, I was in stitches. It seemed that every time I turned on the darn machine, there was Our Glorious Leader, up North. OGL waved at the people of the North. He made speeches for the TV cameras, and carefully positioned himself to ensure that there was a navy ship behind him and some military plane above him. The alleged charisma of OGL, a grey-haired, bespectacled, potbellied, middle-aged career economist, was meant to be enhanced by the setting and the props. And fair enough. Military boats, planes and waving at the people for the TV cameras. It’s a Glorious Leader thing, wherever the grass grows.

Next thing I knew, there was real news out of this stunt. OGL got jiggy with the locals. Or, at least, he was seen on TV waving his arms slightly and suggesting a faint movement of the hips, while others danced around him. And that’s not all – later he got into an ATV, strapped on a helmet and took the vehicle for a spin along the airport tarmac. Unscheduled moment, people. Thus he moved and he danced, sort of. While the sound of an amazed and admiring country gasping in disbelief echoed across the land, I tuned in to So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

Around about then, it struck me – there are currently two Canada’s existing side-by-side. Official Canada and Real Canada. You can see both on TV most nights of the week.

In the Official Canada, obviously embodied in Our Glorious Leader, one gets the impression that fun is rare, frowned upon, free movement of the body practically gets you arrested and being nimble is being naughty. Bounding and romping is pretty much banned and grinding your hips could land you in the hoosegow. The best things in life are discipline and routine. And going to Tim’s for a double-double. There’s no time for the art and pleasure of dance in this Canada.

In a country that considers it a newsworthy revelation that the Leader might occasionally loosen up and be having a little fun, it is downright bizarre to watch So You Think You Can Dance Canada (CTV, 8:30 P.M.). On the show, dancing and movement are life itself. Oh sure, it’s camp and occasionally outrageous, but it embodies joy and it’s dead sexy. Some of the routines would make you blush, such is the unrestrained celebration of sensuality and the beauty of movement – all those sensations and emotions that cannot be expressed in words, but only in movement. That’s the Real Canada, I think. The Canada not so concerned with words and slogans and talking points.

Ironically, mind you, the joy and beauty of dance only arrive after rigorous discipline and routine. Hard work – the events not seen on TV – is what makes it look glorious. And that includes the sexy tango and the salsa routines.

We’re in a sad state when the sight of the Leader loosening up a little is major news. The leader needs to visit So You Think You Can Dance Canada and then the two Canada’s can meet, as they must. On TV. Don’t count on it though.

Airing Tonight

Life with Murder (CTV, 10 p.m.) is both profoundly compelling and a testament to director John Kastner’s great skills at as a documentary filmmaker. Kastner, a multiple Emmy-winner, spent years with the Jenkins family as they dealt with the death of the daughter. In 1998, in Chatham, Ont., 18-year-old Jennifer Jenkins was murdered, shot five times. Her older brother, Mason Jenkins, was the main suspect from the start and eventually convicted of first-degree murder. He maintained his innocence, and his parents went through the extraordinary pain of supporting him, even as they learned ever-more gruesome details about the murder. What we see here (the full-length, two-hour version, acclaimed at Hot Docs, will air this Saturday, CTV, 7 p.m.) is a family under unimaginable pressure, in agony. The pressure affects family members differently and the local community is deeply suspicious, bewildered by the family’s actions. What happens has an epic quality, deeply poignant and yes, there is a major revelation. Must-see TV.

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