I thought this was kind of interesting: “RCMP Spied on Tommy Douglas”. I donâ€™t just mean the culture of J. Edgar Hoover-esque agency creepiness that would ultimately lead to the downfall of the RCMP Security Service and the subsequent creation of CSIS, Canadaâ€™s modern intelligence agency. (For those of you outside Canada, CSIS is known for such classy operations as helping to form the white nationalist Heritage Front and participating in the USAUK ECHELON program. Nicely done, guys.)
No, what I actually found interesting was that Iâ€™d never made the connection that Donald Sutherland was Tommy Douglas’ son-in-law. I knew who they both were individually, and I knew Donald was father of Kiefer, but I never actually associated the two.
When I mentioned this bit of trivia to a friend, he didn’t seem to understand why I was telling him this. Why was this fact important? At first, I couldn’t tell whether he meant its importance in the article or in our conversation, but that got me thinking — did it actually matter which he actually meant? Why would someone consider that sort of trivia important? Moreover, if it’s not, why did the CBC see fit to include it?
Upon a little consideration, this is easy. To be fair, nobody knows who Tommy Douglas was. However, several million people watch 24. By associating “Tommy Douglas”, a relatively unpopular brand, however important a figure he may have been, with a highly popular, well-known brand like “Kiefer Sutherland”, the article’s details are reframed for a broader audience.
The audience, seeing the man’s grandson hacksaw off terrorists’ heads every week, have formed an emotional familiarity with him. Seeing the vast number of people: A) who try to kill him, B) who he kills, and C) who he chooses not to kill — in a single day — causes us to become interested in his day. For those of us who choose let him into our homes, he’s very much a part of our lives.
So, when we see this story — police pursue popular populist — placed in pop-cultural context for us, what do we come away with? “Hey, the Mounties spied on Jack Bauer’s grandpa! What the hell?”
(Original link via Rob Cottingham)