those grey-white gas meter boxes on the outsides of terraced housing
October 23, 2018 11:05 AM   Subscribe

"So playing this, every single time I see something undeniably British, which is approximately every 1.6 seconds in Horizon 4, I double-double-take." John Walker over at Rock Paper Shotgun writes about the strange un-uncanny valley roadtrip that is being a British person, raised on a diet of American driving games, confronting a driving game that is actually casually understatedly British.
posted by cortex (96 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
I suspect this is more or less a familiar sensation to anyone who lives outside of LA or NY and consumes media of most sorts. Stories (and games) simply don't get set in the places you live, doubly true if you don't live in the US.
posted by bonehead at 11:16 AM on October 23 [4 favorites]


British-set gaming is… well it doesn’t exist!

Bro, do you even Hover Bovver?
posted by exogenous at 11:19 AM on October 23 [7 favorites]


There is a phenomenon of culture that I’m not convinced has a name. Living in the UK, the vast, vast majority of the media I consume is from the US. And nearly always has been.

I've noticed the other side of this coin - over the past few years I've been watching a lot of BBC comedy panel shows, and I'm constantly surprised at how often US-based topics and media come up. Only seldom is a political or cultural topic so UK-specific that I end up not getting the joke.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:25 AM on October 23 [4 favorites]


I sort of had the reverse of this when I first moved to the US, after a couple of months suddenly movies have lost some of their exoticism, their 'other' - and it was largely because street scenes were now ordinary
posted by mbo at 11:32 AM on October 23 [7 favorites]


That put into words pretty much how I feel about the US. Haven't been there, and don't really feel any desire to, but I feel like I'm familiar with every minute detail of American life, that being the bulk of the media we have. Going there would be very much like walking onto a TV or film set. It's not just the big cities either - plenty of American media covers the backwaters, the remote or 'boring' places, and even those can be somehow 'exotic' to an outsider. I mean, I could go and live in the most boring little town in America, and (for the first couple of months at least) it'd feel exactly like being on a set. Part of not wanting to travel to the US is not wanting to 'break the spell', for the alien to become ordinary, because those are the things you don't get back, in the same way that things that were vivid and novel in childhood seem disappointing when you're older.
posted by pipeski at 11:39 AM on October 23 [12 favorites]


I've noticed the other side of this coin - over the past few years I've been watching a lot of BBC comedy panel shows, and I'm constantly surprised at how often US-based topics and media come up. Only seldom is a political or cultural topic so UK-specific that I end up not getting the joke.

Americans, for the most part, are completely ignorant of how pervasive their media culture is internationally. They simply think it's the natural order of things, like being able to order a sugar drink invented in Atlanta anywhere on the planet.
posted by GuyZero at 11:39 AM on October 23 [19 favorites]


Americans, for the most part, are completely ignorant of how pervasive their media culture is internationally. They simply think it's the natural order of things, like being able to order a sugar drink invented in Atlanta anywhere on the planet.

And that's a big part of why 20 years later I moved back to NZ .... my kids were starting high-school and one of the things we realised was how inward looking US media is, it's like the rest of the world almost disappears (pre the internet is was more than 'almost'). NZ's a bit the opposite, a small country, a bit insecure, always looking outwards for approval, most media is foreign
posted by mbo at 11:44 AM on October 23 [5 favorites]


I will admit, if I ever visited England and came upon a police call box, I'd be irresistibly drawn to have a peek inside, just to see if The Doctor was in.
posted by SPrintF at 11:49 AM on October 23 [5 favorites]


Americans, for the most part, are completely ignorant of how pervasive their media culture is internationally. They simply think it's the natural order of things, like being able to order a sugar drink invented in Atlanta anywhere on the planet.

Why would the average American know that most TV in a lot of places is American? I don't think Americans think it's the natural order of things but we very much lack exposure to other cultures in the media. With the exception of British TV, which is only shown on PBS, the average American doesn't see any other cultures.

One of the best things about Netflix is being able to watch French, German, Scandinavian, Aussie, Spanish, etc., programming.
posted by shoesietart at 11:57 AM on October 23 [6 favorites]


NZ's a bit the opposite, a small country, a bit insecure, always looking outwards for approval, most media is foreign

Canada does the same thing so it is always funny when some show uses a Canadian city as a substitite for some major US city.

Is there even a contemporary game that uses a Canadian setting?
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:59 AM on October 23


Why would the average American know that most TV in a lot of places is American? I don't think Americans think it's the natural order of things but we very much lack exposure to other cultures in the media.

I don't really have an answer to your semi-rhetorical first question, but every other country on earth has two primary sources of entertainment media: locally produced content (to varying degrees) and American media.

The US has a tiny slice of British-produced stuff on PBS but that's it. It's not really relevant.

The US Superbowl is broadcast in Canada. Who carries the Grey Cup in the US?
(this comparison breaks down somewhat with the Champions league as it's one of the few sports with a huge global following).

Who do Americans lack exposure to other cultures in their media? Did this happen by accident? Is American culture just more interesting? Does it not strike you as odd that Americans have so little expose to other countries' movies and TV?

One of the best things about Netflix is being able to watch French, German, Scandinavian, Aussie, Spanish, etc., programming.

This is the media equivalent of that one half-shelf of Marmite jars at that one Safeway in town.
posted by GuyZero at 12:07 PM on October 23 [13 favorites]


A few years ago I watched Maximum Overdrive for the first time with a large group, and while everyone else was laughing at the evil semitrucks I was spellbound by the landscape, which I instantly recognized as having been shot on location in coastal North Carolina. I never realized until then that I had never seen that particular region of the world accurately depicted in a movie before. I'd watch it again just for that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:10 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]


Canada does the same thing so it is always funny when some show uses a Canadian city as a substitite for some major US city.

I had to laugh when I was watching Hannibal and saw the park that's two blocks from my place standing in for Washington, DC, with the Capitol dome CGI'd into the skyline in the background.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:10 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


Does it not strike you as odd that Americans have so little expose to other countries' movies and TV?

Most cable packages have hundreds of channels of foreign language broadcasting, which is not on the main channels but is very easy to access and generally no additional cost (beyond the cost of having a cable package). The US also has one or two Spanish language networks that are broadcast over the air and with the major US channels. So access isn't really the reason people in the US don't watch/pay attention to worldwide media.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:15 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


At one end of the scale, Billy Elliot isn’t about a working class British boy who wants to dance… ON THE MOON. Brassed Off isn’t about a brass band that prevents a volcano from destroying Yorkshire. They, and their identikit brethren, are just a dreary sepia-brown dirge of a fucked up nostalgia for when things were slightly worse.

I would read movie reviews written by this guy.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:15 PM on October 23 [9 favorites]


I'm loooking forward to when I can finally take my partner to Seoul. While it may take some effort for Americans to fully immerse themselves in foreign media, my partner has managed to do so with her kdrama and kpop obsessions. Every time I share an interesting photo from Seoul or the Korean countryside, she can find a tie in to one of her shows. Would imagine walking down the streets of Seoul, watching the teenagers go past, will have a similar effect on her as it did for John Walker's visits to the US.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:18 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


Is there even a contemporary game that uses a Canadian setting?

The Long Dark, but that's wilderness.

Champions Online, if it's still around, has a Canadian zone (and a goofy Canadian equivalent of Captain America). One of the missions even has a "Go To Canada" button in the UI, which always amused me.
posted by Foosnark at 12:19 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed this article and indeed it made me actually want to play a driving game. I've been thinking a little bit about sort of for-export versus not lately because of bandcamp - you can start off, as an American, listening to some UK band that has a little international press and a few clicks later you're listening to things that...don't, things that seem much more hyper-local, things where no matter how much you're enjoying them you're pretty sure that you're really not getting the We-Grew-Up-In-Thirsk-ness of them. It really brings home the "all language is misapprehension" bit because you realize that even if you, eg, went to Thirsk, you still wouldn't get it.

On that note: It's true that American pop culture is ubiquitous world-wide, and it's true that even relatively obscure corners of the US are known more widely than is strictly fair, but there's a lot of difference when you're on the inside. I grew up during the eighties in the kind of suburbs that appear in John Hughes movies, for instance, and while those settings remain extremely recognizable to me, the interiority is wrong. The way interiority is depicted in mass media is almost always a huge lie, for one thing, and for another, all those things that are depicted as norms are always being contested. They look uncontested because that's white supremacist capitalist patriarchy for you, but if you actually live there it's different.

This has given me an idea for an ask.

Who do Americans lack exposure to other cultures in their media? Did this happen by accident? Is American culture just more interesting? Does it not strike you as odd that Americans have so little expose to other countries' movies and TV?

To this I say what I always say: This is a big country. (Canada is physically big but its population is about a ninth of ours; and of course compared to, eg, France, this is a ridiculously physically large place). Our cultural agenda is set on the coasts and in the north. There are a lot of other reasons why Americans are parochial, but a big one is that we're kept fairly occupied with the fact that the cultures of large portions of the US are underrepresented in the US. Where's the Missouri regionalism? Where's Minnesotan culture, once you leave out the Fargo jokes? Southern cultures are cut off from Northern, Minnesota is really different from Illinois, etc etc. And that's not even touching on the racial divide, which is also huge - it's not exactly like the country is just rolling in, eg, media about Somali people, even though there are several very large regional communities.

Obviously these divides are also deep in smaller countries, but when you have a large, sorta-geographically isolated country, they end up being a lot more like the "there's only American movies on TV" thing just due to the sheer numbers of people and geographic distance involved.

Remember that major American media may sometimes be about places that are not on the coast, but it's seldom really produced by people who live in those places. The best you get is someone who grew up in Omaha, moved to New York and hasn't lived in the Midwest since 1995.
posted by Frowner at 12:19 PM on October 23 [23 favorites]


To this I say what I always say: This is a big country.
Americans think a hundred years is a long time.

Europeans think a hundred miles is a long way.
posted by notsnot at 12:36 PM on October 23 [29 favorites]


That put into words pretty much how I feel about the US. Haven't been there, and don't really feel any desire to, but I feel like I'm familiar with every minute detail of American life, that being the bulk of the media we have.

My pet theory as to why [52% of] the British electorate are so hostile to Europe and so open to the US is because we’ve consumed so much American media that the US feels nearly as familiar to us as other parts of the UK. We’re probably a lot more like other Western European countries culturally (levels of religious belief, greater acceptance of taxation for things like national health services), but because their TV shows and movies are “foreign” (ie subtitled and therefore hard work), we don’t identify with them in anything like the same way.

Most Brits have no idea how strange a lot of the US would actually feel, were they to move there.
posted by cardinalandcrow at 12:37 PM on October 23 [18 favorites]


There are a lot of other reasons why Americans are parochial, but a big one is that we're kept fairly occupied with the fact that the cultures of large portions of the US are underrepresented in the US.

Eh. I mean, YES if you are talking about a racial divide, but in my opinion the US is pretty homogeneous, in that the dominant culture is really suburb/city which is relatively well represented in tv land. City/Suburban/Rural life between Minnesota and California or Texas or Florida or Maine isn't very different, and the differences that do exist are too subtle for mass-market tv. US tv shows are generally 'generic American', they aren't terribly specific or local to any single place.

Also local-market tv totally exists to capture regional subtleties. I'm sure they aren't exporting much of that world wide vs mass-market shows. Maybe the most popular ones like Hewell Howser or Tom Bodett or the Prairie Home Companion guy, but the local Arkansas guy? Nah.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:38 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


I got the "feels like I've walked into a movie" feeling when I first moved to LA. Suddenly, whenever I wasn't in a part that was screamingly obviously Los Angeles, I was in Anytown, USA. Or, rather, in a place that was used to stand in for Anytown, USA.

LA is still a particular place, and the feeling of walking into a movie set wore off somewhere over the course of about a decade of living there. I don't feel it when I visit; I'm just visiting Los Angeles now.
posted by egypturnash at 12:46 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


> I'm loooking forward to when I can finally take my partner to Seoul. While it may take some effort for Americans to fully immerse themselves in foreign media, my partner has managed to do so with her kdrama and kpop obsessions. Every time I share an interesting photo from Seoul or the Korean countryside, she can find a tie in to one of her shows. Would imagine walking down the streets of Seoul, watching the teenagers go past, will have a similar effect on her as it did for John Walker's visits to the US.

As an American non-k-media fan, I have to say that I still had a kind of a thrill of -- um, not recognition, maybe of proximity? Vibes? -- visiting Seoul for the first time in the autumn of 2012, partly because that was the year that "Gangnam Style" broke.
posted by ardgedee at 12:46 PM on October 23


The result of this being, the media I watch that comes from the US is in many senses alien, to the point where a film set in an American high school might as well be set on a spaceship for all the familiarity it will have to my own lived experiences.

Hell, I grew up in suburban New Jersey and feel the same way about most Hollywood depictions of high school.
posted by octothorpe at 12:51 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]


It took a while after I moved to California for it to really sink in that the CHP was a non-fictional law enforcement organization.
posted by ckape at 12:53 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


As someone who'd only been to Chicago and Indianapolis for big cities, my trip to NYC absolutely felt like stepping onto a movie set. I can only imagine the effect of that multiplied by an entire country.
posted by wires at 12:54 PM on October 23


Well, this puts my year in grad school in England in perspective, because a) I was told on more than one occasion that I sounded like a "film character" and b) everyone I met felt entitled to make bad jokes about America all the time.
posted by Automocar at 12:57 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, everyone is entitled to make bad jokes about America all the time.
posted by gryftir at 1:05 PM on October 23 [20 favorites]


On the "US regionalism" bit": I moved to Minnesota from the Chicago suburbs. At the time, I had a faint, faint Chicago-area accent. Everyone here thought I was from New York.

I'd never met anyone from California until I was 18. People in LA have quite frankly told me that they can tell by my facial expression that I'm not from the west.

When I go to Indiana, it's fucking culture shock for all concerned.

In terms of cultural divides, I also suggest that you try being visibly queer in different parts of this great nation. You know where I experienced the second-most homophobia and multiple freak-outs from people who were not sure of my gender? Boston, Massachusetts on a three-day trip. (There are worse places, but I thought Boston would be at least as sophisticated in these matters as MPLS. It's not.)

One time I took a little driving trip about two hours north of Minneapolis with a friend. We stopped for lunch at an A&P (also, all those Whataburgers and so on? I've never had one of those. Have you been to the Piggly-Wiggly?) People acted weird. My companion said to me, "They're staring at your shoes". My shoes were...a pair of very nineties cream leather slip-ons, and I guess they stood out like a sore thumb in northern Minnesota.

So my point is, there's a lot of cultural divide here.

But the other underlying point is that the national identity which is promulgated in any nation's media is the product of internal colonization, and that's why it's always false. I'd always assumed that the UK was an excellent example of this - on the global cultural stage, Scotland and Northern Ireland are played for laughs, basically, and no one talks about Wales. The UK as it's known in the US is basically London plus the home counties/rich southeastern bit.
posted by Frowner at 1:08 PM on October 23 [16 favorites]


Who do Americans lack exposure to other cultures in their media? Did this happen by accident? Is American culture just more interesting? Does it not strike you as odd that Americans have so little expose to other countries' movies and TV?

If people are willing to jump over language/cultural barriers to watch American TV, often choosing it over their own local TV, why would it be surprising that Americans who don't have those barriers would themselves choose American TV?

You look at Japan and they have a whole lot of media that they prefer to American TV, and we find that significant numbers of Americans choose to consume that media too.
posted by straight at 1:08 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


The fact that American cultural hegemony results from a deliberate Cold War strategy doesn't get as much attention as it probably should.

Anyway, jumping back to TFA for a minute...
Is… is the world of fiction significantly less fictional for Americans, in ways they can never know they are experiencing?
I'd say yes, in ways that are actively dangerous. The City is always a criminal hellhole with a mugger or murder lurking in every alley, despite the reality of steadily declining crime rates, etc., etc. Because TV cities are.

But it's also true that it's very rare to get the same frisson of "wait, is this real life?" that he's describing here. I maybe got a brief glimpse of that as a Bostonian transplant playing Fallout 4 and navigating around Cambridge and the Back Bay by sheer instinct. That bizarre sensation of "yes, the geography is fictional and the skybox is apocalyptic, but this fictional street feels like this real street I've biked down a thousand times". But even that's a much smaller version of what I think he's talking about here. Because it's not like I've never seen a fictional depiction of an American city before.

I suspect the closest most Americans can get is actually the inverse sensation, which is to say going to somewhere like New York for the first time and realising that, yeah, it's kind of like on TV but also very much not like on TV. That's a sensation of having the artifice suddenly jump out and make itself visible rather than watching artifice suddenly blend into your reality.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:11 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


On the sort of flip-side of this, I really enjoy media that's ostensibly set in the US, but very-obviously written by Brits (I'm thinking mostly of the Grand Theft Auto games, but I've read several books that tickled those brain-bits, too).
posted by uncleozzy at 1:13 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I've seen several Americans who say they went to Venice and were astonished how much they recognized from playing Assassin's Creed.
posted by straight at 1:13 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


Americans, for the most part, are completely ignorant of how pervasive their media culture is internationally. They simply think it's the natural order of things, like being able to order a sugar drink invented in Atlanta anywhere on the planet.

I agree with the first sentence, everyone I know is surprised how much American media is worldwide, still seems strange to me. Europeans don't realize how big the U.S. is, Americans don't realize how small other countries are.

Also, what Frowner said.

It's rare that I've ever seen a depiction in media that seemed like the real world I've lived in, and it's startling when it happens.
posted by bongo_x at 1:23 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


I think I’m going to have to buy an Xbox just for this game. It’s got my city in it and you can crash right into the front of my workplace. That’ll be quite therapeutic.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 1:24 PM on October 23 [20 favorites]


Canada does the same thing so it is always funny when some show uses a Canadian city as a substitite for some major US city.

That's an entirely different effect. In many ways far more amusing in that it can provide that minor thrill of subversion when Roncevalles Park or Kits beach suddenly is recognizable as a itself while ostensibly in NY or SF. My favourite version of this is the end of Rumble in the Bronx when Brooklyn (or maybe Long Island) suddenly gets replaced by Grouse Mountain and the North Shore of Vancouver.
posted by bonehead at 1:24 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


I mean, British cinema is so grimly miserable, or craptacularly posh, but it’s never nonchalantly British.

You do get the impression from British TV and movies that everyone either lives in a cramp depressing row house with forty year old wallpaper or in a castle.
posted by octothorpe at 1:38 PM on October 23 [9 favorites]


Living in the UK, the vast, vast majority of the media I consume is from the US ... all my life the films and games (and indeed an awful lot of the TV) I’ve watched and played has not only come from America, but been set there, or created by people whose perception of life is based there.
The twist that proves the rule, I guess, is the the fact that one of the most famous, most successful, most influential "driving games" series ever made, Grand Theft Auto, is almost entirely set in the US but is produced in Scotland and published by a company founded by English people. American media hegemony has been so complete that genuinely non-American media pretends to be American in order to fit in on the global market.

We Americans have a lot to answer for.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:39 PM on October 23


I was told on more than one occasion that I sounded like a "film character"

Not long after I started my current job, I (one of two Americans in my entire department) was doing an online training course with my boss and another coworker. We were reading the instructions when my coworker suggested I read them out loud because it would "sound like a movie".

I'm still sure that that's some kind of -ist, but to this day I'm not quite sure which.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:49 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


I suspect this is more or less a familiar sensation to anyone who lives outside of LA or NY and consumes media of most sorts

I don't think this is fair. TV shows might not be set in New Madrid, MO as much as we'd like, but to me it seems every show not based in NY/LA is set in less urban areas. Happy Days: Milwaukee; 70s Show: Wisconsin somewhere; Big Bang Theory: Pasadena; Picket Fences, Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle: Anytown USA; The Office, Parks & Rec, Community, Roseanne (sic), The Middle, etc.

Of course, there is usually precious little local flavor to clue the viewer into the subtleties of life in these regions, but I think that goes with the NY/LA shows, too. It probably just comes down to whether you want the neighbors/coworkers to be jerks or not.
posted by rhizome at 1:49 PM on October 23


rhizome: " but to me it seems every show not based in NY/LA is set in less urban areas. [snip] Big Bang Theory: Pasadena;"

Had me going there for a second thinking Pasadena wasn't in/near LA (for people who don't know it's like 10 miles from downtown LA). I'm sure that is a significant difference for people who live there but from this distance they are essentially the same thing.
posted by Mitheral at 2:01 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


I must say, this style of keep-left obelisk is so ten years ago. Current models are like google maps location lozenges on flexible hinges, the LED lights in the arrow roundel powered by thin photovoltaic cells and a small battery. They have to be, you see, because Eric Pickles made it impossible to prosecute anyone for causing damage or injury with a motor vehicle.

I miss the Blair government. Can we please try Chaos with Ed Milliband?
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:04 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


I think I’m going to have to buy an Xbox just for this game. It’s got my city in it and you can crash right into the front of my workplace. That’ll be quite therapeutic.

I was living in NYC when the first Spiderman game with Manhattan mapped out came out (2?). The first thing I did was swing up to my office window and stick my ass against it.

10/10 therapy points.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:08 PM on October 23 [20 favorites]



Not long after I started my current job, I (one of two Americans in my entire department) was doing an online training course with my boss and another coworker. We were reading the instructions when my coworker suggested I read them out loud because it would "sound like a movie".


I will be totally honest - I sometimes fight the urge to ask various international researchers of varying degrees of fanciness to read things out loud. And for reasons of reading too many books, I was once very, very impressed that someone was from Hove, which I gather is a bit like being blown away by the fact that someone hails from Cleveland. But it was just like a book! A real live person from Hove!
posted by Frowner at 2:15 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


Honestly, American culture is relatively homogeneous. I've lived here a third of my life now (the other 2/3rd in India) and I'd stand by that statement. America is big geographically and there are cultural differences but they're still minor compared to those between even two neighboring states in India.

In most places in India if you drove 5 hours away you'd end up in a place where they spoke a different language, worshipped different gods, ate different foods and watched different shows. The US sometimes astonishes me with the level of uniformity it has managed to achieve.
posted by peacheater at 2:15 PM on October 23 [16 favorites]


I sometimes fight the urge to ask various international researchers of varying degrees of fanciness to read things out loud.

Now I feel guilty for participating in this thread.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:20 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Wordshore volunteered! If anything, I suppose we could organize a metafilter accent exchange.

I read very nicely and people often praise the bland Americanness of my English. (Seriously, I picked up a couple of recording jobs for this reason.)
posted by Frowner at 2:23 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


American media hegemony has been so complete that genuinely non-American media pretends to be American in order to fit in on the global market.


Good lord, yes. The last three TV series I watched were Iron Fist S2, Fargo S3, and Daredevil S3. All three have UK-born leads performing as Americans, and about half the antagonists and supporting leads are the same (with Sacha Dhawan's refined Manchester-by-way-of-RP accent accepted as that of K'un-Lun, and David Thewlis' unrefined Lancashire-kitbashed-with-some-Joburg-and-Budapest being from who-knows-where).

Canadians are shockingly attuned to this, living deep in the cultural shadow of the us. With similar accents, we can and do pass unnoticed among Americans. And at least some of us have a occasional moment of feeling like an alien invader or a foreign spy. We know your history, often better than we know our own: if I start naming American Vice Presidents working chronologically backward from Pence, I can get back to Alben Barkley (Truman's VP) before I stumble and falter. That is, what fourteen in the last sixty-five years? I doubt I could name three Canadian Deputy Prime Ministers in that time.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:42 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


All that being said, of course, I would love to play me some Grand Theft Auto: Edinburgh.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:43 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


We know your history, often better than we know our own: if I start naming American Vice Presidents working chronologically backward from Pence, I can get back to Alben Barkley (Truman's VP) before I stumble and falter. That is, what fourteen in the last sixty-five years? I doubt I could name three Canadian Deputy Prime Ministers in that time.

How do you know our history? Is it that you literally learn more US history in school than Canadian? I can't name a VP off the top of my head before Spiro Agnew, and I didn't really learn any of them from US media in any case.

I admit that all the Canadian history I know comes from Canadian literature and from occasional contact with Canadians.
posted by Frowner at 2:49 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


I, an American, accidentally went to a British "prom" the year I graduated from high school. I was travelling and visiting the childhood friend of a friend and oddly, James Major, son of the PM at the time, was also an attendee. Just like the author says it was a pretty odd approximation of a US prom. In fact most people told me outright that the Brits don't really do proms and this was the closest they got.

The fashion was not equivalent let's say, one guy brought an actual briefcase and at the end for the last song they played Sinatra's New York New York which I thought was the absolute strangest thing about it. It was a literal song about America. Even I recognized the cognitive dissonance at the age of 17.
posted by rdnnyc at 2:50 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


All I know about past Canadian PMs is Diefenbaker from Due South
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 2:51 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


Is there even a contemporary game that uses a Canadian setting?
posted by Ashwagandha
Does Celeste count? ; )
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:56 PM on October 23


How do you know our history?

You put it in your media. The presence of you media makes everyone think that it's a topic that's worth spending time learning. Believe it or not it's also a thing actual American kids learn. I was taught the provincial capitals for maybe 10 minutes one day in grade school. My kids learned US state capitals under the threat of literally failing an entire year of school.

As an average Canadian, how important was it for me to understand the process by which US legislation is drafted? Not very. Can I still sing half of "I'm Just A Bill"? Unfortunately, yes I can.

American media implicitly and explicitly bakes in the notion that the only country worth studying is the USA.
posted by GuyZero at 3:05 PM on October 23 [13 favorites]


I, an American, accidentally went to a British "prom" the year I graduated from high school. I was travelling and visiting the childhood friend of a friend and oddly, James Major, son of the PM at the time, was also an attendee. Just like the author says it was a pretty odd approximation of a US prom. In fact most people told me outright that the Brits don't really do proms and this was the closest they got.

The interesting thing about "prom" is that it's a great example of the homogenising effect of media within the US as well. Films and TV shows about proms lead to the spreading of what were much more regional practices to almost every American high school.
posted by atrazine at 3:07 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


Ironically, I had a similar experience with Forza Horizon 1. I live in the Utah desert and have grown up seeing LA and New York as mostly fictional places from TV, and most video games were set in a place like that. But Forza Horizon 1 was set in Arizona, and literally had roads and scenery in it that I had driven by regularly in real life...

Fascinating article and I didn't realize how ubiquitous US culture was. I watch a lot of British TV and I assumed that people there mostly watch British movies about Britain.

Also, Forza Horizon 4 is a wonderful game and I highly recommend it.
posted by mmoncur at 3:08 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


I laughed when I came to "Bummingtonshire". Tried to look it up on google maps, but it wasn't there. Bummer.
posted by smcameron at 3:26 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


"Canadians are shockingly attuned to this, living deep in the cultural shadow of the us. With similar accents, we can and do pass unnoticed among Americans."

It goes much deeper than that. Ted Cruz, notably evil politician who recently ran for president, is about to become governor of arguably the most USA-y of all USA state, Texas. Ted Cruz is Canadian and he's going to be governor of redneckland! There are also countless musicians and actors you'd assume were domestic but it turns out they're foreigners taking our jobs.

One thing I'd be interested to see in games would be nailing the common elements of suburbia. Like, here you can go to certain areas of town and not be able to tell where in Texas you are. It's all the same limestone constructions in the same pattersn and shapes with a mildy varied allotment of the same sorts of businesses. My hometown has grown since I've been there and there are sections that don't feel like the town, just generic middle class (or well, the underclass that still wishes it was middle class) construction that could be plopped down anywhere. When I lived in Colorado, I'd occasionally run into the same thing, like I'm not longer in any region, just a commercial void conjured for business purposes.

In general I think games set in real world could do a lot more to make them feel like the actual world, small details like the electrical boxes (we have them here too) and such go a long way in making connections between the virtual world and the probably-not-virtual world we live in.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:52 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


We know your history, often better than we know our own: if I start naming American Vice Presidents working chronologically backward from Pence, I can get back to Alben Barkley (Truman's VP) before I stumble and falter. That is, what fourteen in the last sixty-five years? I doubt I could name three Canadian Deputy Prime Ministers in that time.

I just tried to think if I could name any Canadian Prime Ministers and came up with Trudeau and um, the other Trudeau. Looking through the Wikipedia page I find out that you guys actually had a woman PM in the '90s. Who knew?
posted by octothorpe at 4:02 PM on October 23


Looking through the Wikipedia page I find out that you guys actually had a woman PM in the '90s. Who knew?

Pretty much everyone plus presumably her neighbours in Los Angeles from '96 to 2000.
posted by GuyZero at 4:06 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


As an average Canadian, how important was it for me to understand the process by which US legislation is drafted? Not very. Can I still sing half of "I'm Just A Bill"? Unfortunately, yes I can.

American media implicitly and explicitly bakes in the notion that the only country worth studying is the USA.


The high school I went to in Canada offered an American history course as well. Granted, we lived right on the border, but still.

I got a really good mark in the class even though the teacher was a Reaganite and I would get into shouting matches with him. I think he enjoyed the fact I was engaged. At the time, I had lots to say about H.W. Bush and his work with the CIA, maaaannnn, and I was heavily into Chomsky.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:27 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's hard to understate how much Canadians internalize US history, customs, regional knowledge, and so on, just from all the American TV and other media that we grow up with.

It's a weird sort of duality where I feel like I probably know close to as much about general US history as an American my age, yet it's not my history.

The Boston Tea Party, Washington chopping down the apple tree, the Gettysburg address. Even more recent US history, like the civil rights movement, Roe v. Wade, or the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. All of this looms larger in my mind than almost anything that's happened in Canadian history, because Canadian media can barely be heard over the din from the south.
posted by good in a vacuum at 4:33 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


I guess the Washington tree-chopping example wasn't a good one because a) It was a cherry tree, not an apple tree; and b) it's a myth. But it points to an American mythology that non-Americans are made familiar with through osmosis.
posted by good in a vacuum at 4:40 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


It's a weird sort of duality where I feel like I probably know close to as much about general US history as an American my age, yet it's not my history.

What's worse IMO is that a lot of Canadians has strong opinions, loudly discussed, about American politics, but ask them about something happening in a different Canadian province? No idea. No opinion. And in their own province? Probably the same thing.

Ontario's unbelievably bland power elite are kept in power in part because of the constant distraction of US political games. People can't be bothered about dull local politics or they already have outrage fatigue over the US.

I feel like it's more than a little national quirk, the Canadian obsession with US politics is actively harmful.
posted by GuyZero at 4:45 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


I actually am delighted whenever I watch a movie or TV show that depicts real LA (I still miss Southland, but I guess 9-1-1 is working out). What I actually enjoy doing sometimes is viewing an old episode of CHiPs on Amazon Video; I watched the show when I was a kid years before I moved to Los Angeles - it's really fun to watch it again and see 70s LA. I do the same with The Rockford Files.

I'd be curious to know how a Vancouver resident deals with how every American city is Vancouver after a brief establishing shot.

(also, Forza Horizon 4 has so far been fun -- mostly because the Paint and Vinyl Editor is just so incredibly detailed)
posted by linux at 4:51 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


Also, the fixation on US history leads to stuff like people saying "well at least we didn't have slavery" when we had residential schools, mercury dumping up north, the Chinese head tax, ethnic internment caps in WWII and all sort of other really terrible shit.

All of those happened before I was born and I was taught zero about them in school. But sure, we took US slaves out of the underground railroad.
posted by GuyZero at 4:54 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


Not to mention that Canada did actually have slavery and we weren't taught that either.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:01 PM on October 23


GuyZero and mandolin conspiracy, when were you in school? Just another data point, I went to public schools in the GTA in the 90s/00s and we definitely covered a lot of these topics.
posted by airmail at 5:24 PM on October 23


I am old to be fair. Toronto got woke as of late. Now my kids' former Toronto school does the indigenous acknowledgement thing before all events.
posted by GuyZero at 5:26 PM on October 23


Also old. Went to public schools outside of the GTA. I can assure you 1980s/early 90s schooling in Ontario was different, especially outside of Toronto. I became a Torontonian by choice later in life.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:39 PM on October 23


Only seldom is a political or cultural topic so UK-specific that I end up not getting the joke.

Jedward.
posted by synecdoche at 5:57 PM on October 23 [9 favorites]


A few years ago I watched Maximum Overdrive for the first time with a large group, and while everyone else was laughing at the evil semitrucks I was spellbound by the landscape, which I instantly recognized as having been shot on location in coastal North Carolina. I never realized until then that I had never seen that particular region of the world accurately depicted in a movie before. I'd watch it again just for that. showbiz_liz

Which is exactly what happened to me when I saw Blue Velvet and the first building I saw was my mother's office building. I was shocked, I mean shocked, because I'd never seen Wilmington NC in a movie before. And then there was my great-grandparents' apartment building, and my high school, and more. I think I'm still shocked. (Dawson's Creek doesn't count)
posted by MovableBookLady at 6:34 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


It goes much deeper than that. Ted Cruz, notably evil politician who recently ran for president, is about to become governor of arguably the most USA-y of all USA state, Texas. Ted Cruz is Canadian and he's going to be governor of redneckland!

Ted Cruz is running for reelection as the junior United States senator from Texas, which is either better or worse, depending on your point of view.
posted by Automocar at 6:45 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


One thing which always stands out for me when watching non-US editions of The Voice is just how much American music is sung on those shows, no matter their location.
posted by maxwelton at 7:06 PM on October 23


A few years back, a Hollywood crew came and filmed a handful of scenes at my very tiny, very obscure, and very non-mainstream alma mater (which, fortunately, was not playing itself). Seeing it on film was surreal, disorienting, and surprisingly affecting. It was a bit like having one’s childhood home show up in a movie, with all the attendant feelings of yearning and possessiveness. I guess that’s one of the flip-sides of representation. If it’s too personal and too specific, it can wind up carrying a lot unintentional baggage.
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:17 PM on October 23


Only seldom is a political or cultural topic so UK-specific that I end up not getting the joke.

Same. And I've spent some time in the UK over the years. That said, I clearly remember spending longer than I should have a few years back trying to figure out WTF "cheeky nandos" was about.
posted by thivaia at 10:39 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


Frowner: " I was once very, very impressed that someone was from Hove, which I gather is a bit like being blown away by the fact that someone hails from Cleveland. But it was just like a book! A real live person from Hove!"

I was amused that the guy in the article was from Guildford. That's where Ford Prefect claimed to be from!
posted by Chrysostom at 11:37 PM on October 23 [12 favorites]


If it’s too personal and too specific, it can wind up carrying a lot unintentional baggage.

The house in the Albuquerque suburbs that Jesse Pinkman owned in Breaking Bad is maybe a block and a half from my family's house. It was surreal watching the series, being inimately familiar with the neighborhood of my high school years. My mom and step-dad were still living there when the Pinkman house became a thing, and people figured out where it was and a lot of traffic was coming through to see it. I get it... but it's just a suburb. It's a whole different experience to see your neighbor's house become Jesse Pinkman's while you're watching.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:55 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


That was an interesting article. I want to play that game even more now for the mundane UK aesthetic. Since the main character can be a gal I'm 80% sold already. Actually affording it is the other 20%.

I think there is some power to the mundane things, but also ... there isn't. GTA5 is beautifully and visibly LA and Californian in a lot of ways that can make it interesting to just soak in, especially in the LA river area where I've just seen so many movies there. GTA5's story, however, rings completely false... it's not a Californian story at all, and that just wrecks it for me.
posted by fleacircus at 12:29 AM on October 24


Also, the fixation on US history leads to stuff like people saying "well at least we didn't have slavery" when we had residential schools, mercury dumping up north, the Chinese head tax, ethnic internment caps in WWII and all sort of other really terrible shit.

I think most British people’s mental image of slavery is probably Mississippi cotton plantations rather than, you know, the Caribbean sugar plantations which generated so much wealth for the Empire, and helped build cities like Bristol and Liverpool.

Similarly, last week's Doctor Who episode about Rosa Parks — it’s great to teach children about the Civil Rights movement and everything, but couldn’t they have found a story from the UK’s long history of racial oppression?

I don’t actually know off the top of my head what a good alternative would be, but that’s part of the problem: why aren’t we familiar with the independence movements of our former Empire as part of our own history? Gandhi is probably the only name most of us know.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:05 AM on October 24 [10 favorites]


(also, I enjoyed the article, thanks for posting it)
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:11 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]


It's nice to see UK scenery in the new Forza game but I will not countenance the reckless and wilful destruction of all those dry-stone walls.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:48 AM on October 24 [3 favorites]


When people say "we know so much about you, but you know so little about us" I always smart a little. I'm American, and I've always been interested in the world. It's become much easier to find media from other countries, but it's still just as expensive to travel.

My mom still talks about the time she visited Spain. She loved it. But she was only able to go because her boyfriend at the time took her. She's never been back.

There are still places in the US that I want to go and haven't been able to see, because it would involve considerable expense simply due to the amount of traveling time involved (flights, hotels, taking time off, etc). I can't make a weekend trip to France. I can't make a weekend trip to the Grand Canyon.

And then there's the regionalism within the US itself, where people from the middle of the country are looked down upon by parochial snobs on the coasts for being ... parochial? The representations of us in the media can themselves be pretty laughably offensive, though we still don't get it as bad as people from the south. And these get exported, and so that's what people think we're like.

But also, I don't think "we know so much about you, and you know so little about us" is a fair comparison. If you're an America, there is no foreign media giant that has the same influence as America does for other countries. You can be interested in the world and still not know who New Zealand's prime minister is because... there are a lot of countries. Yes, the comparison tells you about American influence, but it doesn't necessarily tell you about what Americans are interested in.

(BBC America is a very successful network, BTW, and a majority of Americans who still pay for cable/satellite get it.)

Don't ask a New Zealander and an American who New Zealand's prime minister is - ask a Romanian and an American, or whatever. People love to shit on Americans, and to be honest we often deserve it, but it's kind of frustrating when it expresses itself as a superiority complex - as if people from their own country can't be nationalist, racist, parochial, or whatever. (Hi, Brexit.) I wouldn't be surprised if there's still an effect, just because there is so much American media that we don't need to import as much as countries with smaller media industries to satisfy the market. But I don't think that the effect is nearly as strong as people make it out to be.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:54 AM on October 24 [3 favorites]


Similarly, there's always a lot of non-Americans surprised how few Americans have passports. Well, a) the US is really quite big by itself, it would take days to drive across it; b) we only border two countries, and c) until fairly recently, you didn't need a passport to go to those countries. It all adds up to far less *need* for a passport.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:55 AM on October 24 [3 favorites]


Is there even a contemporary game that uses a Canadian setting?

Besides the already mentioned examples, the biggest one I can think of is also kind of a cheat: the Scott Pilgrim tie-in game Ubisoft released to coincide with the movie (sort of). That movie, incidentally, is also the best example I can think of for the Canadian version of the Forza Horizon 4 phenomenon. Like, the Scott Pilgrim game is set in Toronto but you really don't notice most of the time; in the movie Toronto's presence is mundane but nigh inescapable if you've spent any amount of time there.
posted by chrominance at 10:49 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]


So I loaded this up last night after reading this article. It seems like a well done game, but I don't fully agree with the OP. It was an unsettling experience for me, but more because it wasn't nearly close enough to what I expected.

I live in Edinburgh, so the first thing I did was ignore the pending races and drive over to the area called "Edinburgh", and while there are some similarities to the Edinburgh I live in, They have frankenstein'd different parts of the city together in a way that really triggers my uncanny valley response. The street I work on is in there, but literally 20 metres from my office the road morphs into an entirely different street from somewhere else in town.

And the facades are not anything like the real facades. Anything that isn't a landmark is an unidentifiable generic townhouse with fake shop fronts and the like. I remember Project Gotham Racing (2, I think?) had a set of tracks in Edinburgh that at least had licensed some of the local shop fronts. Bit strange going past a Spar on every corner though.

Arthur's Seat and the Queen's Park are there but they are basically on the coast, which is odd, too.

Having played Forza Horizon 2 (set in France) not long ago when it was on games for gold, I was totally sucked into its world, probably because I wasn't immediately thinking "nope, wrong, that doesn't go there".
posted by trif at 1:44 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


while there are some similarities to the Edinburgh I live in, They have frankenstein'd different parts of the city together in a way that really triggers my uncanny valley response.

Have they speed-limited the cars in central Edinburgh to 20mph?
posted by rory at 6:36 AM on October 25 [1 favorite]


Having played Forza Horizon 2 (set in France) not long ago when it was on games for gold, I was totally sucked into its world, probably because I wasn't immediately thinking "nope, wrong, that doesn't go there".

The whole verisimilitude vs. compression/abstraction thing with stuff set in Real Actual Places is such an interesting wrinkle of the ongoing bigger bigger more more progression of set design in games over time. Because that's a thing, right? When you recognize the landmarks as things you know about, seeing them in a game feels like "oh, hey, it's just like that place!" When you know the town and the streets like the back of your hand, every navigational discontinuity, every neighborhood lost to spatial compression, every personally meaningful detail lost to copypasted generic asset reuse is jarring and spell-breaking.

Touring the post-war Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3 worked fine for me because I've been to DC briefly, a couple times, and that's it; I remember the place as a hazy interrelation of landmarks and a very rough geography, and when Fallout 3 condenses it down to a walkable version of same its easy to be satisfied with "oh hey, it's the Washington Monument; oh hey, it's the Pentagon; oh hey, I'm crossing the Potomac...". But if they ever set a game really and truly in Portland, OR, I am gonna spend more time griping about how they skipped straight from bougie Nob Hill to the St. Johns Bridge like all the industrial plants on highway 30 didn't even exist, etc.

That said, I think the article did acknowledge that as a subsidiary issue, if one Walker was able to basically move quickly past because if nothing else he was so accustomed to the expectation of massive spatial compression and genericization of non-landmark details from other games that Horizon 4 just isn't doing it particularly worse than most.

Also also, am I remembering right that LA Noire went a lot farther than usual on the "let's avoid compression, and get the details right?" on its recreation of post-WWII Los Angeles? It's an odd thing because I remember them making a lot of noise about it in the press stuff at least, but (a) I barely know LA, (b) I certainly don't know 1950s LA, and (c) it wasn't a game where you were really given an incentive to spend 40 hours free-roaming the city anyway. I always wondered if someone would buy up their assets from that to use in just an unrelated game that was more actively about city crawling and navigation.
posted by cortex at 8:50 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


But if they ever set a game really and truly in Portland, OR, I am gonna spend more time griping about how they skipped straight from bougie Nob Hill to the St. Johns Bridge like all the industrial plants on highway 30 didn't even exist, etc.

Or like Fallout 4, where the dozen or so suburbs and towns between Cambridge and Lexington -- including the one I live in -- just vanished, along with most of West Cambridge itself. Which, fair enough, most people who don't live in them act like they don't exist anyway. Seeing something called "Somerville" pop up in the southwest portion of the map was pretty confusing, though.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:11 AM on October 25


like all the industrial plants on highway 30 didn't even exist

Which would be a shame, because that stretch would make a fantastic straightaway for running up to a vehicle's top speed.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:39 AM on October 25 [1 favorite]


Geography being goofy is a hardy perennial in movies, no surprise to see the same stuff in games.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:43 AM on October 25


Also also, am I remembering right that LA Noire went a lot farther than usual on the "let's avoid compression, and get the details right?" on its recreation of post-WWII Los Angeles? It's an odd thing because I remember them making a lot of noise about it in the press stuff at least, but (a) I barely know LA, (b) I certainly don't know 1950s LA, and (c) it wasn't a game where you were really given an incentive to spend 40 hours free-roaming the city anyway.

Yeah, the map is something like 6 or 8 square miles of authentic old LA, but the game made it really unpleasant to navigate and gave no incentive to explore except for landmark achievements. You're constantly racing from case to case, or else interrupted by street crime radio calls, which is a real shame, because it's a really neat idea.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:24 AM on October 25


Geography being goofy is a hardy perennial in movies, no surprise to see the same stuff in games.

For sure, though there's something unique about the way games permit exploration and re-verification of all the geographical distortion. It's one thing for a film to do a straight cut from e.g. the Hawthorne Bridge to the West Hills, where there is a jarring discontinuity but one that is instantaneous and unlikely to be repeated, and the sensation of walking or driving your game character across that breach in reality, and back, and forth, and back, learning in essence a new revised alternate map of a known space and making that alternate space familiar in its own right.

And while games rarely seem to display or assert any consciousness of that act of distortion, they are at least more inevitably complicit in it than films: the amount of effort involved in making the decision to do a geographically discontinuous cut between scenes is relatively low, reducible to essentially "does this work visually? okay, do it" when organizing the shooting schedule or working the edit. Whereas in games, the map is literally the territory and you can't just casually craft a reduced, condensed, edited version of a space: you have to build the whole thing from scratch, laying out the bone structure of the homunculus before building every little detail on top of that.

A film can get away with as little as "well, what do you do?" with that kind of decision-making before brushing its hands on its pants and getting on with the next step; a game building that world has its hands dirty throughout the process.
posted by cortex at 11:55 AM on October 25 [1 favorite]


OK, so I ponied up, as they say. I still play Burnout Paradise, which is incredible fun, and the new Forza game looked like it would be right up my alley... and it is. It's sufficiently 'silly' for my tastes - I really don't want a simulation; I'm drawn to games that give a sense of reckless speed without the real-world consequences. So I've put in a few hours, and it's very, very good.

I can see how the author of the article felt that this game 'broke the mould', so to speak, in terms of conveying a non-American experience, and incorporating hundreds of elements more familiar to someone from the UK. But really, it's not at all a British experience either. The scenery is peculiarly condensed, and offers a stylised view that is in no way recognisable as a coherent whole. I'm familiar with a few of the places depicted, and I can't escape the feeling of a totally sanitised environment, with all of the gritty interstitial spaces taken out. What's left are dozens of little picturesque vignettes stitched end-to-end. The reality of the British countryside is much like the reality of anywhere: lots and lots of mundane scenery interspersed with moments of both ugliness and beauty. A good analogy is a Britain as seen by a foreign visitor who is shuttled on a coach between tourist spots, snoozing between stops. The game world, though vast in game terms, feels tiny compared to the reality of a real-life three-hour drive, as of course it has to. The wheelie bins, road signs, rabbits in fields, corner shops and other ephemera aren't really enough, in the end, to make the experience something that I feel is 'true' to the real places.

In the end, I think the intention has to be pastiche - to give some sort of a feel of a place that serves the greater goal of providing entertainment. I avoid simulator-style racing games precisely because I don't want real physics and real distances to limit the escapist value of the experience. Ultimately the environment in this game is as alien as that of Burnout Paradise, albeit more detailed, and the silly arcade gameplay helps to keep belief firmly suspended anyway, so I don't feel let down by the distorted picture the game paints. I even find myself driving on the right.
posted by pipeski at 4:45 PM on October 25


Oh man, Canadians, but you guys have Heritage Minutes!
posted by basalganglia at 7:51 AM on October 27 [1 favorite]


Ontario's unbelievably bland power elite are kept in power in part because of the constant distraction of US political games. People can't be bothered about dull local politics or they already have outrage fatigue over the US.


The satirical site The Beaverton (much in the same vein as The Onion, but, y’know, Canadian) recently ran a story to the effect of Canadians Happy They Cannot Name Any of Our Supreme Court Justices.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:02 AM on October 28 [1 favorite]


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