Change is Scary.

So I’m sitting here watching Pleasantville and reflecting on the conversation I had with my aunt today. Strangely, these two situations have quite a lot in common.

Today’s conversation with my aunt went as every one of them has gone for approximately five years now. We exchange pleasantries, she tells me what to do, and proceeds to rail against how Vancouver/BC/Canada/the world is changing.

The way I see it, the world is getting smaller. There are more people and there’s only the same little blue-green planet to house us. This means that populations are growing. What my aunt doesn’t seem to understand is that Vancouver’s burgeoning population and changing ethnic makeup are not a sleight against her, personally.

She misses the nineteen fifties. Or she thinks she does. What she misses is the idealized little malt shoppe-and-whitewall tire pictures she sees in her brain. She’s forgotten the endemic racism in Vancouver in the 1950s against the Japanese and Chinese Canadians. She’s forgotten residential schools. She’s forgotten that there was a time, in this city, when you couldn’t even buy a pizza, because there were almost no Italians here! Her 1950’s dream is a flawed fragment.

In Pleasantville, after the kids all start turning colours and Jeff Daniels paints the sexy mural of Joan Allen, the bigwigs in town print up a list of ‘How To Get Along’ or some such stuff. Essentially, it’s a list of how the people who have turned colours have to conform to the pre-existing society of black-and-white-and greys.

Of course it doesn’t work, but that’s what my aunt wants for this city, this province, this country. She wants us freeze-framed into an idealized picture of the world, and that’s just not happening.

I do see her point. I don’t like some of the changes, such as housing prices, rising rents, homelessness, and gang violence. But I don’t think the solution is to legislate a stasis in the 1950s.

I’d miss the pizza.

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