Monday, August 25, 2008

Distinctively Canadian Pornography

Distinctively Canadian Pornography

A few days ago the CRTC okayed a license for a pay-per-view channel called Northern Peaks. NP is billing itself as the first Canadian porn provider, and the race is on to pun, allude, and simile the way to the perfect print headline. The Globe and Mail did a decent job with Debbie Does Deer Lake, but their junior proofreader/headline writer/intern had nothing on The Star’s senior summer student/headline writer: “Softwood?” the headline read. Then the deck below: “Canada to battle U.S. for skin supremacy.”

Metro did a little better: “Beaver.” Fine, that was inevitable. A bit of a non-sequitur, but you can understand where it’s coming from.

Now attention’s shifted to the influence that CanCon rules’ll have on Northern Peaks’s schedule. Where’s all this Canadian porn coming from, and how will we know that it’s Canadian? Suddenly it’s 1972 again, and we’re all reading about the garrison mentality, ice queens, earth mothers, and Native-inspired rape fantasies. And that’s just Atwood’s diary.

I volunteer myself as the Robin Matthews of the Canadian pornographic nationalist movement. I’ll be the irrational rhetorician. I’ll love Canadian porno; I’ll go to the U of Ottawa and screen a DAP scene in Robert Service Hall.

It’s funny that people are starting to debate the possibility of an essentially Canadian sex scene. A professor called to tell me that he’d seen an early release of one of Northern Peaks’s Canadian flicks, and that he had, in fact, been able to achieve orgasm while masturbating with two wooden spoons.

“Why wooden spoons?” I asked him.

“Well, you know what they say about heroin? About how addicts are always trying to recapture the feeling of that first high?”

“Yes,” I said.

“It’s the same way.”

“But how is that the same?”

“David…When Alice Munro gives you a hand job, then we’ll talk.”

What is a Canadian pornography? Let’s look at it from a literary-critical perspective. Is it about survival? I’ve slept with eight Canadian women, but we’re talking about third-generation Toronto Jews. Sure, they were born in Canada, but none knew a goddamn thing about Paul Stuewe. And they were all from Toronto. Even if they were from Calgary, they were from Toronto.

But I have slept with a “Canadian” woman. So I’ll talk about that. This was a real Canadian: a Protestant from Sault Ste. Marie. Her father worked for Abitibi-Bowater, and her mother shopped at Sears. This was a true Canadian.

What was the sex like? First she’d lock herself in our room, refusing to let me in.

“Can I just get my wallet?” I’d ask.


“You know that it’s my birthday?”

“I’m tired. Go away.”

“Fine. Fine. I’ll leave you alone. But, please, don’t smoke in bed.”

“I’m not smoking.”

“I smell something burning.”

“That’s the flax.”

“Oh. Okay. Listen, before I go….don’t you think it’d be nice if we went out for dinner tonight? Had a nice meal. A bottle of wine.”

“David, I’m not in the mood. I’m going to slide your wallet under the door.”

“What are you doing in there?”

“Sugaring off.”

“Sugaring off what?”

“Some maple syrup.”

“What are you burning?”

“Nothing. Pine.”


“Well, the cauldron won’t heat itself.”

“When are we going to have sex? I can’t even remember when the last time was.”

“When we played that game.”

“What game?”

“That fantasizing game.”

“Oh, right. You pretended that your father was an overbearing Mennonite.”

“And you were hired on for the harvest.”

“Why don’t we do that again?”

“David! It’s only June. We just planted.”

“It’s sex! It’s a natural thing. Are you so threatened by it that you have to lock yourself in that room?”

“Last time you almost killed me.”

“Was it my idea to screw in the Bay of Fundy? While the tide came in?”

“No! But it was dangerous.”

“Well, didn’t you say you wanted to be on the bottom?”

“Maybe tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Right. And maybe Demi Moore would’ve been great in Cat’s Eye.”

Is there any Canadian XXX aesthetic? There is, and it’s literary. I’m just remembering some of my old CanLit classes. “Fuck Pauline Johnson,” someone would say. “Fuck Ray Smith.” “Fuck E.J. Pratt.”

“Great,” I’d say, “we’re playing Jeopardy? What is ‘What does Mavis Gallant do on long weekends?’”

And, incidentally, you can have sex in a canoe. You’ve just go to know where to put the paddle.

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