Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hockey film exposes Canuck anti-Americanism

You may have watched the New Year's Day outdoor NHL Winter Classic hockey game from Fenway Park. If you did you probably are Canadian because as we all know Canucks truly are mad about the game on ice. Michiganders? Probably you were more inclined to watch football including - sigh - Ohio State's victory in the Rose Bowl. Last night on Canada's CTV television network Boston hockey of a different sort was also at centre ice in the made-for-TV movie Sticks and Stones. Only this time the players were about 10 years younger and hailed from the Boston suburb of Brockton. The movie originally ran in 2008. What's interesting is that it is a Canadian film that doesn't have some type of overt or implicit anti-American theme. In fact it's a denunciation of some of the most virulent examples of recent anti-Americanism in the Great White North. The movie is based on an incident in March 2003. The invasion of Iraq had just begun. The Brockton, Ma. Boxers peewee team had travelled to Montreal for a tournament. Their bus, with a bus company logo sporting a big American flag, was the instant target of protesters. They surrounded it, jostled it from side to side, and burned an American flag. This terrified the kids. Even a policeman told team coaches and parents, "You picked the wrong bus." To which one of them snapped, "No, we picked the wrong country." The kids were also embarrassed when they attended a Montreal Canadiens game. They heard their national anthem booed and beer was tossed at them. The Boxers returned home vowing never to go back to Canada. But some of the players and coaches of their chief opponents, the Fredericton Canadiens, saw the injustice of their treatment. They wanted to make amends. They decided to throw a Friendship hockey tournament. Coach Neil Martin (David Sutcliffe of Gilmore Girls, Murder in the Hamptons) and his son team captain Jordy (Alexander De Jordy) awkwardly travel to Brockton to invite the Americans to New Brunswick. Wary, the Boxers agree to do so. When they arrive they are met with local people lining the route waving both American and Canadian flags, applauding and cheering them. There's nothing particularly special about the way the movie (by Dream Street Pictures, Moncton, N.B.) is made. It's a heartwarming set piece worthy of Disney. But what is remarkable is that it shows Canadians in a negative light, as the self-righteous bullies Canuckleheads can be. Made for TV or not I had never seen countrymen depicted in such a light. To which I can only say, Hurray for Dream Street.

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