Time for a bit of non-fisheries-related Friday gab.
Recently reading a blog insisting it is my patriotic duty to buy tickets for a Great Big Sea concert reminds me of how generally myopic we can sometimes be about our culture — to the point that if you don’t follow the group mentality around these parts the idea is that you ought to be drawn and quartered, and hung up for all the masses to see.
I’m not a Great Big Fan of Great Big Sea and never really have been. I very much respect GBS’s marketing prowess and longevity, and also appreciate their efforts to draw positive attention to this province. And I can certainly respect a fan who wants others to be fans. But they are just not my cup of tea musically so I won’t be in attendance.
Hopefully I won’t be tried at Supreme Court for high treason.
In the meantime, it got me thinking a little bit about some of the other bastions of collective Newfoundland mind-conscription we have seen over recent years.
For instance, nobody is allowed to say a disparaging word about Republic of Doyle. I was in the company of someone recently who had the audacity to suggest it was a mediocre television show when looked at through the lens of being JUST a television show (except Sean McGinley — that guy is just a damn fine actor). It’s a great piece of exposure for St. John’s and everybody around here loves the whole “hey look, there’s the gas station I drive past every day!” thing, but it was argued that the show is not amazing television on its own (and I don’t think it’s meant to be). So why does the power of Christ compel ALL of us to love it unconditionally? Unless it’s because our provincial AND federal tax dollars are paying for it?
For a few years there, even the former premier had a cult following.
To speak any kind of ill of Danny Williams was akin to uttering blasphemy against our lord and saviour and could end up getting you stoned outside the city gates. You couldn’t have any kind of rational conversation about the merits of the premier’s rule (and it was a rule, not a government) with anyone. The guy did some good things, but he also screwed up more than a few things as well — but you couldn’t talk about the latter without being drowned out in chants of, “We got it! Weeeeeee got it!”
You’re not allowed to be against the seal hunt (I am pro-sealing for the record, but I made that choice on my own) without getting suspicious glances.
In years past we were taught at different times to have a somewhat derisive attitude against mainlanders even though 30,000 of our own people are mainlanders (here’s a hint: they live in Labrador).
We all have to be frothing-at-the-mouth IceCaps fans at all times, and unabashedly support whatever the most successful NHL team is with a Newfoundlander playing on it (see the number of Red Wings fans around here in 2008 and Bruins fans in 2011).
I’m sure the list could go on and on, but I think you get my point.
Collectively, I love the spirit of Newfoundlanders and their determination to take anything that remotely reflects who they are and put it up on a pedestal for all to see. It’s admirable in many ways.
I’m just not a fan of the “like it — or else” gang mentality that sometimes goes with it.
Even though it’s part of everyday life, I hate being told how to think, what to like, what not to like, what to buy, where to buy it and what to do. And I certainly don’t appreciate when my Newfoundland “patriotism” gets questioned if I don’t follow suit.
Now go get a copy of The Navigator.
Or you’re a bad Newfoundlander.
Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine, www.thenavigatormagazine.com
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