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volume 12, issue 4 // february 2013


FIMS alternative student publication






Disclaimer: The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. Its contents do not reflect the opinion of the University Students Council of the University of Western Ontario (USC). The USC assumes no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such information by the reader.

Western life
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Up With Students: Where Wente Went Wrong
// Jas Irwin

INSIDE YOULL FIND feature articles

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A New Machine // Jordan Pearson Drawing the Line Online // Emily Fister

openwide // FEBRUARY ISSUE

Lately all I can think about is building. I dont know why. All I know is that I want to feel a hammer in my hand and a shiver up my arm when I strike a nail square on the head, driving it into a plank of wood. I think we all feel the need to build - to create and construct. I could take a Marxist perspective here and say that all value stems from work, but Ill spare you the theory. I just want to build. A building year seems to me to be an especially terrible and buzzword-y way to describe three hundred and sixty-five days of development, but sometimes apt is apt enough. I really do feel like this has been a building year in a lot of ways. For me, personally, and for this publication. A lot of wonderful people have put a lot of hard work into this thing over the past five months, and will continue to do so. And look at what weve built together! If I were a farmer, Id be wiping my brow and stepping back to gaze out at row upon perfectly planted row of golden wheat at harvest time. But, sadly, I am a writer and so Im staring at the harsh glow of an LCD monitor instead. I still feel good about it, though. What Ive learned - so far, and among many things - is that building takes a lot of work, a lot of people to help, and a hell of a lot of just-hanging-in-there. But I have also learned that if the labour is for something you truly believe in, then it will always be a labour of love and itll shake out okay in the end. Things that you believe to be true and good are worth taking a risk on and thats the honest-to-Marx truth. Maybe something in here will inspire you to gather people around you and build something great. I would be very pleased about that.



Beyond Awareness: Grappling with Racism on Campus // Cindy Ma Structures of Control: Architectural Forensics on Campus // Elizabeth Sarjeant



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Christine Clark // Kevin Hurren Poetry // Emilee Nimetz & Travis Welowszky

arts & entertainment

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Hushpuppys Wise Words: American Filmmaking Forgets the World // Bradley Metlin Cartoon Porn & Pocket Monsters // Kyle Simons Investing in the Virtual // Emily Stewart

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Revolution Blues: The Case Against Canadian Radical Political Action // Andrew Dundee Corner Store Enlightenment // Sam Ballard Vacuum-Packed Violence in the Digital Age // Ainsleigh Burelle

// Spot the Difference! // Who Wore it Best? // Headlines // Alternative Spring Break // New Facebook Study

up with students
where wente went wrong
Sure, keep the standards high, but leave us a culture of support, collectivity and community to achieve in.
I want ten minutes in a room to argue with Margaret Wente. Get in line, you say. Its a long line, and it wont shorten because of any apology from Wente or change of heart, but rather the inevitable ravages of time and mortality. I want my personal ten minutes to confront her about the much-discussed article she wrote in December called University Isnt Meant to Be Easy. In it, she criticizes efforts by universities to lighten studentss workloads and implement stress reducing programming in the wake of reports that student anxiety is reaching epidemic levels. Her article describes a generation of students - our generation - who are timid, lazy, pampered, and out of their element; being rubber stamped on a university conveyor belt of mediocrity while crying for help. It was, needless to say, incredibly flattering. Gary Mason, her colleague at The Globe and Mail wrote a vague but well-intentioned response defending the dedication of current students (thanks, Gary) and providing fodder for the continuing discourse. However, several fundamental problems persist with this ongoing debate and how it is being conducted. Firstly, this discussion has been largely dominated by baby boomers and over-40s (which Mason hilariously called the stoner generation) instead of actual university students who just might be a valuable resource when discussing what university is like. FIMS student Marie-France Roche spurred some valuable discussion in the comments section and garnered quite a few likes for speaking her mind. But student response should not have been relegated to the comments section, especially when students were the topic of conversation. Wente is disgusted that universities infantilize students, yet she condescends them without a platform for them to engage with her as adults. Secondly, in this discussion, systemic and structural issues (grade inflation and class hours) and student character failings (missed deadlines and the reviled partying) are being used to condemn small efforts to improve mental health and create an inclusive campus. The problems that provoke the most vitriol from baby boomers have little to no connection to the paltry expenditures or concessions the university has been making for student programming. The main thread running throughout the column is Wente railing against attempts to go softer on students. The examples she cites include pet and yoga therapy for student anxiety, a longer and more spread-out exam schedule, and late night snacks at the library, etc. She then goes on to talk about student passivity and laziness, as though university pampering fostered already present notions of specialness and entitlement. Wente qualifies her criticism by first acknowledging that few students get through university without some encounter with depression, anxiety, panic, hysteria, anorexia, bulimia, loneliness, heartbreak, acute crises of identity or even suicidal thoughts. Some students are more fragile than others. Its cruel to tell them to just suck it up. She then proceeds to tell those students to suck it up. I was criticizing her article in the car as my dad drove me home one day, and he cut me off. I hear what youre saying, but did you hear what theyre doing in Halifax? he asked. I hadnt. He looked at me significantly, tilting his chin down. Theyre bringing in therapy dogs. Dogs. For the students to pet during exam periods. The way he said it, you would have thought they were bringing in Justin Bieber to hand-weave dreamcatchers at Versailles. I had to explain to him that we had been doing that exact thing at Western for years, and that it was free and a common way for retirees to give back to the community. So what was it, exactly, about nice local people and their pets hanging out with young students for an evening that screams opulence? And yet for Wente, and for so many others, gestures like this serve to demonstrate what is wrong with university culture today, instead of a small granule of what is actually right. What is funny is that Iand probably many of my peerswould agree with many of the criticisms Wente levels at universities. Yes, students are pushed too emphatically towards university when there are many other ways to become successful or measure selfworth. Yes, grades that are inflated in high school do a huge disservice in preparing students for post-secondary education. Yes, the job market is a Darwinian nightmare where only the fittest will survive. Thanks for noticing, Margaret. However, I disagree with her characterization of the people I attend school with - many smart, resilient, hard-working and compassionate young adults - as entitled, mindless victims with one thumb up their ass and the other texting their deets into iFlirtz (Wentes top match might be Glenn Beck). I disagree that we have been educated in a system that believes stress and setbacks are bad, where nobody is allowed to fail and deadlines are mere suggestions. See, I exist in a world where if someone wants to be a speech therapist, they cant just have a 90 average and be a nice person. They have to have started a non-profit in daycare or self-funded a service trip to Burkina Faso (do the Burkina Fasans actually want student help? Doesnt matter, I want to be an opthamologist). But even if we accept her account of student character and student environment as true, what she so disdainfully lampoons in her article (attempts to de-stress students) has nothing to do with creating the problem of student entitlement or navet, and trying to frame it as such trivializes the real problems students face. But thats not to say that there isnt criticism that students, perhaps, deserve. Shame on us for feeling badly about efforts to reduce anxiety instead of being prepared to tackle and confront reasons why systemic anxiety exists. Tuition has gone up by nearly two thousand dollars in four years, while summer jobs are becoming harder to find. Our professors are paid a pittance by universities eliminating tenured positions. We have less class hours than baby boomers because the school cant afford to allow us more class hours. Why would we spend our energy and efforts negotiating over yoga sessions instead of negotiating to solve so many of the real issues we need to confront? We just downward dog and take it gratefully, because were told its more than we deserve. Wentes framework of some students are supposed to make it and some arent re-enforces the cutthroat, competitive and isolationist culture that creates so many of the anxiety problems at universities. Sure, keep the standards high, but leave us a culture of support, collectivity and community to achieve in. Building up student esteem is an activity entirely independent of pumping up their grades, and confusing them is ridiculous. Insert plagiarizing innuendo here.

openwide // western life


Jas Irwin

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OPENWIDE v12 // 5

openwide // Western life

beyond awareness
Grappling with Racism on Campus
In the culminating event of Westerns Ethnocultural Awareness Week this past November, a banner covered in students handprints was raised over the UCC atrium. This feel-good poster embodied the prevailing attitude towards the issue of race on campus, signifying a commitment to tolerance and diversity. Its reflective of a wider narrative in Canada as a whole: we are a quilt of many colours, living proof that multiculturalism can, and does, flourish today. Priding ourselves on a policy of multiculturalism, Canadians tend to envision our country as the promised land of racial tolerancethe final stop on the Underground Railroad, a cultural mosaic to Americas melting pot. We shake our heads in disgust at the continued racism that plays out daily in the United States while remaining largely silent on the living conditions facing First Nations communities in our own country. An uncritical touting of multiculturalism and a polite silence on the topic of racism have become part and parcel of our national identity, a way of distinguishing ourselves from our backwards southern neighbours. In truth, the reality of race relations both in Canada and on our own campus is not so rosy. While anti-homophobia and womens anti-violence campaigns are visible throughout campus, we rarely see substantial efforts at tackling racism, save for the occasional Hurrah for diversity! In a notable discussion at 2 Girls 5 Gays: Bisexual Edition, an event hosted by PrideWestern in October, one of the panellists revealed that she faced far less discrimination over her sexuality than she did over her race. While it is counter-productivenot to mention futileto debate which identity is more alienated, comments such as these reveal just how acutely racism continues to plague campus life. It may even be present in subtle and insidious ways: giggles at nonAnglophone names, eye-rolls at foreign accents, and gross generalizations made daily about those deemed Other. This inability of the Self to humanize the Otherto not only tolerate but empathize with those who are different from ourselvesremains largely unaddressed by events such as Ethnocultural Awareness Week. Despite good intentions, events like this can further essentialize other cultures and reduce them to their most basic elements. Booths dedicated to Japanese calligraphy, salsa lessons, or hijab tutorials may constitute a celebration of diversity, but they also solidify pre-existing stereotypes that students already hold, reducing rich cultures with long histories to easily digestible demonstrations. Ultimately, the average Western students experience of Ethnocultural Awareness Week amounts to a feelgood walk through the atrium and perhaps a selfcongratulatory pat-on-the-back for attending such a diverse school. Acknowledging that Ethnocultural Support Services is still a relatively new service on campus, VP Campus Issues Myuri Komaragiri hopes for events like Ethnocultural Awareness Week to stir the pot a bit more in the future. In the years to come Id like to see a lot more discussion, she says. I want people to look forward to that week as a time for them to share their experiences, talk about whats going on, and not shy away from debate or discussion. If there is racism on this campus, we need to know about it, and we need to discuss it. Only then can we get any better. Komaragiris vision is a step in the right direction. Only by sharing stories of racism and the deeply-felt impact that such experiences have on the people who go through them can we force students to re-evaluate their own attitudes. Only by highlighting the continued discrimination that individuals face can we disrupt the narrative of blissful multiculturalism that is so dominant todaya pretty picture that remains, at its core, a fabrication.

Cindy Ma

Elizabeth Sarjeant

Architectural Forensics on Campus
do with concrete. One of the things you can do with it is make students feel like prisoners. Brutalism embodies an elitist and even authoritarian approach characteristic of the styles key influencer, worldrenowned architect Le Corbusier. Inspired by the rise of mass culture in the early 1900s, Le Corbusier wrote of his design vision, We must create a mass production state of mind. The architects drawings drip with bureaucratic rationality. He dreamt of an entire globe crawling with Weldons and Social Sciences Centres posing shamelessly as homes, churches, and coffee shops. Le Corbusier wouldnt have stopped at concrete beaches; hed make gardens, playgrounds and sports fields into breeding grounds for scraped knees. Architecture is inherently political. A look into the architectural forensics of our campus reveals a desire for structural control over students. In Do Artifacts Have Politics? Langdon Winner explains that grotesque concrete buildings and huge plazas built on university campuses in the late 60s and early 70s served to defuse student demonstrations. While McLean does acknowledge that Brutalist buildings at schools were a response to the countercultural movements of the 60s and 70s, he suggests architects of the time may have chosen the style because of its If you were a student at Western in the 1960s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the institution was referred to as the University of Western Ontario, you may actually have experienced the campus pre-Brutalism. This is not to say that three-hour lectures were any less torturous in the 1960s, or that midterm season lasted a reasonable couple of weeks instead of spanning most of each semester. Brutalism is a type of architecture we experience as a smattering of arguably hideous buildings looming above the more traditional stone structures on campus. Westerns own D. B. Weldon Library is amongst the most celebrated examples of the Brutalist style in Ontario. The University Fair posters were right; campus is generally good-looking. But while viewbooks praise our campuss Gothic architecture, natural atmosphere, and endless scenic locations to hang out with purple-clad pals, few have noted how the campus has been shaped to reach political ends. Weldon architects Ronald E. Murphy and John Andrews began conspiring in 1967, and the library doors were finally heaved open in 1973. According to Facilities Managements architectural expert Mike McLean, the building was constructed in response to a period of increased enrolment in the 60s. This growth reportedly coincided with wildly exciting advances in what you could uncompromising, anti-establishment nature. Alternatively, its reasonable to note that these angular boxes of reinforced concrete actually scream establishment. Ive never seen anything look more established. McLean defends Weldon as a symbol of community and gathering for students. But what does it say about the universitys response to counterculture at the height of students political involvement in the 1960s, that administration elected to swathe central gathering spots in unforgiving concrete? FIMS professor Edward Comor notes, Buildings like Social Science and Weldon now, paradoxically, deter students and faculty from using them. This is because theyre so uncomfortable to be in for extended periods of time. There is no evidence that the intent of Westerns architects was to create a hostile environment for student collectivization. Still, Comor sees the disempowering effect of Brutalist architecture; he says that these buildings serve as environments of control through the divide and rule strategy. Luckily, much of campus has been designed to encourage public gathering. Comor points out, builders have encouraged the use of different spaces in which a student consciousness can develop. OPENWIDE v12 // 7

structures of

illustrated by Kristina rowell

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christine clark

fims after hours


The Romantic Comedy One

My heart has long contradicted the movies and stories that raised me. The How-To-Lose-A-Freddie-Prince-Jr-Leigh-Cook-Best-Wedding-HughGrants-Never-Been-Kissed-Hardly-Wait-For-2-Weeks-BridgetsDiary-romantic comedies of the 90s have left me as confused as Jennifer Garner waking up 17 years older than she was yesterday Pre-teens gazing longingly at boys on screens Who give up their worlds for desperate love... But then what? Cause I never related to the girl who always gets the guy But rather the spinster with cats that pines for past loves who will never love them back except when they do I dont know why I sometimes conclude I wont ever have it. Put a bipolar Bradley Cooper and ferocious Jennifer Lawrence in front of me in fits of passion And I am wanting with a tear-soaked-chocolate-box-shaped heart. I cant deny that sometimes I want flowers. But spreading the love can get demanding And searching for it when it isnt handy Has me to my knees in doubts and never-read Plenty of Fish emails. Id throw in the towel completely if it werent for a bathtub and meditation Some days nothing makes me happier. Some days even a subtle glance from any genetically sound man under 30 Makes my ovaries want to jump outta my stomach and into a baby carriage as fast Meg Ryan can access her AOL account (And quicker than Tom Hanks figuring out that It Was Her All Along.) But I am sick from being dragged through 500 or more days of Summer. Id love to be okay with where I am without anyone. Id love to be okay with where I am when Im with someone. Id love to be okay by not expecting either And Id love to be rid of thoughts of credits rolling, and Happily Ever Afters. I cant tell if I have impulses to shout YOU love or ME love from rooftops! Can I just shout both from rooftops? Hold a boombox outside my own window, While listening to you holding a different boom box outside my other window? Because despite my anti-vs-pro dilemma with Harry and Sally, Where I curse Pretty Woman while dreaming to be like her, I mostly just think that its pretty fucking cool That you texted me back.

With my back turned towards The blue corner I have swung myself Into a desperate exhaustion And thus consuming All that consumes me (And so) I will buy books For new lovers Who do not read And I will pour drinks For old friends Who forgot my name And order the dark roast For uninspired writers Who can never sleep Because what we want Never seems To be exactly What we Need


Saying that fourth year FIMS student Christine Clark carries Big Purple Couch is true in more than one way. Before sitting down to talk about her experience in FIMS, Clark wrapped her petite arms around two large purple couch cushions and made her way across the UCC, refusing the help that was offered to her. Its this determination that has driven Clark to amass quite the list of accomplishments: Media Co-Coordinator of Westerns talk show Big Purple Couch, Current Affairs Director at Fanshawe Radio, and former Head Producer for Mustang TV. For Clark, the journey to this point in her life began four years ago with a three-way decision. I think everybody in our program had the same though choice between Carleton, Ryerson, and Western, says Clark, who eventually settled on the Media, Theory and Production program, specializing in Broadcast Journalism. This was the only program that offered the college, hands-on experience mixed with the theory and University experience. You get the best of both worlds. Despite her hectic Fanshawe schedule of reporting and running their radio station, Clark has always made time for Big Purple Couch, and is continuously trying to improve the show. We really wanted to get BPC out there promotions-wise so we were a lot more active during O-Week, and this year we reached out to a lot of the affiliate colleges. Getting people who arent in MIT to know about BPC is our big thing, says Clark, who laments that she didnt do more work with the show in her earlier years. I wish I would have gotten involved with BPC sooner, she

says. Now we have a first year reporter and we have people getting on camera, getting that experience right away. While the delay may not have been ideal for Clark, it certainly didnt slow her down as she became one of the shows hosts in her third year. I instantly loved it. Instantly. I just love being here, I love the atmosphere. After my first episode of being host I was like, This is what I want to do for the rest of my life Clark is well on . her way to doing just that, recently coming off a winter break internship in San Francisco with KGO Radio, an affiliate of ABC news. I came as an intern but they were really impressed with the work that I did. I was able to do the same work their reporters would have been doing, which is amazing because usually interns just get people coffee. As Clarks graduation draws near, she sees the likes of CTV, CBC, and 570 News at her fingertips but a career isnt the only thing at her fingertips. I actually just got engaged, so my plans are very exciting right now, she says. Between wedding plans, getting ready for elections with BPC, all of my programming requirements, and looking for full time work its really difficult. While it may be hard to juggle, Clark credits who she is today to FIMS. Its been really great just getting to know people in the program. I mean, a lot of people stereotype [the faculty] as hipsters, but theyre nice hipsters. You get along with people very well and I find its an open-minded faculty. You could be whoever you want to be.

Travis Welowszky

Emilee Nimetz
Emilee has a book which you can order on the internet Follow emilee nimetz on Twitter and Instagram @emileenim

OPENWIDE v12 // 9

a new machine
All that is solid melts into air
- karl marx Right now, most likely within your arms reach, is the culmination and physical manifestation of capitalisms most salient and pervasive narratives. It is a smartphone or, as is increasingly the case, a tablet. Mobile devices, connected to the Internet, have altered how we order our lives, manage our social interactions, navigate space, and produce as well as consume. All that is solid melts into air, wrote Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in The Communist Manifesto, regarding the bourgeois continual need to uproot and mutate the modes of production in capitalist society. These words have taken on a striking sense of prescience since the dominant mode of commodity production seems - in the developed world, at least - to have largely shifted into the ethereal realm of information. The definitions of work and worker have become increasingly complicated - not that they were simple to begin with - now that nearly everyone is working nearly all the time, providing valuable information commodities to companies that turn them into profit. Like Fredric Jameson wrote of postmodern structures such as the Eaton Centre and Bonaventure Hotel, perhaps we do not have the heuristic capacities to fully grasp and think about these changes right now. But we can try. What does it mean when the strongest and most widespread example of capitalist ideology is beside me right now? Should I interact with it differently? Is there any room to resist? Indeed there must be, and so there is. We just have to work at it.

openwide // featured ARTICLE

Jordan Pearson

A New Machine
Fredric Jameson took Michael Herrs description of a helicopter in Vietnam to be an apt analogue for postmodern spaces - hyperspaces. And it is these hyperspaces (perhaps cyberspaces?) which constitute in their very organization a new machine: one which no longer simply represents motion, but, as Jameson wrote, can only be represented in motion. What I want to suggest is that the smartphone, the tablet, and indeed any mobile device is a kind of this new machine; one that has motion, fluidity, and speed at the very core of its construction, conception, and user experience. These new machines not only embody and represent those ideals; they have become them. This is part of one of the longestrunning projects of the Enlightenment and capitalism: the continual modification of how we conceive

of space and time - pulverization. Their quantification, division, and compression into miniscule portions. Indeed, the project that began with the first map - an invention which, according to geologist and Marxist theorist David Harvey, enabled the mapping of trade routes for the faster transportation of commodities and rendered space conquerable and time manageable - has achieved a quantum leap in the advent of mobile devices that nearly make time and place non-factors. Jameson wrote of escalators in the hyperspace of the Bonaventure Hotel: Here the narrative stroll has been underscored, symbolized, reified and replaced by a transportation machine which becomes the allegorical signifier of that older promenade we are no longer allowed to conduct on our own. The same is true for our mobile devices. Interactions mediated by technology like a screen or keypad have become so ubiquitous and unobtrusive that they are largely indistinguishable in practice from face-to-face conversations, according to John Tomlinson. In a psychical sense at least, I think hes right. Telemediated conversation has become conversation. Online shopping has become shopping. Googling a piece of information is no longer a shadow, or representation, of its physical counterpart - it has deconstructed, reified, and replaced it. The mobile device is mobility. It constitutes what it means to be mobile physically and (when taking commodity fetishism into account) socially - in modern urban life. The hyperspaces of late capitalism as true for the Eaton Centre as it is for iPhones and helicopters - are totalizing. Saver-destroyer, provider-waster, right hand-left hand, nimble, fluent, canny and human! The speed of capitalist transactions is the speed of life, and time itself is merely the time it takes to tap a sentence on a keypad. All this is reified in using a mobile device.

A Seductive Nexus
In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels described the bourgeoiss rise

to power as leaving no other nexus between man and man than naked selfinterest, than callous cash payment. Or, to put it more broadly, capitalism has resolved personal worth into exchange value. As Marx and Engels saw it, in capitalism every interaction is a transaction, and every person a commodity to be used. Countless theorists have written on this topic, but none may have put it as well as Harold Innis. Indeed, space-bound societies, which by definition are ones in which [...] the price system has penetrated fully [...] are secular in their concerns, materialistic in their interpretations, and impersonal in their social relations. Many mobile apps contain this implicit ideology. iZat, an app by telecom and global tracking giant Orascom, is an

example par excellence. With iZat, the user is able to keep track of where everything, and anyone, is at any time. An ad for the app waxes philosophic that Aristotle asked, Why? Galileo asked, How? Picasso asked, What? But in our day-to-day world, hundreds of millions of people ask a different question. Enter iZat and its sweaterwearing everyman spokesperson saying, I just want to know where everything is at. One mall-going girl giggles that, Its where she is at. Her friend retorts, No, its where she is at. Apps like iZat transform everything every walk, every transaction, every time

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you bump into a friend - into a nexus for an information transaction. The user can master the bustling city - or rather, the app can - and the user can move through it in the apps hyperspace replacement for navigation. Running into a friend is just one more piece of the information puzzle to gather so that the physical and informational flow through neon-lined streets full of shopping opportunities may be more fluid and continue unobstructed. The human being is a nexus for transaction in a world of information commodities and mobile devices. Graham Spry wrote that those who subscribe to neoliberal ideology view information as mere commodity [...] while communication for them is but a variant of commodity exchange. And once something passes through the transaction process, its value in use is transformed, almost miraculously, into exchange value. The object is transformed into a commodity and its mysterious qualities fetishized, as Marx wrote in Capital. Do we fetishize information as the ideal commodity in late capitalism? I think so. After all, what are retweets and follows but the base units of transaction in the Twitter economy? What is a Facebook Like but a validation of our identity as subjects in the form of bits of data?

The information commodity, like all others, is seductive. The penetrative effects of the price system, of the transactional nature of capitalism, and the new machines of late capitalism call to us and we can hardly resist. Michael Herrs description of the helicopter that Jameson likened to this new machine also reflects this. Hot grease on rotors, dirty jungle mesh, gritty sweat and machine gun fire... this machine is brutal and efficient, but also irresistible in its promise of unobstructed, continuous, and total motion. Capitalist ideology expands to become its own totalizing reality. To borrow from Althusser, we are interpellated as the transactional subject of capitalism by the fluidity, mobility, and speed of our devices. And we love it. In fact, we crave it. We are stuck in motion.

of life, and his relations with his kind. First, the feudal powers that governed the people were done away with, and the harsh - but at least honest - reality of conflict and exploitation in capitalist progress was laid bare and allowed for the possibility of resistance. Now that the mode of production for information commodities largely depends on our interactions, and not just our isolated work in a factory, perhaps once more we may face our exploitation with sober senses and clear vision. Key to the cybernetic imagination of capitalism - what Kevin Robins and Frank Webster described as capitalisms tendency to control information flows and directly mobilize populations into workforces and relatively into ideal ideological subjects - are information commodities that are a valuable asset to a multiplicity of corporate interests. The entire system runs off our backs! Although not the sweat of our brow, but the tap of our thumb, our information - transformed into a commodity through exchange - is the fuel for capitalisms new machinery of seductive fluidity and speed. We are daily surrendering ourselves for a negligible reward.

Not the Brow, But the Thumb

The situation seems dire, and perhaps it is, but even Marx saw an upside to capitalisms continually shifting modes of production and methods of exploitation. To revisit The Communist Manifesto: All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions

I am not suggesting here that a public awakening to our roles as the exploited workers of an information economy would, or even could, result in collective action. And people are certainly aware, as long as they post endless futile attempts to curb Facebooks insatiable hunger for our information in long paragraphs. Nor do I mean to discount the very physical and material modes of production that are instrumental in any electronic devices construction. People do indeed exert real physical labour in the creation of these products - horribly exploited people. Still, perhaps we should begin to think of mobile devices and the valuable commodities we create with them as an example of how invisible and pervasive the new labour of an information economy can be. Regardless of social class, if there is a smartphone in your pocket, you are carrying an example of worker exploitation wherever you go.

of relative mobilization that is as old as capitalism itself: life as an increasingly fast, uncritical, short-sighted, and totally mobile experience. This may be especially difficult since the fluidity and mobility offered by mobile devices is an increasingly integral part of modern life. There are some practical ways to resist this conditioning, however. If your phone asks to enable your location services, tap no. If Facebook asks for permission to access your apps and personal information, deny them the privilege. To arrive at such a seemingly trite solution, if it could be called one (and I am not sure it can), is a little funny even to me. Still, the new machines of late capitalism are changing us. To borrow once more from Jamesons writings on postmodern architecture, they are an impetus to grow new organs so that we may properly understand and interact with them. The organs that we are growing are cancerous and are developing at an alarming rate. The tumours of late capitalist ideology and lived experience through mobile devices are making us blind; to each other as human beings, to the increasing speed at which we are moving, and to our exploitation. It is time for an operation. An incision. A scalpel and a tin pan! If

not for now, then for the future when these trends will undoubtedly become further ingrained into our daily lives and evolve at an ever-accelerating rate. Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail. No, this is not a work of despair, despite how inadequate our present solutions may seem. This is a call for a reformulation of how we conceive of our most highly valued devices as powerful carriers of the weight of over three hundred years of capitalist development. What is needed is not despair, and certainly not apathy, though when caught in a fast current it is perhaps easier to yield than to swim furiously. What is needed is a long, hard look at our all too often self-effacing devices and to put a foot on the brake. And slow down.

There is no reason, despite these caveats, that we should not think - at least heuristically - of our devices as an arena of worker struggle. To do otherwise is to yield uncritically to corporate forces advancing an agenda

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openwide // arts & entertainment


Bradley Metlin

Wise Words
In the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild, six-year-old protagonist Hushpuppy says, I see that Im a little piece of a big, big universe. Its such a simple sentiment, yet it seems to have fallen on deaf ears in the American film industry. Beasts of the Southern Wild is a powerful film that will provoke thought in its audiences and was dutifully given an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. To the average person, this nomination is great a smaller film is being recognized. If only it were that simple. Also in the Best Picture nominations list is the box office hit, Argo - a dramatization of the Canadian Caper during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. Argo tells the story of CIA agent Tony Mendez, who creates a masterful plan to save six American diplomats. After hiding in the Canadian embassy for several weeks, the diplomats and Mendez pose as Canadians scouting 14 // OPENWIDE v12 a location for a science fiction movie in order to escape from Iran. Its a compelling story, but the films adherence to the actual events in Argo can be debated. For virtually all of Argos screen time, the roles of Americans are emphasized. What seems to be neglected from the story is Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. By housing the Americans during this incredibly tense situation, Taylor not only put diplomatic relations between Iran and Canada in jeopardy, but also his familys lives at risk. For Argo, the inherent bias in favour of Americans is troubling as it makes one ask: when Americans make films, do they forget the world around them? This question is more pressing now than ever because of the nominees in this years Academy Awards, most of which glorify the American experience a narrative trend that overlooks any other cultures significance. What is the American experience? Generally, it will involve a character struggling through adversity in order to attain the American dream. This character is also likely to be white. In fact, only about 20 percent of the Oscar acting nominations in the past ten years have gone to racial minorities. Though Canadians may not be a racial minority, the way in which Argo depicts Canadians is similar to the unfulfilling portrayals of other minorities in American films. In the case of Argo, the message is clear: we acknowledge that there were others involved, but their role was supplementary to that of the Americans. Not only does a majority American presence onscreen ensure a cinematic advantage, but the other is also interpreted through a lens that relies on stereotypes. For instance, the Iranians in Argo are extremists, lingering onscreen to scream in belligerent and incoherent ways.

American Filmmaking

Forgets the World

Silver Linings Playbook, another Best Picture nominee, features a family crippled by mental illness. The story is universal and could be about a family of any race but instead is dutifully filled by a suburban white home. Going back to Beasts of the Southern Wild, Hushpuppy lives with her daddy in what she calls The Bathtub. Though audiences may be distracted by Hushpuppys heroic antics, a closer look at the seeing of Beasts raises some issues. The setting is a swampy, deserted area in the Southern United States lined with levies. All of The Bathtubs descriptive features point to the New Orleans area. In the film, flooding heavily ravages Hushpuppys community. The film shows black characters thriving in such a deprived environment, a message that may seem bitterly familiar. During Hurricane Katrina, President Bush was accused of racism by abandoning the largely black community of New Orleans, leaving them to thrive in their communities. What President Bush and Beasts of the Southern Wild dont realise is that making do is not the same as thriving, and those ravaged by disaster do need help. This Amero-centric filmmaking style forgets the others, whether these are communities in another part of the world or in their own backyard. This years Academy Awards will come and go, and American filmmakers will be rewarded for their presentations of the American way. One can only hope that when Hollywood producers pick next years round of films to be made, they will hear Hushpuppys voice and realize they are only a little piece of a big, big universe.

While Argo is positioned in a very pro-American manner, the film is surprisingly subtler than other nominations, such as Lincoln. Admittedly, telling the story of one of the greatest American presidents demands some focus on American life but Lincoln unfortunately goes beyond that and continues to encourage ignorance of the other. Lincoln follows Abraham Lincolns presidency against the backdrop of the Civil War, a war fought on the basis of slavery. Still, the majority of the cast is white. Lincoln fails most with the exclusion of Frederick Douglass. Douglass was a noted black abolitionist known for his oratory skills. Additionally, he was friends with Abraham Lincoln and was a key voice in Lincolns inner circle who fought for the end of slavery. Despite this history, Douglass is not included in the film. In a movie that is fundamentally about slavery, the number of black characters in the film could be counted on one hand. Sadly, sensitivity to exclusions like this is lost on many in the filmmaking community. The focus on minority demographics is almost a taboo in mainstream films, even when the issue has nothing to do with race. For example,

OPENWIDE v12 // 15


& pocket monsters

When one thinks of anime, the sensation that often arises is nostalgia. Perhaps its Pikachus excited squeal, Sailor Moons sparkling transformations, or some other lovable childhood character. For others, however, anime summons the opposite connotations. From scantily-clad cartoon women to blatant animated pornography, anime is aligned with tasteless sex. While such subgenres of anime may exist, they are two extremes of an inaccurate spectrum that Western culture focuses on. It is unfortunate that a genre of art so broad is either infantilized or hypersexualized, especially when these two categorizations could not be farther from the truth. For those unfamiliar with anime, the Japanese animation style is often characterized by a series of artistic motifs, such as large-eyed characters. Japanese animation can be dated back to 1917, but the more distinguishable anime style was born from Japanese comics, or manga in the 1960s. , Manga sales grew in the early 1970s, resulting in industry success during the 1980s. Both anime and manga continue to be mass-produced in Japan, and are widely translated and disseminated all over the world. While its popularity isnt confined to Japan, anime is still a relatively unfamiliar cultural concept to North Americans, and as such is subjected to several stereotypes and myths that should be debunked. Maybe it was the memorable Gotta Catch Em All tagline that filled our earlier years with the association between animation and immaturity. At the close of the 20th century, North American companies began licensing, translating, and airing Japanese cartoons on childrens television networks. This proliferation of kid-friendly anime is likely to blame for the stereotypes surrounding the style as a whole. Though a series of child programming made it overseas to mainstream consumption, only a handful of titles geared towards older audiences were picked up by American stations and they never accumulated the same attention. While childrens anime played a large introductory role in Western popular culture, animes X-rated underbelly gained notoriety as well. Hentai, which translates to Pervert, is an anglicised term for a fraction of anime that contains pornographic content. Being largely shared online, this subset became the sole exposure to Japanese animation for many. Certain fetishized animations also became an inaccurate representation of Japanese sexual practices, octopus porn for instance. Using Hentai in this representational way, however, is the equivalent of using Ass Invaders 5 as a reflection of the North American film industry. To attain a better understanding of anime, we need to open ourselves to series and films that are created for older audiences. Take, for instance, Chobits - a 2002 series that, while slightly erotic, not only poses important questions about artificial intelligence to its audience but also portrays challenges in relationships where sex is impossible. Also notable is Grave of the Fireflies, a story which follows two children tragically orphaned in the Second World War. Though different from Chobits, the film addresses serious and emotionally charged topics through animation. Overall, Japanese animation covers the same broad-range of topics as other forms of media, particularly film. There are a number of titles geared specifically towards childish and pornographic markets, but these are small part of a much greater culture. Anime addresses different demographics and as such should not be generalized to its polar extremes, instead we should recognizing anime as a rich and multifaceted form of storytelling.

cartoon porn

Kyle Simons


Have you ever spent more time than you should have preparing your outfit, hair and, and makeup? Well, for some, that process is not so different than playing videos many times to an even greater extent. For instance, the role playing Nintendo DS and Wii game Animal Crossing allows players to alter their characters hairstyle based on a personality assessment. If the resulting hairstyle isnt appealing, the Have has to wait an entire day beplayer you ever spent more time than you should have preparing your outfit, fore changing it. A Well, for avatar hair and makeup? players some, can even get a bed so different from that process is not head style if he playing video play the Wii version or she doesnt games. For instance, the week. for arole playing Nintendo DS and Wii game Animal Crossing allows players While characters hairstyle to alter their Animal Crossings based on of hair may seem excestreatment a personality assessment. If the the attention put into changsive,resulting hairstyle isnt appealing, the player has to wait an entire day ing your appearance in such avatar before changing it. A players virtual reality worlds a bed head style Mascan even get is nothing new. if he or she doesnt play the Wii version for sachusetts Institute of Technology a week. professor Sherry Turkle examines such issues of online identity in her While Animal Crossings treatment of hair Alone Together: Why We Exbookmay seem excessive, the attention put So changing your appearance in pect into Much from Technology and virtual reality worlds is nothing new. Less From Eachother. of Technology Massachusetts Institute In Sherry Turkle examines professor the course of a life, we such graduate from working on never issues of online identity in her book Alone Together: Why We it with an identity, we simply reworkExpect So Much from Technology and Less the materials at hand Turkle writes, From Each Other. adding that with games such as In the Life there life, winning, Second course of a is nowe never graduate from working on an identity, onlysimply rework it with the materials we living. Given the opportunity to start aTurkle writes,life, wethat with at hand whole new adding can begames such we want come anyoneas SecondtoLife crebe there is no winning, new persona with a ating a whole only living. Given the opportunity to start a whole new life, few clicks of the mouse. we want to we can become anyone
be creating a whole new persona with a few clicks of the mouse.

investing in the
Emily Stewart
In Alone Together, Turkle also addresses how the online experiences others have amassed have affected their real life relationships. One of the cases she looks at, Pete, a father of two, talked to her about his Second Life marriage between his avatar and his virtual wife. In Second Life, Pete will interact with his online partner through his own fabricated self a muscular and attractive young man. With his online wife, Pete discusses perLife marriage between his avatar and his virtual wife. Second Life, not sonal strugglesInthat he doesPete would interact with his online partner wish to disclose to his ownself a through his own fabricated reality wife. While Pete had no young man. muscular and attractive intention of With his online wife, Pete Life lover ever meeting his Second discusses personal he concedes he does in person, struggles that to the fact not wish to disclose to his own real that this online relationship makes it wife. While he had no intention of possible for him toSecond Life lover ever meeting his live his real one. in person, he concedes to the fact Petes story isnt unique. that this online relationship makes it Creating for whole new with through possible a him to live life his real video games allows players to disone. tance themselves from the somePetes story isnt unique. Creating a times harsher realities of their acwhole new life through video games tual lives. The popularity of living allows players to distance themselves onlinethe sometimes harsher realities from is, in part, because living a of their actual life purely fictional lives.inThe game proa appeal of living online is, in part, understandable vides control in all the fictional that areas life because living a purely reality game provides control in our hands to us, namely all in a the areas that While the to us appearances. reality hands growing namely of gamers who flock to number our appearances. While the growing number of gamers cultivating their perfect selves may seem odd, their perfect selves may seem odd, remember that the process isntisnt all remember that the process all that different from other Internet outlets, that different from other internet outmainly social media. The pictures, lets, namely social media ones. and The videos, and messages we post pictures, videos, say amessages we share online can and lot about who we and share online accurate? lot postare. But is this imagecan say a As Turkle says, we collect is this image about who we are, but fans on sites like Facebook, not friends. We want to accurate? As Turkle says, we colpresent the best version of ourselves
to the world; whether its to prove popularity, career success, or - by taking down any unflattering photos appearance. In fact, a number of relationships even blossom out of random friend requests or Facebook chats. So, before judging people like

lect fans on sites like Facebook, not friends. We want to present the best version of ourselves to the world; whether its to prove popularity, career success, or - by taking down any unflattering photos appearance. In fact, a number of relationships even blossom out of random friend requests or Facebook chats. So, before judging people like Pete, who invest more into their created online self than their real identity, re-evaluate your social media and Pete for investing more time peremotion into their created online dosonas and make sure youre notself than their real identity, re-evaluate ing the same thing. your social media personas and make
sure youre not doing the same thing.

Investing in Virtual

Emily Stewart

In Alone Together, Turkle also addresses how long-term online experiences have affected users real life relationships. For one of the cases she looks at Pete, a father of two, and talked to him about his Second

illustrated by Jenn Feldman

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OPENWIDE v12 // 17

openwide // feature ARTICLE

Its a typical photoset on Twitter via Instagram. A young girls left arm extends over a sink, knife firmly clenched in her right hand. The sequential shots show a red liquid smothered on her skin, revealed to be ketchup in the third frame. Next, theres a jar of mayo by the tap. Then, two pieces of Wonderbread bookend her arm with the hashtag #CuttingForBieber in plain sight. But its okay. Its self-harm la tongue-incheek. After all, we are on the Internet, the land of not taking anything serious too seriously. When things go awry in youth culture, your best bet is to blame Justin Bieber. On January 4th, the 19-year old singer was allegedly caught smoking marijuana at a party in a Newport Beach hotel room and TMZ just happened to leak the pictures. In between parental chitchat and adolescent question marks, the storm on 4chana message board both anonymous and notoriouswas brewing. Biebers high soon became social medias low. Just three days later, the #CuttingForBieber hashtag started trending worldwide. Young teens like Twitter user @brittanyscrapma posted pictures of self-harm, proclaiming in 140 characters or less: stop the drugs and well stop cutting. It was social protest with the most superficial agendausing mass fan bloodshed and pain to make Bieber realize his Mary Jane mistake. But dont worry, no one actually got hurt. It was all a hoax. And we have 4chan to thank for pulling one of the most sadistic pranks in recent pop culture memory. 4chan is infamous for a culture of schadenfreude (pleasure derived from another persons misfortune), legitimized in the sites catchphrase: for the lulz. Everything an anonymous member does is for the greater hilarity and inside joke-ism of the community. And this isnt the first time that Biebers been a target. A few months ago saw #BaldForBieber trending, where fans supposedly shaved their heads to support the singers rumoured cancer treatment. In a world where irony is king and The Onion is mistakenly quoted as a serious news source, how do we know when to draw the line online? Theres a certain sense of community and anonymity that makes social media appealing. For some with mental illnesses, its often the only safe place they can turn to and express themselves without judgment. In fact, encouraging self-harm is more prevalent, especially with the growing pro-anorexia community thinspiration or thinspo is the proper term online. In light of this widespread #thinspo trend, sites like Pinterest and Tumblr have started to crack down on images that promote self-harm. As of April 6th last year, Pinterest introduced a new policy that users must agree to not post anything that creates a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to yourself, to any other person, or to any animal. Tumblr followed suit, banning content that urges or encourages readers to cut or injure themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders, or commit suicide, rather than, e.g., seeking counseling or treatment, or joining together in supportive conversation with those suffering or recovering from depression or other conditions.


Emily Fister

More and more, social media sites recognize that their members suffer from mental illness and body image issues. However, they only reach out so far. As of right now, Twitters Help Center vaguely refers users to a suicide hotline and encourages concerned observers to contact local law enforcement Twitter will only act once officials issue a self-harm report. Instagram may warn against explicit content or flag certain tags, but users have found ways to covertly change tags and keep the self-harm communities alive. Should hashtags be flagged and monitored, or does that distract from this mangled melting pot we call free speech online? Of course its hard to argue insensitivity. What 4chan did was tactless and insulting to people actually struggling with self-harm. But should this niche Internet group be punished? While its difficult for an outsider to decode the motive, its important to understand the message board culture behind the hashtag. A former 4chan member who, unsurprisingly, wishes to remain anonymous, explains the ethics behind /b/, a sub-board for random content where the two Bieber hoaxes began. /b/ is a large group of people ranging from the clever and witty to the pathetic and humourless, our ex-4chan source says. I believe the people of /b/ and 4chan just want to cause a disturbance, garner a laugh, and relieve boredom.

It was never 4chans intent to make us critical of our insta-Belieber society. In fact, theyre probably the last people to be nominated for the New Frankfurt School. Theyre not media critics. The members dont do it for the post-modern pointsthey just do it for the lulz. Im not thinking about whats going on in the kids head, the former member admits, explaining that the #CuttingForBieber tag highlights the absurdity of celebrity culture and bandwagon fans. Im looking at [this instance] on the surface level and its funny because [the hoax creators are] doing it for the satire. They know how ridiculous it is that fans will waste their lives trying to reach Justin Bieber on Twitter. In 4chans collective mind, Bieber is the mascot for a surface-level society. And hes used to draw our attention to a glorified self-harm epidemic. There have even been instances of this pop star-affiliated superficiality at Western. Last year, the USC presidential hacking fiasco called attention to the authenticity of the race. Online voters were confronted with the Justin Bieber Hairstyle vote 2012, where a vote for the Biebs was equivalent to world peace. Even though the hack cost the university thousands, it revealed the USC race for what it wasa race based on image and cool points. If anything,

hoaxes recall the mass audience default: gullible consumers of information. Communities like 4chan allow us to step back and observe how easily information disseminates and how fast it can become truth. Sure, you can always turn off your devices and push these subcultures out of virtual sight. But the reality is that support circles online are often much more open and prominent than those offline. Self-harm needs to be flagged online and stripped of its glory. With the immediacy of smartphones and instant tweets and tumbles, we now elevate and create intimate relationships with famous figures unlike any other generation before. If social media allows us to construct our own self-celebrities and our own half-truths, lets reclaim our cries for attention and become active users. Lets confront social media companies with more than a hashtag: theres nothing social about self-harm. No matter how controversial the topic, its important that these public spheres exist to keep discussion and debate going. Maybe /b/s random fun is our wake-up call in this meta/ironic/post-world. Its time to make the issue real.

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OPENWIDE v12 // 19

openwide // world

Revolution Blues
The Case Against Canadian Radical political action
Che Guevara, were he alive today and not executed by pro-capitalists, would at the very least be disappointed to see his likeness used to sell t-shirts, beanies and other university-chic apparel. Universities, of course, have historically been responsible for mobilizing revolutions, as was the case in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Despite the absence of conditions that precipitated past revolutions, the same revolutionary fervour remains on university campuses today. To be fair, when confronted with the overwhelming dysfunction apparent in society, it seems not only practical but necessary to reconstruct the entire system in order to quash the corruption perceived at its core. However, the messy, chaotic process through which revolution instigates change should be altogether avoided except as a last-ditch effort. As Canadians, we are fortunate enough to live in a country where mechanisms exist to produce change in an orderly manner: through progressive legislation, meaningful protest and the cultivation of an empowered citizenry necessary for a thriving democracy. Its true that some great revolutions of the past have been instrumental in propelling the human species towards egalitarianism. It was revolution that abolished enslavement and serfdom, revolution that deposed countless dictatorial sovereigns, and it was revolution that birthed democracy as we know it. Indeed, revolution has produced some of historys most admirable heroes, from Vladimir Lenin and his part in overthrowing the Russian Tsardom to Aung San Suu Kyis ongoing struggle against the despotic military junta in Burma. However, glory and gains aside, the often violent and destructive consequences of revolution are not to be proposed lightly, especially without thorough consideration of the potential cost. One would be hard pressed to argue that the tyrannical dictators necessary to spur a revolution have ever existed in the Canadian political sphere. Consider the conditions that facilitated the widespread uprising across the Arab world over the past two years. In every nation where revolt occurred, the presence of long standing autocrats provided a common enemy against which to rebel. The Tunisian revolution saw the end of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali`s near twenty five-year rule, Mubarak`s reign over Egypt was cut short nine months shy of three decades, and Gaddafi was deposed after commanding Libya for well over forty years. Although Western politicians lack the same degree of authority over their countries, there are still many examples of leaders who maintain a hold on power in subtle ways (and sometimes not so subtle take Italian media magnate and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for example). Certainly action is warranted, but there are considerable options available to us who would rebuke corruption aside from total revolution. The factors that facilitate a revolution are so unlikely to be found in Canada that even discussion of a revolution seems highly implausible, if not laughable. Surprisingly though, the discussion arises often on campus from impassioned young radicals intent on changing the system. Before we go on, it should be mentioned that Canada has no such history of revolution, preferring historically to see social reform through Supreme Court decisions or national referendum. Remarkably, our nationhood was achieved in a nowcharacteristically peaceful manner through a series of conferences that united the provinces, eventually culminating in a proposal for confederacy to the British. The British complied for economic and military reasons, although they stipulated that obeisance to the Queen would remain obligatory. Revolutions are a crap-shoot: they may produce enormous, rapid progress for the oppressed and downtrodden, but revolutions can just as easily be hijacked by self-serving demagogues. Of the many ongoing revolutions occurring globally, the Syrian conflict has transfixed the world. As casualties mount in the fight against the Assad regime, (Assads predecessor and father, not surprisingly, came to power riding revolutionary fervour) rebels hesitantly unite forces with radical Jihadist groups that undoubtedly bring an Islamic political agenda to any future nation rebuilding. Regardless, the desperation in the country requires these sorts of concessions that we in Canada are fortunate enough to avoid altogether. Cries for revolution are not unique to the impassioned Canadian university crowd. In the U.S, there has been considerable backlash against President Barack Obama for the sweeping gun control proposals he recently introduced. Protesters, brought together by social media, participated in the Guns Across America event, united in support of Second Amendment rights. The Gun Control Debate which has taken centre stage in American politics following the Connecticut School Shooting has been dominated by revolutionary rhetoric. The Second Amendment was established, at least partly, as a means of deterring a tyrannical government from oppressing its constituents. As ludicrous as the notion seems today, some evidently believe that they are being oppressed and, seemingly , unaware of the irony, gather together in protest carrying high-powered weaponry, completely unopposed by government law enforcement. Although they prefer to ignore this fact, these so called oppressed gun owners enjoy a level of freedom heretofore completely unheard of. Finally, another ongoing protest, carrying much more popular support than the aforementioned, has gained considerable momentum across Canada in the past few months. Idle No More is a movement aimed at protecting Aboriginal peoples treaty rights as well as addressing the widespread economic and social inequity that has plagued the community. It remains to be seen whether actual political gains will be made, but the power of awareness has been clearly demonstrated and some material concessions have been made by the government. At the beginning of January, Prime Minister Harper and representatives of numerous First Nations tribes met to discuss the ongoing problems. This is a considerable achievement which proves that protests can affect politics, even if there is still considerable work ahead for protesters. Large-scale revolutionary action and civil disobedience are tools to be used when absolutely necessary, as their blunt implementation often leads to unpredictable and inconsistent results. Rather, the architects of our society have provided more pragmatic, subtle and refined instruments of precision through which we can exert political will. The ordinary citizen has at their disposal a variety of methods available for instigating political change, and when coupled with willpower and dedication real progress can be achieved. Foremost, the ordinary citizen can exercise the right to vote. Arguably, the vote is only an effective means of swaying the political agenda prior to elections. Post-election, it is all too common for politicians to revoke the very promises that saw them elected. Certainly this increases political apathy within the population and undermines the political process, perhaps even inspiring cries for revolution as a means to deal with the overwhelming feeling of being politically disenfranchised. While voting is in itself necessary to the political process, as a means of achieving political change it seems almost superficial. Lobbying is a well-known method of exerting political influence. Considerably more difficult to accomplish than voting, often the most effective means of lobbying requires the support of professional lobbyists. The drawbacks of this option are well documented. Lobbying allows small interest groups with considerable socio-economic power to exert influence on the majority-though conversely it allows groups that would otherwise be overlooked to have some say in the political forum. Ultimately, for the impassioned, the only surefire way to progress the ideals of egalitarianism is to directly become a part of the political machine: to become an elected official and remain true to the plight of the people, to reject the temptations of corruption for the common good, and to disregard influence from the institutions carrying inordinate socio-economic power. To revolutionize the system from within requires a few extraordinary individuals, and it is in these few that we must place our hopes of a better future.

Andrew Dundee

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OPENWIDE v12 // 21

Corner Store
My journey into mysticism to find lessons for today
Usually, Aquarius is associated with things like freedom, humanitarianism, modernization, rebellion, philanthropy, and the sharing of wealth. Of course, these are all pretty general and applicable characteristics. Truthfully, Ive always had mixed feelings about astrology. The idea that the stars have a role in controlling our destiny sounds pretty far-fetched, but in the words of Shakespeare: There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. The most eerie connection made to the dawn of this new age is the symbolic water bearing. Prophecy of an aquatic doom has been discussed throughout history, such as in Noahs Ark or Platos lost city of Atlantis. Today, the detrimental activity of the human race has lead to global warming and - consequently - flooding and inclement weather. Scientists now predict the state of the environment is finally reaching its tipping point, after which there will be no hope of stopping or reversing the effects of global warming. One particularly firm believer in the dawn of a new age is Eric Rankin, author of the novel The Aquarians. On One warm and rainy winters day, I found myself inside a convenience store shuffling through its extensive collection of magazines. Amidst the many Jumbles and celebrity shamereads, one particular publication stood out from the rest: Apocalyptic Prophecies: Doomsday Stories from the Dawn of Time. Perfect. The 2012 Apocalypse was something Id been making reference to increasingly as the date drew closer. It was a topic of rich comedic potential; imagining myself doing the typical end-of-the-worldshit: sitting in my basement cellar, my head wrapped in tinfoil, all stocked up on freeze-dried food packs and a mega-generator. That said, secretly, I couldnt help but feel like there was something ultimately foreboding about the approaching date. The idea that the world was going to end to me signified not a grandiose 2012 [the movie]-style doomsday, rather, the beginning of the end. Well, duh. To give a summary of what Ive read, the specific ancient Mayan text credited for the apocalyptic obsession is the Dresden Codex. As Im sure youve already guessed, this manuscript contains the infamous Mayan calendar. Interestingly enough, the image that corresponds with the end of the calendar is that of a mythical water bearer, which is also used in astrology to represent the sign of Aquarius. Whats more, according to astrology, December 21st, 2012 is the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Astrologists believe that an astrological age signifies the defining cultural tendencies and progression of civilization during that timeframe.

openwide // world


openwide // world


Vacuum-Packed Violence

Ainsleigh Burelle


his website, he writes that this idea is commonly perceived as nothing more than a feel-good, utopian slogan dreamed up by a bunch of mid-20th century radicals and hippies. He continues: Modern Mayan shamans [...] will tell you that the end of their ancient calendar is not the end of time, but the moment when humanity will be given the opportunity to make a leap into a next-level of higher awareness and consciousness. I can only hope that this is an accurate prediction, though Rankins writing is obviously to be taken with a grain of salt. Theres much to be said for gaining a more perceptive consciousness in fact, its something we are in dire need of. We live in a world controlled by corporate greed and subsequent environmental change. Theres no hocus-pocus-everyone-focus. We must start on an individual level.

The controversial issue of gun control in the States has appeared with horrifying frequency in the news within the past year, and rightly so. It seems as though the chain of school shootings occurring throughout eastern American states is never-ending; even as these horrific events come to pass and the perpetrators face their respective fates, the terrifying imagery remains engraved in our collective memory. Widely-circulated images and videos of the alleged perpetrators, witness interviews, weapons, victim profiles even funerals foster a vacuumpacked space where homicide is an omnipresent threat to first world suburbia. The dialectic between news and entertainment medias portrayals of tragic events like Sandy Hook is a curious one. A decade after releasing Bowling for Columbine, activist filmmaker Michael Moore commented in The Globe and Mail, every word in it stands true to this day, which is the saddest thing. . Is it action films about masked vigilante crusaders, news reports of Bruce Wayne fanatics/mimics/diehards opening fire on theatre-goers, or repetitive imagery in the media of crimes of this nature that influence the mentally ill like Adam Lanza to commit mass homicides? Is there even a single party that we can blame? Its the age of the hyperlink, of the sound byte, of the need for constant and heavy stimuli to fill our eyes, ears, and brains. In this context, it seems that mass media, over the last century, have developed a sort of

double standard wherein consumers are presented with progressively more violent material, yet what may be the violent by-products of this consumption are dismissed. Freudian arguments have been made that violent television results in a lessviolent watcher, acting as a means of catharsis for all that is brutal and instinctive in human nature--the id. Alternatively, the reality of copycat crimes has become undoubtedly more prevalent as bad-ass cult crime shows like Breaking Bad and The Wire enter the mainstream. As entertainment media continue to foster this ever-present fanciful realm of drug lord-chasing antihero law enforcement, the news media systems coverage of national terroristic events has simultaneously become more intensive. The question of media sympathy in times of terrorism-induced national solidarity is a tricky one. In the case of Sandy Hook, news systems and their talking heads made it their goal to appear as empathetic as possible through intricate profiles of the youth and teacher victims, as well as of Adam Lanza himself. Im not saying in the least that human affect is a hindrance, but there is a fine line between using it to the advantage of sensationalism versus hard truth. At the same time, social networks provide a breeding ground for sensationalism engendered by affect only. Also related is something like KONY 2012 clicktivism at its finest. We are humans before Facebook users, reporters, or world leaders, thus tragedies such as the atrocities

committed by Konys LRA and Sandy Hook resonate within all of us. The result, more often than not, is the usual bout of imagery, Facebook statuses, and video-sharing that floods news feeds and assumes major headlines. Perpetrators are demonized and brave souls are valorized. Thus, when it comes time to make tough policy decisions about gun control or the extension of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, images trump words and were already back in tunnel vision mode. It may just be the conspiracy theorist in me, but this probably speaks to how the Obama administration can get away with a Gun Reform Plan ambiguously defined by parameters of taking common sense steps and making communities safer. School shootings are a sore subject; mostly because at the end of the day, grounded reason has fled the scene. National mental health is an obvious starting point, but there will always be an exception to the rule the Lanzas of the world will always exist. So, is the medias Vacmaster of violence the true cause of these events? Between progressively more violent entertainment and the reflection of it in the news, an omnipresent threatening discourse emerges from which there is no escape. From Columbine, to Virginia Tech, Minnesotas Red River, to Sandy Hook: the recirculation of violent simulacra manufactures a false, accelerated reality that suggests the eternality of these horrific events, but does not ultimately supplant it.

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illustrated by sam ballard

illustrated by Lauren Mcvittie

OPENWIDE v12 // 23

openwide // satire


Alternative Spring Break


foreign students come to Western to give back


ark Tips to m it y in 2013 ual individ

niversity students from Jinotega, Nicaragua will be helping out Londons homeless as part of their Alternative Spring Break 2013.

We were thinking beyond our community, says team co-ordinator Gabriela Vallejos. Over the years, we have been more than grateful for Western Universitys support. But, now, its time for us to change the world. The giving spirit is already alive and well in this capital of Nicaragua. Inspired by Westerns recent name change, the citizens of Jinotega rallied together to form Central University, an advertising-intensive institution. After two years, theyre finally ready to volunteer at transitional shelters at The Unity Project on Londons east side. The 6-day long trip will cost approximately $6,000, about 1/3 of the marketing costs. Vallejos states that if 200 students sign up, the school will be able to break even. The exotic itinerary includes a haunted house tour of Niagara Falls, Marineland, a full CN Tower freefall experience, and a 9 to 5 shift at The Unity Project.

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1. Realize you are being exploited 2. Recognize there is another way 3. This is not Fight Club 4. Nihilism is not an option 5. Absention is not an option 6. Trust the person to your right 7. Find out what you both want 8. Trust the person to your left 9. Find out what you both want 10. Get everyone together 11. Make it happen


Second-year Public Relations student Alejandro Calderon is eager to lend a helping hand. I just really want to try and understand the developed worlds greed and class disparity, he explains. This will look great on a resume when I try to get a green card and, eventually, a fulfilling job in North America!

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t was just too ridiculous, says award-winning Psychology professor Jane Brant. By the kinds of stuff these kids are postingI had always kind of suspected it was a joke, but until recently the research just wasnt there.


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One third-year Geography student, Mark, smirks as he reveals that the forty-two meals hes posted photos of since the beginning of the month are obviously just making fun of the kind of loser who would do that for real. Mark is totally aware that no one cares what he microwaved that time he was fucking famished after a 3-hour workout. He just thinks its hilarious to pretend that they would. My friends and I are constantly posting cat videos on each others timelines, says Melissa, a second-year Kinesiology student, laughing. Its like, as if we would actually waste that much time on YouTube. Constantly Liking and Commenting on things gives the impression that you actually check Facebook like five times a day, Melissa adds. What a joke! When asked in a survey whether their Facebook profiles were a fully accurate representation of themselves, a somewhat accurate depiction, or a complete fabrication, 100 percent of students at every single post-secondary institution on the entire face of the planet answered with complete fabrication. Now more and more students are accessing Facebook on their mobile phones while riding the bus, always greeted with knowing smirks from fellow passengers. Even while in class, they keep up the ruse. Letting all the people behind you in lecture see that youre on Facebook is like sharing an inside joke with the rest of the class, says Jason, a fourth-year Political Science student. All students interviewed add, If you want to see who I really am, go to my LinkedIn.




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Charity Ball ice bar made from frozen tears of Wait List Clinic patients
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