Friday, June 6, 2008

The Biggest Non-Sports News News in History

Hockey. Canada. What images and sounds are brought to mind? Whitby Dunlops in the '50s? Henderson scoring in '72 (quoth the Hip: "If there's a goal that everyone remembers, it was back in '72/We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger" (then it turns into lovey-dovey drivel - I love the Hip though)). The Salt Lake City double in 2002 with a Loonie under center-ice? All generations have their own, definitive Canadian hockey moment. All hockey generations in Canada, though, are united by a single jingle, introduced in 1968, commonly known as Canada's second national anthem, beloved by all. Dada da daaa da daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa - oh yes, it's the Hockey Night in Canada song.

You all know the story - the license has run out, and now the composer of the epic tune, Vancouver's own Dolores Claman, wants a bit of a raise. $500/play was the norm, and she wants "an industry standard" increase of 15% in fees. And the CBC doesn't like that, not one bit.

Now, we could get into math about how, in TV terms, that's really not a whole hell of a lot. In fact, I'm pretty sure it costs more to produce another shitty episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie (great premise, crappy undertaking) than it would to pay for an entire season of playing the HNiC theme, but I'm no good at math, and am very lazy. So we'll get into he morals of the thing.

What is the CBC around for? Why is it a crown corportation? Why is it Canada's "national public radio and television broadcaster"? Canadian Broadcasting Corporation indeed. Well, we find various excerpts from quote it's mandate, found easily here, but probably more difficult-ly on the CBC website, so I'm sticking with the Wiki.

  • be predominantly and distinctively Canadian,
  • reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions,
  • actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression,
  • contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,"
How could anyone argue that splurging a little doesn't fulfill these mandates? And please note, a little. Canada's culture is hockey. We are a very multicultural country (take it from me, I know), but there's one thing shared between the thousands of races and creeds we find here, it's (again, trust me on this one) hockey!! Ever wanted to find Canadians whilst traveling in other countries, but forgot your Timmy's travel mug back home? Start singing the HNiC song, our second national anthem. I'm willing to bet, as are many others (judging by the comments found on the story on the CBC), that more Canadians could sing you the Hockey Night in Canada song than the real national anthem (it's called O Canada, those of you who don't know).

Now, you might say "but it's time for change! This song is 40 year old!". Or, you might be your run-of-the-mill internet blog-flamer, in which case you might say "WTF STFU YOU n00b!!". If you are the second case, I would kindly ask you not to comment, as you are, for all intents and purposes, the people primary education left behind. If, on the other hand, you are in the first group, this is a good point. Hockey's changing. The nature of the game, right down to the rules, keeps changing. So why not change the song many of us have come to relate to the game? Because this song is a bit like an old blanket - comforting. Certainly to me. All memories of NHL and Olympic hockey, good or bad, can be flushed back from hearing the song. Horrible, heart-in-mouth memories of the playoff exits against the Leafs, memories of epic regular-season thrashings of the Leafs, and all things in between, come back to that song. It's a historic little bit of Canadiana, it comes back to our roots as a people united. I say again, ever want to find Canadians in other countries, start singing the HNiC theme (tried, tested and true! Canadians in Punjab, who would've thought?).

The justification from the CBC, the money issue, is ridiculous. It is part of their mandate to "reflect Canada", to be "predominantly and distinctively Canadian", to "contribute to shared national consciousness and identity". So live up to that. Hockey Night in Canada fans are a passionate bunch, we like our old standards, we love Don, and we'd like for things to remain. Oh, and also, find a better pre-game song artist than Nickelback or Kid Rock, for goodness sake. How about some Hip? Or The Guess Who? BTO? You know - good Canadian music. You boys up in the Seeb (if the BBC is the Beeb, the CBC is the Seeb) need to get your heads out.

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