Mouthpiece

by Zbigniew

Straight

The Georgia Straight was founded in 1967 by the troublemaker collective of Pierre Coupey, Milton Acorn, Dan McLeod, Stan Persky, and others. In its early days the paper was fined for publishing obscenities and was frequently banned for its criticism of The Man -usually personified in the form of lumpy reactionary and real estate industry point man Mayor Tom Campbell.

While counterculture soon gave way to conventional news and entertainment, it was of the decidedly progressive-with-a-heavy-dose-of-smarm variety. In the ‘80s and ‘90s that meant Filbrandt (Wombat, then Dry Shave), withering recaps of Pacific Coliseum-scale concerts, and –especially- the movie reviews.

Thursday evenings I would spend bathing in the Straight’s eviscerations of the latest Hollywood dreck, of which there was an endless supply. I can still recall the write-up for the Jean-Claude Van Damme schlock vehicle Sudden Death, wherein the reviewer opined that the Pittsburgh Fire Department must have waived its minimum height requirement for the Muscles from Brussels. Or the review for David Fincher’s Se7en, which would appeal to those that enjoyed being held down to have Hollywood producers urinate into their eyes. A modest, and entertaining, speaking truth to power.

But somewhere near the millennium, it ended. The weekly ritual sacrifice gave way for the modern school of film criticism –which is to say, no criticism at all. And so to today: what once was ripped open and laid bare is blandly endorsed as an undemanding means of killing a couple of hours.

What happened? A general increase in the public’s appetite for decadent cultural fare? A sudden and steep decline in literacy? The corporate pissing match of gate receipts might be closer to it; all those full-page movie ads must have served the distributors well as both carrot and stick, I reckoned.

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Wading through all the full-page condo adverts has become something akin to sifting through shit to find whole peanuts.

With Volume 47 Number 2367 (May 2 – 9 / 2013) of the Georgia Straight, the peanut is no longer available.

There’s nothing to indicate that the page 21 article entitled “Chinatown sees a heritage-hip surge” is a paid advertisement. It looks like a Straight article, it’s written by Associate Editor Gail Johnson, and its referenced on the issue’s front page.

It is, however, pure real estate ad copy and lifestyle bumpf and it flogs a number of yet-to-be built Chinatown condo projects. There are no contrary points of view, just an endless stream of good news: developers have “a strong, shared desire to respect what’s come before”, one-bedrooms are “all priced under $400,000”, and neighbourhood entertainment options that include “dumpling cook-offs”.

And to top things off, the print edition facing page is a full-page ad for The Keefer.

Dear Georgia Straight: it’s over -The Man played the long game, and he won.