Beware Gilead’s wrath
Cinematic dystopia a disappoinment
On this day (February 19) in 2007, Canada decided to do the Time Warp again. Six years after shutting down due to federal budget cuts, ParticipACTION was back in business. Originally founded in 1971 as a non-profit private company promoting physical fitness, the initiative became a government agency in 1972. For 30 years, it fought what it called “the inactivity crisis,” mounting a series of advertising campaigns designed to inspire, goad, chivvy or shame citizens into more active lifestyles. In 1973, its TV spots told us that “the average 30-year-old Canadian is in about the same physical shape as the average 60-year-old Swede,” (a claim debunked in a 1990 Globe and Mail report). Brought back to life in 2007, it sharpened its focus to “kids 12 and under, as well as at-risk groups like seniors, aboriginals and the disabled.” In a 2011 brief to Parliament, ParticipACTION described itself as “a Canadian icon” that “uses mass media to raise awareness and change social norms on physical activity.” Critics of the agency note that it is little more than a funding mechanism for niche market advertising that has made little or no difference to bettering public health. Perhaps that’s why author Margaret Atwood decided to play upon the name in creating the “particicution” ceremony, a shaming ritual acted out in director Volker Schlöndorff’s 1990 adaptation of her novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.
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North of the border noir
Recalling Toronto the Less-than-Good
After a half-century-long career in supporting roles, Kim Coates found stardom as biker “Tig” on TV’s Sons of Anarchy. Born on this day (February 21) in 1958, Coates made his first feature-film impression in director Martin Lavut’s 1988 neo-noir feature Palais Royale.
Sweet take on prehistory
Family values as old as the dinosaurs
So far in her career, the multi-talented Helen Shaver has been successful as a big screen actress and TV director. Born on this day (February 24) in 1951, she includes among her film credits a voice performance in director Don Bluth’s 1988 cartoon feature The Land Before Time.
Celebrating a fearless few's courage
On this day (February 23) in 1991, retreating Iraqi forces committed an historic act of arson. The fight to put out the blaze, an action that international firefighters called “Operation Desert Hell,” was recorded by director David Douglas in his documentary Fires of Kuwait.
An historic footnote
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For more than 40 years, artists, authors and pop culture historians have been inspired by the compelling dystopian visions of science-fiction icon Philip K. Dick. Some of his biographers go so far as to include my momentary walk-on role in the tumultuous tale that was his life.