Is this the new Making a Murderer?

Pizzagate was fake. This is real.

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A woman with a normal life. Suddenly, she remembers being raped as a teenager. By a priest… and police officers.

 

She thinks she’s crazy but finds 100 victims like herself. Yet she’s the only one claiming the priest took her to… the body of a missing nun – before she was even found.

 

Who killed Sister Cathy? Her secret lover? The sex offender with a mustache who cross-dressed as a pregnant nun? The neighbour who saw a ghost in the attic?

 

I don’t know, but The Keepers is insane.

 

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Is this the new Making a Murderer?

Is the World’s Most Dangerous Man a Hipster from my Hometown?

Before Vice was from Montreal, it was from Ottawa. Before it was cool, it wasn’t.

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emaze

Everybody likes to hate hipsters. Maybe because nowadays, everybody can be called a hipster – just as long as they have a beard. But back in the days, we secretly knew who the real hipsters were. They were the cool kids from the immigrant, queer, Portuguese-Jewish neighbourhood, children of rock’n’roll and fathers of the electro scene. They were the urban, vegan-friendly, music-savvy, drug-inspired and sexually ambiguous amateurs of art, beauty and everything vintage, those who escaped the mall-filled suburbs of North America to bike their way to ‘Berlinesque’ Montreal. They were poor sometimes by indifference, sometimes by choice (rejecting their families’ lucrative agendas), sometimes as a result of destiny.

They were those who taught me how to dress (better), when not only able to afford black t-shirts from H&M, made in Bangladesh by modern slaves – guilt-loaded additions to the non-walking closet of my apartment, shared with five other roommates. They were the ones who taught me how to party, in bars and clubs and buses and alleyways, on rooftops before rooftops were even cool in Paris. When my friend Laura introduced me to the hipster scene, it was like I lost my virginity again.

It was a scene united enough, one where judgment seemed suspended. On the dance floors of the Mile-End, you could find a spiritual hiker from BC, a corn-fed knitter from Saskatchewan, a bored accountant from Toronto, a wasted musician from Newfoundland, twins raised in a cult, a carpenter from Florida with alligator stories, a sexually confused photographer from California and a Colombian barista whose good looks were only matched by grand symptoms of depression. But as a young man raised near a capital, I knew that one thing had the power to divide the room: politics.

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montrealinpictures

Politics were to be avoided, but difficult to avoid in a politically charged nation like Quebec, and even more difficult to avoid for me. I grew up close to Parliament Hill, and my grandfather was a political journalist. He was also a hero to me. Raised in a family of ‘peasants’, my grandfather was the only one out of fourteen children to get an education, and he certainly made something out of it, ending up on a plane with the Prime Minister. My grandfather was a Conservative, which is everything I’m not, but also quite surprising for such a compassionate man (with ideas of his time, but compassionate still) who had a resolutely open-minded vibe, so to speak. Then again, former Conservatives are the kittens of modern ones.

Early on, I detected some “politically dubious positions” in the hipster scene, potentially inherited from less free-spirited parents. There was the usual “Quebec is racist” (not a false sentence but an incomplete one), often said by people who taught Quebeckers didn’t speak real French (like their colonial ancestors) and glorified France without ever mentioning Marine Le Pen. The “Pauline Marois is a cow” said by people who would never condemn Richard Bain, the “taxes are too high” said by people whose parents paid for their school and the “why would I learn French, this isn’t France” said by people who were not living in England, just saying. But how could I be mad at such comments as an older man who knows about the bittersweet taste of exile: gratitude for the opportunities but confusion in the cultural madness.

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Alanis

These quiet tensions were not completely new to me, since I’d spent my teenage years in Ottawa during the second referendum. The city was still a remarkably ‘cumbaya’ place with a spiritual vibe and friendly neighbours all around, but not everything was 100% Justin Trudeau. Sure, Ottawa was Alanis Morissette, the heartbroken rocker from a Franco-Ontarian lineage who went from awakening to awakening, in a white t-shirt down the streets of L.A. or naked on a Toronto streetcar after a trip to India. But Ottawa was also Gavin McInnes.

Back then, no one knew what it meant. A fascinating piece written by Claire Levenson just taught us a little more about the character, who spent most of his childhood and teenage years in the Ottawa region, studying at Carleton before heading to Concordia and co-founding Voices of Montreal: what would become VICE.

Gavin McInnes is a man of many ‘jokes’. He once celebrated the fact that most Williamsburg hipsters were white. He said that “people would be happier if women would stop pretending to be men”, and that feminism caused women to be sad, “feigning toughness, they’re miserable.” To him, “Transphobia is Perfectly Natural” and all Muslims should be banned from the Unites States, a statement that comes as a surprise for someone who founded Vice with a Pakistani-Canadian friend (who we won’t automatically assume is a Muslim, but who has certainly become a lot more inspiring).

McInnes thinks that people should assimilate to a westernised, white and English-speaking lifestyle, and that women and minorities are too emotional to be rational – something reserved to white “daddies”. He once dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member for a party. He is pro-guns, collaborates with Fox News and openly supports Donald Trump.

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American History X

Not surprisingly, VICE has evolved without him for years: “it’s a long story”, said McInnes. You bet. VICE somewhat stated that he was not ‘their thing’. If McInnes gives us another reason to hate the ‘cool’ kids, VICE certainly gives us more and more reasons to like them. Gone are the days of ignorant Québec-bashing as VICE has become a ballsy, quality-certified media addressing our era like no other medium, even sending Ellen Paige to the Brazilian ghettos of homophobia.

That’s for the good news. The bad news remains. Gavin McInnes might not be the world’s most dangerous man, but he is one of his many faces. Another one is Trump’s. That man has faces all over the Internet, even among my Facebook friends – that Torontonian colleague who hates feminists, that Catalan friend who compares refugees to animals, that French acquaintance who openly celebrates fascism. He becomes an extremist in a surprisingly short time. He is often good looking but slightly ageing. Not getting the sex he thinks he deserves. Not getting the love he craves, because he doesn’t understand that love is like fame: a lottery. Even when he has a girlfriend, there is a certain sadness in his eyes. He is still not convinced of his worth, maybe because of repeated childhood humiliation. He is often jobless and in need of a purpose. Hate becomes the purpose, and difference becomes the motive of despair. Most importantly, he is nostalgic of a time when things were better – better for people like him, that is. He is a little bit of you, and a little bit of me in our darkest hours. He is white, but might as well have been different if born in another country. The world’s most dangerous man is everywhere. We can no longer escape him, no matter how trendy his clothes, or how tall his tours and walls. It is now time to face him.

Is the World’s Most Dangerous Man a Hipster from my Hometown?

The 25 Craziest Things I’ve Done for Acting

10 years. Time to look back and wonder how bad I wanted it. Montreal, Toronto, Honolulu, Paris… here are the craziest things I’ve done for acting (so far). Yes, it was worth it:

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  1. Acting with a skunk. I do prefer humans.
  1. Breaking a bone on a wooden sword. The only one I wouldn’t do again.
  1. Cleaning toilets on set. That’ll ground you, my son.
  1. Discovering a Christian school in the attic of a studio. I’m scared.
  1. Getting a blow job on a fake plastic penis. I thought this would look like a joke. It looked real.
  1. Getting water thrown at me by a tractor, repeatedly. Hey wardrobe lady, time to blow dry me again. We have 30 seconds before the next shot.
  1. Hearing my couchsurfing host have sex while sleeping on a bathroom floor (not to hear). Man, you sound great at sex.
  1. Kissing a man on camera and in front of 10 people. I’d do it again (hi dad).
  1. Kissing my best actress friend. Do we really have to do another take?
  1. Studying Law. By myself. I’mma cry. Life of an immigrant.
  1. Living with rats. AND great roommates. There’s an upside to everything.
  1. Missing a day at work to stand in a lake full of bloodsuckers. Great cast, great crew, great short. No complaints.
  1. Moving to Paris with a 3rd of the required money. Cancel all plans. Euros? What is that?
  1. Observing male prostitutes at 11pm. Because my acting teacher is serious about homework.
  1. Paying $100 to unbleach my hair. I bleached it when I quit acting… for 2 weeks.
  1. Paying a friend to drive me to set at 5am. We all need an entourage. Or a driver’s licence.
  1. Shaving my chest and learning to lap dance. For a home audition. For a free project.
  1. Shooting a zombie movie in Blainville, Quebec. Need I say more?
  1. Sleeping on a stranger’s couch for 3 months. We all need a 1st shot. Even when it’s a second.
  1. Throwing a chair in an audition room. “Never throw a chair in an audition room. Other than that, it was great” – casting director.
  1. Throwing up in a helicopter. That’s what 4 days of air stunts will do to you. Great footage, though. Did I mention I’m scared of flying? Guess I “forgot”.
  1. Touring Hawaii. Sometimes your colleagues are nice guys… with a driver’s licence.
  1. Watching Dirty Dancing with a French star I didn’t know. Time of my life.
  1. Going through an emergency landing because a stewardess “feels weak”. In the meantime, guess who else is gonna faint? I guess that’s what happens when you book 15 flights – yes, 15 – within a year.
  1. Driving my friends crazy. Wilson thought rehearsing was repeating a line twice, not 50 times. Mara expected everything from life, except for what was gonna come out of my mouth. Viriya be like : “oh, just remembered that’s why I didn’t choose a career in the arts”, and Laura like: “who ate my nutella, a f*cking starving artist?”

70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room

The 25 Craziest Things I’ve Done for Acting

35 THINGS I LEARNED FROM BEING POOR (AND GROWING UP RICH)

In my best days, I didn’t have to look at the price of groceries, a bus ticket was cheap and I could bust my budget for clothes completely guilt-free.  Travelling was reachable and the price of a cover wouldn’t decide whether I’d go out or not.  Work was not mandatory.  Fun was free.

Most of it occurred in an Ottawa suburb, as I was attending a top-rated private school.  I didn’t grow up in the Glebe, the West Island, Yorkville or Shaughnessy.  Nor in Upper East Side, British Chelsea or a Californian producer’s house.  As a product of my generation, my destiny changed when my parents divorced: I slid from rich to upper middle class.  But I grew up without worrying about money, and I now call that “rich”.

In my worst days, my chest hurt on the night before rent.  Credit hung over me like a sword of Damocles.  My heart skipped a beat as I paid for electricity.  Love was the least of my worries.  I hoped I’d never need medication and vacations were never stress-free.

Those days started with acting, in my tiny Montreal studio, its Parisian equivalent or Toronto’s Portuguese ghetto.  My brother would always remind me of how I had chosen poverty.  Though it infuriated me, it was partly true.  “Partly” because to me, poverty was a side effect to falling in love with acting, and I was a romantic who’d never believed we chose whom – or what – we loved.

Look at it this way: it was like taking a pill to get better, then starting to feel the side effects.  The last thing you wanted to hear in the midst of a stomach ache was: “I told you so.”  But as a director friend once told me, I was a “tourist of poverty”: just visiting.  Many people were much poorer and stuck.  But it didn’t mean that my situation wasn’t difficult, and that I wasn’t going to learn a few things along the way:

GROWING UP RICH 

1. Rich people have real problems.  American Beauty is not just fiction.  Growing up rich, I encountered family dramas our neighbours never suspected.  Rumours made me realize we weren’t the only ones: our hood was filled with addiction, depression and (mental) illness, like any other place on earth.  Rich people only had thicker walls.

2. Rich people are generous.  Though the opposite is widely believed, my experience taught me something different.  True, I wasn’t raised on Wall Street, but I was given so much by rich people, from food to couches to advice to opportunities.  Like anybody else, rich people came to need more than material enjoyment: they wanted a purpose.

3. Rich people see poor people as alien dwarfs.  If rich people were generous, what explained the right-wing voting spree?  Many rich people viewed poor people as completely exterior to them, and ignorance was the perfect ground for growing prejudice.  Poor people became lazy bums who exploited the system and didn’t want to work (though everyone needs to feel useful).  They wanted to steal (though everyone has some dignity).  Apart from… poor people they knew.  Then it changed everything, because rich people suddenly understood the history and the struggles.  They became generous.

4. Rich people forget.  When I asked a friend of mine how his parent’s lives were changed by the fact that they once were boat people, his answer was honest: “people forget.”  His parents were now rich and somehow, their daily lives weren’t haunted by their traumatic past.  I understood that rich people forgot.  Until they ran into poor people.  As a general rule, rich people who were once poor had the potential to be more generous.

5. Rich people believe in democracy (but shouldn’t).  Democracy is great when it’s not fake.  A quick look into the voting system’s financial structures reveals that political parties owe to rich people who “donate” money, for certain ideas to invade the media.  The result?  Politics favouring the rich.  When people blame the 99%, one can only wonder if a poor person’s vote still counts, and if the parties representing the poor will ever get the required exposure.

6. Rich people don’t believe in luck (but should).  Not all poor people believe in luck, but most of them know how big a part it plays in becoming rich, simply because they’re constantly confronted to people with more opportunities (background, studies, liquidity to invest…).  Rich people might feel threatened by luck because it makes them feel undeserving.  But God has a plan so why not embrace it.  Rich people who believe in pure meritocracy should read about the 2008 crisis and stop guilt-tripping the poor, which is just uncultured, unrealistic and useless.

BEING POOR

7. You can hide it perfectly.  Whether you like it or not, wearing a suit or having sangria on a patio will make anybody forget you’re living on your credit card.  Including your friends.

8. Being poor is the best way not to be horny.  Two words: anxiety, exhaustion.

9. Landlords are the worst.  Though I had the best landlord in Toronto and a few decent ones in Montreal, I’ve also seen the ugly side of rich.  It’s a landlord who doesn’t know what it’s like to doubt you’ll have a roof over your head.  It’s someone who doesn’t know what life is in his own building.  And it’s out there.

10. Poor people need Lindsay Lohan and other celebrity train wrecks.  They need to know that like them, rich people struggle.  Healthy or not, it’s the only way they can feel compassion for them, or find a bit of self-esteem back.

11. It’s more tiring not to work.  I’ve tried both working and not working.  A 9-to-5 routine allows you to eat and sleep the same everyday, without surprises or stress over survival.  It exhausts you mentally, but not physically.  It’s a Club Med without the fun.  On the other hand, not working means countless hours not being able to relax at home, haunted by budgets and deadlines.

12. It’s harder to be hot when you’re poor.  If you need a visit to the dentist or anything different from a haircut you can get at a bike shop, you’ll need loads of money and want to break the cardboard Justin Bieber at Shoppers Drug Mart.

13. Being fat can help you dealing with poverty.  That is the bright side to cheap junk food.  Because good luck finding any pants on sale if you’re the medium size of everything.

14. You will do anything to survive.  Though I’ve never sold drugs or my body, it has crossed my mind.  Seriously, you don’t know how far you’d go if you really needed to eat.  Never judge an actor who once jerked off in front of a webcam, unless he didn’t need to.

15. Poor people are not all dumb and uneducated.  In my building, I met students who refused parental help, genius programmers with mental illness, divorced or unemployed baby-boomers, immigrant families…  In a Niagara Falls’ Tim Hortons at 4am, I once met a single mother who taught me about French politics as she was wiping the floor.

16. Education is not the only way out.  Some rich friends of mine didn’t finish their bachelor’s degree.  They made it with their skills (I recommend computer science), perseverance, connections, etc.  Go to school but don’t expect a golden spoon along with your diploma.

17. Some cities are poor-friendlier.  While rich cities might offer more opportunities in terms of social mobility, poorer cities might offer cheaper rent, food, transportation, covers, etc.  It’s all about quality of life, what’s important to you and what you get for your income.  Some cities make you feel like there’s no place for the poor while others have artistic neighbourhood that don’t trust people with money.

18. It’s better to be poor in America if you’re healthy, but in Canada if you’re sick.  So I’ve heard.  American healthcare sounds like a nightmare, but finding affordable food (ask Nunavut), phone services or Internet connections in Canada is not a piece of cake.  Additional charges randomly appear without logical reasons.

hirsch19. Being poor in a rich family is very American.  Or North American.  In more traditional cultures including some European ones, it’s less frequent to see parents lend money to their kids.  They will likely give them money, but also less freedom.  Rich kids will then be granted more responsibilities and expected to fulfill their parents’ and family’s needs.

20. Poverty is culture.  I tend to feel closer to a New York artist than to a Montreal business man.  Culture doesn’t only depend on where you’re from.

21. Some people are better at being poor.  I’m not one of them.  It has nothing to do with growing up rich or poor, and everything to do with how you were raised.  If you learned how to cook and budget as a deal-aware teenager, you will suffer less.

22. Immigrants see it differently.  Living two years in another city, completely legally as it was in my own country, I still struggled on a cultural level.  I can only imagine how hard it’d be to move to another country where the language and papers are different.  Immigrants work hard without always expecting “fair” results.  They sometimes pass on this mentality to their children.  Unlike privileged kids, they don’t take as many things for granted, not even when it comes to justice.

23. It is impossible to explain poverty.  When people told me actors were poor, I still chose acting.  Because I looked at it rationally: I could manage to count money.  But could I manage uncertainty about my ability to pay rent?  Could I manage the stress, the exhaustion and their real harm to my body?  Poverty was technical, but mostly an emotional ride.  Which meant the only way to understand it was to live it, like it’s often the case in life.

24. Debt is like dirty water.  Yes, we all know it’s wrong and potentially harmful.  But would you tell a thirsty traveler not to drink water in the desert, just because it’s dirty?  It’s there, and urgently needed.  What else should he do?

25. Charity hurts.  Charity is not the best way to help poor people, because it’s as sweet as it’s humiliating, reminding you of your own weakness.  It’s better to give people a shot, a chance to show what they’re good at, a real opportunity i.e. the one they’re looking for, not the one you think they need.

26. Being poor is not poetic.  Unless Motorcycle Diaries is your only life plan (which is fine), you will meet exhaustion and the only beauty that’ll matter will be that of a signature at the bottom of a cheque (apart from when you’re creating).  Let people who’ll watch the movie of your life find it poetic as they chew on organic pop-corn sitting on their leather couch.

27. Money is power, but limited power.  Money is an incredible catalyst to convince people to embark upon your project, or simply that you’re successful.  But it can’t completely control things like health, or whether people like you or not.  This depends on other things.

28. Poor people have no time for politics.   If you are a bourgeois revolutionary who had time to reflect upon the future of the world, don’t get angry when trying to convince poor people to fight the fight.  The world needs you, but you can’t expect everyone to have time for that when survival comes first.  Poor people might even vote for parties that make them poor.  They need time to understand, and right now they don’t have it.  Change the world for them, just don’t wait for them.

29. You can kill a rat with a broom.  Well, my roommate can.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

30. Being too rich or too poor will equally kill your compassion.  When truly scared for your own survival, ugly instincts kick in.  You become aggressive and heartless.  Such is the way nature intended.  On the other hand, being too rich can make you lose touch with the reality and feelings of poor people, especially if richness is the only thing you’ve ever known.

31.  Being poor will make you a better and worse actor.  If you manage to preserve your compassion, it will grow.  On the other hand, not sleeping to work on a script between two eight-hour shifts won’t help, though you can still pull it off.

32. Acting is not a skill.  It is, but not on the market.  Two many people want to do it, and too little people care about its quality.  Also, it’s easier to ask a singer to sing a song or a dancer to dance in front of you than to ask an actor to act on the spot.  Accept it and make money with another skill.

33. Acting is for rich kids.  You can still make it if you’re not one of them, but don’t be surprised if a lot of them make it.  The acting business is built for the rich who are ready to “pay to work”.  It requires more time than modelling and to make money with it (it’s possible), you need to invest like crazy, from headshots to reels to workshops to personal projects to union fees.

34. Being poor is relative.  Don’t say you’re poor cause you can’t afford a cottage.  And if I’ve convinced you that being poor is hard, imagine what it really is for a homeless or an orphan from a third world country.  Had you forgotten?  I hadn’t.

35. Being poor will teach you things, like anything else in life.  I’ve often wondered why I needed to go through the unpleasant nature of it, but figured I had something to learn from it, though I couldn’t identify exactly what.  That was until I wrote this post.

35 THINGS I LEARNED FROM BEING POOR (AND GROWING UP RICH)

THE FEMINIST WHO HATED WOMEN

As a teenager, I was raised by my mom.  She also raised my brothers.  She raised us alone, propelled by unconditional love, with enough energy to meet our requests and fight our rebellions.  We tested her, challenged her, exhausted her.  But above all, we loved her.

My brothers and I grew up to become men, raised by a woman.  We were ridiculously different one from another, yet united by a modern virility filled with respect for women.  Quickly, our mother became our hero, through her obvious sacrifice.

Doctor, actor or philosopher, we were transformed by our modern upbringing.  We were, of course, treated like kings: fresh meals falling from the sky, dishes washed before we even knew it, impeccable service and tip included.  But our mother wasn’t acting as a woman: she was acting as a mother.  She wasn’t a feminist in her speech, but she was in her lifestyle: half-cook, half-handywoman.  Mom never stopped herself because she was a woman.  She knew she was strong, strong like a mother may be, strong like a father maybe.

As we got older, my brothers and I discovered a world with countries where pregnant women could get stoned.  A world that could be violent to them, even in that system that was closer to home, and that didn’t help much during our family struggles.  My brothers and I didn’t understand this world we had overlooked, a world that looked down on women despite their undeniable strength.

The day I virtually met Julia Gillard, I didn’t understand.  There was a woman’s electrifying speech which, nevertheless, held an obscure component.  At the other end of the world, a woman was standing up for my mom and her sisters.  But she wasn’t standing up for all of them.

On October 16th 2012, the Prime Minister of Australia became a worldwide-web sensation, thanks to a viral clip that showed her response to the Leader of the Opposition.  Rightfully, assiduously and eloquently, Gillard denounced the Leader’s misogyny.  Because she was an original, and because it had been enough to disturb some of her colleagues.  A redhead, the daughter of a Welsh psychiatric nurse, an immigrants’ child vaguely resembling Foster and Swinton, the Australian citizen had always known she would never have children.  Politics were a war in which women needed a defender.

But a month earlier, Julia Gillard chose to stand against History by rejecting equal marriage…  Why?  It was a legitimate question, because she promoted equality for women.  And equality for women was not only gender equality: it was also equality between women, at least when it came to opportunities.  No matter if one was gay, straight, or anything in-between.

Why, then?  Because homosexuality wasn’t natural?  Science had numerous counter-examples.  Because marriage had always been between a man and a woman?  History had proven this theory wrong, with evidence taking religion aback. Because women needed to have children?  Gillard didn’t, and why not favour adoption?  For the sake of children?  Studies from decades ago showed that children raised by gay parents were as sane as others, like a young American showed us in his own viral video.  Because of religion?  Gillard had admitted that she was an atheist.  Like many gay men and women, she described herself as “a great respecter of religious beliefs, but they are not my beliefs.”  For social peace?  We could have invoked this against the right for women to vote, yet change needed to be initiated prior to being accepted.  So what additional proofs were expected by Julia Gillard?

Gillard’s answer was that marriage between a man and a woman had a “special status”.  “Special” as in different.  Different as in “with more rights attached to it”.  Let’s face it: she saw gay unions as smaller than straight ones.  Gays had fewer rights.  This was technically homophobic.

Ironic too, if we considered homophobia came from men who associated homosexuality with feminity.  They linked it to some kind of desire to be dominated, which they thought was a feminine aspiration.  What often provoked their violence was behaviours they defined as feminine, no matter where they came from.  Was homophobia just another kind of misogyny?  In that case, was the gay movement the next feminism?  Could the great fights for the rights of minorities really be exclusive all in remaining logical?  Or were we witnessing the unavoidable birth of… gayminism?

I suspected Gillard didn’t subscribe to such homophobia.  Yet in denying the rights of so many women, she was not spreading love around in a very fair way.  It would’ve been exaggerated to pretend that Gillard hated – or even disliked – women.  But it seemed fair to say that she didn’t like them equally.

In her speech, Julia Gillard lectures Tony Abbott’s shameful-kid face.  She does it with touching frailty yet impressive courage, relentlessly guided by facts.  After all, Abbott once spoke of abortion as an “easy way out”.  I applaud Gillard and the echoing applause.  But I couldn’t applaud her controversial vote, because it seems unfounded.

In that very same speech, Gillard says she is “always offended by statements that are anti-women.”  But is she really always?  Rightfully denouncing a “double standard”, did she forget to see that which blinds her?  She pressures Abbott to “think seriously about the role of women in public life and in Australian society because we are entitled to a better standard than this.”  What about lesbians?

If the blogosphere suggested the world looked at its own prejudices and imitated Australia, I was sceptical in front of a clip that left many people with a bitter aftertaste.

“I think it would be inconceivable for me if I were an American to have turned up at the highest echelon of American politics being an atheist, single and childless.”  If Obama saluted her viral speech, many countries had nothing to learn from Gillard when it came to gay rights, because was it conceivable for a lesbian to become Prime Minister of Australia?

Self-proclaimed agent of “social inclusion” and “change”, Julia Gillard might have seen the irony of it, had she glanced longer.  She once claimed that she “came into politics predominantly to make a difference to opportunity questions, particularly make a difference in education”.  But what did her conception of a legal system teach to teenagers who were a bit too different?  When she was in Belgium, she said she missed Australia.  Would she have spoken the same words, had she been a lesbian in the second country to legalize equal marriage?  The media criticized her for her austere kitchen revealed by pictures taken during an interview.  Gillard mentioned how ridiculous it felt to be judged on a kitchen.  Was she judging Australians on their bedrooms?

In politics, men sometimes made mistakes.  As their equals, women did too.  Gillard was fighting a crucial fight, often brilliantly.  And I was filled with compassion for her, against the morbid and mean comment concerning her father “dying of shame”.  I knew that somewhere up there, Gillard’s father was proud of her, though his psychiatric expertise might make him stand on different grounds when it came to equal marriage.  I had equal compassion for victims of bullying who’d been targeted because of their sexual orientation, many of which had taken their own lives.

After her conscience vote, what did Julia Gillard tell herself and her very own conscience, in the silence of her austere kitchen?  Did she ask herself if all those young gays and lesbians who committed suicide or where lapidated somewhere in the word died in fact of… shame?

THE FEMINIST WHO HATED WOMEN

WHAT IF DOCTORS WERE GLORIFIED PROSTITUTES?

Growing up, destiny surrounded me with doctors.  My father was a doctor.  My godfather was a doctor.  My brother became a doctor.  His wife is a doctor.  I once dated a doctor too, and nowadays, one of my good friends is on the verge of becoming a doctor.

To me, doctors were never exotic.  They were never gods.  They were real people and like all real people, I knew they had their very own flaws and struggles (except maybe for financial ones).  They had occasional doubts, crisis, fights with loved ones, deceptions and addictions.  I even knew some could cross the line and fall onto the dark side.

Doctors were not perfect, but I loved them for who they were: humans. I even admired them.  They studied a lot, were disciplined and dedicated.  They had a respect for life, most of the time.  Some of them were even truly motivated by a desire to help.  But it was clear that I could not admire them as much as other people did.  Because most people refused to renounce perfection.  They needed to look up and dream, just like they did with celebrities. It mystified yet amused me.

When I decided to be an actor, I wondered how people would come to perceive me.  If they got excited as soon as I mentioned acting, they quickly went from enthusiasm to disappointment granted I didn’t star on a show they knew.  I fell into a category that was as obscure to them as the real life of a doctor.

I came to realize that subconsciously, many people looked at struggling actors as glorified prostitutes, as lazy charity-addicts, as vain creatures who were desperate for attention – some of them truly were –  and money, and even occasionally as pity-deserving delusional losers.  Because why would actors choose such an unstable lifestyle if they weren’t fame-obsessed, narcissistic to death or just plain pretentious?  How could they truly be talented if they couldn’t book jobs?  Or, worse, why would they complain about money if they were on TV commercials?

I frequently tried to explain my life to friends, family members and strangers alike.  Many listened but left me with that lasting feeling that I hadn’t been clear.  So I decided to imagine what doctors would go through if their field was similar to the acting industry.  Because if doctors could finally understand our lives, people who looked up to them also would, and that meant pretty much everyone.  What if doctors, and not actors, were the glorified prostitutes?  What would their lives look like behind the curtain?

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1. It’s much easier to become a doctor if your dad’s a doctor too.  He can introduce you to the hospital director and that could get you a job, even without training.  You’ll then have a choice: use that opportunity to become a good doctor and learn to improve, or surf on it and never become a great doctor. Both options can lead to a significant career because medicine is very unpredictable.

2. It’s much easier to become a doctor as a child.  So don’t wait, granted you know it’s your destiny at 3 years old.  This, of course, depends largely on your parents’ will for they’ll have to justify your absence from school and drive you to the hospital for operations, sometimes at 5am.

3. You can only be a doctor in the city, at least a doctor whom people can trust.  In every country, there is one of two cities where it’s possible to work as a doctor, and you’ll have to speak the local language without any accent, preferably.

4. Being a doctor is mostly about looks.  Whether you’re good or not at operating people is very secondary.  First, people need to fancy you, one way or another.  Only then will they look at your skills and resume.

5. Make sure your operations are easy to watch.  Though you should apply yourself conscientiously when healing your patients, the outcome of each operation you tape might not get noticed.  What is important is to have a good camera so people think your operations are easy and fun to watch.  Only then will they consider you for a job at the hospital.

6. As a doctor, build a catchy website and have a Twitter account.  Don’t forget Facebook.  You need to constantly remind people you exist.

7. Never speak to the staff directly.  When it comes to professional talk, let someone else do it for you and don’t trust your guts.  People don’t want to have to deal with doctors, doctors are exhausting.  Convince someone to communicate on your behalf, even if it takes a lot to convince them.

8. As a doctor, you will have to go through numerous interviews.  If you’re lucky enough to get them, that is.  Rumour has it that they’re easier to get in the States, but good luck getting the papers.  You will compete with thousands of doctors and have to prove that you’re an extraordinary doctor.

For each operation you do or patient you see, you will be tested beforehand, and asked to perform all of the required manoeuvres.  If a hospital likes you, it will ask you to repeat the same test 2 to 5 times.

9. Create your own operations.  If you lack the money, borrow some.  Don’t have the right tools?  Who cares!  The important thing is to be proactive and do something.  That’s how you’ll become a good doctor and, if you’re lucky enough, you might even get noticed by a hospital that will recruit you once you’ve built a clientele.  After the tests, that is.

10. As a doctor, go mingle.  Happy hours are a great place to meet hospital directors, fellow doctors and nurses and prove them that you’re not a freak.  Because remember that when it comes to medicine, personality comes first.

11. Do not approach hospitals in an aggressive way.  Showing too much interest for medicine is like not showing enough.  Hospitals tend to prefer doctors who don’t “want it too much”.

12. As a doctor, do not expect a salary.  Asking for money is not welcome in this field.  Everyone wants to practice medicine and your skills are not that essential.  You are replaceable as there’s always a cuter doctor around, ready to take your job (for free).  Start volunteering for a few decades and reinvest all of your salary into expensive training and self-marketing.  Only then should you start paying your debts back.

13. Ignore your family’s requests to quit medicine, even if they occur every time you have dinner with them.  Only you know whether you can do this or not.  Success may come late in life.

If you follow these tips carefully, you are on the path of a rewarding career, no matter if you get paid, or even noticed.  Because you can complain about medicine all you want, remember that a surgery has the power to heal the heart of a lonely lover, of a frightened kid, of a war survivor, of a hungry politician, of a poor immigrant or of a gay cowboy.  Touching their hearts will remind them that they’re lucky to be alive.  And it will remind you that we are all the same.  Break a leg.  And get better.

WHAT IF DOCTORS WERE GLORIFIED PROSTITUTES?

NARCISSISTIC GENERATION: ARE WE TURNING INTO PSYCHOS?

riplinThere I was, close enough to watch the show, far enough to disappear.  And for once, I didn’t have – or want – to be on stage.  I could relax.

It was a show but it was real.  It was about the Internet, but it wasn’t the Internet: I didn’t have to remind people I existed, to reveal my many castings, that I had a soul on top of a body, and all that jazz.

The play started.  The actors slowly disappeared to leave space to dozens of screens featuring an unexpected mix of viral videos, creating a choir of absurd mashups leading to unsuspected poetry hidden in the corners of today’s worldwide web.  Modernity had its enemies, but as a part of life, it held a unique form of beauty.

And then it stopped.  My actor friend faced the audience and, of course, had to talk about the peculiar, horrific and unique “viral” video of the year: the murder of Lin Jun.  My friend asked if anyone was willing to watch it on stage, for the first time.  This was a highly daring move, at the limits of any moral system, and some people reminded him by leaving the theatre.  Was Montreal so small that they actually knew the victim or, worse, his murderer?  Or was this just plain wrong?

I didn’t raise my hand.  I had no interest in watching such an evil crime, out of respect for Lun Jun’s family, not to encourage a psychopath and because it wouldn’t bring anything but nightmares.  But some guy raised his hand.

I wondered: was it as wrong as I felt it was and if so, why had so many people watched the video since it first got uploaded?  As the voyeur proudly walked up to the stage, I realized that his motivation was, to a certain level, only human.  I could see he felt empowered, strong and invincible from measuring himself to the most extreme violence imaginable.  And I knew he wasn’t alone.  In his eyes, I detected the hypnotic state specific to people looking at a fire, at an accident or at some cheap re-enactment of a crime on a random TV show…  Humans feared death as much as they needed to face it, at least once in a while.  It reminded them about the extraordinary power of being alive.  Yet why did this still feel wrong?

The answer came at the end of the video.  Only this one guy could see it, which relieved the audience but also forced us to observe him.  The clip ended and after a brief second, the voyeur shrugged, in such a subtle manner that only a few noticed.  He shrugged.  Like when you mean “it’s not that bad”.  What he meant was probably that it was “not that bad to watch”.  But he was looking at the problem the wrong way, because he was only looking at himself, Magnotta style.  Had he thought, for a second, about how bad it had been for Lin Jun?

Unlike Magnotta, this guy wasn’t a psychopath.  He was the product of an era in which we were all so busy watching our own feelings that we were losing our ability to imagine those of others.  Projection and, by extension, compassion, was a skill endangered by a system that praised the lack of pity and overblown responsibility.

As an actor, I surely tried to get out of myself and feel what others felt.  But like anyone else, if not more, I was constantly observed and analyzed, which threatened to bring me back to myself at any moment.  That is what was wrong.

Watching the video was not the problem.  Not understanding what it implied was the problem, and probably the reason people wanted to look at it in the first place.  Whether you were a tech-savvy baby-boomer or a teenager raised on Facebook, you were part of the new virtual generation.  Videogames about shootings didn’t automatically make mass shooters.  They could even act as a release.  But in the midst of our second-degree existence, did we see so little of reality that our subconscious had somewhat forgotten that life was real?  I was sure of one thing: people who knew Lin Jun hadn’t.

NARCISSISTIC GENERATION: ARE WE TURNING INTO PSYCHOS?