Essay: Hockey I Am I Canadian?

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Hockey

I am I Canadian? Hockey as National Culture

An Interpretive Review

In her article, "Am I Canadian?': Hockey as 'National' Culture," Patricia Hughes-Fuller explores the connection between the sport of hockey and Canadian national identity. Fuller accomplishes this exploration through comparing media images of hockey and the United States in order to determine what effects the globalization of hockey will have on Canada's perception of the national sport. At one point, Fuller asks,

Are Coca-cola, McDonald's, and baseball perceived as less American simply because these highly visible cultural symbols are now consumed globally?" Her answer to the self-posed question -- "I suspect most of us would agree that they are not." -- suggests that Canadians will continue to see hockey as a symbol of their Canadian identity no matter how far the sport is exported (35). But while Fuller's speculation on the future of hockey is a compassionate view the country and sport, this topic is not her main purpose throughout the article. Instead, Fuller's article's goal is to explore whether or not hockey is of great cultural importance in Canada and why that is. Because it highlights the differences between Americans and Canadians, especially through media, in addition exemplifying Canadian values, Fuller points out that the sport is, indeed, important to the nation's national identity.

Both Canadians and Americans have become painfully aware of the fact that many see both nations as sharing similar cultures and heritages, although Fuller points out that this is most definitely not the case. While Americans are often seen as power-hungry, know-it-alls who want to idealize Canada as a little America, Canadians see the two countries as coming from completely different cultures. Fuller uses Canadian media to strengthen the argument that hockey highlights the differences between the two countries. She describes a Canadian television show called Power Play "that was obviously created with an eye to the American audience "because it "makes fun of cultural cliches on both sides of the boarder" (29). But although the television show poked at both American and Canadian audiences, Fuller suggested that it portrayed "Canadians' pragmatic, localized, episodic, and fluid sense of themselves" and their need for an "absolute, forceful, and mystified [American] Other for useful comparison" (29). Thus, in this television show about hockey, far more than hockey is discussed. Instead, both the national identity of Canadians and Canadian frustration at being considered American are large components of this television program. Thus, through the conduit of the media, hockey is used to get these important issues out on the table for discussion among the continent's dwellers.

Continuing to use the media to show the importance of hockey in highlighting the differences between Canadian and American national identities, Fuller actually introduces the article with a description of the FFB documentary, Shinny: The Hockey in All of Us, which is "premised on the notion that we learn to skate almost before we learn to walk" (26). According to Fuller, the film personifies ice rinks almost by giving them souls as comparable to Moby Dick's assertion that "the sea has character," in addition to showing how hockey all over Canada has served to bring people of diverse background together as uniquely Canadian (26). While Canada can claim hockey, however, it cannot claim all hockey movies. The United States has made a variety of movies depicting the sport as well. Although they are about the same subject, however, American hockey movies prove to be distinctly different than Canadian hockey movies. Fuller uses the American movie Slapshot to make this point. Calling Shinny "the antithesis of what is almost certainly the prototypical American hockey movie, Slapshot," Fuller remarks that the American movie used black comedy to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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