One of my favourite things to do on a cold stormy night is to watch television shows of any variety. I usually tune into APTN National News, just to see if I can recognize anyone passing by in any of the many protest across the country. Sometimes, I would see someone who I knew like back in the ’80s and I would gasp in surprise with how much they have aged. I guess protesting all the time wears you out quicker than being a pacifist like me. I prefer to watch people getting tear gassed rather than get soaked by a water cannon, because water is getting scarce and we shouldn’t waste good water on protestors.
Another reason I like watching APTN is because sometimes I recognize people’s names in the credits. So I replay them over and over again until everyone’s eyes have rolled over too many times and angry wrinkles appear to protest my inane knowledge of the person in question. Sometimes, it’s just the building I recognize and I would recount how many times or when I had entered that particular building. One such building was in Lethbridge and was actually designed by a late friend of mine from Mistissini.
Sometimes, reruns of Adventures in Rainbow Country would show up and I would show off the hero as someone everyone knew as Buckley Petawabano. I just couldn’t figure out how in the name of the Creator that so many intriguing international incidents could happen in the middle of Quebec and why was it happening just in the early ’70s? Only the producer would know.
I also like watching the music shows and how much we all seem to sound the same across the country. No matter where the artist comes from, there’s always that Aboriginal distinction and accent that seems to tell us that this artist comes from just around our neighbourhood. What I like best of all the shows are the closed-captioned versions of local themes and varietal languages that often make understanding anything.
What hits the top of my watch list are, of course, the Cree language shows. I remember back in the day when a good camera cost 20 grand or so and you needed muscles to carry around the batteries and lighting equipment. Video in those days was an expensive option for us to promote our own language and culture. But today, the cheapest digital point-and-shoot camera totally outdoes the cumbersome tapes we had to use. The whole aspect of editing was like arguing over a frame, should it stay in or end up on the cutting floor? Today, kids can make their own movies using simple programs, and the end results would put us highly trained and experienced videographers to shame. Anyone with a good eye and feel for what people like to watch can make their own productions, easy as pie, even easier, I think.
That brings me to my ultimate show, which is Reel Injun, one of the few movies that actually drew a tear from my usually dry eyes. It made me remember what it was like to like cowboys again. Even though we were supposed to be on our own side, everyone wanted to be the cowboy, because cowboys never really died, only the Injuns got killed. So as the movies made our own image in the likeness of the bad guys, today, it’s good to be an Aboriginal on the big screen just because we still have a lot of land left untouched by industry and progress. Today, we seem to be the new good guy, the new cowboy version updated and improved, where the only things that get killed are the cattle.