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UBC Publications

The Ubyssey Jan 24, 1997

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 Media supplement inside
The Ubyssey takes a look at media diversity, corporate control, public funding, culture jamming, the ethnic press,
propaganda and women in the media. A student perspective on mass communications.
a medium since 1918
The beauty and the myth
Body dysphoria describes a woman's badly distorted view
of her body; it's a warning sign for eating disorders, but more
significantly, it indicates a harmful self-destructive
and disempowering attitude.
by Simona Rabinovitch
The Link
on her diet again. Her consciousness of the subtle
changes in her body enables her to guess her
weight to the precise ounce without even stepping
on the scale.
A university student who works part-time at a
health club, Cynthia has been obsessed with her
weight since she was 17. "I've gone through a hard
time in my life lately," she says over a supper of
roasted potatoes and egg white souffle.
"If I don't exercise, I feel fat and guilty."
At 5"3 and 120 pounds, Cynthia's fit physique is
the envy of many sweaty bodies at the gym. Her
brown eyes expose her defeat as she describes the
daily battle she wages against her own body. In a
voice that is almost a whisper, she admits her body
obsession rules her life.
affects millions of women and girls in Western society. The term describes a woman's badly distorted
view of her body. It is a warning sign for eating disorders, but more significantly, it indicates a harmful self-destructive and disempowering attitude.
Beauty obsession eats away at a woman's sense
of self-esteem, and experts agree that poor self-
esteem lies at the heart of most eating disorders.
Director Katherine Gilday's film The Famine
Within shows how women's obsession with beauty
erodes their inner sense of power.
"Woman's so-called normal identity, which
includes the obsessive concern with appearance, is
pathological," explains Gilday in a recent issue of
Images magazine.
This explains why more women than men
develop anorexia and bulimia.
Montreal dietitian Terry Dimitratos claims the
binge and purge-cycle begins with dieting. Even
women who are not overweight diet for fear of
becoming fat. All this obsessive weight loss effort
leads women to associate self-esteem with deprivation. Because we are expected to be paranoid
about the way we look, many women who have crossed the line from obsession into dysphoria
don't even realise they have a problem. "I feel fat" has become a litany of womanhood—the smaller the jeans, the greater the soul.
Not only is the longing for razor-sharp curves disempowering, for most women it is simply
mission impossible. Less than five per cent of women are capable of achieving the glorified bodies of super models without exercising for hours and eating little more than a few celery sticks
each day, according to Dimitratos.
"Since most of us compare ourselves to an unattainable ideal, we feel we're not good enough,"
says Dimitratos. "We need to start accepting ourselves for who we are."
ly overcome the eating disorder that has twice caused her to try to vomit.
"It didn't work," she says flatly.
Seeing herself in the bathroom mirror with her polished fingernail rammed down
her throat shocked Cynthia into reality. For women who are obsessed with their physical imperfections, the seed of seff-loathing is planted early in life. A study by the Dairy
Bureau of Canada revealed that 30 percent of nine-year-old girls and an overwhelnring
80 percent of 12-year-old girls think they should be thinner.
Nine percent of those pre-teens are anorexic.
Nutritionist Lisa Duperneau of the Montreal Children's Hospital works closely with
children who are suffering from eating disorders. She says she often treats children
showing symptoms of anorexia or bulimia.
By identifying the unhealthy mental attitude at the root of an eating disorder,
Duperneau is able to stop the cycle of self-hatred before it manifests itself in physical
Lack of self-esteem also leads to the numbing of women's passion and aggression,
which is identified by Gilday as a major cause of depression. "When I did the film, I kept
seeing this tremendous waste of talent and intelligence," she says.
Author Naomi Wolf argues that the closer women come to power, the more society
plays on their vulnerabilities of physical self-consciousness to keep them down.
In her bestseller The Beauty Myth, Wolf explains how the beauty backlash prevents
us from moving on to the next phase of the feminist movement
But don't despair: Wolf reminds us that more and more, women are finding power
and freedom in sources other than the bathroom scale.
According to 1991 statistics, more than half of Canadians are women. Wolf says this
statistic makes women potentially unstoppable. So why do so many women feel like a
Throughout history, men have traditionally been recognised for their skills and
achievements, while women have been recognised for their physical beauty, says
Dimitratos, who acknowledges that the female standard of beauty has been somewhat
Beautiful, brilliant young women are plagued by self-hatred because they cannot
remodel themselves according to a new set of blueprints. Ironically, this insecurity
becomes a seff-fulfilling prophecy. Self-esteem is reduced to nothing. Feelings of power-
lessness and worthlessness prevail.
Women themselves are collectively to blame for succumbing to media messages. It's
easy to point a finger at everyone else for their own dysfunctions: the media, men, mothers, fathers.
By refusing to accept responsibility for their own detriments and, consequently, for
their own self-improvement, women are perceiving themselves as passive participants
in their own lives. This kind of thinking kicks women in the face as hard as the beauty
The female quest for physical perfection is the bread and low-fat, non-dairy spread of
countless industries. "Be younger, slimmer; therefore a better, more worthwhile, desirable person," cry the flawless buttocks of a thirteen-year-old nymph in a Christian Dior
advertisement for a cellulite-reducing elixir.
Women must learn to be conscious of these
subliminal messages; to look at these unrealistic
images critically, with an awareness of their
inherent purpose. And resist
Self-image is still impossible to ignore. How
can women unlearn decades of priorities?
From Betty Boop to Kate Moss, unrealistic
body images have been around for a long time.
How can women suddenly decide to ignore the
media and convince themselves that their self-
worth need not be connected to the way they
The answer is in accepting that physical
appearance is just a small part of female identity. All healthy bodies are uniquely beautiful.
Instead of showing off their pouty red mouths,
women should flaunt their sharp, witty tongues. Taking responsibility for body obsession and eating disorders is the only way to prevent them.
The key to overcoming this obsession is for women to make love to their self-esteem. Not the
shallow, inconsistent self-esteem that comes from beauty, but a deeper self-love that sticks around
the morning after.
With true self-esteem comes the strength to act and speak aggressively, the confidence to resist
seductive media images, and the power to initiate change.jf
Seeing herself in
the bathroom
mirror with her
polished fingernail
rammed down her
throat shocked
Cynthia into reality 2   THE UBYSSEY, JANUARY 24, 1997
AJt^^to-*  w v   *^9
Accomodations/For Rent
Near UBC Gate 1 Rm. $385. 1 Rm
$360 (laundry/utils. included)
plus kitchenette. Large sitting
room, gas fireplace, cablevision.
private entrance. Available Feb.1,
tel 224-3762.
Rooms are available in the UBC
single student residences for
qualified women and men student applications. Single and
shared rooms in both "room only"
and "room and board" residences
are available. Vacancies can be
rented for immediate occupancy
in the Walter H. Gage. Fairview
Crescent. Totem Park, Place
Vanier. and Ritsumeikan - UBC
House Residences*. Applicants
who take occupancy of a residence room are entitled to reap-
plication (returning student) privileges which will provide them
with a "guaranteed" housing
assignment for the 1997/98
Winter Session.
Please contact the UBC Housing
Office in Brock Hall for informa
tion on rates and availablility. The
Housing Office is open from 8:30
am - 4:00 pm weekdays, or call
822-2811 during office hours.
* Availability may be limited for
some residence areas and room
House Sitting
Reliable woman is available to
housesit 8-12 months. Ch. references available. 681-6098 or 432-
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zbt@zbtnational.org or call Bret
Hrbek at (317) 334-1898.
Staff turnover unexplained
by Stanley L. Tromp
There's strange stuff going on at UBC's Parking
and Security office.
Four top officials in UBC's Parking and Security
branch have left UBC in the past six months, and
an internal audit into the department's finances
might not reach the public eye.
Last fall, Parking Manager David Miller left UBC,
then in early January Security Access Manager John
Naylor departed. The university refuses to give a reason for either departure, or say if they were voluntary.
Miller and Naylor could not be reached for comment.
Their chief, UBC Director of Parking and Security
Services John Smithman, told The Ubyssey he
resigned last August after nine years on the job to
start a management training business. Smithman,
who was also chair of the UBC Transportation
Committee, was rehired in the fall as a transportation consultant on a term which ended in December.
Smithman was replaced in September by Frank
Eastham, former associate vice-president of
human resources. Smithman held the job until the
end of the year. Tom McNeice, who had worked
under Eastham, took over as director on January 2.
McNeice said that former Assistant Parking
Manager Danny Ho replaced Miller as Parking
Manager, and there is currently a posting for
Naylor's job.
Residence advisor
selection questioned
An audit of the department's financial situation
is ongoing and should be finished by the end of
this month. McNeice said that, contrary to campus
rumours, the audit is completely routine and "not
a forensic or special audit."
Asked if the audit would be released, UBC
Internal Audit Director Michael Hartwick said
"these reports are normally not public because
they are done for the senior management at UBC."
McNeice and UBC acting Finance Director Steve
Ryan agreed the audit is done for UBC's internal
use and probably will not be distributed further.
"They've had some financial systems problems," said Hartwick. "They've got to make some
improvements. But there's no concern about fraud
or anything like that."
"You must appreciate that I can't start talking in
detail about UBC financial issues that are supposed to be resolved by the managers," he added.
"It's not being run by the public."
Vice-President of Finance and Administration
Terry Sumner, who oversees the results, did not
return The Ubyssey's calls.
The RCMP said it is not investigating the Parking
and Security department. McNeice added that he
knows of no harassment complaints against the
branch in the past year; Smithman said there were
no such complaints in his nine year term, nor any
financial accountability problems.
by Faith Armitage
Competition for residence advisor positions, worth between
$5000 and $7500, is unfair,
according to some UBC residents.
About 80 students turned out
at Totem Park Tuesday night for
an information session about
residence advisory positions for
"Melanie," an advisor at a
junior residence for the second
year in a row, agreed to talk to
The Ubyssey on condition of
anonymity about the hiring
"Other advisors can either
make or break the interview and
I think it's really unfair," she
said. "I'd say I got the job
because someone recommended me."
Assistant Director of student
housing Janice Robinson admits
criticism has been leveled
against the interview and hiring
"Residence can be a small
place to be and so I think that
there are times when it appears
that you get hired on who you
know," she said. "But it's about
the kinds of activities you've
been involved in. The reality is
perhaps you've been involved in
activities that have been programs or whatnot that advisors
have also been involved in."
Measures have been taken to
prevent nepotism, Robinson
said, pointing to the introduction of a two-year limit on holding the same position in the
same residence. Hiring teams
are also composed of three advi
sors from at least two different residences, and applicants undergo a two-stage
interview process, with the
residence life managers having the final word.
The Housing Office has
also been criticized for the
indiscriminant re-hiring of
advisors. Kristen (not her real
name) lives in Place Vanier
and applied unsuccessfully to
become an advisor. "You can
do the bare minimum [as an
advisor] and be rehired."
Added  Melanie,   "People
extend their degrees because it's
free [to live in residence]."
Robinson said all advisors
are subject to review and evaluation and they must re-apply for a
position. "Some staff are invited
to return if they've done a good
job or a reasonable job and the
residence life manager believes
that next year they'll continue to
do a good job or will show
Totem Park residence life
manager Janet Cox says the
appearance of friends hiring
friends comes from friendships
formed among advisors after
they get the job.
"Advisors certainly get to be
better friends once they get
hired," Cox said Tuesday at
Totem Park.
"How they get to be such good
friends, I guess, is because they
have to work together so much.
There isn't another student in
residence that would equally
understand the time demands,
equally understand the pressures of advising, equally under-
JANICE ROBINSON Assi. Dir of Housing
talks to students in Totem Park on
Tuesday, faith armitage photo
stand what it means to be a peer
on the floor... That's a very
stressful thing to start out the
year with so they begin to rely on
each other.
"The bottom line is the decision lands in tlie residence life
manager's lap and I don't think
there's a residence life manager
who's friends with the students
here," Cox said.
In 1996, Robinson said there
were 369 applicants for 98 positions. Advisors receive free
room or room/board, plus a
stipend, depending on the position. The total value of the compensation package varies from a
minimum of $5050 for an advisor at Totem Park, Place Vanier,
Walter Gage, Ritsmeikan, and
Thunderbird residences to a
maximum of $7534 for house
advisors at Walter Gage,
Ritsumeikan and Totem Park.
"If you're in it for the money
there are probably easier ways to
make the same amount of
money and not have to invest the
same amount of time that advisors invest," said Robinson.
Arts rep sounds
smoke alarm
fay Janet Winters
The nation-wide battle between the
rights of smokers and non-smokers
is about to hit UBC—again.
At the AMS's January 8 council
meeting. Arts Undergraduate Society
representative Chris Matisz
announced a plan to start a petition
to ban smoking from the SUB's
Gallery Lounge.
His opponents are already fuming. A smoking ban, they said, would
drive away loyal customers, resulting
in decreased revenues and possible
AMS Food and Beverage Manager
Nancy Toogood said it would be
"absolutely devastating,* reflecting
on fee negative economic experience
the Gallery had in 1993 when revenues dropped nearly 35 percent
and staff were laid off after the
lounge went non-smoking.
Toogood attributes the losses to a
link between drinking and smoking.
'Drinking and smoking just seem to
go together," she said.
AMS General Manager Bernie
Peets suggested the AMS had no
choice but to return the Gallery to a
smoking environment in 1994. "It
got to the point where the decision
had to be made either to close the
venue or to turn it back to a smoking
venue because feat's what the customers wanted,* he said.
Gallery waitress Micheie Hope
said she feared history would repeat
itself if the Gallery reverted to a no-
smoking policy. "If they cannot come
here and smoke, they will go to a bar
downtown,* she said.
Matisz maintained he is simply
trying to protect the rights of non-
smokers to breathe clean air in the
SUB concourse, and insisted he is
not an "anti-smoking crusader.*
"Smoke is not contained in [the
Gallery],* he said. "It comes right out
into the SUB concourse, the heart of
all student activities."
Toogood, however, said the air
quality in the concourse has already
improved following the installation
an ionizer in the Gallery last October.
Peets said the AMS is looking at other
technologies to improve the air.
Matisz, however, argued effective
advertising could compensate for
any financial shortfalls by attracting
the large number of non-smoking
students. "If we rearrange our marketing strategy and target that market it's only going to make better
economic sense," he said.
Second-year Law student and
Gallery customer Joe Irvine said it
might be a good idea to make the
lounge non-smoking. 'Even though
I'm a smoker, people shouldn't have
to inhale cigarette smoke,* he said,
adding students' opinions should
take priority to the bar's regular
patrons in determining its fate:
"Everyone pays their AMS fees so it
should be [up to] the student body as
a whole.*
If Matisz successfully gathers
1000 signatures, the question will go
to a student referendum.
The Ubyssey presents The Vancouver Grizzlies vs The Denver Nuggets,
Saturday, January 25 at 7:00pm at GM Place. The first two people
from different faculties, who didn't opt out of The Ubyssey, to come bv
SUB 241K today will win a pair of tickets. Staff of the paper are not eligible.
Three lines free! UBC students can place a free classified, three lines
long,  in The Ubyssey. Up to one page will be allotted each Friday. Stop
by SUB 245 to sell, buy, advertise or find a special friend. FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 1997
The UBC Ultimate
mothership is set to take off.
Let the invasion begin.
 by Wolf Depner
Away Force. Flick. Huck. Pull. Inside-Out.
Trap. Zone-O.
These are some ofthe terms that swirled
with the white plastic discs through the
unusually cold January air as the UBC
women's ultimate frisbee team held its first
ever practice eight days ago.
The men's team was just a few feet away,
going through a vigorous workout. Anybody
not familiar with ultimate and its terms
could have easily confused the gathering at
Osborne Fields with a scene from Plan Nine
from Outer Space, the air filled with miniature white saucers and quirky lingo.
While ultimate is still alien to the average sports fan, it's no longer considered a
sport from outer space played by former
Around since the late '60s, ultimate has
grown up quickly over the last five years,
and club teams from over 30 countries will
converge on UBC this summer to participate in the world club championship.
In Canada, Vancouver is considered the
sport's hotbed and the best players from
across the country have come west to enjoy
the lifestyle and level of competition here.
And while UBC students and alumni are
well-represented in the local ultimate community, it has only been around on campus
since the fall of 1995, when a men's team
was organised for the inaugural Canadian
university national championship in
There, UBC finished third, losing 15-3 to
Victoria in the semifinal.
A women's team didn't get off the
ground at the time, but the idea was revived
when Vicki Chow and first-year medicine
student Tally Vertinski played with the
men's team in the spring of 1996. Traveling
to a major college tournament in the United
States, they came across a thriving collegiate women's ultimate scene and thought
something similar could be
established at UBC.
"We took a look around
and said that there are
enough good players here to
put a team together,"
explained Chow, who got
together with like-minded
women. "Getting a women's
college team established is
also important for the west
coast ultimate scene."
The US-based Ultimate
Players Association (UPA)
helped the women's team
along when they voted by a
12 percent margin to allow
Canadian teams to compete
for the collegiate national
championship. In the past,
Canadian teams could participate in tournaments, but
they weren't allowed to win
anything more than a bag of
stale bagels.
Team organisers expected about 25 players to show
up, but were pleasantly surprised with a turnout of
more than 40. "We should
have bought stick-on name tags for everybody," quipped Chow.
The large number of players made practice difficult, but amidst the confusion Chow
was very pleased with the interest shown in
the team. "It was just so amazing to see so
many players come out," Chow says, adding
the large turnout bodes well for the future.
A total of 16 players made the team
while another eight were placed on the
practice roster.
And Chow thinks if there's one year to
win it all, this is it, considering all the talent
Four players come from three-time
defending Canadian national champions
Guests of Oprah while four more play with
Jezebel, another Vancouver club team. A
total of nine have been to Canadian national championships while two represented
Canada at the world championship in
Sweden last year.
"T think that thev nrp poised to do bet-
ler than we'll do,   sav* Mike I'irlh   m
< oach uf lhe men .-. team. Bui consider
ing the laleiil on ihe men's learn   lhe\
shouldn't do loo badlv cither   1 ii out of
THE PEOPLE BEHIND UBC'S TWO ULTIMATE TEAMS: (L to R) Mike Firth, Lauren Ross, Ashley Howard, Vicki
Chow, Jon Wooldridge. richard lam photo
19 team members played at last year's
nationals and four were on the Canadian
national team that placed fifth at the world
The men's team finished last season
with a 12-3 record against American
schools and caused a major stir when they
beat several top US colleges team.
"Last year, there were no expectations,"
says Firth, one of Canada's best. "We're just
so relaxed. It was a great position to be in."
While Firth is no longer eligible to play
for UBC, the men's team has high expectations for the season, which starts with the
Washington Huskies invitational tournament in late March. They then host the
Northwest sectional tournament and travel
to Stanford University in the last week of
April for the western regional qualifying
And if everything goes the way both
teams expect, they'll be off to the national
championship tournament. The final lour
iiamentV site ha^ not been determined vel,
bul Ihe learn.-, .in- budgeting for extensive
liavel  liolh however, are strapped for rash.
The women s. learn  has applied  lo llie
Walter H. Gage Memorial fund and hopes to
cover the remaining costs through fund-
raising. The men's team, however, can't
apply for that fund and will have to cover
virtually all costs through their own pocket
books and fund-raising.
The teams are also looking to the corporate community for support, and the men's
team has landed a couple of minor deals.
But on the whole, the response hasn't been
"Ultimate, on the whole, is just not well
known in Canada," says Chow, adding that
ultimate is more recognised south of the
border where corporate sponsorship and
university funding are better established.
UBC Athletics has given the men's team
club varsity status and has provided some,
if minimal, support. "Ultimate could get
some money if we could get some money,"
says Athletic Director Bob Philip. He hopes
that more money for varsity clubs will be
available down the road
Mill despite the financial concern- bolh
learns are heading inlo llie weapon wilh
brimming confidence. And that's Mime
llurigvoii caul pill a value on.   .'
John Dykstra's back on track
JOHN DYKSTRA plays against Winnipeg last
October, ubyssey file photo
 by Wolf Depner
Basketball Bird John Dykstra is lhe BC
sports comeback athlete of the v ear after
he received the Harry Jerome Award.
The award recognises tlie athlete who
has made a courageous comeback after
suffering a major setback.
The (>';'.' 203 lb Chilliwack native was
selected for hi« return to varsity basket
hall after a diving accident in lhe sum
mer of l!)!if) near Vernon nearly left him
crippled for life.
Dykstra dove off an unmarked pier into
three feel of water, broke Ihree vertebrae,
and was quadriplegic lor almost a week.
Following surgery and extensive rehab,
Dykslra. who played N...AA II division
baskeball at Alaska Anchorage before
transform" to UBC, was back on his feet by
I ho fall and redshirled last, season.
The power forward returned to tlie
court. Ihis season, averaging X .i point.-.. 2.S
rebounds in 17 minutes.
Dykstra was humbled by Lhe honor
bestowed upon him
"1 couldn't be more thankful and I'm
elalcd lu gel the recognition for the hard
work," said Dykstra.
It's more of an award for my family,
my coaches and for those who stuck
around me and gave me guidance until I
gol bettor." »;'
Another reward
of higher
Get $750 towards the purchase or lease of any new GM vehicle. 4   THE UBYSSEY, JANUARY 24, 1997
Panych attack!
A feast for pathological retinae
by James Rowley
7 Stories
at the Freddy Wood until Jan 25
Frightened by the lines of your shoes?
Disturbed by what your hat says about your head?
Terrified of losing your place in the world?
Don't panic.
Unlike The Man in Morris Panych's 7 Stories, you can
have your perspective refreshingly turned on its head without the need of a tall building to jump from. Guest director
Roy Surette sets the energy meter on "zany" right from the
first curtain and keeps it there, making good use of Camille
Tseng's mind-bending scenery.
If you remember Vigil, recently at the Arts Club Revue,
you'll know that Panych's plays are often fundamentally
silly with a core of profundity injected deep within, seemingly at the last moment. A 19 7 7 UBC grad, he started writing 7 Stories (which opened in 1989) while trying to come
up with a musical about Jack the Ripper. What resulted is
bizarre and brilliant, with a frenetic pace and mad-cap zing
the mostly student cast has varied success in sustaining.
It's tempting to rave about this show because the script
is so vibrant and surprising, but the line between big and
bad acting is crossed a little too often, leaving loud but dull
bits between the big jokes and eye-popping visual effects.
The Man, played with a little physical discomfort by
Bryn Williams, has some magical conversations on his way
to the edge. The stand-outs: Joe Procyk as Leonard, the
paranoid psychiatrist; Michael Schultz as Marshall, the
actor anticipating his last and largest role as husband; and
Catriona Leger as Rachel, the Christian granny who knows
God exists because she acts for him. (All three are BFA students.)
This production brings up the decades-old question of
casting in the UBC Theatre Department. Should the Freddy
Wood stage be a learning ground and showcase for actors
in the BFA program, leaving BA students to use other
venues? Or should guest directors be allowed to cast non-
students like Drew Mcreadie, Khristine Aberin and Diane
Fairey if it will encourage talents like Roy Surette to direct
here? At the moment, it seems the official policy is wishy-
Departmental politics aside, the show at hand teases us
with its brand of hollow wisdom, brushing up against a
New Philosophy but then shrugging, with an "I forget." 7
Stories is rounded out by Fairey, a former teacher who
spent 7 years teaching grade 7 in room 7 somewhere, in a
warm, generous performance as Lillian, who threatens to
sum up the show and give The Man a reason to live but
then, thankfully, doesn't.
Even so, by the end ofthe show I felt strangely...uplifted.
by Sarah Barr
Mina Totino
at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery until Mar 1
at the SUB Gallery until Jan 31
Lush, flesh coloured paint, purple feather boas, body-piercing rings and chains, stripper's paraphrenalia and tattoos
are some ofthe ingredients in Mina Totino's sensuous new
exhibition at UBC's Belkin Art Gallery.
Totino's work reconnects our minds to our bodies,
encouraging us to taste again. In 'Slow Learner' she paints
a massive fleshy tongue and writes "sweet" and "bitter" to
indicate the areas of sensory taste, reminding us of the
many bodily experiences we take for granted.
The sublime has always been a concern in modernist
painting, from the 'Sublime' of Barnett Newman's minimalist colour bars to the ejaculate style of Jackson Pollock's
action paintings. However, as curator Scott Watson puts it,
Totino is "challenging the masculine subtext of modernist
painting." Totino readdresses the allegiance to the male
quality of repression which dominates much modernist
painting, and her sublime is full of decoration and excess.
In Totino's abstract painting the gender issue is explicit;
we can sense the female body under the red beads in 'A
Class Act' and the nipple tassles in 'Dress to Kill.'
This is a female artist reclaiming the sensuous female
body from the censorship and seediness imposed on it by
so much art.
Another exhibition currently on at UBC is the Photography
Society's annual show. Take a stroll through the SUB some
lunch hour and and pop into the gallery, but don't expect an
abundance of imagination. Like the bagel with cream
cheese you majr be munching at the time, much of the subject matter seems rather predictable and cliched.
The works, choosen by the members themselves, at
times seem banal and rather meaningless, like the black
and white photograph of a stack of oranges.
There's a sprinkling of soft focus stunners like 'A rose on
Hey, writers have sex lives too!
by Peter T. Chattaway
In Love and War
at the Capitol 6 theatre
The Whole Wide World
at the Fifth Avenue theatre
at the Fifth Avenue
and Vancouver Centre theatres
Wriling is a lor -]y task and usually quite
litiring In watch. Which is jusl as well, since
writers Kpiially don't like it when people
look over their shoulder while they re working. It's understandable, therefore, hut also
more than a little ironic thai so many films
ignore the act of writing itself In pry into Ihe
frustrated love lives of these typical loners.
Few directors may bo as adept at ignor
ing the creative impulse for the sake of
cheap sentiment as Richard Attnnhoruugh.
His adaptation of Shudonluiuls couldn't
hold a candle to the tele-play that came
before it, but at least it had AnLhony
Hopkins' unusually vulnerable performance as f'.S. Lewis. In Love and War. on
the other hand, lias Chris O'Donnell as a
clijyingly juvenile F.rnesl Skippv"
That would be enough to sink the film's
prospects right then:, but Clancy Sigal'.-i
scripl would be misalvagr-ahle no matter
who had to renin the lines When
I If min "way an Its year old Red Cross vol
urileer in World War I. gets his first war
wound in the trenches, he points lhe med
ical staff to the Ihiliau on llu1 stretcher next
l.o liim and gasps ' Don't let him die' He's
never been with a woman! Mime of the
nurses Like the IrinL.
And then there's his fling with his nurse,
Apnes von Kurovysky (with a name like that.
it limsl he Sandra IJullockl, a lepul affair
thai oilers mil one insight uilo either of
their (harji'li'is heymd the fact ll>dl slu-'i-
easilv (iinl'usi-d bv her one anil onh patient
(al leasl. we don't see her Irealing anyone
else) ami he's real smug. *]u.-l imagine,' he
j-avs visualising llieii Allure together.
"You'll be making the old place spic and
span while I II be writing great works.
0 Donnell's tendeiicv to jusl rattle off lus
lines is fulfil here: we don't know if he's
being ironic or iT he really in n selfish pig,
wailing for llie five o clock shadow that will
prove the hoy has become a rutin.
One thing's for damn sure: In Lo\e and
War, which .-.eems to end on several occasions, only to startup again, is anything but
a great work. Sigal should go back to his day
job as a journalist where choppy and easy-
tn-hark storytelling is a virtue and nol a liability, or perhaps he should make tlie house
spic and span while letting someone else
try their hand al "great works."
Perhaps something less lofty is required.
A contemporary of Hemingway's in time
only, Roberl I.. Howard it> besl known as the
inventor of Conan the Barbarian, She Ra
and other pulp fiction heroes destined
never lo win him a Nobel Prize, and Dan
Ireland s The Whole Wide World is an
admirably low key sludy of lhe adolescent
world in which Howard lived -both in his
writing, vvliii.ii Ireland captures with unagi
native sound ef'l'ecls and ha I tie clad music,
and in his personal relationships, where an
unhealthy bond wilh his mother threatened
his friendship wilh Novalyne price and uJti
malfiy cost him his life.
Michael Scull Mvers' script wisely keeps
Howard's writing in the fore, with Vincent
D'Onofrio shouting his stories aloud as his
fingers hit the typewriter. Howard is not an
easy man to like, yii D Onofno plays
him with an enthusiasm Lhal is down
right nilecLious, di-spilu Ins nihilism
tin- world is a si.ununv place inlesled by
the mag^oU of corruption."" Howard
keeps telling us and his leneli-nry to
flauuI hi.-, sexual if\irginal, preconou.-
Perhaps the mosl fascinating, yii
undere\plnred aspect lo the lilm I--
Price's insistence thai Howard should
write .tbouL 'handsome iind kind peo
pie. not "misfits." Renee Zellweger {/cm
Maguire) gets our sympathy, if for no
oilier reason than this is Uie second film
in a row in which she has hail lo pul up
with morally confused men, hui she has
her fantasies too. There's just enough of
the immature in Zellweger's performance lo suggest that Howard, overbearing as he was, may have served as
Price's reality check.
Speaking nf reality checks, I wish
someone   would   have   given   Albert
Brooks one. .Mosl of Mother, the film in
which the weary neurotic plays a science
fiction writer who moves back  into his
mother's house as a way to cure his ailing
iovelii'e, is funny enough, true enough, even
perverse enough to be genuinely insightful.
But by film's end. it's clear Brooks is casting
about in his own make-believe world.
In some ways, this isn't so bad: when
John Henderson (Brooks) drives home, the
soundlrack fines a nifty parody of Simon &
Garfunkel's 'Mrs. Robinson,' with new
lyrics based on the film. Debbie Reynolds is
blithe enough, vet canny enough, lo answer
Brooks' dietary concerns with absurd lines
like "t'vmthiiig comes from a cow" one
moment, and to discuss her sex life wilh an
elderly suitor  the  next.   Mother derives
'UNTITLED' BY SARAH MCALISTER is one of the more humorous, ambiguous photos on display at the AMS Art Gallery.
the pavement' which, frankly, I hope was an ironic statement (though I doubt it).
Often photos which were meant to be profound and simplistic just seem boring. That said, however, there are some
interesting works. The precision in the technical printing of
Peter Kao's photos is impressive. His two larger black and
white photos have a sharp sculptural quality in their stillness.
Likewise Heather Larsen's black and white photo
'United Grain Growers, Vancouver' posseses a beautiful
balance of tones and light, stark shapes and clear details.
Sarah McAlister's humorous photo of two girls dressing
up to go out has an ambiguous feel to it. The viewer is
unsure if this is a snap shot moment or a posed composition. Were these two girls actually about to go out for a night
on the town in their retro disco gear, or is this a wholly artificial set-up? This kind of photo seems to probe deeper into
the uses of photography as a medium of representation.
The viewer must question the "truth" of what he sees before
his eyes.
As one visitor wrote in the comments book: "PhotoSoc
PhotoRoc or PhotoCoc?" Decide for yourself, jf
A gaze to daze audiences
LENIN LYIN' DOWN: Harvey Keitel's in hiding somewhere, looking for the life in ULYSSES' GAZE.
by Robin Yeatman
THE AMERICAN PATIENT: Chris O'Donnell puts
the "earnest" back in Hemingway during a
tepid fling with Sandra Bullock in Richard
Attenborough's In Love and War.
much of its edge from Brooks' willingness
to draw out the sexual humour of his see
nariti (call it Oedipus Lite); their scene
together in a lingerie store is a seniain.
Unfortunately, Brooks peppers his film
wilh sunny side up psychobabble, and nei
tlier he nor Reynolds knows how lo pull off
the somewhat liukey moment when their
relationship finds a cure. "Whv can't vou
vvrile  about
real things?"
Brooks at. one point. It's a question Brooks
would have dune well to consider; his con
elusion is a flimsy fairy tale, all smiles and
nu warmth, while the best laughs come
from those moments that feel like they
could have happened to anyone. ,y
Ulysses' Gaze
at the Pacific Cinematheque until Jan 27
Watching vacation videos is never interesting, except for
those who actually take part in the home movie themselves. Thus one wonders why Greek filmmaker Theo
Angelopoulos supposed his story of the voyage of A., the
main character in Ulysses' Gaze, would be intriguing to a
movie-going audience.
A. (Harvey Keitel) is a Greek filmmaker himself,
returning to Greece from the United States in order to
satisfy his strange and rather obscure obsession with the
three reels of film first shot by the pioneering Manakia
brothers. It is said the brothers ignored the political tensions of their time to travel across the Balkans, fuming
historic events and customs. However, it is not certain
that this story is true, or that these reels actually exist.
In a voyage which is supposedly comparable to
Ulysses' adventures in Homer's Odyssey, A. travels
through Greece, to Albania, to Skoplje, to Bucharest, to
Costanza, to Belgrade and finally to Sarajevo in search of
the lost reels. The slowness and extreme length of A.'s
journey is made painfully clear to the audience through
countless gaps of silence, of looking out onto barren
landscapes, and lengthy silent walks up and down the
streets of several cities.
If you aren't nodding off by now, you may find yourself drowsily posing the question of why, why A. is travelling all this way through dark, wet, war-torn countries
to find these possibly imaginary canisters of film? The
answer, if any, proves obscure. It is possible that A.
believes these glimpses of the past could revive a dying
culture. In one scene, A. compares the reels to Ulysses'
gaze, which he sees as a kind of birth, trying to emerge
from the darkness. He sees this gaze as something pure
and life-giving, as opposed to the death, destruction, fear
and oppression present in the countries through which
he travels. Whether or not this is a noble quest, A.'s tiresome, relentless adventure is neither compelling nor
Despite all of this, there are a few redeeming points in
the film. One particular scene in Sarajevo that takes
place in the fog is especially gripping. Keitel's final soliloquy is also memorable, composed of emotionally
charged prose. However, with such a relatively unsubstantiated plot, slow pace and unsatisfying ending, it is
doubtful that Ulysses' Gaze will achieve even a portion of
the fame from its legendary namesake, jf
Jf  UBC FilmSoc
7:00 PM
Fri-Sun, Jan. 24-26, Norm Theatre, SUB
Long Kiss Goodnight
9:30 PM
»vje Line,
24hrs;>t?2-3697      First Wives Club
Dr. Patricia Rupnow, Optometrist
General Eye
and Vision Care
4320 W. 10th Ave.
Vancouver, BC
(604) 224-2322
h&mn «
Bm9     M 11 top
of the Future?
Tuesday, January 28th
to 4:00 pm • Hebb Theatre
I See how on-line Web-based course activities can improve the
quality of your education at UBC, Faculty from Arts, Science
and Education will demonstrate how UBC developed WebCT '•'.
: (Web Course Tools) is being used to give students increased "-M
\ access to their professors and to valuable learning resources, «£•'
Come and see the kinds of student benefits
a technology fee might support!        ;
.. ymsfr. r^mem^ *.f
MlJktQ Don't Pet Them.	
IMMII "'SliElffllffiMlltlii ""iIBIIIi.fflSCIE.IS! JlllJIf -■$»
JANUARY 24, 1997 • volume 78 issue 28
Editorial Board
'"Supplement Coordinators
Sarah Galashan and Joe Clark
Coordinating Editor
Scott Hayward
Ian Gunn and Sarah O'Donnell
Peter T. Chattaway
Wolf Depner
Federico Araya Barahona
Richard Lam
Joe Clark
The Ubyssey is the official student newspaper ofthe University of British Columbia. It
is published every Tuesday and Friday by
the Ubyssey Publications Society.
We are an autonomous, democratically run
student organisation, and all students are
encouraged to participate.
Editorials are chosen and written by the
Ubyssey staff. They are the expressed opinion of the staff, and do not necessarily
reflect the views of The Ubyssey
Publications Society or the University of
British Columbia.
77ie Ubyssey is a founding member of
Canadian University Press (CUP) and firmly
adheres to CUP's guiding principles.
All editorial content appearing in The
Ubyssey is the property of The Ubyssey
Publications Society. Stories, opinions, photographs and artwork contained herein
cannot be reproduced without the
expressed, written permission of The
Ubyssey Publications Society.
Letters to the editor must be under
300 words. Please include your phone
number, student number and signature
(not for publication) as well as your year
and faculty with all submissions. ID will be
checked when submissions are dropped off
at the editorial office of The Ubyssey, otherwise verification will be done by phone.
"Perspectives" are opinion pieces over 300
words but under 750 words and are run
according to space.
"Freestyles" are opinion pieces written by Ubyssey staff members. Priority
will be given to letters and perspectives over freestyles unless the latter is
time senstitive. Opinion pieces will not
be run until the identity of the writer has
been verified.
Editorial Office
Room 241K, Student Union Building,
6138 Student Union Boulevard,
Vancouver, BC. V6T 1Z1
tel: (604) 822-2301 fax:822-9279
Business Office
Room 245, Student Union Building
advertising: (604) 822-1654
business office: (604) 822-6681
Business Manager
Fernie Pereira
Advertising Manager
James Rowan
Conrad Black was in the mood for a litde shopping.
Nothing drastic, you understand, 'but he felt a few
lesser-known, small circulation publications could
use a litde of his direction and a lot of his money.
So he made some calls. The Sarah Galashan Times
were looking for some capital, so he purchased them.
Same with the Joe Clark Enquirer. The Sarah
O'Donnell Examiner, the Scott Hayward Globe and
Richard Lam Post-were on board before morning coffee break. Then he went after some smaller niche-
market publications. He made an offer on Film Critics
Anonymous, but editor Peter Chattaway would have
none of it Nor would the kind folks at the Media
Foundation. Ian Gunn had no such reservation about
selling The Radio Times. Nor did Wolf Depner of his
Telephone Etiquette Quarterly. Having worked up an
appetite, Mr. Black went to lunch with Federico
Barahona, .Afshin Mehin and Richelle Rae and before
they were onto the fourth course the Wesley Chung
Mail the Faith Armitage listener and the Neil Razzell
Echo were all part of the ever-growing conglomerate.
As was the entire Stanley Tromp chain. After a short
nap, it was back to work. The Janet Winters Observer
was looking for new owners, as was Theresa
Chaboyer Today. Paul Champ's award-winning
Insomnia Review didn't know it was for sale, but soon
learned differentiy. The staff at John Zaozirny World
guessed something was up when editors Sarah Barr,
Doug Quan, and James Rowley started handing out
Hollinger coffee cups. The Robin Yeatman Tribune
and Ron Kertesz Times flirted with Black's buyout
offer, but declined on the grounds that they'd had a
more generous one from somewhere else. Which ■
Black found hard to believe until just before dinner
when his whole empire was bought out by j\ndy
*    ^a>
We scrutinise ourselves for once
This issue's supplement discusses,
explores and analyses the Canadian media,
an arena some now argue has become
monopolised by media mogul Conrad
But despite growing concerns over corporate control, one can still find a diverse
group of publications springing up around
the country. Just look around Vancouver
and you will see publications starting up in
virtually every neighbourhood, counteracting Black's influence.
The Ubyssey is part of that media diversity, and we too are subject to analysis. So
for once, the finger of criticism is not pointed at some newsmaker, but at ourselves.
As UBC's official student paper, we are
the best equipped campus organisation to
cover UBC news and issues. It is our
responsibility to put out the best and most
appealing twice-weekly newspaper that we
And we do our best to do exactly that.
But simply reporting the news in a fair
manner is not enough.
We're not content to just report, we
would also like to raise awareness about
issues that affect students and help effect
significant social change. We also hope we
are thought-provoking, and provide the
reader with alternative coverage to what
they read in the dailies. We'd really like to
meet our deadlines with the best cutting
edge copy possible.
However, whether we accomplish this
50 times a year is not for us, but the reader, to decide.
aAnd we appreciate whatever input you
might have. In fact, we encourage you to
participate in The Ubyssey through letters,
perspectives or even becoming a staffer
because, heck, the paper belongs to you.
Neither staff, or publications board is
entirely representative of the campus community; we realise that at times our coverage reflects this.
The most obvious manifestation of this
problem is the lack of female images and
sources found in our pages. We also need
to improve The Ubyssey's coverage of
racial issues and other marginalised communities.
We want to reflect the community we
work in, and we're aware of these issues
every time we put out a paper. So we welcome criticism and questions, and happily
accept the help of any who want to make a
difference in the world of print
We are your campus media; take advantage of ns.jf
Canada Post Publications Sales Agreement Number 0732141
Democracy week?
AMS and democracy? An interesting oxymoron. Sci Week is traditionally in the last week of
January—but this year the AMS
gave that week to Arts. Our
External VP, Phil Ledwith,
expressed concern many times
that Sci Week advertising would
interfere with AMS Elections, but
the appeal fell on deaf ears.
Meetings with the AMS D of A produced no change. This is the
"administrative matter" Blair
McDonald discussed with Michael
Hughes [letters, Jan. 21].
Thus, we postered before the
campaign week, advertising Sci
Week and our 54-40 concert. Very
few of those posters remain; the
"democratic" process came by and
plastered over everytiiing.
SUS has to advertise Sci Week—
and there is no space left after
independants and slates promote
their campaigns. The slate which
Michael represents is a notorious
offender—setting up enormous
blocks of posters that occupy as
much space as possible. This
action is representative ofthe arrogance of student politicians—do
they really trunk they have exclusive rights to every square inch of
poster space on campus?
SUS has plastered over AMS
election posters. But no slate or
candidate was singled out, despite
Michael's    claim. Ironically
enough, this schoolyard bickering
continues, with Sci Week posters
disappearing across campus. Of
course, this problem would have
never happened in the first place if
the AMS had listened to its constituency.
Tracy MacKinnon
President of SUS
In two recent Ubyssey issues,
Antonia Zuniga has expressed his
disapproval with the move by the
AMS to put forth a referendum on
providing extra funding for AMS
clubs ("AMS fee hike is hypocritical" Letters, Jan. 10, "Referendum
stirs up election debate", Jan.21).
Mr. Zuniga claims that it is hypocritical of those who supported the
motion in Council to ask for more
funding at a time when the official
AMS psition is to oppose ancillary
fees by the University.
In fact, the AMS policy is that
Council would only support an
ancillary fee that has been through
an adequate consultation process
and has been put to the students in
the form of a referendum. If Mr.
Zuniga chooses not to support the
AMS clubs, whose membership
totals are currently over 15,000,
then he is free to vote accordingly,
as is every other student on cam
pus. This process will hopefully
set an example for the University
on the proper way to deal with a
proposed fee increase.
Andrew Hemy
Arts AMS Representative
GSS responds
In his letter to the editor entitled
"GSS Council Manipulated," published in the Tuesday, January 14,
1997, edition of The Ubyssey,
David Murphy again raises concerns about the current operation
of the GSS. Throughout the latter
half of 1996, David has aired what
he perceives to be serious mismanagement at the GSS. Fully
aware of David's skepticism, council attempted to meet his concerns
by voting to reseat him at our
August Council meeting. With his
reseating, David's status as a member of the finance committee was
firmly established. However,
involving David more closely in the
operation of the Society does not
seem to have addressed his concerns, nor does the Society's policy
of lull but confidential disclosure
to all members of the Society (of
which he has made full use)
regarding Society issues seem to
have had any effect. Having included David within the governing bodies of the GSS, I am deeply concerned that he continues to publicly misrepresent events occur
ring in the GSS:
David claims that the GSS council makes "precipitous decisions,"
imposed on them "during closed
and secret sessions," and during
which "the executive provides
councillors with limited information heavily laced with innuendo
[which the] attendees are then
obliged to keep confidential under
threat of unseating or libel suit."
No decisions have been "precipitous" and nothing has been
"imposed" upon any councillor. I
have no further to look than to
David's participation to illustrate
my point most clearly. If our meetings have been "closed and secret"
regarding staff matters, it has only
been so to protect the status and
reputation of our employees, not to
isolate the issues from the general
membership. We, as executives
and councillors, have a legal
responsibility to do this. It is unfortunate that some members of the
Society do not understand this concept; had they understood it, much
misinformation would not have
David's portrayal of the conditions of our council meetings is
equally unfortunate. I dare say that
if they had been as David portrays
them, he would never have been
reseated, let alone granted access
to financial documents. If anything, the GSS may be faulted for
cont on p. 7 loia
Fifteen years after a royal commission
expressed concerns over high levels
of media concentration, Conrad Black
has gone shopping. The result?
Black now owns 58 percent of
all dailies in Canada.
by Paul Champ
Conrad Black is a Canadian millionaire, an opinionated writer and probably the biggest press baron the
world has ever known.
Aside from his newspaper holdings in England,
the United States and
Israel, Black's Hollinger
Corporation went on a
$660-million buying binge in Canada last year. When
the dust settled, he had bought up the Southam chain,
the Armadale chain, and a chunk of the Thomson
chain—his empire here now stands at 60 daily newspapers, 58 percent of all dailies in Canada.
Fifteen years ago, a Royal Commission on
Newspapers reported
on the dangers of ownership concentration:
"The process of corporate growth, by concentration into larger
groups within the industry, has been accompanied by
a reduction in the diversity of news and comment
that is the vital element of a free society." When the
Kent Commission—named after chair Tom Kent-
began in 1980, the three largest newspaper chains
owned 57 percent of dailies. That figure was 45 percent in 1970 and 25 percent in 1958.
Today, the three largest chains control 72 percent
of dailies.
Black uses a subtle
form of control called
"the trickle down theory" of management
influence, according to
James Winter, communications professor at the
University of Windsor and the author of a new book
called Democracy's Oxygen: How Corporations
Control the News.
When Black buys a newspaper, Winter explains,
the editorial content changes in two ways. First, he
influences the content by hiring editors who share his
views, who then shape
the newspaper to those
views by story selection,
story editing, story
emphasis or placement,
and decisions about
headlines. Even if a reporter has different views, he
or she usually conforms to get important assignments, good beats and promotions.
The second way Conrad Black changes editorial
content is by laying off reporters. Fewer journalists,
says Winter, means lower quality journalism with
fewer local stories, no investigative journalism, and a
heavy reliance on press
conferences and news
releases from institutional sources. The Kent
Commission also complained about this problem, and cited Thomson Newspapers as the chief villains.
But Winter says Black is worse still. "He goes into
those Thomson Newspapers, and they've already
been pared to the bone, and he cuts them back by 30
percent or more." And the lay-offs, he adds, are generally ruthless. Last March, the employees of the
Regina Leader-Post and
the Saskatoon Star-
Phoenix, two recently
purchased papers,
showed up as ordered to
convention centres in their respective cities. Staff
were sent to two different rooms: one for those who
were staying, the other for those who were fired. The
20 percent in the firing room were told they could not
return to the office; their belongings would be delivered. 	
In the United States, media watchdog group
Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) believes
the situation is even more dire. A wave of mergers
began in 1986 when General Electric bought NBC for
$6.6-billion US. In 1995, all the other networks were
also gobbled up: Westinghouse Electric bought CBS
for $5.4-billion, Time Warner bought CNN/Turner
Broadcasting for $ 8.5-billion, and Walt Disney bought
Capital Cities/ABC for a $19-billion mega-merger.
These new parent companies have some invested
interests in nuclear weapons production, fighter
planes, medical services, banks, insurance companies, telecommunications, or hazardous waste disposal, among other things. It is not surprising that
FAIR raises concerns about the potential bias of news
organisations at these major networks.
Canada does not have such direct dubious connections in its media ownership structure, but Winter
says there is a conflict of interest with people who sit
on the boards of directors of our media corporations.
Hollinger and Southam alone have directors who also
sit on the boards of every major bank in Canada, and
various corporations that might influence their
media contacts.
Winter has researched these kinds of board interlocks, but has not uncovered any smoking guns showing board influence on the media. "It's a very difficult
thing to do because the only people who know about
present at a special union conference this past weekend in Ottawa. Representatives from newspapers
spanning Vancouver to St. John's converged on the
capital to form a loose coalition that has been dubbed
the Southana-Hollinger Interunion Council.
"We're worried about the homogenisation of
information," says Matyas. "And we're also worried
about the editorial control of information, like everyone taking the same slant on things in commentary to
story selection."
Matyas says the influence of the newspapers'
owner is a big concern. "He is an owner that is not
just interested in the bottom fine, he has also demonstrated a great interest in content," says the reporter.
"And it's no secret that he and his wife, right-wing
columnist Barbara Amiel, have very strong views on
society and politics. And they have made no secret of
the fact that they despise people with views that
emanate from a social justice perspective."
Matyas says no concrete action proposals came
out of the conference, except an agreement to share
information and work closely on common problems,
which he believes will help avoid disputes. "There
seems to be a genuine desire to work together for a
common purpose."
Matyas says the unions also discussed the impact
of Black on the widely-used national wire service,
Canadian Press (CP). "People are just realising the
fact that he can put his person in charge of CP, and
basically bring CP to its knees," says Matyas. Each
daily newspaper in Canada has one vote in the CP cooperative, and now that Black owns the majority of
votes, he has forced massive lay-offs and purging of
the board.
these influences are the people on the boards, and they're
not talking," he says. But just
by looking at these board
interlocks, he adds, we can
"infer that there's a lot of ear-bending taking place.
Conrad Black's feeding frenzy on Canadian newspapers has not gone unchallenged. Last year, the
Council of Canadians (COC), a public interest group,
launched a court action against Hollinger and the federal government's Competition Bureau. The Southam
acquisition was approved by the Bureau just three
days after it was announced in May 1996. The COC
argued that the Bureau failed "to protect the Canadian
people from corporate concentration in the media,
particularly newspapers."
On December 16, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the action, stating that the COC had not
applied within the 30-day limit after the Bureau decision, and that, in any case, the COC had no standing
because they were not directly affected by the merger.
David Robinson, communications coordinator for
the COC, says the judge really meant they had no commercial interest, and therefore it did not justify standing. Robinson says the COC has appealed the decision, arguing that the Competition Act exists not only
to protect the commercial interests of other companies, but the public interest as well.
Robinson says the COC could not meet the 30-day
limit because they had to raise funds for the court
case. The Act has provisions to ignore the limit if
there are special circumstances and the issue is very
important. But Robinson adds that the COC's main
goal is not to win the case.
"We hope that through the appeal process we can
keep a public spotiight on this and generate more
support, and get the word out there," Robinson says,
"because I think there's a lot of concern out there bubbling under the surface."
Support has come from one group at least: the
media unions. Besides giving financial support to the
court action, union members at Southam and
Hollinger papers are banding together to see what
they can do about the Black onslaught. Joe Matyas,
president of the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild
local and a reporter at the London Free Press, was
David Jolley, the chair of CP before Black came
along, says, "CP is the major supplier of news in the
Aside from being used extensively by every daily
in Canada, it also has a broadcast branch producing
radio stories for stations across the country. Jolley
also says that every major television station subscribes to CP, and use it as a source of information
and ideas.
Robinson of the COC concurs. "CP is basically the
central nervous system of information in Canada."
He adds that this control of CP and its broader effects
was also not considered by the federal Competition
Bureau, and is another basis for their court case.
• Despite Black's apparently unfriendly control,
Winter says he believes positives might arise out of
the situation. Over 2000 journalists were laid off
because of Black last year alone, and journalism students are graduating from university all the time.
"One of the obvious things for these two groups to do
is get together and start up their own alternative
media," says Winter. "And as they do that, people will
turn to those outlets."
Even Jolley, who would not disclose the nature of
his disagreement with Black that lead to his departure as chair of CP, says he is optimistic about the
industry. In his opinion, capitalists like Black only
reflect the trend to mergers in all industries, not just
Jolley has worked near the pinnacle of the industry for a long-time. He was president and CEO of the
Toronto Star for 14 years before he moved to CP. On
the whole, he says there is no reason to worry. There
are far more magazines, television stations, and radio
stations today than ever before, he says. Plus there is
a whole new media, the Internet.
He concludes, "So a person that wants a wide
variety of expressions can certainly find it, and I think
that's very different than 15 years ago." For his own
part, however, Jolley says he is leaving the media for
a less "competitive" atmosphere.jt/ M2   THE UBYSSEY, JANUARY 24, 1997
johal on ethics of ethnics
 by Douglas Quan
When BCTV hired Jas Johal to be a reporter, he made sure he
wouldn't be "the ethnic reporter." His attitude has softened
somewhat over the years.
Johal says that while the local news media is improving its
coverage of minority and religious groups, they have a long
way to go. Until reporters are trained as "multicultural
reporters," he said, stories which focus on a particular ethnic
group will, in general, be covered better by a reporter from
that group.
"When I started at BCTV, I specifically stated 'I am not your
ethnic reporter and will not cover ethnic communities. I will
not be stuck in some ethnic ghetto,'" he said.
"Along the way my stance has softened a bit because I want
the stories to be covered properly."
Most recendy Johal covered the conflict among members
of the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Surrey. As a member of the
Sikh community Johal feels he was better equipped to cover
the issue.
"There are certain things [Temple members] would say to
me that they probably wouldn't say to a white reporter," he
Other high-profile stories from the Indo-Canadian community he has covered include the Vernon massacre, the
Dosanjh murders and the subsequent targeting of BindyJohal
and his associates.
"I was at the forefront covering them [because] they're big
stories and I feel that they are important and they should be
done properly."
He points out that currently all BCTV editors are white, as
are 13 out of 16 reporters.
"That makes it difficult in covering these stories because of
the differences in culture and language," he said.
However, he said that the media is beginning to recognise
the need for more minority reporters.
"If you want to attract a diverse audience, you get minority
reporters," he said. "It's good business sense, if you want to
Is the daily newspaper dead? The
Ubyssey looks at the rise ofthe new
electronic media and the fall ofthe old.
 by Andy Barham
"Sometimes we accommodate change in strange and wondrous ways," says Paul
Sullivan, managing editor ofthe Vancouver Sun.
Sullivan worked in just about every form of mass communication there is
before coming to the Sun two months ago. This
gives him a unique perspective on the future
of the daily newspaper.
"They will abandon
old media only if the
new media fulfill their
requirements more handily
than the old media."
Paul Sullivan
"I think that there are a couple
of issues we should think about
when we think about this whole
issue of whether or not the newspaper will be   supplanted by
some other medium. Whatever
we think about, we've got to be
practical. We've got to think about it
from the point  of view of utility,
because that's mainly why people make
Sullivan believes it is human needs that will determine whether or not electronic media supplants the printed word. "They will abandon old media only if
the new media fulfill their requirements more handily than the old media."
Sid Taffler disagrees. As editor of Simpatico Netlife, an online
magazine, Taffler believes cost will ultimately decide the fate of daily
While the costs of producing a daily newspaper are initially borne by
the paper's producers, ultimately, they are paid for by the newspaper's advertisers. This is not true for an electronic medium like
the Internet.
Taffler points out that the proliferation ofthe home computer will make the expence of a $30 or $40 million printing press- ' -
unnecessary. "You can get the same information to somebody
over a modem and what you do is, you have the end user buy
the hardware."
The newspaper will die when society reaches what Taffler
refers to as critical mass. "You can't have it now because we
haven't got critical mass." Critical mass occurs when there are
enough people plugged into a new medium—like the Internet—
that a switchover can happen.
Ultimately, says Taffler, it will be a newspaper's advertisers who
will drive this shift when they realize the benefits of a medium like the
"When you think about it, few people will actually buy a product directly from a newspaper. There is some of it on television—they give you a
phone number. But it's still not buying directly through the medium. The
Internet is the only medium where, while you're consuming the medium, with a
few clicks, you can actually buy the product. And that's very very powerful from
the advertiser's point of view."
"The big, fat Weekend Sun...
I look at the damn thing-
it's just so fat-and I can see
the slice of a tree in there.
JAS JOHAL guest speaker at the Sikh students association
conference last Sunday   ron kertesz photo
get down to it."
But Johal still rejects being labelled BCTV's 'ethnic
"If we want to cover these communities, reporters in general have to become better multicultural reporters, and
sending Jas Johal to every East Indian event is not going to
do that." jf
Some critics argue that it is not just economics that threaten the daily newspaper.
Kalle Lasn, co-founder of the Media foundation which publishes Adbusters,
sees newspapers becoming less and less relevent to the
average reader.
"A lot of people, including myself, feel
squeamish   about   picking   up   the
Weekend Sun—the big, fat weekend
Sun, because, I look at the damn
thing—it's just so fat—and I can
see the slice of a tree in there, you
know? And then I turn the pages
and there may be one or two in-
depth stories that I really feel gave
me something. The rest of it is just ads
and stuff I'm not interested in."
Lasn points out television provides a much
stronger sense of immediacy than the print media,
reasoning that it is more satisfying, faster and convenient medium.
"I think that the combination of television and information hounds like myself
surfing around the net picking up their information that way-I l±Link that is sort
of like a left-right punch for the daily newspaper."
But Sullivan insists the day of the daily newspaper isn't over
"I think the point is that what we have is a dynamic and rapidly evolving
industry right now. And for anybody to just sort of stand still and conform to
some form of either-or analysis—it's really too simple a picture to paint." jf
W men headline as victims      !?
by Theresa Chaboyer
Women are most likely to make the news as victims
either of violence, flood or disaster: that's the word
from Media Watch, the Vancouver-based media watchdog.
Shari Graydon, communications graduate and freelance columnist for the Vancouver Sun has been president of Media Watch for the last four of its 16 years.
The portrayal of women in the media, she said, continues to shock her although she understands where it
comes from.
"One of the reasons that we see the images of
women that we do is because men still dominate both
the advertising industry as well as the production
industries in Hollywood," she explained.
The women we see on TV and in ads, she said, are
more reflective of what men think women should look
like than they are of women's views of themselves.
In TV news, for example, the female anchor still
has to be more beautiful than average. "We have never
seen a female anchor in Canadian television who
approaches Lloyd Robertson in terms of age," Graydon
Estabhshed in 1981, Media Watch aims to ensure
the realistic portrayal and equitable representation of
women in the media. Its 1994 cross-Canada survey of
women demonstrated there is a need for change.
According to the survey, a majority of Canadian
women are sometimes or often offended by portrayals
of women in the media.
Although women rarely complain to offensive
advertisers, 53 percent ofthe women surveyed waged
"One of the reasons that we see
the images of women that we do
is because men still dominate
both the advertising industry as
well as the production industries
in Hollywood."
Shari Graydon, President
Media Watch
a silent war against them by boycotting their products.
Producers and advertisers are beginning to get the
message. "It makes bottom-line sense for advertisers
to show women more progressively because women
buy 50 percent of the products and it is counterpro
ductive to insult them," Graydon said.
Television is also a hard place to find realistic
images of women. Another 1994 Media Watch study
revealed that female characters make up only a third
of all characters on prime-time television, mcluding
news and Canadian programing.
Although TV dramas have been slow to respond to
accusations of blatant sexism, news has
improved since a 1982 CBC study found there
were 12 male on-air anchors to every female
on-air anchor.
Graydon said news has made a genuine
effort to incorporate women: "Television news
is one of the few places that there has been a
noticeable increase. You still very rarely see a
single female anchor in a prime-time news slot,
although Gloria Macarenko is an exception—
that's pretty recent. She used to share [the hosting] with Kevin Evans."
Graydon's master's thesis revealed that when
the pressure was on and "the three major networks in the US were faced with greater competition
from cable channels, the picture of women improved.
"When women have a choice between sexist and
non-sexist [programming] they will gravitate towards
the more progressive choice," she said, jf
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 by Sarah Galashan
Small white signs of protest litter the lawns of Vancouver. It is
becoming apparent that this city is one of many unwilling to
accept the recent proposed government cuts to CBC funding.
Lawn signs, letter writing and petitions are all part of the
'Keep the Promise' campaign organized to speak out against
federal government's actions.
We must make it known to the government that people are not satisfied, that there is not only a financial deficit, there is a cultural
deficit," said Ken Johnson, one of the Vancouver organizers of the
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting (FCB). The group is now lobbying 29
constituencies across Canada.
"We are a grassroots organization, we are all volunteering
our efforts because we think it's an issue of prime concern."
Johnson said the campaign began in early November in only
five ridings, but has since expanded in light of its success and
the need to generate support for the sustained public funding of
Canadian broadcasting.
Johnson refers to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as "the
key engine driving the Canadian culture industry." But by providing the
country with a prime time schedule that is currently 95 percent
Canadian, the CBC struggles in a market which favours American domination.
The FCB stresses the liberal government's failure to keep its
Red Book promise to provide stable, long-term funding for the
"The CBC's budget has been cut $400 million by the government," said Jim Thompson, FCB's Ottawa organizer. He
voters to contact both federal politicians and local MPs to voice
concerns and remind the liberal party of the upcoming federal election.
Local MP Anna Terrana is well aware of public concern over the cuts
and held a public forum last Monday, at which the opinions of
Vancouver residents were voiced.
According to Terrana's community liason, Jonathon Carrigan,
the MP supports the CBC, but not at the expense of societal welfare. "Yes, she supports the CBC, but there are other priorities
that people have to look at."
"Last year we held the exact same meeting when there were
rumors of there being cuts and only two people showed up," said
Carrigan. In fact this year over 300 residents were present.
Despite obvious public support the issues of child poverty and
crime take precedent over CBC funding for Terrana, however she will
be presenting the Liberal party with a petition of over 12000 names,
all fighting for the CBC.
Most of the cuts have yet to affect broadcast, but come April '97 listeners and viewers will notice changes.
"I enjoy the CBC and it's important to me to do as much as I can,"
said John Lloyd, an avid CBC radio listener and one of many Vancouver
residents working to save the CBC. jf
CBC CELEBRITY David Suzuki did the honors last Friday, launching the lawn
sign campaign in Vancouver., richard lam photo
Local radio programs will bo cut from '■' hours lo 3.5 out
Mornmgside and Sunday Morning .ire to he merged inl
a single program.'
CBC television will suffer a 50 porcenl rolu< don lo loca
and regional operations.
News bureaus in New Brunswick am! Saskatchewan wil
bo eliminated.
Regional arts and entertainment piom acaning and
several popular shows—including Mac Ahve.' ['he Healll
Show, and Undercurrents—will be < a no'lied.
Job losses will lolal 1850, all in the area of program
ol program M4   FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 1997
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Busting the mainstream media
KaHe Lasn is changing the
world one ad at a time. He
wants to make the world
media literate; it's a big task.
by Richelle Rae
kalle Lasn is a man with a vision, a very
clear vision. He wants to change the world
and make it a better place.
Lasn is the founder of the Media
Foundation, the local group behind Adbusters
magazine, whose mission is to create democracy in, out of all things, television.
And Lasn wants to teach a media literacy
lesson to North America.
"There was a really big question of freedom of speech on television and democracy
on the air waves," Lasn says, "and the more
we looked into that the more it seemed to
grow into this humungous problem that
seemed to exist, and not just in Canada, but
across the United States as well. It was this
inability to buy 30 seconds of air time that
started our Media Foundation and everything
we've done since."
The foundation, started as a reaction to
CBC's refusal to air a 30 second ad that came
in response to the Forests Forever campaign.
Things got rolling quickly after that. Lasn
explains: "As soon as we were unable to air it
we got a press release and started getting
some publicity and going on talk shows. Then
it mushroomed into dozens and dozens of
people all suddenly getting hot under the collar about it and it escallated from there into a
newsletter which then grew into a magazine
[Adbusters], you know, a B.C. magazine, and
then by the third issue it was a Canadian magazine, by the fifth issue a North American
The idea is to revolutionise media through
c^ture-jamming, often subvertisements or
anti-advertisements—spoofs of popular originals—designed to make people aware of its
Many networks, however, have refused to
air the foundations' ads.
Lasn hasn't taken this laying down. In
1993, he fought back and launched a lawsuit
against the CBC when it refused to air the
Greenpeace and Media Foundation
"AutoSaurous" ad after some advertisers complained about it. The ad was aimed at attacking the auto industry and raising awareness
about environmental issues surrounding it.
Last year, BC Provincial court
found the crown corporation guilty
of breach of contract, but dimissed
the claim that it had violated the
foundation's constitutional right to
Freedom of Speech. Lasn launched
an appeal which will be heard this
"Everytime we go to court,
there's this media blitz which educates Canadians about how their
television system really works," he
says. "It's like a media literacy lesson on the grand scale for
Lasn wasn't surprised at the
decision, though.
"We knew that our chances
were very, very, tiny at this early
stage," he explains. "But we do
believe that we have a fighting
chance of victory in the Supreme
Court of Canada next year."
The foundation, Lasn adds, is
currently launching a similar lawsuit in the US.
"We believe if we can win one or
both these legal battles, then we
can change the whole television
backs since the Media Foundation
and Adbusters first began, there
have also been some unexpected
success stories.
The foundation has tried unsuccessfully for five years to organise
the Buy Nothing Day campaign,
but this year the world got the message.
"It was the most incredible campaign we've ever launched," says
Lasn. "We must have been on at
least 50 radio shows. It was like
every five minutes there was someone phoning from all over the
world, it was an incredble event that happened in nine countries around the world."
Why this year?
Lasn thinks it was a combination of two
things. "This year we changed the date to the
Christmas shopping season. And we also put
it up on our Web site and somehow those two
factors made it interesting and it caught on.
We catalysed something that was way bigger
than we imagined."
Although awareness
increased, due in part to CNN
running a national advertisement, Lasn feels the business
community doesn't take  the
message seriously.
"They didn't quite see the environmental
side of things," he says.
The Media Foundation has championed
some other lesser known causes over the last
six years as well. They've produced roughly
thirty different television campaigns, as well
as helping other environmental groups out
around the world.
Support for the foundation is growing,
Lasn points out. "I know that there is a huge
percentage...in the advertising industry who
actually aren't very proud of what they are
doing," he says. "They know that their industry is kind of ethically neutral. When they look
at Adbusters they sort of can't resist coming
up with an idea and shooting it to us clandestine. If it came out that they were helping us
they would probably get fired from their
advertising agency."
In the future Lasn wants to increase the
circulation of Adbusters from 30,000 to
50,000 across North America. He also wants
the magazine to be bi-monthly next year, but
that takes capital, which is hard to come by.
"I'm not looking to retire at all," says Lasn
who believes there is still a lot of work to do.
"I'm just looking for more good people to join
our organisation. The next step is to turn
Adbusters into a truly international magazine
and get rid of this really American flavour it
has now." jf
Student activists jam the culture
The Jammers stick it to McDonalds, richard lam photo
by John Zaozirny
UBC's Culture Jammers are upset.
They're upset at the growing commercialisation of education. Upset at the
increasing corporate presence on campus. And upset to hear people say the
situation is, though unfortunate,
But they're doing something about
"If you're by yourself and you get
upset, you feel there's nothing you can
do," says Culture Jammer Jonathan
Oppenheim. "But if you know that
there's other people upset, then as a
group you can do something."
Originally formed as a group where
people could discuss consumer culture,
Culture Jammers' main objective is to
open peoples' eyes, and send a signal
that there are other opinions, other
This openness is what separates
Culture Jammers from other groups,
explains member David Jago. "People
can bring their own concerns and projects to the round table," he says.
And if the group has accomplished
anything, Singh adds, it has been to
show students they can take charge of
their own environment.
Well-publicised actions like the
deflating ofthe Ronald McDonald blowup at Storm the Wall last March are an
integral part of the Culture Jammer
strategy—they generate media attention
for their cause.
Oppenheim stresses, however, the
main goal of Culture Jammers, which is
to raise awareness as opposed to telling
people what to think.
"We don't expect to change people's
minds," he says. "We want to get people
thinking about it."
The rest, he adds, is up to students.
"Some people may think we're a
bunch of lunatics," he says, "and that's
okay, too," adding that even then
Culture Jammers have done their job,
creating a debate that didn't exist
Jago adds that it's important for students about the alternatives. "There is an
alternative to the corporate [agenda]," he
says, "which is basically sell, sell, sell. It's
a philosophy of the dollar." jf op/fed
THE UBYSSEY, JANUARY 24, 1997    7
cont from p.6
allowing one of its councillors
to sensationalize issues to a
level that would rival the activities of Fleet Street.
Perhaps the most disconcerting statement David makes
is his claim that "the audit and
court action, plus the costs
attending to turmoil in the
food and beverage operations,
worsened the ongoing central
problem of the Society's
deficit/debt' Such a statement
is trydy incredible for a member ofthe finance committee to
make. As he well knows, for
the fiscal year (Jan. to Dec.)
1996 the GSS will break even.
This constitutes a vast
improvement over fiscal year
1995, which resulted in a
28,000 deficit The success
that has been achieved is due
completely to the diligent and
patient efforts of the finance
committee, the executive, and
council in addressing the hard
issues surroiuidiiig our operational inefficiencies.
While David is free to
express his opinion on these
issues and the executive and
council welcome critical
approaches to our decision
making process, members
must consider that the best
interest ofthe Society includes
responsible public statements.
In the face of efforts to include
David Murphy in the processes ofthe GSS, full disclosure of
the issues to GSS member, his
public statements fall short of
this most basic requirement.
Kevin Dwyer
GSS President
January 27 to 31, 1997 is Environment Week at
UBC. The Student Environment Centre will be having a number of speakers and interesting displays
throughout the week, in the SUB conversation pit.
I remember a few years back we used to hear about
the environment all the time. Polls said that it was the
most important issue to Canadians. There were high
profile blockades at Clayoquot Sound, the Temagami
Wilderness in 0 and other areas. Scientists around the
world were telling us that we were in real danger of
undermining the life support systems ofthe planet, and
governments around the world were Ustening and actually taking some concrete action. There were at least
two international protocols on protecting the ozone
layer in which most of the world's nations agreed to
phase out the use of ozone depleting chemicals. The
'Earth Summit' was held in Brazil to try to get the
world's governments to agree that it is in everyone's
interest that our activities do not threaten the very
things that allow humans to survive and to reach agreements which ensure that this is the case. It nearly succeeded...
Why does it seem that governments have now
slipped back into complacency about these issues? Part
of the answer lies in the first part of this little story. The
poll, governments are political entities that react to 'public opinion', and their pollsters tell them right now that
the environment is far down the list of things that are
important to the public right now, behind defecits, taxes,
and jobs. These things are vitally important but what we
forget is that our entire economy is absolutely dependant on the health of the natural world. Everything that
we use comes from the earth. Economic wealth is created by turning natural resources into things of value to
humans. Other parts of the economy such as services,
money speculation etc., redistribute wealth but they do
not create it Therefore, we cannot have an economy at
all if there is not a viable environment Questions of
jobs, deficit, and taxes are irrelevant if the natural systems that grow the basic materials on which our economy depends are threatened or undermined. Even the
materials that we get from deep within the earth such as
petroleum or minerals, are not much good to us if we
are unable to grow enough food to feed ourselves. My
point here is that it only makes sense that the environment should be our first concern, because all other
Consumption Kills
issues that affect our lives depend on the health of the
environment Perhaps if we replaced the word 'environment* in daily usage with the word life' we would
feel different about things. Since we cannot survive without air, water and natural materials (food), in effect their
meanings are the same.
So, as we have seen, governments are bodies that
react to public opinion. Although resolving some of the
environmental problems that threaten our survival will
require both personal changes as well as national and
international agreements, governments will not act until
they perceive that they will lose popularity if they don't
The late '80s and early '90s were a time of action by governments because their citizens were demanding that
they act Therefore, the responsibility for saving the environment relies on - you guessed it - youl Luckily, this is
quite easy to do. The first thing is to understand the
threats to life' posed by some of our human activities.
Keep aware by critically reading the newspaper or watching the evening news. Also, the Student Environment
Center is holding its yearly environment week beguining
next Monday, January 27. This is a full week of information displays and speakers from various environmental
groups, municipalities and organisations. Each day has
a different theme. Environment week will be held in the
SUB, with the information displays in the conversation
pit and speakers in various other rooms. Watch for signs.
Once you begin to learn more about the threats to the
environment you will begin to realize that virtually all of
them have the same cause...Our level of consumption in
the industrialized world. The second thing to do in saving
the environment is even easier. It just involves thinking
about your consumption and realizing which parts truly
give you satisfaction, and which parts are just fleeting pleasures that leave you less fulfilled in the long run than you
were before (junk food comes to mind, for example). You
may find that just by doing this, your financial situation
gets a whole lot better - and you are saving the planet!
These are changes at the personal level, but by educating yourself and by lowering your consumption and
therefore simplifying your life, you automatically
begin to change public opinion
By doing these things, you automatically begin to
change public opinion - and therefore to prod your government into action.
Jeremy Forst is lhe S.E.C. secretary.
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Box Of/ice
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Written and Directed by Valerie Membt
2 for I Preview Wed Jan 22
Opens Thurs )an 23 at 8pm
BOX OFFICE 822-2678
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Crisis Management. When a client kills a
^^^^^^H                  _M_ and  the  engines  of international
lot of people or devastates the environ
^^^^^^|                    commerce. Th- people who were always
ment, we make sure their version of
^^^^^^|                    under attack by special interest groups
events dominates the news. We handled
^^^^^^H                   — environmentalists, activists, students.
Exxon Valdez, and the Union Carbide
^^^^^^|                   Because the attacks were getting worse.
problem in Bhopal. We also smothered
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Hf^v            Ifl^^^^^^^^l
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health care reform for the US health
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insurance industry.
„^^^^^^^^v   * *P ^^P^|
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^^V ^ :SI
^^^^^^|                   I'm glad I did. My name is George Nel-
roots groups to serve our clients' needs.
^^^^^^|                   son. I've been with Burston-Marstellar
We  organized  the   National   Smokers
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^dti^^B'. li!Si^^H^^^H
^^^^^^H                    now for fifteen years. Over that time
Alliance for Philip Morris to drown out
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^K              **^^^^^^^^B^^^^^^^^^^I
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the anti-smoking fanatics. And we put
^^^^^^H                    International Relations. When the for-
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^^^^^^|                   peared 35,000 problem citizens, they
together a coalition of women's groups
for Dow Corning to protest in favor of
breast implants.
^^^^^^H                   called us in to manage the world press.
Well, you can imagine how proud I am to
^^^^^^H                    Today we're  looking  after  Indonesia:
be part ofthe BM team. I'm not sure who
^^^^^^H                    same problem, bigger numbers. If the
to thank for this chance to serve the peo
^^^^^^H                   former government of South Africa had
ple who serve the public. Perhaps my
^^^^^^H                   called    us,    we    could    have    saved
mother. She used to say, "George, I never
know when you're telling the truth."
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www. bm . con 8    FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 1997
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Much ado about a Dane
Kenneth Branagh once found Hamlet
intimidating. But now, he hopes,
audiences will be better prepared for
his four-hour movie adaptation.
 by Peter T. Chattaway
There comes a moment in every actor's life, says Uncle
Monty in Withnail & I, when he knows he will never play the
Dane. If that moment ever came to Kenneth Branagh, it fast
disappeared. Branagh first essayed the part at the Royal
Academy of Dramatic Arts when he was 20; since then he
has played the character hundreds of times on stage, and
today his massive four-hour film adaptation opens at the
Varsity theatre in Vancouver.
Don't expect the usual melancholic interpretation,
though. Branagh, who met with The Ubyssey at the Hotel
Vancouver two weeks ago, says he moved the story into the
opulent 19th century to make his Hamlet more exciting.
His decision was inspired, in part, by Mayerling, a 1968
film starring Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve about an
Austro-Hungarian prince who falls for a commoner.
"The world of that film was all candles and mirrors and
corruption. I just felt it was very, very decadent, and it
seemed to be very right for Hamlet. I wanted to get away
from the kind of gothic, gloomy, glowering casties and
things, which has been done, and done very well, in previous versions.
"And you know, in the 19th century, borders were
always changing, countries were changing hands with
intermarriages and things. It was all very unstable, lots of
military movement and stuff, so it felt like a good place to
get right away from gothic gloom and into something that
was a bit more vibrant."
Restored to its full length, Hamlet may be difficult to follow for those who aren't familiar with the larger political
ramifications of Hamlet's family troubles. Invading armies
marching across snowy plains, huge mirror-filled sets, and
a bombastic score by Patrick Doyle all contribute to the
film's sheer magnitude. Branagh claimed in his 1989 autobiography that Hamlet made him feel "terrified, intimidated and small," but he's clearly over that now.
"I suppose I felt small and intimidated because the play
is so vast, and the more I did it, the closer it seemed to get.
And also it felt like there was a necessity to give it size and
splendour, to make the connection between the intimate
personal lives of a small family and events that end up
changing the head of state, the ruler. So it's a fantastic thing
to be able to do in a play, to say that, almost from the prob-
"There are worse things to be typecast as.
It may be that I'm dogged in future by
people who find it difficult to accept me
in a modern role when they think I
should have a pair of black tights on."
Kenneth Branagh
lems between a mother and son, an entire nation changes
hands by the end of the play.
"That study of the nature of power is one of the things
that makes the play big, that resonance, and I came around
to the idea that a full-length version of all of that had to be
engaged with, so," he laughs slightiy, "I guess I felt less
Branagh almost had to settle for a shorter film.
Distributors, mindful of Polonius' adage that "brevity is the
soul of wit," were afraid that audiences outside of Los
Angeles and New York would not want to sit through four
hours of Shakespeare, so they commissioned an edition
half as long, just in case. Branagh now says the shorter version will probably stay locked away, though he notes, "It's
amazing how well it works in a version that is two hours
and five minutes long. It's hard to imagine what's cut, isn't
it? You have to be extraordinarily savage, and yet somehow
the story does work."
Ironically, the one scene that might be cut the easiest
also happens to be one of the best-known moments in all of
theatre. "If you took the 'To be or not to be' out of the play,
it would not affect the story one iota. That's the one point
which is kind of truly meditative, in a general sense;
Hamlet doesn't refer, in that speech, to anything specific
about what's happening with him."
Branagh's solution? Reintegrate the soliloquy into the
narrative. In fact, he says, most actors tend to forget that
Hamlet appears in the scene only after he's been summoned
by Polonius. "When Hamlet comes into that scene, he really
ought to be playing, in some
sense, 'Where are they? Why
have I been sent for when no
one's around?' So we play a bit of
that, where he walks into the hall
and, when he starts that soliloquy, he knows they might be listening. And maybe you could
explain why he doesn't mention
anything to do with the specifics
of his story. He never mentions
Claudius, he never mentions his
father in that speech. He just sort
of throws out the idea that he is
considering whether actually
being alive is a very good option,
given the whips and scorns of
time and all that kind of stuff."
Branagh's career was initially
inspired, in part, when he saw
Derek Jacobi play Hamlet on the
stage some years ago. Jacobi has
since become involved in much
of Branagh's work, and he directed Branagh in a stage version of
Hamlet ten years ago. Now the
tables have turned, with Branagh
directing Jacobi in the role of
Claudius. Did Jacobi ever try
directing his director?  Did he
ever say anything like, "Come on, Ken, I told you not to do
that ten years ago!"?
Branagh tilts his head cautiously. "He didn't say it. I'm
sure there are tons of things that he would disagree with in
my performance, but I think, like me, he believes these
things change and evolve, and what you do ten years on is
different. Having played it a lot and
thought about it a lot, I tried, from
take to take, to just react in the
moment, and not repeat anything or
try and capture anything that I've
done on stage.
"I felt confident enough to just do
it, and let the play and the part speak
for itself. It's a risky business. You
really do have to have done the work
to let the part play you, that sort of
magic state we all want to get to
where it's surprising it's just coming out, you haven't
planned anything, and it's spontaneous and real. And you
get to that stage having worked very hard on what it means
and having practiced it a lot. I think Derek feels that, and
he's one of those actors who's happy to give away things.
Might have worked on one take, but throw it away this time
and try something else. Trust is the thing."
Branagh is sensitive to the notion that Hamlet might
play mosdy to people with a "snob value" factor.
"It's very easy for people—and I've benefitted
from it enormously and spuriously—to be
aggrandised by an association with Shakespeare. Some people will assume that I am far
more intelligent than I know myself to be,
because Shakespeare can make those people
look much cleverer than they are, and that happens with
some kinds of audiences. They congratulate themselves on
having seen it."
Branagh has tried to break out of the Shakespearean
moid before, but audiences have been lukewarm at best to
Dead Again, Peter's Friends and the calamitous Mary
Shelley's Frankenstein. More recently, Branagh seems to
have resigned himself to the works of the Bard, playing Iago
in Oliver Parker's Othello and directing A Midwinter's Tale,
a comedy about volunteers in a low-budget Hamlet. Does he
worry that audiences won't let him be more versatile?
"No, I don't worry about it, because you just have to follow your nose, and you get typecast in the last thing that was
successful is what happens, I think. And there are worse
A PALPABLE HIT? Kenneth Branagh hopes his HAMLET will score a bullseye with the
university crowd, robin yeatman photo
things to be typecast as. It may be that I'm dogged in future
by people who find it difficult to accept me in a modern role
when they think I should have a pair of black tights on."
I suggest, tongue in cheek, that he'll be asked someday
to replace Laurence Olivier as Zeus in a remake of Clash of
the Titans.
"Oh, well, I don't know about that," Branagh says, grinning
widely. "Maggie Smith's in that as well, with all the gods up
there, they're all looking into that wee pool, aren't they? That
was Ray Harryhausen, wasn't it, who did Jason and the
Argonauts? I loved that. It's a great picture. It still holds up.
Even though the special effects are what they are, it still holds
up, all those little skeleton men, and that big bird."
Between his enthusiasm for such flights of fancy and the
fencing prowess he flaunts in Hamlet, Branagh would seem
to be a natural for the part of the young lightsabre-wielding
Obi-Wan Kenobi in the upcoming Star Wars prequels.
Rumours to that effect have circulated for years now, but
Branagh insists there is nothing to them.
"We actually had to ring George Lucas's people and say,
'Look, we're not lobbying for the part, the rumour didn't
come from us.' I didn't want to have that conversation. I
didn't want to embarrass him or me, by him having to say,
'You couldn't possibly play this! How dare you!'"
He smiles coyly. "But, you know, if they give me a call,
I'm taking the call, there's no question."jf
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