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Culture

  • ‘Twin Peaks’ and the end of history

    In Twin Peaks: The Return, the evils of empire bubble up in ways that are peculiar and scary, but which always point irrevocably toward a sense of decline. In many ways, the season is a lament for American imperialism, and the pile of victims it has accrued on its single-minded drive toward the annihilation of its enemies, which will ultimately lead to the annihilation of itself.

  • ‘Shang-Chi’ and the politics of liberal representation

    Shang-Chi’s diasporic achievements in representation, both in its cast and crew, are remarkable considering the long history of anti-Asian racism in the Western film industry. The film’s Asian identity is international, undeniable, and unwieldy, revealing weaving histories that bring to question the limits to liberal representation and its expressions in the film industry today.

  • Lana Del Rey’s American dream

    Two of America’s best songwriters released new albums during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first was Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways, a deep-dive into the sickness of American society. The second is Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club. Over eleven new songs and one cover, Del Rey presents a starkly different image of America and what it means to exist, navigate, and create in these difficult and confusing times.

  • Is music’s crypto moment a boon for artists or a symbol of the market’s worst impulses?

    With the arts facing a host of market failures, the promise of disruption and decentralization offered by 2021’s buzziest acronym—NFTs, or non-fungible tokens—seems messianic to a nascent class of techno-optimists who seem eager to come to the aid of the starving artists among us. Unfortunately, however, NFTs look to be more like an expression of venture capitalism and commodification than a salve to the world’s ailing creative industries.

  • ‘No Country for Old Men’ and 40 years of Reagan’s America

    On the fortieth anniversary of Reagan’s inauguration, it is worth contemplating the lasting effects of his administration’s policies on communities throughout the United States. No Country for Old Men presents this shift as a modern reincarnation of the inhuman brutality and rugged individualism of the Wild West. With today’s unprecedented socioeconomic inequality, it is an analysis that grows only more prescient with time.

  • ‘Never forget it’: Black History Month and police brutality

    There are myriad ways in which people can honour Black History Month. Listening to the stories and narratives of Black Canadians, as expressed in poetry, art, and music is one good way. Hip-hop storytellers like Ottawa’s City Fidelia serve as a vital voice, one uniquely positioned in history with a subjective awareness of racism, while also speaking of the lived experiences of Black and brown people in Canada in the present.

  • Stage left: Fighting precarity in the cultural industries

    For the past several years, worker organizing and strike action in the cultural sector have been on the rise throughout North America. While cultural workers with greater strategic leverage have carried out successful strike actions, those working in precarious situations have faced greater obstacles. This is particularly true for freelance and other arts workers with less stable forms of employment—which is to say the vast majority.

  • Anti-maskers, the alt-right, and leftist messaging

    Last week, hundreds of people gathered in Winkler, Manitoba to publicly oppose their school division’s COVID-19 precautions. This was the latest anti-mask rally in a string of demonstrations across Canada in recent months. While the rallies themselves aren’t particularly threatening, the messaging being used by demonstrators is plucked straight from the lexicon of progressive social justice movements. And that is cause for concern.

  • Watching football in Trumpland: Sports and the populist right

    Culture informs politics, and politics inform culture. The often confounding questions of why people vote against their own interests, get swept up in conspiracy theories, or rally behind politicians who only seek to further their own agenda has answers that can be difficult to articulate, given the complex intersections at play. But to understand it, we don’t need to look much further than the field.

  • The hidden cost of cuts to a French campus in Alberta

    What does a budget cut for the University of Alberta have to do with honouring the continuation of the linguistic and cultural communities that make up a multinational federation like Canada? It starts with the fact that this university is home to the only French speaking centre for higher education west of Manitoba—Faculté Saint-Jean.

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