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June 1, 2000 — 11 AM

You don’t need a degree

You don't need a degree in cultural studies to notice that Western society doesn't have too many worthwhile heroes anymore. As the promotional machine that is the entertainment industry rolls smoothly along, sometimes the same, with a different name or sometimes revealed for all to see, it is easy to be cynical about the relationship between business and idol worship.

The death of Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, Montreal hockey legend from a rather long time ago, offers a fresh contrast to the slowly sinking pit of goop we know as celebrity. Yes, Virginia, people still care. Granted, media coverage can sometimes make a small thing into a Really Big Deal (try here, here, or perhaps here or here). But most celebrities don't get a state funeral or 50,000 open coffin spectators.

Quebecers' collective grief to Richard has reminded me once again that wider cultural gaps persist than we sometimes realize. I come from a place (they call it the "Rest of Canada" here) that has traditionally forgotten its history and its citizens, and frowns on overexposure. Once its brightest stars have fled, it makes do saying things like "Canadian-born actor Michael J. Fox" or "Tom Cruise sneezed twice in Toronto when he was six years old." Quebec doesn't have the same paranoid identity crisis--merci bien--and its heroes, pampered and worshipped to no limit, tend to stay at home.


Previously: My oh my. You can

Subsequently: It’s an argument that seems

June 2000
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