The McGill Daily Leaving McGill to work in the private sector since 1911 2016-08-22T03:41:37Z http://www.mcgilldaily.com/feed/atom/ WordPress http://www.mcgilldaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/cropped-logo2-32x32.jpg Juliana Guzy <![CDATA[For the love of monsters]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46980 2016-08-16T03:01:35Z 2016-08-16T02:46:04Z “[Fantasia] is a shrine. This is where the faithful will come to pray,” said visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) in a press conference during the opening weekend of the Fantasia International Film Festival, which ran from July 14 to August 3. Del Toro is this year’s recipient of Fantasia’s prestigious Cheval Noir Award for his prolific contributions to genre film – an umbrella term encompassing fantasy, horror, thriller, science fiction, western, and gangster films.

Twenty years after its inception as a showcase for Asian action films, Fantasia is now renowned as the largest and most influential genre film festival in North America. Over 130 feature films and hundreds of short films were screened at Concordia’s J.A. de Sève Cinema and Hall Theatre this year as part of the festival. Although the selections exhibit an extraordinarily wide range of production and budget scales, artistic visions, and cultural influences, each screening is bound together by the audience’s unparalleled passion and enthusiasm for the stories that unfold before them, and for the monsters that inhabit the screen.

Twenty years after its inception […], Fantasia is now renowned as the largest and most influential genre film festival in North America.

The films screened at Fantasia are marked by their monstrosities, from uproarious comedies such as Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, to bone-chilling thrillers like As the Gods Will directed by Fantasia’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner Takashi Miike. These monsters are not only human villains or fantastical creatures with fangs, fur, and scales, but also monsters of fear, anger, anxiety, mortality – the intangible monsters of the human condition. Although Fantasia is saturated with monsters of all forms, nothing is scaring away faithful festival-goers, most of whom arrive two hours early to screenings, waiting in lines that wrap around the block just to get good seats.

“We live in a very brutal world and you deal with it by creating creatures which serve a symbolic function, which illuminate the human condition. To me, reality can only be reached through these tales,” del Toro elaborated. He spoke passionately of his relationship to monsters, identifying himself as part of the “monster-geek” generation (those who grew up watching classic monster films) and likening their effect on him to spiritual salvation. “Monsters will save my soul,” he said earnestly, stressing that since his childhood, the existence of monsters has felt truly real to him.

“[Fantasia] is a rarity in the world of festivals; its core is fuelled with love.”

Born and raised in Guadalajara, del Toro learned English with only a dictionary and Mad Magazine, and worshiped Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a sacred text. From these humble roots, del Toro has not only become a legendary director and producer, but one of the world’s premier monster creators – preferring the use of miniatures, makeup, and animatronic puppetry to the computer-generated imagery (CGI) genre film so heavily relies on. “People now use CGI because they’re lazy,” he declared, “they deal with it in post production. They just throw money at it.”

Animated monsters

The Outer Limits of Animation program was a refreshing break from the techniques and attitudes of the CGI-rich franchise films which del Toro deems indolent and impersonal. The event showcased a selection of some of this year’s most poignant and beautifully crafted animated shorts from around the world. Each was an allegorical tale of fantasy, created with a variety of animation techniques to take spectators on an emotional whirlwind of personal revelations. While these tales lack the presence of a del Toro-type monster, each short was an artistic manifestation of a human flaw, weakness, or fear, which in conventional genre film, monsters typically serve to communicate.

Each [animated film] was an allegorical tale of fantasy, created […] to take spectators on an emotional whirlwind of personal revelations.

James Cunningham’s Accidents, Blunders and Calamities and Cho Hyun-a and Kim Su-jeong’s The Animal Book bookended the program, providing comical yet sobering illustrations of one of the most frightful monsters plaguing the world today: ecological destruction through human negligence. In Accidents, Cunningham presents a barrage of hyperrealistic insects and small animals who meet their demise at the hands of careless humans, narrated by a father possum as a bedtime tale (and warning) to his children. His story begins with “now remember, it’s a scary world out there, and the most dangerous thing of all is humans,” followed by a montage of violent murders as disembodied human hands, feet, or man-made machines squash unsuspecting creatures. The Animal Book chronicles a similar story, in which an exhausted man drives down a long road that passes through several ecosystems. While falling asleep at the wheel he embarks on a roadkill rampage of endangered species, leaving a trail of corpses behind him as blood splatters coat his windshield.

Although these tales take place in fantastical animated worlds where possums tell poems and dolphins jump out of pavement into moving traffic, they convey a truly serious and cautionary message about humanity’s role in the destruction of the natural world and its inhabitants. The humans are portrayed as silent monsters whose heartless actions result in the destruction of the innocent and endangered – a typical conflict of genre film presented in reverse – which not only serves to increase awareness of ecological destruction, but to illustrate the hands in which this monstrosity lies.

“We live in a very brutal world and you deal with it by creating creatures which serve a symbolic function, which illuminate the human condition.”

At Fantasia, humankind is not only painted as the monster and nature as its victim. Often in genre film, and throughout Outer Limits of Animation, humankind becomes victim to its own weaknesses and fears. In Junction, Nathan Jurevicius urges us not to fear change and growth, but to invite them, embodied by the shapeshifting inhabitants of his plastic-toy world. Sacha Feiner manifests childhood isolation within the black and white halls of a labyrinthine mansion in her stop-motion film Dernière Porte au Sud (Last Door South) before building an escape route to a more colourful world. In the real world, fighting the monsters of fear and anxiety can be an daunting and abstract task, while in these fantastical tales, animation allows for conflicts to be represented concretely, and for solutions to be made palpable.

When asked why Fantasia stood out for him and his peers, del Toro replied, “We truly love it. […] We are diverse and we disagree, but not on the fact that this genre has produced some of the most enduring images ever created… [Fantasia] is a rarity in the world of festivals; its core is fuelled with love.” This is why genre film and Fantasia are such culturally and artistically important endeavours. They use modes of fantasy to construct distant worlds of past, future, or never-lands into which anyone can enter, onto which anyone can project personal or societal conflicts, and where refuge and solace in common strife can be found.

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Ralph Haddad <![CDATA[A museum without borders]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46971 2016-08-22T03:41:37Z 2016-08-15T12:20:20Z Tucked away on a shady street in downtown Beirut is Dar el Nimer, a relatively spacious inconspicuous exhibition space in the heart of the bustling district of Hamra. I get a welcome respite from the heat as I step in and am immediately greeted with a smile by the manager. I am pleasantly surprised by the layout of the space; dresses hang all around from the ceiling. “As a form of material history, embroidery sensitively reflects the social and political landscape in which it is produced,” reads the opening description, penned by Rachel Dedman, curator of “At the Seams: A Political History of Palestinian Embroidery” – The Palestinian Museum’s first exhibit outside of Birzeit, Palestine, where it is located.

The exhibit flows chronologically: the outfits are arranged according to the year in which they were manufactured, and the audience follows a timeline of Palestinian history along the wall, starting from the late 19th century to today. “There are over 200 pieces in the show,” says Dedman, in a phone interview with The Daily. The exhibit was commissioned by The Palestinian Museum, which was inaugurated without an exhibit earlier this year.

[Each] colour and each motif on the dress is specific to a certain class, region, village, or occasion.

Despite the number of items on display, the space doesn’t feel crowded. On the contrary, Dedman shows an eye for detail all throughout, from the dresses that are exhibited inside-out, to the tables of old photographs (sourced from The Palestinian Museum and the Institute for Palestine Studies, among others) that are paired with some of the dresses. “I wanted to use [the exhibit] as an opportunity to shed new light on materials that are traditional, familiar, something many people know and have relationships to here, and use this as a chance to both explore embroidery’s rich history, but also to reflect on its contemporary significance and dynamic political life,” continues Dedman.

“As a form of material history, embroidery sensitively reflects the social and political landscape in which it is produced.”

The viewer must examine the embroidery up-close to really get a feel of the work that goes into them. The needlework is absolutely stunning; until contemporary times it was all handmade. Now mass-production is outsourced to garment factories in East Asia, outside of historically Palestinian diasporic and refugee spaces. Along with the dresses and photographs, the exhibit also features posters drawn from different archives, and short films, produced by Maeve Brennan and Rachel Dedman and commissioned by The Palestinian Museum. The short films are particularly intriguing, as they showcase the art of Palestinian embroidery from the point-of-view of long-time women embroiderers. As the short films explain, each colour and each motif on the dress is specific to a certain class, region, village, or occasion. For example, the usage of pinks and purples in the embroidery is emblematic of Gaza.

Making the main short film for the exhibit, “The Embroiderers,” also saw Dedman and her colleague Maeve Brennan travel all over Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine, interviewing over sixty Palestinians who still embroider today. “It’s their voices that we want to really include and to be a key part of this audience, because of course these are not communities that are usually engaged with in museum spaces.”

“I wanted to […] use this as a chance to both explore embroidery’s rich history, but also to reflect on its contemporary significance and dynamic political life.”

The political aspect of the show does not escape the audience either. The chronology of the exhibit is interrupted by the descriptions printed on the walls highlighting major events in Palestinian history, such as the Nakba of 1948 (wherein around 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their land by Zionist militias), and the First Intifada, or mass popular uprising, of 1987, and their consequences on Palestinian embroidery. For example, the Nakba diluted the geographical specificity of the craft, as women from different villages were forced together in unified refugee camps. It also made the traditional materials for embroidery hard to procure. The “New Dress,” as Dedman calls it, is thus characterized by the use of experimental colours and motifs, not necessarily restricted to one region or class. The First Intifada found women embroidering Palestinian nationalist motifs, such as pictures of the Dome of the Rock or the Palestinian flag, directly onto their dresses in defiance.

Engaging Palestinian refugee and diasporic communities was an integral part of the exhibit for Dedman and her colleagues.

“Part of the idea of doing this show in Beirut is to get the opportunity to connect with and engage Palestinian diasporic and refugee communities here in Lebanon […] and to bring Palestinian culture into the spotlight in Beirut,” adds Dedman. Transporting some of the clothes from Amman, Jordan, was a challenge, Dedman admits, as the dresses are not only physically sensitive and delicate, but are also politically sensitive. “The one thing for us that we thought about is how the items should be labeled when they were coming into the country: what might it mean to label them ’Palestinian culture’ or ‘Palestinian heritage’ for Lebanese customs?” In the end the items were labeled as Jordanian/Arab heritage, a label that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows at customs.

Engaging Palestinian refugee and diasporic communities was an integral part of the exhibit for Dedman and her colleagues. Lebanon (a country of roughly 4.4 million) is home to around 450,000 Palestinians, most of them families whose grandparents were uprooted from Palestine after the Nakba of 1948 and fled north of the border. “We built relationships with them, they came to the opening, we ran a big family day for them,” Dedman adds, “they came [to the exhibit] with all their friends and family from the [refugee] camps.”

The Palestinian Museum

The Palestinian Museum was inaugurated earlier this year on May 18 in Birzeit, Palestine (outside of Jerusalem). However, the museum caused quite a stir online when it opened without an internal exhibit. Technically, “At the Seams” is both the museum’s first exhibit, and its first outside of Palestine. For Dedman, who was commissioned to curate this exhibition, the idea of an exhibit-less space is not shocking, “a museum is much more than what goes into it,” she says on the phone. “At a time when Palestine is a nation without established sovereignty, which is under occupation, existing in the context of apartheid, this kind of space is fundamental in simply being there as an articulation of presence, endurance and existence.”

[The] boundaries of The Palestinian Museum stretch far beyond historical Palestine, to reach Palestinian refugee and diasporic communities in the Middle East, and abroad.

The museum exists in a perpetual conundrum: many Palestinians cannot even travel to see the museum. The mobility of Palestinians is severely limited within the West Bank, as well as to and from Israel proper due the Israeli occupation. It is also almost impossible for Palestinians living in Gaza to leave due to the ongoing blockade there. As a result, most of the museum’s activities, according to Dedman, are to dematerialize exhibits – in other words, to go beyond the limited physical/spatial capacities typically associated with museum spaces, and focus largely on capacity-building, skill-sharing workshops, and archival practices.

One of the museum’s ongoing archival projects, called “The Family Album,” which Dedman borrowed from for “At the Seams,” invites Palestinians from all over the world to submit old family photographs. The museum digitizes these photographs, and, according to Dedman, creates an archive of personal photographs that differs from ones taken by Orientalists travelling around the region. The museum also works to connect different archives across historical Palestine, an important project that stands in the face of continued Israeli erasure of Palestinian archives and histories.

“At a time when Palestine is a nation […] existing in the context of apartheid, this kind of space is fundamental […] as an articulation of presence, endurance and existence.”

The physical space of the museum itself is quite stunning. Perched on a hilltop, the main building is surrounded by terraced gardens populated with many plants native to Palestine. “The architecture of the building, designed by the firm of Heneghan Peng [based in Dublin, Ireland], has been done with the aim of looking out and thinking about and connecting with land, space and territory,” Dedman recalls of her visit to the site.

The Palestinian Museum really is borderless, and “At the Seams” brings that to the fore. Rather than imagining a rigid exhibition space, the boundaries of The Palestinian Museum stretch far beyond historical Palestine, to reach Palestinian refugee and diasporic communities in the Middle East, and abroad. Towards the end of the conversation with The Daily, Dedman reasserts this fact. “For me,” she says, “what the space represents is a reminder of what museums can do at their heart, which is to challenge, or to push against, existential threats.”

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Tony Feng <![CDATA[A rose is a rose is a rose?]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46963 2016-07-25T16:03:49Z 2016-07-25T15:59:22Z Backspring on cultural identity]]> American poet Gertrude Stein once wrote, “A rose is a rose is a rose,” often interpreted as a statement meaning that everything is what it appears to be – clear boundaries exist to separate one thing from another. But when it comes to one’s identity, can it accurately be defined by such boundaries? Judith McCormack’s debut novel, Backspring, which features Stein’s line in its opening chapter, ponders and explores this question.

Set in contemporary Montreal, Backspring invites readers into the life of talented architect Eduardo Cabral. When Eduardo is on his way to meet his client at a local market, he is caught in a fire that destroys the site. He falls into a destructive spiral soon after. Consumed by self-doubt and anger, Eduardo becomes increasingly distant from his family and friends. The situation worsens after he is falsely accused of the arson; at work, Eduardo has to confront the rumours about his involvement in the fire. Meanwhile, his wife, Geneviève, who fruitlessly attempts to unearth the root of her husband’s aloofness, discovers her budding affections for Patrick, Eduardo’s best friend.

Narration alternates between the three protagonists and includes flashbacks showing the characters’ childhoods, giving readers a sense of immediacy. As a city where different cultures collide, Montreal mirrors the multiple identities of the characters.

Backspring was recently shortlisted for the 2016 Amazon.ca First Novel Award. In light of her nomination, the Daily spoke with McCormack through email about her novel.

McGill Daily (MD): Inter-cultural collisions are evident throughout the novel. Eduardo grows up in an immigrant family from Portugal. Geneviève’s mother is francophone, her father anglophone. She sometimes feels “too English to be entirely French, far too French to be entirely English.” What inspired you to focus on the issue of cultural hybridity and identification in Backspring?

Judith McCormack (JM): I have a mixed background myself (Russian Jewish on one side and Scots-Irish on the other), and so I’m fascinated with questions of hybridity, […] cultural fusions, and fissures. I grew up with a sense of being out of place, someone who didn’t fit the usual categories, with a “messy” identity that had to be explained. I also have a mild form of synesthesia (numbers appear in colours to me), so the book explores crossing boundaries and finding new amalgams – between cultures, between different spheres like architecture, science and law, and between people.

“But this is […] about a very human desire to understand and make sense of relationships between things.”

Of course, Eduardo is literally out of place, having emigrated from Portugal – this was partly inspired by the fact that I’ve lived in Little Portugal in Toronto for many years and have seen my neighbours wrestling with displacement, and their attempts to recreate aspects of their previous lives. Geneviève’s mixture of French and English also means a great dual of ambiguity for her, which is made more complicated by the historical tensions between French and English in Montreal, and indeed, within her own family – for example, her ne’er-do-well English father, and her French mother who functions within a bit of a cultural cocoon.

MD: The novel proposes a way to embrace one’s dual cultural identity, that is, to be the “whole” of each identity, instead of being the “half” of each identity. Geneviève envisions herself as being entirely French as well as entirely English. However, although a person with multiple cultural identities might feel that they do not completely identify as a member of any distinct group, this “in-between-ness” could also be an essential and unique part of their identity — how does the novel speak to this? Is striving to belong “entirely” to any cultural group necessarily desirable?

JM: Yes, I agree that “in-between-ness” can be embraced, but on a personal level, it’s easier said than done! Geneviève is genuinely trying to figure out why she experiences a mixed identity as half as good, rather than twice as good, not so much proposing a solution. But hybridity and ambiguity are also virtues in the book, for example […] Eduardo’s interest in the architect Gordon Matta-Clark who was exploring orphan spaces, and the spaces between spaces.

“I lived for two years in Montreal as a small child, and I think it must have crept into my blood in some indefinable way.”

As to how we navigate complex and fragmented cultural identities – h’mm. Write a book about it? I guess it might be different for everyone, but the main thing would be to value and delight in the subtlety and richness of these fusions. Or something like that.

MD: The novel weaves in many French and Portuguese words; for some, translations are offered whereas others are not. What purpose do they serve, especially for readers who are unfamiliar with these two languages?

JM: Well, most are translated, and I hope that the others are obvious from the context. But I also wanted to highlight the elegance and beauty of these languages in themselves, while at the same offering a taste of the outsider experience.

MD: Geneviève describes Montreal as “[a]n organism of its own. Complex, confounding, rich, bitter […] [It is a city of] its own glossary […] Francophone, Anglophone, allophone.” The passage about the Portuguese festival on St. Urbain is also memorable. Why did you choose Montreal as the setting of the story? What unique background does Montreal provide to the story that similar multicultural cities, such as Toronto, do not?

“I grew up with a sense of being out of place […], with a “messy” identity that had to be explained.”

JM: I lived for two years in Montreal as a small child, and I think it must have crept into my blood in some indefinable way. The history, the buildings, even the street names all seem to have a mysterious quality, and of course the combination of old and new diversities in this context is also remarkable. But this is a novel, so the sights, sounds and smells of the Portuguese festival are also there because their sensuality and colour just seemed to fit the story.

MD: Law attempts to prescribe precise definitions to things, while in real life, much ambiguity exists. How does your career in law give you a different perspective on cultural identification or a different approach to this issue?

JM: “Attempts” is certainly the operative word here – the astonishing variety found in real life can be very subversive of the kind of categorizing and sorting involved in law. In the book, my experience with law is reflected to some extent in our ceaseless (but often futile) attempts to organize, classify, and make sense of the chaos of life epitomized when Geneviève starts her tongue-in-cheek taxonomy of orgasms. But this is not so much about cultural identity as it is about a very human desire to understand and make sense of relationships between things.

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Ashley Yu <![CDATA[Portraits of climate action]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46955 2016-07-17T21:45:29Z 2016-07-17T01:11:01Z This Changes Everything proves inspiring, despite flaws]]> “[Environmental] sustainability is a Marxist concept,” hollers one of the delegates participating in the right-wing Heartland Institute conference in the opening scene of This Changes Everything, directed by Avi Lewis. The documentary is an adaption of Naomi Klein’s homonymous novel, which highlights how neoliberal climate change deniers have hindered legislation that would create a just transition into an economy based on renewable energy.

A few chuckles resonated in the crowd on June 21 at Place de la Paix, where Cinema Politica hosted an audience of students, activists, and locals in the Downtown Screenings Under the Stars series, which featured Lewis’s documentary. It drew a sizeable crowd as Klein’s book has reverberated amongst environmental justice groups, inspiring initiatives like the Leap Manifesto as adopted by the NDP, the international COP21 agreement, as well as the sit-in and diploma returning ceremony organized by Divest McGill.

The audience peers into the climate activists’ worldviews […] without losing the main point of the documentary, a universal call to action.

As a populist climate action documentary, This Changes Everything neither calls for a political revolution nor a partisan solution, but rather a collective effort to rewrite the narrative that the Earth is an exploitable machine. Lewis and Klein expose extractive industries pillaging the Earth’s resources, and address a potential solution through the question: “what if the problem is a story, not people?”, calling for a revision of the dominant narrative that casts the planet as exclusively profitable.

The documentary puts ordinary people at the centre of the climate action solution. We witness five local yet universally relatable characters challenge the economic system depicted through anthropological snapshots: a young Indigenous activist named Crystal lobbies a mining company and leads a Tar Sands Healing Walk; American farmers Mike and Alexis resist a “fossil fuel frenzy”, a looming interconnected threat of oil, tar sands, coal mines, and railroad construction on their farmland; a Greek housewife Melachrini helps with leading a movement against a gold mine being built in Halkidiki, and Indian matriarch Jyothi leads villager protests against one of many power plant proposals in her country.

How is a movement united when one group’s success is linked to the continued constraints imposed on another?

A common theme among these five climate action leaders is resistance against police brutality and authority — with abundant media coverage and correspondence with fellow impacted groups, it seems that winning the fight is easy. The documentary galvanizes populist support of grassroots movements by insisting that global neoliberal policies can be changed. However, the depiction of the characters’ successes is too simplistic, diverging from the nuanced details of the book. The film doesn’t quite capture the reality of the time and perseverance it takes to rewrite the narrative that Earth is in our control, as sanctioned by years of neoliberal policies.

Moreover, the documentary doesn’t address how climate activists are constrained by international relations, even as their counterparts in other countries attempt to stand in solidarity. Klein brings us to Hamburg, where people took back the power through cooperatives generating electricity — a moment that serves as a paramount example in resisting capitalist doctrines. The film seems to hide transnational impacts of the movement. For instance, Germany’s pressure on Greece has induced draconian austerity measures and gold mine proposals for the latter, which is exactly what Melachrini was resisting. How is a movement united when one group’s success is linked to the continued constraints imposed on another? As such, the climate change issue is more nuanced than presented in the documentary.

The film doesn’t quite capture the reality of the time and perseverance it takes to rewrite the narrative that Earth is in our control […].

Klein also exclusively addresses a Global North audience to take action. The dominant narrative tells us that “we are the engineers of the Earth, a machine” wherein a seemingly inclusive “we” is used in an inherently exclusive way — the “engineers” were in fact historically dominant, colonial, and exploitative European states. The countries that are suffering most from climate change are formerly colonized and peripheral nations, the ‘Global South,’ so international environmental justice would feel like oppression for the countries who already hold power.

Global North activists recognize this paradigm created by colonialism, but it doesn’t justify inaction because the current climate crisis affects us all. The portraits of the five activists are varied in their provenance, yet similar in their collective desire to rehabilitate years of damage to Earth. Lewis and Klein capture the rewriting process through candid footage of activists resisting the police, company figureheads and politicians, juxtaposed against dreamlike melodies accompanied by idyllic footage of forests, lakes, and grasslands. The audience peers into the climate activists’ worldviews, as Klein narrates their local stories, without losing the main point of the documentary, a universal call to action.

This Changes Everything […] calls for […] a collective effort to rewrite the narrative that the Earth is an exploitable machine.

Klein’s book provides a good introduction to environmental justice, highlighting the effects of neoliberalism, capitalism, extractivism, and how our current economic system undermines our Earth. As a popular education documentary, the film avoids heavy ideological terms for ease of viewing and focuses on the stories instead. The result was inspiring, but it excluded some important details of the current climate crisis that may only be comprehensible in the book.

This Changes Everything is an accessible documentary that should be screened by student activists, organisations, and teachers to garner attention about a problematic narrative that has the potential to be rewritten – by us.


Downtown Screenings Under the Stars happens every Tuesday at 9pm until September 6.

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Max Binks-Collier <![CDATA[Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline loses its approval]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46952 2016-07-15T22:49:42Z 2016-07-15T22:49:42Z On June 30, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned Ottawa’s approval for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. A panel of three judges ruled that the previous Conservative government failed to adequately consult the would-be affected First Nations communities before approving the $7.9 billion pipeline.

McGill and Enbridge

The ruling was has been lauded by Divest McGill, a student group campaigning for McGill to divest from fossil fuel corporations like Enbridge. McGill had invested $3.4 million in Enbridge according to McGill’s latest investment portfolio published in March 2016.

Divest McGill submitted petitions in 2013 and 2015, urging McGill’s Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR), to recommend to the Board of Governors (BoG) that McGill divest from fossil fuel corporations.

“There is not the degree or extent of injurious impact at this time that results from the activities of fossil fuel companies that would warrant a finding of grave injurious impact.”

Accompanying the 2015 petition was a 150 page document titled “Carbon at All Costs,” which outlined Divest McGill’s arguments and singled out Enbridge as a particularly harmful corporation, both environmentally and socially.

In response to that petition, CAMSR released a report to the BoG in March 2016, stating that divestment from fossil fuel companies “would not be an effective means of addressing climate change.”

“Arguably, cutting off access to fossil fuels would be more likely to result in grave injurious impact in the short-term than the continued reliance on fossil fuels.”

One reason the committee gave for this decision was that fossil fuel companies allegedly do not cause “social injury,” which CAMSR defines as a company’s “grave injurious impact” on “consumers, employees, other persons, or on the natural environment.”

“There is not the degree or extent of injurious impact at this time that results from the activities of fossil fuel companies that would warrant a finding of grave injurious impact,” the CAMSR report continued. “Arguably, cutting off access to fossil fuels would be more likely to result in grave injurious impact in the short-term than the continued reliance on fossil fuels.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip speaks out against CAMSR report

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, decried the CAMSR report. He states that McGill “should have been divesting [from fossil fuels] a decade ago.”

“Without question, we’re the canary in the mineshaft, because it’s impacting us the most since we’re more reliant on the land.”

He stressed that Indigenous people are the first to suffer the effects of climate change, adding that McGill’s refusal to divest is in a “contradiction” with the its launch of  an Indigenous Studies minor and its hosting of the Annual Indigenous Awareness Week.

“Our message has to be clear with respect to the urgency of climate change to Indigenous peoples,” he says. “Without question, we’re the canary in the mineshaft, because it’s impacting us the most since we’re more reliant on the land.”

“As an Indigenous leader, more importantly as a grandfather of 15 grandchildren, I applaud the efforts made to divest [McGill] from dirty oil money.”

The “inherent support [for fossil fuel companies] within major Canadian institutions, whether they be educational, economic, or media […is] disturbing,” Phillip says, and forms a network of support for neocolonialism.

Phillip made it clear that he doesn’t disapprove of everything happening at McGill however, commending Divest McGill’s actions after the publishing of CAMSR’s report. “As an Indigenous leader, more importantly as a grandfather of 15 grandchildren, I applaud the efforts made to divest [McGill] from dirty oil money.”

Looking ahead

Jed Lenetsky, a U2 Environmental Sciences student and Divest McGill organizer, echoed Grand Chief Stewart Phillip’s remarks, adding that, “It’s definitely very hypocritical and falls into the larger pattern of McGill professing concern for societal issues on campus while ignoring the impacts of their policies off campus.”

Lenetsky went on to note that “It’s indicative of McGill’s desire to address these issues in name only; if McGill truly and sincerely wants to do more to address these Indigenous and environmental crises, then more is required of them. Much more.”

“If McGill truly and sincerely wants to do more to address these Indigenous and environmental crises, then more is required of them.”

Although Jed admitted that he did not think that the Court of Appeal’s decision would significantly impact Divest McGill’s cause, he was optimistic, hoping that the decision might “create a domino effect for the denial of other fossil fuel projects in Canada” in the near future.

Grand Chief Phillip also spoke of a possible fossil-free future.

“As a grandfather, I want each and every one of them to think about their own children and grandchildren,” he stated. “We all have a duty and obligation to protect the interests of the future generations, and that work needs to start now. With respect to climate change, it should have started yesterday. And I want them to think very seriously about that.”

“With respect to climate change, it should have started yesterday. And I want them to think very seriously about that.”

A spokesperson from McGill could not be reached by the date of the article’s publication.

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Carly Gordon <![CDATA[Love letters and prison fetters]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46946 2016-07-13T18:40:37Z 2016-07-13T18:40:37Z A single line from a heart-rending love letter, enrapturing in its poetic simplicity, is deeply woven into the fabric of Opera de Montreal’s Les Feluettes: “I compose you. I create you. I let you live. I kill you.”

Based on the 1987 play of the same name by Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard, Les Feluettes was co-commissioned by Opera de Montreal and Pacific Opera Victoria, and had its world premiere on May 21. The plot follows Simon, an aging prisoner, as he forces his former schoolmate, Bishop Bilodeau, to watch his fellow inmates reenact the scenes from Simon’s life leading up to his incarceration for the murder of his first love, Comte Vallier de Tilly – a murder in which the Bishop might be implicated.

As the tale unfolds, the actors immerse the audience in Roberval, 1912 – a time and place where queerness was violently rejected from Quebec society. The opera’s title reflects this history: Opera de Montreal’s website defines feluette as “[a] Quebec expression with its root in the word fluet (thin, frail in appearance) which, in common parlance of the time, referred to men who were weak, frail, or effeminate.”

Tackling themes ranging from mental illness to matricide to wrongful incarceration, Les Feluettes breaks the bounds of classical opera, as a romance between the male protagonists unfolds during the early decades of the twentieth century. In a genre so often entrenched in the rigid and heteronormative tradition of a “high art” mindset, it was refreshing to see a queer narrative shine in the operatic spotlight.

Even in 2016, Les Feluettes marks the first opera starring queer male protagonists to be staged in Montreal.

On May 24, with a full house packed into Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, theatrics were underway even before the house lights dimmed. Costumed in grey prisoners’ uniforms, the Orchestre Métropolitain formed an omnipresent character essential to the plot, bringing to life an enthralling score written by Australian composer Kevin March. Under the capable baton of conductor Timothy Vernon, the orchestra cultivated a sound that was nothing short of cinematic.

The evening’s musical standout was baritone Aaron St. Clair Nicholson as the Comtesse Marie-Laure de Tilly, Vallier’s mother, affected by delusions and hallucinations. Through the eyes of the comtesse, a ragged dress became a fashionable ball gown, a crumbling villa became a grand palace, and her long-absent husband could return at any moment. Meanwhile, solemn scenes were interrupted by her sunny observations, eliciting laughter from a captivated audience.

The trope is all too common – a woman with a mental illness, naive and fragile, yet privy to some mystical wisdom beyond the grasp of a neurotypical populace. Though Nicholson’s performance was stunning, with a glowing voice and sublime acting that mesmerized the audience, the compassion and resilience he lent to his character failed to alleviate the ableist cliches inherent to the role.

In a genre so often entrenched in the rigid and heteronormative tradition of a “high art” mindset, it was refreshing to see a queer narrative shine in the operatic spotlight.

As the performance unfolded, the set was transformed – a grim prison cell became a school theatre, a hotel terrace, a dilapidated mansion, and a moonlit forest in the Quebec countryside. The floating spectre of a whimsical hot air balloon became a cratered full moon thanks to the video projections designed by Gabriel Coutu-Dumont. The striking visuals, from the glowing moon to a raging fire, immersed the performance in a thrilling and dynamic multimedia landscape.

Baritone Étienne Dupuis as young Simon and tenor Jean-Michel Richer as Vallier commanded the stage with captivating magnetism. The singers, both based in Montreal, navigated their roles with raw chemistry – a stolen kiss in an empty school theatre, a nude embrace on a moonlit night – each tracing threads of breathtaking intimacy and desire. Both voices shone, with richly nuanced tone and skillful control. Richer in particular stood out, his velvety tenor spinning those haunting words with earnest passion: “I compose you. I create you. I let you live. I kill you.”

Queer narratives are often tainted by problematic patterns of erasure and tropes of tragedy. In portrayals of queerness, a fatal ending often seems unavoidable, as though queer people can only exist tragically, their love made “impossible” by the inevitability of death. Yet, in an art form famous for its over-the-top depictions of deadly drama, tragedy is an inevitability for all characters, not just queer ones – making the tragic outcome of Les Feluettes seem, in a way, expected.

In portrayals of queerness, a fatal ending often seems unavoidable, as though queer people can only exist tragically, their love made “impossible” by the inevitability of death.

However, the repeated tragic deaths of queer characters across different media – a trope known as “bury your gays” – persists as problematic even in a genre as death-obsessed as opera. Other genres similarly teeming with tragedy and bloodshed fall into the very same cycle: dystopian TV thriller The 100 saw the death of a major queer character, as did zombie drama The Walking Dead and the aptly named American Horror Story. In shows as gory as these, viewers tacitly accept that “any” major character might die, making the deaths of queer characters – out of all the characters who might have been killed – seem less than coincidental and decidedly disproportionate, given the rarity of queer representation across media.

Further, this scarcity of queer characters makes the “bury your gays” paradigm all the more troublesome – particularly in opera, a genre originating centuries before television and film. Even in 2016, Les Feluettes marks the first opera starring queer male protagonists to be staged in Montreal.

Simon and Vallier inhabited a spotlight usually reserved for heteronormative romantic duos in the operatic literature, and exhibited a love as real, moving, and undeniably existent as any other to have graced the opera stage. This, perhaps, was the greatest strength of Les Feluettes: discovering possibility within what society has forbidden, and lending voice to a love story that refused to be silenced.

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Max Binks-Collier <![CDATA[McGill releases 600 pages of documents to Demilitarize McGill]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46942 2016-07-11T01:26:50Z 2016-07-11T01:26:50Z On Tuesday June 21, lawyers representing McGill University gave 600 pages of documents to Cadence O’Neal, a member of Demilitarize McGill, a student group that protests military research on campus. This follows a nearly four-year-long legal battle during which McGill contested numerous access-to-information (ATI) requests to the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec.

According to The Globe and Mail, McGill received 170 ATI requests in 2012, a huge increase from the 37 it had received in 2011. In December 2012, the University submitted a motion to the Commission which would allow McGill to disregard ATI requests from any McGill student, any member of a McGill or Concordia University student newspaper, or anyone who “could reasonably be linked” to people who had made requests that McGill deemed problematic. In October 2013, this motion failed to pass.

“[Requests] are abusive because of their systemic character.”

The McGill administration argued that the requests were part of a coordinated attempt to overwhelm the University and waste its time and resources. The motion read that the requests “are abusive because of their systemic character,” and that the University had “serious grounds and reasons to believe that the same system will be used in the near future by the respondents and others in order to achieve the same illegitimate purposes.”

O’Neal believes that the University’s accusation that she was “participating in a complex system to undermine university functioning by overwhelming the system with access-to-information requests” was a ploy to avoid releasing sensitive information. “Many of us [the students deemed to be making so-called problematic requests] didn’t know each other,” O’Neal continued.

“There’s a lot of information and a lot more detail than we’ve ever really had before.”

Although O’Neal described the University’s allegation as “absurd,” she also expressed cautious optimism following the release of the documents.

“There’s a lot of information and a lot more detail than we’ve ever really had before,” she said. However, she added that “other current and former organizers of Demilitarize McGill are still waiting for their response to the access-to-information requests they made in 2012-2013.” The documents received pertain to requests that were made prior to 2013 which is “one of the most frustrating things about this information,” she added.

When asked about the documents’ contents, O’Neal said that she hadn’t had a chance to look through them thoroughly with other members of Demilitarize McGill. She elaborated, however, that “the nature of the documents that I have so far is extremely dense, [including] mathematical and engineering equations […done] by and for engineers.”

“Other current and former organizers of Demilitarize McGill are still waiting for their response to the access-to-information requests they made in 2012-2013.”

Also included in the documents are Powerpoint presentations and progress reports, mostly consisting of “presentations done by Professor [Wagdi] Habashi or his research assistants or PhD students,” according to O’Neal.

Professor Habashi is the director of the McGill Computational Fluid Dynamics (C.F.D.) Laboratory, and Demilitarize McGill has long documented his research. The group cited one of his articles on their website to demonstrate his involvement in military research, in which Professor Habashi noted that “UAV Missions during the NATO ‘engagement in Afghanistan’ were marked by mid-level icing encounters.’” According to Professor Habashi, this signalled “a need for new forms of ice protection, to be modeled and refined with FENSAP-ICE,” which refers to a technology he researches.

“I’m thinking I’ll find more juicy information about the applications and motivations for the research when McGill gives me 6,000 pages of emails that I’ll be looking at over the next few months.”

Demilitarize McGill hopes that information on Professor Habashi’s research will become clearer as they study the documents. “I haven’t found the nuggets of information that I’m looking for yet,” O’Neal stated.

However, O’Neal made it clear that for her, the best may be yet to come. “I’m thinking I’ll find more juicy information about the applications and motivations for the research when McGill gives me 6,000 pages of emails that I’ll be looking at over the next few months.”

The administration chose not to comment on the matter. Doug Sweet, Director of Internal Communications at the University, said in an email, “the University does not comment on matters that are or have been before a tribunal or court.”

Professor Habashi could not be reached for comment.

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Paniz Khosroshahy <![CDATA[Laughing, healing, resisting]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46936 2016-06-29T18:53:17Z 2016-06-29T18:53:17Z Content warning: discussion of sexual assault, rape culture

On May 30, the comedy show Rape is Real and Everywhere took place at the Medley Simple Malt bar for two hours of rape jokes, which were performed by survivors of sexual assault. In a comedy scene dominated by men, women’s representation is itself a rarity, let alone representation of survivors of sexual violence performing in a feminist environment. The night was emceed by Emma Cooper, the show’s co-producer, and saw three local comics, along with headliner Meg MacKay and Heather Jordan Ross – the other co-producer of the show, perform to a packed bar. Cooper and Ross have been traveling and hosting sold-out shows all across the country.

In a society where violence is a tool of gendered oppression, the ubiquity of rape jokes serves to further silence and take power away from survivors, who are often people with marginalized identities. On stage, Ross expressed frustration toward this reality, “It’s interesting how [people] defend telling rape jokes. They’re always like, ‘if you can tell a murder joke, you can tell a rape joke’,” Ross said. “And I’m like, okay, but I don’t know if one in three men in this audience have been murdered.”

Rape is Real and Everywhere made it clear that when it comes to rape jokes, it matters who tells them and who laughs at them. People cheered loudly when Cooper asked if there were survivors in the audience. The crowd responded compassionately to the stories that the comics shared, humming in agreement and validation when a traumatizing experience was shared. The whole dynamic spoke to the fact that the comics and the audience were not there to mock people’s trauma, but rather to poke fun at rape myths and share their stories in a safe environment.

“How many women do you know who’ve hit the jackpot by claiming they were raped? When was the last time you went on LinkedIn and saw ‘rape survivor’ under someone’s position?”

After each set, Cooper read out personal stories that audience members from the current or previous shows had shared with the producers proving that joking about one’s own experiences of sexual assault with the right audience can be incredibly empowering. The response from the crowd was overwhelmingly supportive. As Ross expressed, “There are a few ways to cope when you’ve been sexually assaulted. You can tell a friend, you can go to a therapist, you can tell the police, or you can put on 20 pounds, drink yourself to sleep […].” For her and the other comics, comedy has become a tool of healing.

More than a therapeutic method, the jokes told throughout the show also packed a revolutionary punch. In a reversal of the power dynamics typically embedded in rape jokes, the comics were able to expose the common assumptions about being a survivor of sexual assault. Robyn Flynn, a Montreal-based comic, took a jab at the popular myth that women lie about their sexual assault for financial gains. “How many women do you know who’ve hit the jackpot by claiming they were raped? When was the last time you went on LinkedIn and saw ‘rape survivor’ under someone’s position?” said Flynn.

“How the fuck is it my fault if this guy goes and rapes somebody else? […] Why is it always our fault to actually do something to prevent it from happening?”

By turning these myths into punchlines, the comics revealed them as ridiculous, false assumptions and exposed their harmful impacts on the lives of real people. As Ross pointed out, there is immense pressure “for victims to come forward after they were sexually abused […] right away, and do it properly […].”

Similarly, Flynn tackled the tendency to shame survivors for not reporting their assaults to authorities, as well as being blamed for their assailants’ future predatory behaviours. “How the fuck is it my fault if this guy goes and rapes somebody else? Did you guys get tired of asking us if our shirts were too short or that we were staying out too late, gotta move on to something new?” asked Flynn in frustration. “Why is it always our fault to actually do something to prevent it from happening?”

Rape is Real and Everywhere made it clear that when it comes to rape jokes, it matters who tells them and who laughs at them.

In a society that normalizes rape and treats certain bodies as disposable and consumable, sexual violence can take a variety of forms, including the complicity of bystanders. Natalie Willett, another local comic, explained that when she was sexually abused as a young girl, a bystander stood a few meters away, watching and smoking. “This was the early 90s […]. If it was more recently, she would’ve been filming and live-streaming it […] as a lot of bystanders are doing nowadays,” Willett said.

She continued, “I was really afraid that other people would come, which is a fucked-up thing, because […] I’d already internalized and figured out that if more people would come by, it wouldn’t have meant help for me. It would’ve meant more participants, or more bystanders.” Willett reminded the crowd that, while everyone could be potentially complicit in sexual violence, bystanders do not have to be – they could be mobilized to provide support for the survivor, as the comedy show itself has done.

Other topics addressed included masturbation, mental health, fat politics, politics of desirability, and queerness, although sexual assault was the primary focus of the show. The show made clear that while making offensive and oppressive rape jokes is easy, having a nuanced conversation about sexual violence is difficult. The Rape is Real comics reclaimed their experiences in front of a supportive audience while unpacking the myths of sexual assault and challenging the systemic injustice that continues to silence survivors everywhere.

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Xavier Richer Vis <![CDATA[Montréal LGBT community organizes vigil in memory of Orlando victims]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46930 2016-06-25T18:39:34Z 2016-06-25T18:35:37Z On Thursday June 16 at 7pm, thousands of mourners attended a candlelight vigil at the corner of Rue Sainte-Catherine Est and Rue Panet to pay their respects to those who died at the PULSE nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday June 12. Forty-nine people lost their lives, and fifty-three others were injured, in a mass shooting at the nightclub

Montreal LGBT Solidarity

The vigil was held in the heart of Montreal’s Gay Village, near Parc de l’Espoir (which translates, perhaps fittingly, to Hope Park). Attendees carried signs with the pictures of those killed, which read “Trans Lives Matter,” “Black LGBT Lives Matter,” and “Latino LGBT Lives Matter,” highlighting the homophobic nature of the shooting, and the fact that most who died were gay men and women of color.

“Let us put an end to hate, and demand to live in a world without weapons and violence!”

“Let us put an end to racism, sexism, homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia!” said Éric Pinault, President of Fierté Montreal, in French. “Let us put an end to hate, and demand to live in a world without weapons and violence! And above all else, let us open our hearts to the love and to the light surrounding us as to sow peace [in our communities]!”

“I would like to remind everybody that every microaggression, every homophobic, transphobic, or racist act contributed to the events of last Sunday,” said Marlyne Michel, co-president of Arc-en-ciel d’Afrique, in French, stressing that what happened in Orlando was horrific, but calling for the press to put equal emphasis on the daily hardships faced by LGBT communities.

Manon Massé, the Québec provincial MP for Sainte-Marie – Saint-Jacques, herself a self-identified gay woman and activist, was also present at the vigil. She linked the violence in Orlando to attacks against marginalized communities around the world, and spoke to the necessity of fighting intolerance and hate.

“I would like to remind everybody that every microaggression, every homophobic, transphobic, or racist act contributed to the events of last Sunday.”

The names of all 49 victims were read near the end of the vigil, while onlookers held candles.

Québec Premier Philippe Couillard accosted

Québec Premier Philippe Couillard, Montréal Mayor Denis Coderre, and Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, as well as other federal and provincial MPs, attended the vigil. Days before the vigil, event organizers intentionally stressed that it was intended to be a “non-partisan gathering where all may honour the memory of the victims, reflect on the tragedy and stand united against homophobia, racism and sexism.”

“Tonight is not about politics.”

This didn’t stop several mourners from booing when one spokesperson from Fierté Montréal thanked many provincial and federal politicians for being present at the vigil. “Tonight is not about politics,” the spokesperson responded.

Coderre, Joly, and Couillard all spoke at the vigil, in solidarity with Fierté Montréal and LGBT communities around the globe.

Coderre emphasized the pride he felt at his constituents’ response to the Orlando shooting. “Here [in Montréal], you can live however you choose to, no matter who you are,” he said in French. “If you’re LGBT, that doesn’t matter, because you’re a citizen. You’re a first-class citizen.”

“We love each other the way we are. Let’s be proud of that and preserve that identity,” said Couillard, also speaking French.

“If you’re LGBT, that doesn’t matter, because you’re a citizen. You’re a first-class citizen.”

Both Coderre and Couillard were booed when taking the microphone – particularly Couillard, whose Liberal government has been unpopular due to its implementation of austerity measures. Many have argued that austerity has disproportionately affected institutions that help marginalized communities, such as those who identify as LGBT.

An event organizer responded to the booing by saying in French, “In 1960, what is happening here would not have been possible: a premier, a mayor, a multitude of deputies coming here [to stand in solidarity with LGBT communities].”

“We love each other the way we are. Let’s be proud of that and preserve that identity.”

But the crowd was astonished when Couillard was accosted on stage by Esteban Torres near the end of the vigil. Couillard and Joly were quickly escorted off stage, away from the crowd, while Torres was carried away by the police. He was later charged with assault, according to The Huffington Post Canada.

Torres, who had shouted “Révolution!” before attempting to hit Couillard, had earlier identified himself as a “trans, queer and Latinx activist”, and had been another of the event’s speakers, speaking on behalf of the Pink Bloc.

His speech had denounced islamophobia, misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia. While speaking in Spanish, he also condemned colonialism in many Latin American countries.

After some initial disorder, the vigil ended after a rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”.

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Josephine Bird <![CDATA[Musical trees and escaping chairs]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46918 2016-06-20T17:01:50Z 2016-06-20T16:29:18Z Variations on the trope of “deus ex machina,” or “god from the machine” have been thrown around a lot in popular culture lately. From Alex Garland’s movie Ex Machina to the latest theme of the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art gala, Manus x Machina, artists are responding to the confluence of art and technology. The use of the trope in these cases explores the role of technology as a device capable of creating expedient solutions to the trials of society.

The playful aspects of technology and its ability to facilitate new sensory experiences are rarely given attention in the contemporary artistic zeitgeist. The device art triennial at Montreal’s Eastern Bloc Gallery ran from May 5 to June 1, and exhibited an array of interactive innovative devices, recognizing their integral role in our daily lives. Beyond simply making our lives more efficient, these devices seeked to create new experiences.

Developments in biotechnology, manifested in the bio art movement of the 90s, and a focus on creating interactive experiences, were at the forefront of many of the artists’ initiatives. Some highlights of the exhibition included Robertina Sebjanic, Ida Hirsenfelder, and Ales Hieng-Zergon’s Chemobrionic Garden (Time Displacement), which explores the relationship between hydrothermal chemistry, time, and evolution; Martina Mezak’s Urania, a cloud making device; and Lightune. G’s unconventional lighting and sound system in Lighterature Reading.

Device art explores the interaction between humans and their devices in society, encouraging us to embrace technology not only as a tool on which to depend, but also as a producer of experience.

Davor Sancincenti’s sound installation, Ø, involved a polished Istrian olive tree stump which, when touched, activated sonorous or surreal sounds that came from behind the viewer. The consequences of the viewer’s actions, or the sounds generated through the interaction with the art object, were invisible to the eye but were deeply felt by the viewer. The creation of distant sounds through the close interaction with the art object convinced the viewer of the universal significance of their actions, making a statement on the far-reaching impacts of one’s actions on their environment. The use of technology to re-animate the tree stump shed a positive light on the prospect of human beings working with nature, rather than against it.

As most of the artists were of Eastern European and Japanese descent, specific regional artistic influences were spotted throughout the exhibit. For instance, the influence of 20th century Russian constructivism, which emphasized the practical qualities of art and aestheticized its process, was seen in many of the artists’ works, with their devices adopting an architectural quality. This influence as well as early Japanese forays in kinetic art was evident in Takeshi Oozu’s The Escaping Chair, which automatically moved away from the sitter when approached.

Subverting the common narrative that technology desensitizes us, the exhibit explored ways to look optimistically at the presence of technology in our daily lives and considered its potential to deepen sensory experience.

In The Escaping Chair, our perceived relationship with furniture was undermined as the dynamic between the willful sitter and passive object was reversed. Typically, we depend upon furniture for comfort, both physically and mentally, in their ability to mould themselves to our bodies. Oozu played upon this dependence on inanimate objects and our delusion of a shared intimacy. The body and furniture became intertwined, and this intimate yoking of body and object gave the artwork an erotic quality. Ultimately, the anthropomorphic piece of furniture encouraged us to think critically about the nature of technology. Oozu explained in a panel interview that the viewer became conscious of the chair possessing a “will.”

Device art explores the interaction between humans and their devices in society, encouraging us to embrace technology not only as a tool on which to depend, but also as a producer of experience. The aim of Sanvincenti’s interactive work was to use technology to facilitate sensory experience, and to do so in a way that is not a perversion of nature, but rather an improvement upon it. He did not want to impede the abilities that make us human, such as our sensory faculties, but to attune ourselves to them and exploit their potential, which he did by connecting sight with sound. Meanwhile, the animation of Oozu’s chair demonstrated how technology can be used to create life in places devoid of it.

In an era defined by the plurality of artistic visions and styles, the device art movement responds creatively to some of the most central concerns we face. Subverting the common narrative that technology desensitizes us, the exhibit explored ways to look optimistically at the presence of technology in our daily lives and considered its potential to deepen sensory experience.

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Anya Kowalchuk <![CDATA[Deconstructing cultural narratives]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46903 2016-06-20T18:59:03Z 2016-06-10T13:00:40Z Joan Jonas, born in 1936, is an American video art, sculpture, and performance artist. Jonas’s work has seen widespread acclaim, participating in world-renowned shows ranging from dOCUMENTA (13) to her most recent solo show at the Venice 2015 Biennial. DHC/ART’s exhibit From Away, which opened on April 28, brings together a comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s complete body of work, the first of its kind in Canada, designed by guest curator Barbara Clausen.

From Away incorporates video and photography while featuring significant and iconic props from Jonas’s video and performance art, such as the 8-foot cones situated in a circle taken from Street Scene With Chalk, developing a raw swarming network of artistic inclination and inspiration. The methodology is highly indicative of Jonas’s attentive study of the late Aby Warburg’s Atlas. In the informational brochure accompanying the exhibit, Clausen explains that Jonas’s images interact with each other, creating “a fine web of new stories over time.”

Jonas deconstructs the linear narrative in Street Scene with Chalk, an 11-minute video projected on a loop, on the first of 4 floors which comprise From Away. It shows a filmed scene of a quiet street at night with a couple walking and moving about as the artist’s hands draw over the recording in chalk. In an interview with the Wattis Institute, Jonas spoke to the performance aspect of the piece, inspired by her 1976 performance Mirage, and explained that she organized an improvisation near Wall Street, which was completely deserted at night.

By overlaying the drawings on top of the improvised scene, Jonas proposes stories that intercept and mediate or negate each other, destroying the cohesive linear quality to any single narrative. In simultaneously presenting two images, the artist splits the attention of the viewer, forcing them to move back and forth between the stories, which in turn merge and negotiate with each other to produce an entirely new narrative.

While Jonas has many points of focus, perhaps she is most compelling in her intense study of ritual and linearity of narrative in her art, which allows her to arrive at a provocative cultural analysis of the contemporary world, the one of unprecedented disconnect.

In contrast to her efforts of deconstructing dominant cultural narratives, Jonas revives the traditions of rituals in other pieces. She achieves this most notably in her 1972 performance Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy. Jonas is deeply intrigued by the translation of performance art to other image-based media: for this reason, the exhibit presents her performance piece through a variety of stills from the original, props from the performance, as well as video clips, rather than a projected recording of the piece, as a method of immersing the viewer and effectively relating a past performance.

It is critical to note the problematic nature of Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy. In the performance piece, Jonas is seen donning a plastic mask of a woman’s face wearing heavy make-up, a peacock feather headdress, and a kimono. Jonas aims to fragment her own image by concealing it with costume, while using the camera as an apparatus to exhibit her own image. As Clausen explains, the performance discusses dualities within female representation and imagery, while considering and deconstructing the visual relationship between viewer and camera.

By appropriating cultural artifacts such as the kimono, Jonas appears to be exoticising cultures to which she has no claim. Though her aim is to discuss norms of femininity as they appear across various cultures, Jonas ultimately enacts violence upon the cultures whose artifacts she appropriates as she exploits their decorative aspects while failing to perform a nuanced engagement with their cultural meanings. Jonas is not alone in committing such acts of appropriation in her work. In fact, it has been a widespread phenomenon in contemporary art, spurring white artists to produce work that underlines the prevalence of cultural appropriation in the arts.

The DHC retrospective on Joan Jonas makes a sweeping survey of her life’s works, spanning decades and mediums alike. In an interview with Alvin Curran, she asserts that the period of contemporaneity is “historically speaking, a period of mannerisms and fragmented memory.” While Jonas has many points of focus, perhaps she is most compelling in her intense study of ritual and linearity of narrative in her art, which allows her to arrive at a provocative cultural analysis of the contemporary world, the one of unprecedented disconnect.


From Away runs until September 18 at DHC/ART.

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Tiran Rahimian <![CDATA[Montrealers protest privatization of Hôtel-Dieu hospital at public assembly]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46900 2016-06-07T02:05:18Z 2016-06-07T02:05:18Z On Thursday May 19th, over 300 Montreal residents attended a public assembly held in the basement of l’Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette and organized by the Hôtel-Dieu Community Project to discuss the future of Montreal’s oldest hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu.

Located at the intersection of Rue Saint-Urbain and Avenue des Pins, the hospital was founded in 1645 by nurse Jeanne Mance, and remains an important Montreal historical site. But with the recent completion of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), a mega-hospital located near the Vendome station, the Hôtel-Dieu is set to be vacated by the end of this year to allow for the merger, privatization, and consolidation of Montreal’s health services.

“The idea of this project is to take this land from the government, to have an agreement where they would give the land to the community and then to develop a number of projects.”

Numerous community organizations like the Milton Parc Community and the Old Brewery Mission have opposed the privatization of the hospital, and put forth plans to put it to good use.

Speaking to CKUT, Théo Rouhette, a McGill student who volunteers with the Coalition communautaire Milton Parc, explained some of the main pillars of the project.

“The idea of this project is to take this land from the government, to have an agreement where they would give the land to the community and then to develop a number of projects,” said Rouhette, “This project would range from social housing to student residences, to urban agriculture, to art exhibitions and galleries, to small businesses, and also to create a public green space for people to interact with the area.”

“We want to make available decent housing for the homeless, and the Indigenous people living in the area.”

Dimitri Roussopoulos, one of the speakers at the assembly, highlighted the importance of providing housing to marginalized communities, and addressed how the Hôtel-Dieu could play a part in doing so.

“We want to make available decent housing for the homeless, and the Indigenous people living in the area,” said Roussopoulos. “We want to establish a lot of social housing, especially cooperatives with green roofs,” Roussopoulos said.

Roussopoulos further spoke about the importance of community with regards to the project.

“We want it, of course, to be community controlled.”

“We want it, of course, to be community controlled,” elaborated Roussopoulos. “In other words, we want the land to be owned by the people, the partners who develop all this.”

Speaking to The Daily in French, Kia Khojandi, a student at Ahuntsic College who attended the event, stressed the importance of preserving the city’s heritage.

“Hôtel-Dieu is Montreal’s oldest hospital,” said Khojandi, “but it is also more than just a hospital. It is a testimonial to the city’s rich history and heritage. […] Thankfully, there are community movements such as this [that] try to preserve the city’s heritage and turn the site into something that is worthy of its historical value and significance.”

The coalition of community organizations working on the project has met with Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, as well as Quebec Minister of Health Gaetan Barrette. The mayor expressed interest in establishing social housing on the site’s current parking lot.

“It is a testimonial to the city’s rich history and heritage.”

“If we want public authorities to listen,” said Khojandi. “We need to continue mobilizing our efforts and show them that we are determined and that we care. That’s why public assemblies such as [these] are so important.”

Acknowledging the importance of social mobilization, Rouhette added, “The success of this story would show [Montreal] that it is possible to create another world where private property and speculation are not the main pillars, and that community-based activities, […] environmental issues, and projects can occur if there is cohesion between the people.”

“If we want public authorities to listen, we need to continue mobilizing our efforts and show them that we are determined and that we care. That’s why public assemblies such as [these] are so important.”

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Paniz Khosroshahy <![CDATA[Night demonstration commemorating the Nakba sees clashes with police]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46897 2016-05-28T02:58:57Z 2016-05-28T02:58:57Z On Saturday May 14, the Montreal-based human rights group Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU) organized a midnight demonstration to mark the 68th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’, which translates to “the catastrophe” in Arabic. The demonstration aimed to commemorate the expulsion and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland following the 1948 Palestine War and Israel’s subsequent Declaration of Independence.

According to PAJU’s Facebook event page for the demonstration, “Palestine has been subjected to a systemic ethnic cleansing operation at the hands of the Zionist movement for the past 68 years. In a blink of an eye, Palestine was wiped off the map.”

“The Zionist movement has announced the creation of the Israeli state on Palestinian territory through the destruction and expropriation of over 500 villages and towns and the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians to refugee camps all over the world,” the page continued.

“Israel’s military supremacy is the spearhead of its occupation of Palestine.”

Hala Yassin, a member of PAJU, addressed the crowd in French prior to the march, condemning the federal government’s turning a blind eye to Israeli military actions against Palestinians.

“Israel’s military supremacy is the spearhead of its occupation of Palestine,” said Yassin. “It allows Israel to act with impunity. The Israeli army is proud to collaborate with arms manufacturers that brag to clients about testing its products in the field [the Gaza Strip].”

“Can you believe that? Products tested on humans, on Palestinians!” she repeated.

Around 150 people gathered outside the Mont-Royal metro station for the demonstration. Notwithstanding a heavy police presence, the demonstrators chanted “Israel terroriste, Trudeau complice!” in French, (“Terrorist Israel, Trudeau an accomplice!” in English) as they marched from Rue Saint-Denis to Rue Sainte-Catherine and looped back through Boulevard Saint-Laurent.

“Can you believe that? Products tested on humans, on Palestinians!”

“We have to remember that this movement of Zionism, the State of Israel, was not created by the Jewish people that followed the traditions of their forefathers,” said Neturei Karta rabbi David Feldman to the crowd before the march. “These were people who attempted to transform Judaism from a religion into a nationalism.”

“As Jewish people who do practice our religion, we say that that the state of Israel does not represent world Jewry,” Feldman continued. “These people do not speak in the name of our people, they’re not supported by all Jewish people, and certainly the crimes that they are committing are not condoned by Jewish religion.”

The police initially blocked the march at the intersection of Rue Sherbrooke and Rue Saint-Denis, instructing the demonstrators follow their route west of Rue Sherbrooke. After a brief confrontation, the police succumbed and demonstrators continued marching down Saint-Denis, shouting “A nous la rue!”

“As Jewish people who do practice our religion, we say that that the state of Israel does not represent world Jewry.”

The demonstrators stopped in the middle of the intersection at St. Laurent and Mont Royal, blocking off the street to hear a spokesperson for Women of Diverse Origins, Dolores Chew, speak about the importance of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement.

“BDS is what we need to struggle for,” said Chew. “For our communities and all organizations and all our institutions in our church groups, in our political parties – we must push for BDS to be adopted.”

“Israel is really afraid; this is the only thing that is going to make a difference,” Chew continued. “Women of Diverse Origins stands in support of Palestinian women, and their families ask us to take a stand and struggle and not to give up.”

“Israel is really afraid; this is the only thing that is going to make a difference.”

Montreal municipal bylaw P6 (section 2.1), requires march organizers to disclose their route prior to their event. However, Anna, a demonstration organizer, told The Daily in a Facebook message that P6 is “political repression, plain and simple.”

“They want to scare, discourage, and punish people for protesting, so [we] refuse to acknowledge and give power to such a law,” Anna said.

She went on to discuss the connection between refusing to abide by such laws and protesting the Israeli occupation. “All of our adversity is connected to the same systems of oppression and repressive audacity of authority,” she explained.

“They want to scare, discourage, and punish people for protesting, so [we] refuse to acknowledge and give power to such a law.”

Members of the Young Communist League of Canada were also present at the demonstration. Speaking to The Daily, Adrien Welsh, a representative of the League, asserted “To us it is important to denounce [the occupation], first to show our solidarity with the Palestinian people, but also to show that we are active, that we are able to do things although we are geographically far away.”

“It is important to support the resistance through such actions like this demonstration and BDS, and to demand for at least the creation of a Palestinian state, at least within the borders of ’67,” Welsh added.

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Marina Cupido <![CDATA[Montreal May Day protests end with at least ten arrests]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46883 2016-05-19T04:25:21Z 2016-05-19T04:25:21Z On Sunday May 1, hundreds took to the streets for an anti-capitalist protest in honour of International Workers’ Day. Less than an hour into the demonstration, police officers used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd, after a confrontation on Ste. Catherine Street escalated rapidly. Multiple arrests were made in the hours that followed, as police pursued small groups of protestors throughout the downtown area.

Anti-capitalist protesters gathered at several prearranged meeting points earlier that afternoon, forming smaller groups which coalesced into one large demonstration at the corner of University and de Maisonneuve at around 3:15 pm.

There was a heavy police presence, with dozens of vehicles gathered on nearby streets, a helicopter monitoring the area, and several officers on horseback following the demonstration closely. As protesters made their way through downtown Montreal, rows of officers in riot gear arrived to follow the procession from the sidelines, standing in front of businesses and government buildings.

The anti-capitalist demonstration was organized by the Montreal chapter of Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC-Montreal), and attracted a diverse collection of protesters, which included a small but enthusiastic McGill contingent. In addition to the usual anti-capitalist and anti-police chants, shouts of “Free Palestine!” and “Free Kurdistan!” could be heard from the crowd.

“The only way to completely address climate change is to not only limit greenhouse gas emissions but to also tackle the social problems that make marginalized people most vulnerable to the changing climate.”

Environmental activists were also in attendance. The Daily spoke with McGill student Jed Lenetsky, a U1 Environmental Sciences student, about the intersection between anti-capitalist activism and the climate justice movement:

“The shift towards a clean energy economy must include a just transition for workers.”

“Climate justice is firmly based in intersectionality,” said Lenetsky. “The only way to completely address climate change is to not only limit greenhouse gas emissions but to also tackle the social problems that make marginalized people most vulnerable to the changing climate. Fighting for labor rights fits squarely within this mandate.”

Speaking to The Daily, Kristen Perry, a graduating McGill Environmental Sciences student, stressed that “the shift towards a clean energy economy must include a just transition for workers.”

“This means organizing for a living wage and fair working conditions,” Perry said.

Confrontation and Arrests

The protesters marched through the streets of downtown Montreal for nearly a half hour without incident. Small amounts of tear gas were fired on at least two occasions, for reasons that remain unclear, and a number of construction pylons were knocked into the street.The overall situation remained peaceful until the crowd arrived at a police station on Ste Catherine Street.

A confrontation ensued which ended with copious amounts of tear gas fired at protesters. Police also used stun grenades to scatter the crowd.

Some protesters hurled firecrackers and coloured smoke bombs back at the officers, and a window in an adjacent building was shattered. According to CBCNews, police claim protesters began the confrontation, throwing fireworks and tear gas upon arriving at the police station. However, two activists who wished to remain anonymous told The Daily that they witnessed the incident, claiming a tear gas canister caused the damage.

“[The police] shot some tear gas, and it broke a window,” said one of the activists, speaking to The Daily in French. “But it will probably be said that it was protesters that broke the window.”

The activists also told The Daily that they had been attending a feminist conference and had decided to join the demonstration because “when you’re feminist, you’re struggling for more equality, for rights, for recognition, and when you’re anti-capitalist it’s similar. […] It’s essential not to separate the [feminist and anti-capitalist] movements.”

Following the confrontation on Ste. Catherine, small groups of protesters ran down adjoining side streets, pursued by police officers. For the rest of the afternoon, dispersed groups all over downtown Montreal tried to reunite while avoiding the police. Several were detained during this period, with the total number of arrests reported to be at least ten by various news sources, including CBCNews and The Toronto Star.

“[The police] shot some tear gas, and it broke a window. But it will probably be said that it was protesters that broke the window.”

Among those arrested were two McGill students, who preferred to remain anonymous. In an interview with The Daily, the two students said they had been walking peacefully along a downtown sidewalk when a large number of police officers arrived to disperse their group. They were pushed down an alley along with some other protesters and were eventually trapped by the police.

They were then arrested, allegedly for “participating in an illegal demonstration,” despite the fact that they had not been protesting when the police appeared. The officers did not cite any specific piece of legislation, but they still handcuffed and frisked the students, and searched through their coats and bags. Eventually, the students were released without charges. One student told The Daily that she found bruises the next day where the police had held her, and that other students with her were treated more roughly.

“The Police are Our Partners”

Meanwhile, The Daily’s reporter followed another group to Dorchester Square, where a large number of officers scattered protesters with substantial amounts of tear gas. Julie, a McGill student present at the scene, expressed outrage at what she saw as the police’s heavy-handed behaviour:

“I’m feeling frustrated that people who were trying to recover after being chased were then attacked, not only with tear gas, but then [also by] ten or twenty policemen on bikes shouting […] and chasing them […] in the middle of a park!”

She emphasized that police filled the park with tear gas without making sure that bystanders would be affected. These concerns echoed last year’s May Day demonstration, during which passers-by, including children, were teargassed as the police attempted to disperse protesters.

“[The officer] hit her in the leg and then pummelled her, and they then proceeded to hound us.”

Sean, another McGill student, told The Daily what happened when he and a few others were chased onto campus near the Otto Maass Chemistry Building by police:

“Some of the police followed the group going up University, and other officers stopped and started harassing us, and attacked one student – I think she was a student – with a bike. [The officer] hit her in the leg and then pummeled her, and they then proceeded to hound us,” he said.

“Meanwhile, I confronted [a] McGill Security [officer] about this, telling him ‘the police are attacking students on campus, it’s your responsibility to make sure this kind of thing isn’t happening’, and he said ‘the police are our partners.’”

“He said ‘the police are our partners.’”

At around 6:00 pm, roughly a hundred demonstrators gathered at Philips Square, and marched east to Place des Festivals. There, the group dispersed when police arrived, and about a half an hour later, CLAC-Montreal announced via Twitter that the demonstration was officially over.

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Amy Currie <![CDATA[Bury tropes, not queer women]]> http://www.mcgilldaily.com/?p=46872 2016-05-11T21:26:53Z 2016-05-11T21:25:23Z I assume that we’ve all heard about the lesbian character that was killed off via gunshot, right?

No, not Tara Maclay or Delphine. Or Tosha. Or Toshiko. I’m talking about Commander Lexa from The 100.

The 100 takes place 97 years after a nuclear war destroys the Earth and follows 17-year-old Clarke, who lives in a colossal space station named “The Ark,” along with what is left of the human population. The purpose of “The Ark” is to keep the human race alive until Earth is habitable again. Clarke’s engineer father finds an unfixable flaw in the oxygen system of “The Ark”, threatening the lives on board, and thereby the human race overall. He attempts to make this knowledge public to the citizens of “The Ark,” but is caught and executed.

Clarke tries to finish what her father started, but rather is imprisoned, along with a hundred other juvenile delinquents. In a desperate attempt to save humanity, they are sent back to Earth to test its habitability. If they survive, “The Ark”’s citizens can follow suit, and human repopulation can begin.

The kids find Earth habitable, but quickly realize that they are not alone—somehow, humans managed to withstand the radiation and created a community comprised of 12 united clans called the Grounders. The hundred adolescents are immediately forced into war with the community that had survived.

Admittedly, the show is well-made, offering a critical commentary on a theme of land disputes, land ownership, and how far humanity can, or should, go to ensure survival. Clarke winds up being the leader of her people and meets Grounder commander Lexa. The two aim to bring peace between the Grounders and the Sky People and fall in love in the process. After Lexa is forced to betray Clarke to ensure the survival of the Grounders, Clarke sets out for revenge. After a series of plot twists and dramatic events, Lexa regains Clarke’s trust, and the young women finally get the intimate scene that the audience was waiting for. Just moments after, Lexa’s advisor Titus attempts to kill Clarke in disapproval of Lexa’s romantic feelings for the Sky Girl; Lexa ends up killed in the crossfire.

Out of the 35 LBPQ characters that 2016 started with, 15 have been killed off. We are only 5 months into the year and about 43% of the limited LBPQ representation on TV is dead.

So, what’s the big deal? Characters die. Get over it.

The big deal is that Lexa’s death perpetrates “Bury Your Gays,” a wildly homophobic trope in which queer characters never get the same happy endings as straight characters. In the off-chance that a queer character isn’t used for comedic purposes to perpetrate other tropes—for example, the Predatory Lesbian as exemplified in Pitch Perfect—a stereotypical queer best friend who loves shopping and musicals, or a cameo, they often meet their demise through suicide, murder, illness or accident. “Bury Your Gays” appeared in 1930s in Hays Code, an early attempt at film censorship, forbidding anything that promoted what was believed to be unnatural or morally wrong. This allowed for the inclusion of LGBT characters, but with a catch: they had to be punished for their immorality. Acceptable punishments included perpetually sad and dissatisfying outcomes, or being killed off.

Why, after 86 years, are we still misrepresenting a marginalized community in such a violent way?

Even though Lexa’s death has arguably been the last straw for lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and queer (LBPQ) viewers, this isn’t just about one character in one show. Out of the 181 LBPQ characters in television and film history, 155 have been killed off. Only 29 have had happy endings, if you consider not being killed off a happy ending. Out of the 35 LBPQ characters that 2016 started with, 15 have been killed off. We are only 5 months into the year and about 43% of the limited LBPQ representation on TV is dead.

[I]n The 100’s universe anyone can die! But anyone can die in the real world, too. The problem lies when anyone can die, yet death has disproportionately high rates for minorities, real world or not.

Jason Rothenberg, executive producer and lead writer of The 100, actively queerbaited the community. He shared pictures of ‘Clexa’—a ship name for Clarke and Lexa—actresses Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey eating rainbow candies, attempting to reaffirm his status as an ally. After Lexa’s death was filmed, writer’s assistant Shawna Benson promised fans on LGBT forums, our safe spaces, that Lexa would not be killed off. Benson stated that if we didn’t believe that the writers loved her as much as we did, then we might want to “seek counselling” for our “trust issues”.

Before the season started, fans noticed that Debnam-Carey was not credited on IMDB in any episodes after “Thirteen” (the episode in which Lexa is killed off) and made public their concerns she would be killed off. Rothenberg shared pictures of Debnam-Carey and Taylor on set of the season’s finale, inviting fans to watch the filming in Vancouver, insinuating that Lexa would indeed be alive and well. As it turns out, Lexa is likely in an afterlife state known in The 100 as the City of Light. We were led to believe that Lexa would not be claimed by “Bury your Gays”, and that the showrunners genuinely cared for the LGBT community.

Rothenberg carried on promoting the seventh episode of The 100’s third season, “Thirteen,” as “game-changing” and urged viewers to watch it live unless they wanted to see big spoilers everywhere online. It isn’t surprising that just days after the original air date of “Thirteen,” which was a big trend online (reaching 1.38 million viewers), The 100 was renewed for another season. Through deceit and careful planning, Rothenberg used his LGBT fans to gain popularity, ratings, and viewers to ensure another year of the show.

Showrunners and filmmakers alike need to understand that the media does not exist in a vacuum, and what is shown in movies impacts life outside the screen. Younger LBPQ girls may not have anything to hold onto except limited representation of LGBT characters.

TV and film crews still don’t seem to get it. Although Rothenberg apologized to fans, his apology is more concerned with expunging “Bury Your Gays” and queerbaiting from his reputation. He tried to assure us that it was never the intention to cause harm to the LGBT community, because in The 100’s universe anyone can die! But anyone can die in the real world, too. The problem lies when anyone can die, yet death has disproportionately high rates for minorities, real world or not.

The thing is, Lexa didn’t even need to be killed off. The story could have very easily continued with her. Rothenberg unfairly blamed Debnam-Carey’s other show Fear the Walking Dead for creating scheduling conflicts. This cannot be proven as we have not seen Debnam-Carey’s contract with Fear the Walking Dead. Regardless of whether or not she could return to The 100, Lexa did not have to be killed off in such homophobic fashion.

Showrunners and filmmakers alike need to understand that the media does not exist in a vacuum, and what is shown in movies impacts life outside the screen. Younger LBPQ girls may not have anything to hold onto except limited representation of LGBT characters. I remember being in grade 8 and ecstatic to discover the existence of bisexual Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley on House M.D., only to find out that she had been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a genetic neurodegenerative disorder that often results in death. Thirteen disappeared, perhaps to find treatment or protect her friends from future heartbreak when she would inevitably succumb to her disease. I was heartbroken. The only character I identified with was gone.

I would like to applaud the teenage LBPQ viewers who are fighting tooth and nail to get mass media to notice the issue, and who are rightfully pursuing the genuine apology that we deserve.

The struggle to understand and accept my sexuality was made harder by media’s refusal to treat LGBT characters with respect. I’m lucky that Lexa’s death came after I learned to love myself and my identity, having moved out of the small homophobic town that kept me in the closet for 17 years. I am privileged to have found a wonderful group of queer friends that support and care for each other. The same is hardly true for many younger, often closeted and isolated, LBPQ girls.

That being said, I would like to applaud the teenage LBPQ viewers who are fighting tooth and nail to get mass media to notice the issue, and who are rightfully pursuing the genuine apology that we deserve. LBPQ viewers may well be the ones to inspire a whole new generation of TV and film, free of harmful tropes. They have inspired multiple trending topics on Twitter every week and raised over $100,000 in Lexa’s name for “The Trevor Project”, a charity organization aimed at suicide prevention for LGBT youth.

Queer teenage girls are adamant about this fight and have already made an impact. Former writer and co-executive producer of The 100, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, has confirmed that he is no longer involved with The 100. He has taken LBPQ grievances seriously, inspiring hope among LBPQ viewers as he will be co-executive producer for the Xena: Warrior Princess reboot. The struggles of LBPQ teenage girls are not trivial. LBPQ girls are a force to be reckoned with.

To TV and filmmakers: bury tropes, not us.

To my fellow LBPQ sisters: As is often said in The 100 by Grounders who have been wronged and are seeking justice or retribution, “jus drein jus daun”.

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