Friday, July 6, 2012

The Whistleblower and Carrie Derick and Collie Dogs

My husband and I have been having trouble finding a movie to watch, in the cinema or on TV, (lucky there's Wimbledon and summer sunshine for our staycation), but last night we saw a Rachel Weisz movie was airing, the Whistleblower, which sounded like a political thriller, my favourite kind of movie, so we tuned in.

Within a few minutes, my husband said "Is this movie Canadian? He knows all the  Canadian actors, largely because he watches a lot of sci fi on the TV.

So I looked it up and saw that it was, a Canadian German movie with American and British Marquee actors.

More than that, it was directed and co-written by a Canadian woman with much the same education background as me (McGill arts).Larysa Kondracki.

Now, as a movie, the Whistleblower falls somewhere between Hotel Rwanda and The Constant Gardener, with a bit of Michael Clayton in there for good measure,  but, despite all that, The Whistleblower is  not a Hollywood movie, really.  Which might account for why it made but 1,000,000 at the box office despite getting a 73 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Despite having the beautiful Weisz, one of my favorite actors, and Vanessa Redgrave and David Strathairn.

Now lots of movies with big names don't make money, many don't even get released. I'm thinking that Main Street Movie in 2010 too I think with Colin Firth and the beautiful Orlando Bloom. And even with promotion and critical praise, very dark movies (the ones without vampires) don't do well. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy comes to mind.

I can see why this Whistleblower didn't do well, or get a good distributor which is probably more to the point. Even if it smacks a bit of the hugely popular Erin Brockovich, it is simply too realistic. The movie goes out of its way to portray the horrific lives of a group of Eastern European girl/women sold into sex slavery in Bosnia - a ring both supported and patronized by men who worked at the UN and with the British owned  military contracting firm..

The Whistleblower is a true story, you see.

It has a female protagonist, and that may also be the problem. No male hero. No male really looks too good in the film. (This movie is no sun-drenched Mamma Mia, either.)

The Whistleblower's  point I guess is that ALL kinds of men, from all stratas of society, are complicit in the Human Trafficking industry. Wherever it happens.  And who wants to hear that? Especially with the Olympics coming up and all those Eastern European Sex workers in London town.

And, I personally feel that Hollywood  is complicit, perhaps the entire entertainment industry is too, by the way it portrays young women as sex objects and meat and by the way it portrays prostitution (not the same as human trafficking, but the distinction has so many grey areas) as a charming vocation, from Pretty Women to all those Shirley Maclaine movies like Irma La Douce.

Anyway, I wasn't going to write about Canadian movies today. I was going to write about another uncomfortable topic that relates to my story School Marms and Suffragettes, the eugenics movement in Canada.

Yesterday I decided to check if the Ontario Hygiene text was used in Quebec schools. I found it was as I have a list of sanctioned texts from 1912.

I wanted to know because that textbook, published by Copp Clarke, had a final chapter on Family Stock. Eugenics! And that chapter discusses the same Jukes "case study" that Carrie Derick talked about in her lecture to the Montreal Literary Society, and which I put in my ebook.

Jukes was a 'degenerate' who spawned dozens of like degenerates, a certain social scientist of the time claimed, therefore proving that heredity is more powerful than education and environment.

Carrie Derick was a botanist, and the first female full professor at McGill. So people listened to her. But Miss Derick, President of the Montreal Council of Women at the time)  was just spouting 'the official line' as it were in her lecture!

In School Marms and Suffragettes I have Edith Nicholson attend her lecture. Still, knowing what I now know, I really don't have to change anything I have already written. Edith graduated high school in 1902, too early for this Hygiene volume with its ridiculous final chapter, warning students to choose their mate well.. Her Younger Sister Flora, though, likely had studied from this Ontario Hygiene Text.

Here are some snippets from the book in gif form. Sorry to have to put this ugly stuff into my post but sometimes the truth is UGLY. Like with the Whistleblower movie.

This is a not so thinly veiled warming against marrying into other social castes or races. 1910 was an era of mass immigration.

Funny how things have changed, a bit. My son, a scientist, 26, who has traveled the world, is convinced that we are hard-wired to find mixed race people beautiful, hardwired to mix it up as it were, as this is genetically beneficial. That would have been some heresy 100 years ago.