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The race to the bottom



I watch a lot of movie trailers online which means, thanks to Google ad geo-targeting, I suffer through endless advertisement videos for crap like the Northern Gateway Pipeline and whatever Suncor Energy is trying to convince me they are doing to help the world become a better place.

The thing is, good ideas should sell themselves and if you need targeted video propaganda to literally sell me on how awesome your energy project is, chances are it isn't. But how many people do get sucked in by the glossy montages of sun-soaked landscapes, upbeat city timelapses, and obligatory small-town hockey arena shots? I can visualize the jackasses at the conference table, "Okee dokee, if you really wanna sell them hippies in B.C. on this pipeline throw a shot of some hockey in there. Like one of them small-town rinks, nothing too corporate. Us Canadians love us some hockey, right? Well, without this here pipeline there won't be any lights in the gosh-durned arena! 'Cept maybe the light of God, eh there boys? Jesus saves, Gretzky gets the rebound, and if you don't like hockey and this pipeline... well, Hoss, that means you just ain't Canadian."

Speaking of media, hockey and manipulating the heartstrings of people either too busy, broke or stupid to know any better — Tim Hortons, winner of the "Notes from the Back Row Award For Most Annoying Commercials in the History of Moving Images" is coming to town. Canada's most popular "restaurant" chain just announced they'll open their doors in Whistler Creekside in early 2015. What a tragedy.

Forget that Timmy Ho's no longer even bake their donuts in-store or that Canada is face-stuffing ourselves into an American-style obesity epidemic. Forget that all that "yay-Canada" patriotism is now coming from an American-owned company (Tim Hortons August 2014 acquisition by Burger King is almost complete). Forget all that, it's a free country right? If people want to buy reheated American junk food in the guise of nationalism they have every right. Whistler is full of garbage food and retail chains, why single this one out?

Because more than any other, this one waters down our brand and dilutes the dream. Whistler is a place you fantasize about visiting while chained to the office desk. It's the place kids talk excitedly about moving to once they finish high school. Whistler is more than a valley of lakes surrounded by mountains, it's a promise of freedom and greatness and something different than everything else.

And it still is all of those things, except now it will look that much more like Quesnel, or Chilliwack, or Squamish or Fort Saint Whatever. Tim-Hortons-on-the-Highway is not the end of the world, but it puts Whistler one rung lower on the race to the bottom. Imagine if it was a roadside Purebread there instead...

But all is not lost. Somewhere up in the mountains there is fresh snow on the ground and probably a pair of ravens gliding by on the pre-winter winds. And underneath those ravens there are good people looking up, watching the grace of flight and remembering other mountain friends who've left this land too early. And lower down the hill it's raining and the bears are thinking about calling it a season, resisting the smells of free garbage wafting upslope, knowing it's a long walk down and never as easy as it seems. And lower still, new locals are excitedly playing with new boards and new goggles and duct-taped gloves, unable to afford everything but still drooling over the winter to come. That mountain magic persists, no matter what we allow to try and spoil it.

There are movies this week too: Brad Pitt drives a tank and kills Germans in Fury, opening this week at the Village 8. The Book of Life is an animated Dia de los Muertes Halloween special with epic visuals and not-as-epic story. Local snowboard/consciousness film The Little Things premieres Thursday (today) at Millennium Place (and is available on iTunes). Sean Pettit's ski-noir The Recruitment is also on iTunes this week and Heavy Hitting HorrorFest tickets are on sale at heavyhitting.com and West Coast Float. All is not lost, and the Download of the Week is Manufacturing Consent.

Old men always pine for the days gone by, but as much as I prefer the era of mom and pop businesses and donuts actually made in town, Whistler only had one movie screen back then. And that kinda sucked too.


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