April 13 1992


April 13 1992


Southern exposure

I am appalled by the Canadian media’s continued commitment to the American star system rather than to the creation of a Canadian star system. Certainly, the controversy surrounding the recently released film Basic Instinct and other films of its ilk is noteworthy and even newsworthy. But I question the value of “Killer movies,” your nine-page fluff piece and cover devoted to this undercooked and overblown work of B-grade pulp (March 30). What will it take to get our own talented actors, including Valerie Buhagiar, Pascale Montpetit and Rebecca Jenkins, onto the cover of English Canada’s only national newsmagazine? Maybe we will have to wait until these actors stop making critically acclaimed films in Canada and start making inflated and artless movies south of the border.

Jeremy Podeswa, Toronto

For years, Hollywood films have cast Germans, Japanese, Indians, fat people, schizophrenics and heterosexual males as homicidal maniacs, without much protest. Now, a film such as Basic Instinct, which portrays a bisexual woman as a possible murderer, makes it seems like the ecological balance of the world is in danger of shifting. Do those who protest such portrayals not realize that their dissent only serves to bring customers to the theatres—and, in the case of Basic Instinct, to the tune of $18 million for the first weekend alone?

Jon Sutter, London, Ont.

I was amused that you concluded “Killer movies” by noting that among the Oscar nominees for best picture, “only Beauty and the Beast, a cartoon fairy tale, sounds a chord of unadulterated optimism.” Beauty and the Beast, like many fairy tales, is really a story about the combined horror and fascination we feel for the dark side of human nature, and perhaps it should serve to remind us that Hollywood’s current spate of killer movies may be eyecatching, but is hardly new.

Cathy Stanton, Athol, Mass.

Winners and losers

In his letter of response to “Drumbeats of rage” (Cover, March 16), Brian Robertson overlooks one obvious fact when he lumps First Nations people in with “other conquered races” (“Bridging the gap,” April 6). Native people in this country were never conquered.

The existing governments at the time negotiated treaties on a nation-to-nation basis. And by the way, native people belong to themselves, each other and the land.

Anne Murphy, Toronto

The concept of native self-government proves to be a complex one. One particular area that concerns me is revenue. Your article states that native leaders will want the government to provide transfer payments in the same way that it now distributes money among poorer provinces, to cover the shortfall of money generated by their own tax system. It appears that they want to have their cake and eat it too. What these native leaders choose to ignore is that provinces that receive transfer payments are subject to Canadian federal laws— including the payment of taxes. I say, forget it. Why should the taxpayers of this country pay for native self-government and also be expected not to interfere with native affairs?

David G. Wiebe, Victoria

‘What a howler’

When I read Gerald L. Caplan’s letter of March 30, “Et tu, U.S.A.?,” which complained about columnists Barbara Amiel and Diane Francis criticizing Ontario’s New Democratic Party government, my reaction was one of utter disbelief. What a howler. In fact, Amiel and Francis have been guilty of understatement. This NDP government is trying to turn business into one big welfare system. They have an unwholesome relationship with unions; they are economic dinosaurs; they are sawing off the limb they are sitting on; and they have blamed everyone and everything else except for themselves. How many experiments do we have to have in this world to realize that socialism is the toadstool of mushrooms, the weeds in the garden?

James Marvin, Toronto

As a subscriber of many years, I am sickened by your featured gurus, Barbara Amiel and Diane Francis. They show no attempt to be just, evenhand-

0 ed or balanced. Their inability to show z concern in human and compassionate

1 terms puts them back into the Middle “ Ages—a time when the most unspeakable cruelties were carried out

by the Establishment in defence of its

property. There is nothing wrong with an enlightened, controlled free-market economy. But gung-ho materialism is just as epidemic as rabid communism. To refer to Ontario NDP Premier Bob Rae’s government as “communist” is a dirty and convenient manoeuvre.

Isaiah Michaels, Toronto

Unsatisfied Scots

In “Scotland’s separatist aims” (World, March 16), you neglected to mention important facets of Scots’ desire for more control in their affairs: what they perceive to be their fair share of the country’s wealth and resources. Most of Scotland’s North Sea oil wealth goes towards prosperity in southern England. The huge revenue from scotch whisky is another slice of the pie of which Scots feel deprived. The infamous poll tax, which Margaret Thatcher’s government imposed on Scotland as a test, is yet another example of the injustice that causes Scottish resentment. I feel Scots would be satisfied with what Quebec already has.

Margaret Pallot, Waterloo, Ont.

Letters may be condensed. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Write: Letters to the Editor, Maclean’s magazine, Maclean Hunter Bldg., 777 Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5W1A7. Or fax: (416) 596-7730.

Censuring the censors

Such issues as abortion and homosexuality need to be explored on television, and I am sick to death of the moral minority attempting to dictate what is “clean, wholesome and family-oriented” (“Prime-time sparks,” Television, March 2). These issues are here, today, and must be addressed. If you want to turn a blind eye, change the channel, stop buying newspapers and put your head in the sand. I look forward to the day when my children are old enough to discuss such issues. The home is a perfect forum to promote tolerance, love and understanding for others, their lifestyles and certainly their religious convictions. I feel that not only do television networks have an obliga-

tion to explore social issues, but sponsoring companies have an equal responsibility to fund those shows.

Jill M. Swinton, High River, Alta.

While there are several unsettling implications contained in “Prime-time sparks,” it is heartening to hear that Canadian TV programming is not impaired to the degree that American shows are by the reluctance of advertisers to be associated with controversial subject matter. But how soon would that change if we saw in this country the kind of conservative pressure groups so skilled at using economic threats to enforce their agenda of blandness in the United States? How many topics are either ignored or treated lightly to avoid arousing such opposition? And how often do Canadian producers succumb to subtle temptations to

tone down their material and thus assure a sale in the United States? We should not become smug over what may be only superficial differences. The greatest dangers to free expression are often more insidious than overt.

Jeffrey Barnard, Scarborough, Ont.

Does more profanity make a better television program? Does real life concern only profanity, violence, abortion and wife-beating? I guess that I am still romantic enough to believe that planting daffodils is as real and worthwhile as throwing mud at clean walls. But I guess there is a cause for the free-speechers to espouse through television: they can shout obscenities into the ears of grandmothers and little children.

Telford Penfold,

Killarney, Man.

‘A foul blow’

Please do not doubt that Quebec will separate if the rest of Canada does not meet it halfway (“Canada without Quebec,” Canada, March 2). Do not forget that the 1980 referendum on sovereignty-association was decided by only a 60-40 ratio, and that many of those who voted “no” did so because they believed thenPrime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s promises to renew federalism. Instead, Quebec received a foul blow—repatriation of the Constitution without the province’s consent or approval. To add to that, the attempt to make amends with the Meech Lake accord was also denied Quebec. Three strikes on the Constitution, and Canada will be lost.

Marisa Salvatore, Ste-Foy, Que.

The right to choose

The recent legal persecution of the 14year-old girl from Dublin who wanted to abort a fetus that was conceived as the result of a rape is yet another example of why religious groups should never be allowed to project their beliefs into the public arena (“A young girl’s agony,” World, March 9). The sheer brutality

of the Irish court’s decision is almost inconceivable, as is the ideological blindness of the prolifers who value abstract rules over common sense. What you failed to note in your article, however, is that not only have anti-abortion forces in Ireland criminalized abortion, but they have banned free speech for those who advise women about abortion. What freedom will be taken away next?

Dr. Pat Murtagh, Winnipeg

A royal mess

Allan Fotheringham has missed the obvious integrative solution in his March 2 column, “Will Elizabeth II yield the throne?”: let Liz stew in Britain while we in Canada claim His Royal Earship, Prince Charles, for our own. Frankly, like Dr. Foth, I do not care a whit for the royals, but Canada has a serious cash-flow problem. By my count, we would gain one king and lose one governor general and 10 lieutenant-governors. Even better, with both Di and Mila, Ottawa would surely supplant Paris as the world’s centre of high fashion.

Kenneth William Thornicroft, St. John ’s, Nfld.

I was amused to read the vituperative remarks that your readers directed at Allan Fotheringham’s column (“Fotheringham twice-bitten,”

Letters, March 9). I turn to the back page of Maclean ’s as soon as it comes in—to read the doctor’s froth, but mainly to see illustrator Roy Peterson’s latest creation. His art is exquisite; he is truly the king of cartoonists. Hang on to him.

F. H. Kim Krenz, Lakefteld, Ont.

A case of tunnel vision

In “Days of big decisions” (World, March 16), former Massachusetts senator Paul Tsongas claims that he might have died had he sought help in Canada for his cancer problem. And in his state of the union address, President George Bush was also critical of the Canadian health-care system. Both men seem to forget that if one is financially able, the best care is at your disposal in the United States. But this is not the case for the millions of poverty-stricken Americans who are refused treatment.

Bert J. Snelgrove, Barrie, Ont.

Breasts and risks

Unfortunately, because of the whims of the mass media, which toy with the notion of ideal female beauty, it would seem that sexiness in 1992 is synonymous only with large

breasts. A model you featured in “Beauty and the breast,” your March 9 cover package, said that she had breast implants because she felt “more womanly” with large breasts. This attitude is understandable in an industry that treats women like mannequins and values only women who can adhere to the latest in ideal

body proportions. Anyone who believes the large-breasts-or-bust credo has yet to discover that sexiness and being womanly have more to do with the vitality and warmth a woman exudes than with her cup size. And it most definitely has nothing to do with the health hazards of implants and large hospital bills. The

risk is simply too great and the benefits too meagre.

Sandra Stephanson, Vancouver

Given the serious and informative nature of “Beauty and the breast,” I found your use of cleavage on the cover both surprising and disappointing. The photograph detracts from the seriousness of the story by pandering to, and helping to perpetuate, Western society’s breast obsessiveness and its insidious effects as described in the article. In the war of style versus substance, style definitely won this battle. You could have made a more ethical choice.

Robert J. Morris, Aurora, Ont.

On the basis of your March 9 cover articles, it would seem that the main reason for women to undergo unnecessary plastic surgery is to boost their self-esteem. Well, I, for one, pity those women who believe that fitting into a size 34-B bra is the answer to their problems. What is even sadder is the probability that these same women have children with whom they are endowing this legacy of superficiality. These people do not need a surgeon to fix their bodies—they need a good session of counselling to fix their heads.

Holly Anderson, Waterloo, Ont.