It's easy to forget that Canada (a place in which the word "culture" is usually preceded by "arts and," or "cuts to") has an entertainment industry too, which is why I wanted to read Mondo Canuck: A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey, by Geoff Pevere and Greig Dymond (Prentice Hall).
Mondo Canuck isn't exactly a heroic journey, rather a pleasant stroll through the best (and worst) of Canadian pop culture extending from Peter Gzowski, Stompin' Tom Connors, the Mounties and Bruno Gerussi to Anne of Green Gables, Anne Murray, Mr. Dress-up, Marshall McLuhan, and the McKenzie brothers. There are lots of references to hockey, beer and snow, as well as little-known, long-forgotten facts, like why BTO is the ultimate Canadian band, or how many songs Stompin' Tom has written about condiments and vegetables, or how many Canadian actors have played aliens (fourteen, including Lome Greene, Dan Aykroyd and Rick Moranis).
Mondo Canuck is a first step toward creating a Canadian popular mythology, a tapestry of all that is trashy and kitschy about Canadian culture. Unhappily, the book has an apologetic tone, which borders sometimes on defeat, other times, well, embarrassment. There is a strong focus on Canadian pop culture "failures," such as a chapter dedicated to sitcom flops (remember Check It Out? how about Snow Job?), and too much space is given to Canadians who have made it abroad. Mondo Canuck is pervaded by a consciousness of what we aren't— namely, American—with constant references to American popular culture, which is always bigger, better and trashier.
Canadians, the authors claim, know "how to appeal to fellow second-class citizens," in "yet another manifestation of the country's status as cultural outsider, the permanent sidekick to the world's greatest superpower, the scrawny, adolescent Robin to someone else's well-muscled Batman." This pretty much summarizes the attitude of Mondo Canuck as a whole, and my first response was to say "Oh, how Canadian." But that isn't always enough of an excuse.