Happy Canada Day from all the cats at the Shattered Lens!
We love you, Canada!
As we all know, music video of the day has always been and always will be Val’s baby. Starting with If You Don’t Know Me By Now in June of 2016, Val has shared and analyzed over 300 music videos! It’s become one of my favorite of our regular features here on the Shattered Lens.
As most of you know, for health reasons, Val is taking a temporary break from this feature. Until Val comes back, I figured that I might occasionally share a video or two. Admittedly, I do not have Val’s encyclopedic knowledge of music (and I should admit that my musical taste pretty much begins and ends with EDM) but what Val and I do share is a deep appreciation for a little Canadian show called Degrassi.
See, it was that love of Degrassi that led me to the video below. Earlier tonight, I was rewatching Death of a Disco Dancer, the third episode of Degrassi’s fifth season. In this episode, Paige is upset that her friend, co-worker, and classmate, Alex, doesn’t seem to care about going to college. When Degrassi hosts a college fair, Paige attempts to entice Alex to attend by offering her a joint.
“Will you go if you’re high?” Paige asks.
“I’ll go if you’re high,” Alex answers.
The two of them duck into an alley and light up the joint. What follows is perhaps the best three minute montage in the history of Degrassi as a very stoned Paige and Alex walk through the fair, giggling at all the Canadian college recruiters. It’s all good fun until Paige discovers that a friend of her mother’s is at the fair. Uh-oh!
Anyway, I’ve always loved the song that plays during the montage. It’s called Upfront With You and it’s performed by a Canadian band called Universal Honey. After watching the episode tonight, I looked the song up on YouTube and that’s when I came across the video that was made for it in 1996.
Now, despite doing a handful of Google searches, I can’t tell you who directed or worked on this video. I can tell you that Universal Honey has been around since 1992 and the band is made up of Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair. (Before Universal Honey, they were both in a band called The Pursuit of Happiness.) Up Front With You is off of their first album, Magic Basement.
Not surprisingly, this is a Canadian band. One of the great things about Degrassi is that it exposed me to a lot of Canadian bands that I, as an American, might otherwise have never heard of.
Well, today’s the biggest day of the year! Today, people across the world will be wishing each other a happy holiday. Here at the Shattered Lens Bunker, we’ve got a lot planned for today but, before anything else, I want to wish a Merry Christmas to one of my favorite counties, Canada! Not only have countless Lifetime films been shot in Canada but it’s also the native land of some of my favorite filmmakers and performers!
And did I mention that Canada is also the home of … Degrassi!?
So, allow me to star this day by saying, “Merry Christmas, Canada! And thank you for everything!”
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Denzel Washington, Fences
Amy Adams, Arrival
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Best Foreign Language Film
O.J. Made in America
Winners will be announced on December 20th!
Today’s music video of the day is Feel It by Jakalope, one of my favorite Canadian bands!
I’m a huge fan of both this song and this video. The song, which was co-written by Trent Reznor, first appeared on Jakalope’s debut album, It Dreams. It Dreams was also co-produced by Reznor and perhaps it’s appropriate that the video itself is reminiscent of some of the videos that Mark Romanek directed by Nine Inch Nails.
(The video itself was directed by Lisa Mann and graphic artist Vincent Marcone, aka My Pet Skeleton.)
One of the great things about being a fan of Degrassi is that it’s exposed to me Canadian bands, like Jakalope. In fact, from season 4 through 7, Jakalope performed the show’s famous theme song. As for Feel It, it can be heard in Ghost In The Machine, the premiere episode of Degrassi’s fourth season.
In fact, the entire fourth season was full of great music! In particular, Islands in the Stream, the season’s 6th episode, featured a beautiful song called Pretty People, which was performed by the Robber Who Robbed The Town. I have searched and searched and I have yet to find Pretty People ANYWHERE! Seriously, it is sooooo frustrating!
Oh well. At least I have Feel It…
School’s Out, a 1992 film that was made for Canadian television, is historically important for two reasons.
First off, it featured not only the first use of the F-word on Canadian broadcast television but the second as well! The first actor to say the word was Stefan Brogren who, in the role of frustrated lifeguard Snake Simpson, complained, “Joey Jeremiah spends his summer dating Caitlin and fucking Tessa!” About a minute later, Stacie Mistysyn (in the role of Caitlin), yelled, “You were fucking Tessa Campanelli!?”
I’m not sure what exactly went on behind-the-scenes before School’s Out broke the F-word barrier. Help me out, Canadian readers. Was this a big deal in your country? Was this controversial? Did you get weeks of warning or was everyone taken by surprise? And was happened afterwards? Does the F-word now show up regularly on Canadian television? I’m sincerely curious and I guess I’ll find out for myself when, after the presidential election, I move to Toronto.
Still, regardless of whether there was any drama behind-the-scenes, it’s interesting that, in 1992, Canada had already progressed beyond America, as far as censorship and broadcast standards concerned. 24 years later, actors on American network television are still not allowed to say what Stefan Brogren said during School’s Out.
Of course, if you’re a fan of Degrassi, you can probably appreciate the irony of Stefan Brogren being the one to break the Fuck Barrier. Brogren plays Archie “Snake” Simpson. When Degrassi: The Next Generation began in 2001, Archie was a teacher at Degrassi Community School. Over the course of the series, Archie married, became Emma Nelson’s stepfather, and was eventually appointed principal. Through it all, Archie has been a well-meaning but somewhat dorky authority figure. Simpson has always been the guy who you can depend on to explain why condoms are important and stalkers are bad but he’s also always been the guy who inevitably says something unintentionally humorous and then wonders why everyone is laughing at him.
But before Degrassi: The Next Generation, there was Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. These two shows aired in the 80s and featured Brogren (and Snake Simpson) as just another student, worrying about getting a girlfriend and occasionally dealing with an issue-of-the-week.
That brings us to the other reason why School’s Out is historically important. School’s Out was meant to serve as the finale of Degrassi High, a chance for the show’s fans to get one last chance to hang out with Snake, Caitlin, Wheels (the tragic Neil Hope), and Joey Jeremiah (Pat Mastroianni, with hair!) and perhaps get a glimpse of what the future held in store for them.
Though the producers may not have realized it at the time, School’s Out also perfectly lay the foundation for Degrassi: The Next Generation. I have to admit that, as much as I love Degrassi, I haven’t seen many episodes of Degrassi Junior High or Degrassi High. Fortunately, that didn’t make it difficult for me to follow School’s Out. In fact, many of the things that happened in School’s Out would regularly be referred to in Degrassi: The Next Generation.
The film opens with the senior class of Degrassi High graduating and preparing for their final summer before university and responsibility. Joey Jeremiah plans to ask his longtime girlfriend, Caitlin, to marry him. However, when Joey proposes to Caitlin, she turns him down. She’s not ready for that type of commitment, not when she’s about to leave town to go to college. (For his part, Joey failed a grade during Degrassi Junior High and, as a result, he’ll finally be starting his senior year while all of his friends are getting on with their lives. While Caitlin is studying journalism at university, Joey will presumably still be trying to pass Mr. Raditch’s history class.) Hurt over being turned down by Caitlin, Joey ends up sleeping with Tessa Campanelli (Kirsten Bourne). Soon, he is — as Snake memorably puts it — dating Caitlin and fucking Tessa.
What amazed me, as I watched School’s Out, was just how much of asshole Joey Jeremiah was truly portrayed as being. If, like me, you previously only knew him from Degrassi, then you know Joey as being a widowed used care salesman, a loving father, and an all-around good guy. So, it’s strange and a little bit jarring to see him here as a remorseless cheater who brags about betraying Caitlin and who cruelly teases Snake for being a virgin.
(Then again, seeing School’s Out adds an interesting shading to Joey’s character. Watching the film, I suddenly understood why Joey often seemed so overprotective of his stepson, Craig. During the third season of Degrassi, Craig made many of the same bad decisions that Joey previously made in School’s Out. Much as Joey was “dating Caitlin and fucking Tessa,” Craig was dating Ashley and fucking Manny. Watching School’s Out, I finally understood that, during seasons 3 and 4 of Degrassi, Joey was often looking at Craig and seeing himself.)
Of course, it wouldn’t be Degrassi if there weren’t a few other subplot going on at the same time as the Joey/Caitlin/Tessa love triangle. Seriously, hardly anyone gets a positive ending in School’s Out. Not only does Joey cheat and Snake curse but there’s also an unplanned pregnancy. There’s a party that leads to a major character driving drunk, killing a child, and blinding a classmate. Yes, the film does end with a wedding but we barely know the people getting married. Nobody, it seems, gets a truly happy ending.
Seriously, Canadian readers, how traumatizing was School’s Out when it was originally broadcast!?
Fortunately, I was able to watch School’s Out with the knowledge that, as bad as the summer was, Joey would eventually find love and Snake would get a job. As for Caitlin, she would not only end up hosting a public affairs show called Ryan’s Planet but, at the end of the 4th season of Degrassi, she would have a brief flirtation with director Kevin Smith.
(Both Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes were in Canada, filming Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, eh? It’s a long story.)
Anyway, I’m very happy that I finally watched School’s Out. I may even go back and watch Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. They’re all available on YouTube now!
On a final note — LOVE YOU, CANADA!
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s probably debatable whether or not today’s music video of the day is actually a music video. The fictional Canadian band Downtown Sasquatch performed What I Know at the end of the Rock and Roll High School episode of Degrassi. The video below is taken from the end of that episode.
But, you know what? I think this does qualify as a music video. It’s certainly shot like a music video and, to a large extent, it reminds me of something from the pop culture fueled imagination of Spike Jonze. In some ways, it’s even better when viewed out of the context of the rest of the episode. So dammit, it’s a music video!
Add to that, I love this song!
As for Downtown Sasquatch, they were the most popular band on Degrassi and they went through several lineup changes. Fortunately, What I Know was performed with the first and best lineup.
On bass, we have Marco Del Rossi (played by Adamo Ruggiero), whose epic coming out story played out over five seasons of Degrassi.
On lead guitar, we have Jimmy Brooks (played by Aubrey Graham, though he’s now better known as Drake). Since this took place during the third season of the show, Jimmy could still walk. This would change during the fourth season of the show when he was shot in the back by Rick Murray.
On drums — Spinner Mason (Shane Kippel)! How important a character was Spinner to Degrassi? He was so important that, despite the fact that he started the show a year ahead of all the other characters, it still took him seven seasons to graduate from high school. Seriously, some of us were wondering if Spinner was going to end up celebrating his 40th birthday in Mr. Simpson’s media immersion class. Incidentally, just a season after Downtown Sasquatch’s performance here, Spinner would be involved in the prank that would eventually lead to Rick Murray shooting Jimmy in the back. However, Jimmy and Spinner would eventually reconcile and start a T-shirt business called Squatchwear.
And finally, we have our lead singer and founder of Downtown Sasquatch, Craig Manning (Jake Epstein)! A bipolar photographer and a musialc genius, Craig not only started Downtown Sasquatch but he also impregnated Manny Santos and broke the hearts of not only Ashley Kerwin but Ellie Nash as well!
Speaking of Ashley (Melissa McIntyre) and Ellie (Stacey Farber), they’re both sitting in the audience and watching Downtown Sasquatch perform. If you look closely, you’ll notice that they’re both wearing t-shirts that depict Craig burning in Hell.
Anyway, after all that, here’s the video!