January 16, 2013

Fifteen Seconds of Fame

I am going to be on T.V. I was interviewed yesterday morning for a spot on the Chilliwack cable access channel, Shaw TV, in my capacity as a spokesperson for the community arts council with which I have been involved for over nine years. I am not sure how many people watch Shaw TV, but they do have several community programs on the go, and a certain audience base. The interview will also be seen by all those who go to the channel for the television listings which take up the bottom half of the screen while my spot, and many others like it, are airing; so, I am imagining competing with what is on at 5 pm, 8 pm, 11 pm...etc. I am also imagining my son responding to my being on Shaw TV by quoting Austin Powers: "Whoop-dee-do, Basil".

I was having a wild hair day yesterday because I am letting it grow out a bit and it is presently at its winged stage, but I ran my fingers through it and put on my best moss green wool jacket over a black t-shirt and went off to meet the TVcrew at the arts council gallery. The crew turned out to be one multi-talented fellow, whose voice I had heard for years on the station, although I had yet to see his face. While he set up his equipment, gave me a clip-on microphone and adjusted the camera settings he told me to take a deep breath if I was nervous, which honestly, I was not; a bit keyed up is a more accurate description. I have given so many speeches in that gallery as to be quite comfortable babbling away by now. The great thing about being interviewed by a professional is that it is his job to make you feel at ease. I did not have to look at the camera at all and just answered his questions to his face, which appeared open, interested and friendly. The show presently on display in the gallery is a retrospective of work by an abstract artist who passed away in 2010. I had interviewed the artist's husband who sponsored the show, and co-written a newspaper article on the artist's life, so I was well able to answer the interviewer's questions at length with, I think, some clarity, which was a great relief. Of course, afterwards, I remembered all the little things I had forgotten to say in the interview, but the guy who works in one of the back offices of the gallery has been interviewed several times for the same channel in his capacity as a spokesman for the local festival of the arts, and he assured me that the interview would be edited to such a degree as to barely resemble my expectations of it.

Of course, the experience of being filmed and interviewed, which was a new one for me, got me thinking about the concept of having one's face on television for the public to see. I remember in college, an older male friend suggested, somewhat teasingly, that I become one of those news readers on TV. Perhaps it was my 'all Canadian girl' look. People are often telling me I look like I come from Saskatchewan. I'm not sure if, in their eyes, that is a compliment or not. My cheeks are always pink, so perhaps I have a permanent look of having just come in from the cold.  I think it would get a little depressing, reading all that bad news hour after hour, day after day..."and today, more bombing in Syria"...and such. Nevertheless, I considered a career in broadcasting for a short time, mainly because I loved, and still love, radio, but the consideration passed and I went on to other things. My sister Monica is the reporter in the family these days, although my dad wrote for his university paper and then the Vancouver Sun for a short stint. Monica is naturally curious, loves a good story and very much enjoys talking to people about any manner of subject. She is also quite community minded, has a good sense of the bigger picture of a situation and knows which questions to ask. She writes for a newspaper these days, but her dream job, she tells me, would be to work for CBC Radio. I'm not sure if she has ever considered working in TV.

I am amazed at the advancements in the world of television that have been made since I was born. When I was a baby cable television was a new thing. My family did not have cable, but as I was growing up I never really felt denied because all the major shows like The Muppet Show, Magnum P.I., Remington Steele, The Wonderful World of Disney, Family Ties and The Cosby Show were broadcast on our two channels via our television's antenna. Then along came satellite dishes the size of something out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and PayTV. I remember watching Superchannel at a friend's house, and having to pretend that horror movies didn't scare me to death. Television and movie stars, to us back then, still had an aura of mystery about them and lived in a magical land far, far away, but with the introduction of VCR's and expensive home video recorders, suddenly having one's face on the screen was not that unusual. And, with local cable access shows popping up everywhere, any high school student who was truly interested in a career in television could volunteer at the station and work their way up from there.

With the invention of YouTube anyone with a video recording digital camera and a computer could have their 'fifteen minutes of fame'. I don't watch a lot of YouTube or other internet channels, but I have read about various television stars popping up with unusual and often quirky programs which are available for viewing only on the internet by an astonishing amount of people around the world. The attraction to those stars who make these internet shows must be complete creative control: no network executives breathing down their necks over content and accepted standards (yet), no censors really to speak of, low production expenses, and immediate release of episodes. My filmmaker daughter is bemoaning these changes  somewhat. She says YouTube used to be about the amateur filmmaker, the little guy. The YouTube home page used to have equal representation of all sorts of videos according to subject matter, not according to number of views. Now, she says, only those videos with millions of views are featured. People like her can still make and upload their videos, but the chances of them being seen are becoming more and more limited.

I have a natural curiosity to see myself on television, perhaps because television was such a big part of my childhood as it was for so many of us who grew up in the last half of the 20th century. I suppose I will have to start watching the TV listings channel more regularly to try and catch my spot. Besides in my capacity as speech maker for the arts council - we commissioned my daughter to make a montage of scenes from one of our annual gala events in which I make a brief appearance on our website - I have never been in any of the films my daughter has made and uploaded to her YouTube channel. She did once film her sister and I dancing around the kitchen singing along to "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today...uhu uhu uhu uhu" by The Proclaimers. Fortunately, that video is stored deep in the files of this machine, where it will remain. I'm certainly not after fame at any price; yes, I am showing my age.

Here are The Proclaimers with 'I'm on my Way'. Because they do it best, of course.


  1. ha dont we all show our age....the camera has no mercy either..been on tv...and i was not fond of the way it made me out...lol...cool though you got that opportunity...i wonder at youtube and that chance to get the 15 minutes...makes some people do some rather scary things you know..

    1. I do know, Brian. My daughter, fortunately, is more interested in the 'art' of film making than anything. Not that I would allow anything weird to be uploaded...far too familiar, thanks to the news, of where that can lead.

  2. WAY-TA-GO-GIRL. And give that little tyke a thump. Who gives a hoot how small the catchment. If he doesn't realize it's far harder to do something like that where you are well known then he's in for a hard dawning at some point.
    I expect you're in for a shock. Not about your appearance but your sound. You can see yourself so you know. And you being female, you've parsed and analyzed your visage since you were 10. But you haven't heard yourself, not really.
    An 'all Canadian girl' look, eh. I had a look in google. There was everything, Irish dancing girls, rodeo girls, girls doing things with curling stones, girls in Mountie uniforms some posing with a live beaver, some draped in maple leaves, dolls that are downright the stuff of night terrors. But beyond the rodeo girls none had what you'd call a look that stuck. Myself if pushed I'd say healthy, glowing perhaps a bit ballsy. A type that would jump on a luge or a horse and take a toss like a trooper even though four bones were pulverized. Mind you it's a bit rich getting that comment from a mirror.
    An 'all Canadian guy' look, what's that then.

    1. Thanks, Vince! The tyke has said nothing of the kind yet, as he hasn't seen it. I'm not sure if it has aired yet. I just hope it does air before we have to take the show down!
      My eldest says that when I make a speech my voice goes up a register, more like the Queen's voice than my own. So, my voice remains to be heard ;)

      I'm not sure there really is an all Canadian girl anymore, but she's probably a bit like you describe. I think I was saying that tongue in cheek. Her name would probably be Kathy, though. As far as an all Canadian guy, his name would be Bruce or Dave or Doug. He wouldn't be overly tall, a little stocky with dark brown wavy hair. Here, I'll give you an example. Google Bruce McCulloch, Canadian Comedian, actor, director.

    2. The queen ?, as in ER2. Or Freddy Mercury.

      Oh, I've read another description. A Canadian chick will scream 'killem kill em KILL EM NOW' at a hockey game and sip Ceylon tea from transparent china.

    3. Haha. ER2...but maybe Freddy when he hits the high notes, as he did so operatically.

      Yes, I think that is an apt description of a Canadian girl. Where did you find that?

  3. I used to wish I had cable back in those days. Now I realize I wasn't missing anything. Congratulations on your fifteen minutes!


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