It should be noted that many Canadians are fond of hockey, and they consider it a symbol of their country. It is not only a kind of sports but also a lifestyle for many fans. Hockey Night is one of the most crucial events in the sports life of the state, and many people leave all their affairs to dedicate their night hours to watching this game. It is possible to assume that such traditions form the identity of the nation and influence the way people recognize themselves in their belonging to their country.
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However, many people criticize Canadians in their desire the delineate hockey from other kinds of sports and hold it as a national symbol due to the fact that the US is believed to have influenced this tradition greatly and promoted it in the Canadian culture. The purpose of this paper is to analyze a book by Stacy Lorenz by applying to other cultural texts to it and provide arguments that hockey should not be referred to as a cultural artifact of Canada.
Description and Comparison
The Chosen Cultural Text
The cultural product chosen for the current critical analysis is the book called Media, Culture, and the Meanings of Hockey (Lorenz, 2017). Despite the fact that the book has been published in the US, its author is an associate professor at the Canadian university who teaches Canadian culture, history, and other subjects. The author has a number of published scholarly articles and books on the issue of the cultural identity of the Canadian population and the meaning of hockey as a cultural symbol of the country (Lorenz, 2017).
Therefore, the writer has profound knowledge in terms of this sports game and its relation to the formation of Canadian culture. Importantly, in her book, the author exhibits the way media narratives have influenced the perceptions of people related to hockey and have transformed it into a national sport.
For instance, according to her book, the series of articles published in the 1896-1907 period has covered all hockey competitions in vivid detail to construct a community that would observe and support all events linked to this sports game (Lorenz, 2017). In addition, the author stressed that hockey games had become the occurrences of a national meaning due to the wide media coverage.
Moreover, she mentioned that the way newspapers, journals, and other mass media sources covered the news at that time had influenced the formation of class and cultural identity of the population. For example, the media provided details of the brutality of hockey players, which has resulted in the formation of masculinity in society. Also, according to Lorenz (2017), mass media have contributed greatly to the evolvement of amateur hockey into a professional one and have built a sense of community through successive series of articles and news updates. Thus, according to the writer, hockey has become an essential element of the Canadian cultural construct through careful media supervision. Nevertheless, these myths and assumptions can be dispelled when analyzing the other two texts.
Supporting Article by Rutherford
The article written by Rutherford (1993) provides arguments that Canadians view and perceive their culture through their own prism, which has been formed by mass media imposing the US cultural domains. According to the author, the population actively consumes culture through various information sources (communications, education, sports, advertising, and so on), which provides the issuing party with an opportunity to influence the masses both directly and indirectly and employ various propaganda methods that are difficult to detect (Rutherford, 1993).
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Moreover, the writer states that nationalism is characteristic of the Canadian population, which makes people view their own culture inadequately, and subjectively (Rutherford, 1993). Therefore, his main argument is that media have formed a market of consumers out of the regular audience, which consumes these items to support their national existence. The author provides these arguments to explain that the country has been subjected to Americanization, and hockey should not be considered a national sport in Canada and should not be attributed to a symbolic meaning since it has been imposed from abroad (Rutherford, 1993).
Importantly, to prove his claims, the writer mentioned that despite the Canadian names of news sources, they were collecting and transmitting the news from America. The reason for concealing the origin of the news was linked to an understanding that at the time when hockey was winning its place in the cultural setting, everything related to America was considered improper and would be perceived strongly negative and with hostility. Rutherford (1993) concludes his discussion with a statement that “America’s mass culture is also Canada’s” (p. 276). Thus, the points reviewed by the writer oppose the image created by Lorenz in her book and provide a drastically different perspective on the question of whether hockey belongs to the national culture of Canada.
Supporting Article by Soares
Interestingly, the article was written by Soares (2016) indirectly supports the provisions made by the previous writer. The author assumed that the events of 1970-1980’s have revealed that the Canadian population recognized the influence of America on the country and hockey in particular. The writer explained that many professional teams were based in the US, and the media covering events were communicating the American content (Soares, 2016).
Moreover, he highlighted that the information about hockey was coming from the US sources as well, and the population could comprehend it, which was evidenced by the events of 1972. At that time, the fans and all the interested parties summoned their signatures to stop the American intervention and cease the influence of the US in terms of Canadian players and practices. Notably, citizens were referring to the “American Controlling Interest” that was hindering the country’s national independence in that matter (Soares, 2016, p. 810). Despite the claims made in the main cultural text, this article proves that the population has also been aware that hockey was highly Americanized.
Application of Ideas to the Text by Lorenz
The discussion of the three readings has enabled assuming the presence of bias in the book by Lorenz (2017). Despite the impressive compilation of facts provided by the writer and her depictions of the way mass media and popular culture have contributed to the emergence of hockey in the cultural context of Canada and its gradual evolution, the author did not observe or ignored the historical evidence provided by Rutherford and Soares.
In the case of Rutherford (1993), he subverts the national narrative claiming that hockey is a cultural domain that has been promoted by Americanized media and popular culture. At that time, it was impossible to exhibit anything of the US origin since it would be accepted with hostility; therefore, the facts about hockey’s origin were concealed to avoid misunderstanding from the side of the population. Nevertheless, this position is rather rigid in its allusion to the statement that the US content has been propagated through Canadian communication mediums.
In addition, Soares (2016) discussed the era of Trudeau and the events that occurred in this epoch. The author also overturns the national narrative encouraged by Lorenz through a detailed discussion of the reaction of the Canadian population to the influence of America on the hockey proceedings in the country. The claims made by residents clearly evidenced that people were able to comprehend that the US was trying to influence the setting in a manner convenient for the USA while the Canadian population strived for building its unique cultural and national identity without decision-making propagated by Americanized mass media of Canada.
Thus, it is rather difficult to assume whether the author of the cultural text under analysis consciously ignores the assumptions made in scholarly studies. In addition, it is impossible to state if the writer is unaware of her own cultural positioning. It is reasonable to assume that, being an accredited professor of cultural studies and history, the author is able to make relevant and credible statements about the significance of hockey in the Canadian cultural environment and self-identification of people.
The position each author has taken depends on the angle from which the events and facts are reiterated. This deviation and polarity of interpretations enable drawing a single conclusion that the debates over national identification, cultural meaning of hockey, and other aspects of Canadian culture will proceed further since such discussions provide a platform for different standpoints.
Lorenz, S. L. (2017). Media, culture, and the meanings of hockey: Constructing a Canadian hockey world, 1896-1907. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Rutherford, P. (1993). Made in America: The problem of mass culture in Canada. In D. Flaherty & F. Manning (Eds.), The beaver bites back? (pp. 260-280). Kingston, Canada: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Soares, J. (2016). Hockey diplomacy and U.S.-Canadian relations in the early Trudeau years. Diplomatic History, 40(5), 810-825.