Moss and May Original Song

Originally recorded in 2004.

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Ollie and Emma is now online!!

 

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What makes this webseries different than all the other indie films and romantic comedies?  Is it just because she’s First Nations and he is a white suburban guy like myself? 

Well, there’s that.

But to me as one of the writers on the show, Ollie and Emma is something that needs to happen.  We need to see cultures coming together and making connections.  We need to see First Nations characters played by First Nations actors in day to day life.  And while there is certainly very serious and sobering realities about Native culture that everyone should research, there is also laughter, love and friendship.

My working partnership with Saulteaux comedian Cheri Jacobs is an example of this.  We started work together almost four years ago now on a previous project and the subject of her being of Indigenous heritage never really came up until we started the first initial sketches of Ollie and Emma.  I didn’t inquire before that or think “How do I work with this person?  Do I have to be careful how I talk here?”  It was more like “let’s write something funny!”

Since Ollie and Emma, and with some of the other First Nations projects we started (some more serious in tone, some set in earlier times) I have been asking more, reading more and listening to Elders speak about culture and holy cow…I have been just overwhelmed by the diversity of history, language, complex social structure, traditions and folklore.  It is such a steep learning curve that for anyone to think “I’m going to learn about Native culture”, I like to say it’s a little like saying “I’m going to learn everything there is to know about Europe, Africa or Asia.”  Dude, they’re all huge!  You’re going to need an absurd amount of Red Bull, and even then you won’t get through it in one lifetime! 

So yeah, I’m mostly focused on Coast Salish culture now.  And even then, I have stacks of books to plow through (and being mostly an oral history, books are more of a tip-of-the-iceberg starting place!)…(whew!)

Returning to my point thought, Cheri and I are an example of where we are right now and how we all could one day be, all over the world.  We can all make connections like this.  I grew up on shows like Robotech where the whole world pulled together to make the impossible possible.

But don’t get scared after my little(ish) rant!  Ollie and Emma is fun.  It’s non-political, get’s a bit meta and plays with stereotype.  I am so lucky to have worked with not only such a kickass co-writer/co-producer but also such a hardworking and talented cast and crew and of course our production team of Less Bland Productions and Telus Optik.  I still stand in wonder how they took us on (not that we’re not good, but wow!)

To me, I’m still Jim and Joan Pogson’s kid whose somewhere in the rumpus room, sitting crosslegged somewhere amongst the storage boxes in the old house we had in Langley, BC, reading books and making up random stuff.

Enjoy the show!

Just click the link below!

http://www.ollieandemma.ca

Cheers,

Tom  

 

My problem with cultural appropriation.

One of our rules in the Ollie and Emma project is that we leave the issue aside and just have fun with the opportunity to bring people together.  That aside I think their should be some ground rules.  Being the white half of a comedy team writing a multicultural project knowing where the line between funny and too far is only too apparent.  It all comes down to simply respecting someone else and looking past the stereotypes which need to be finally dropped.
The problem I have with Halloween headdresses, sport teams names and so on is that it treats Native culture like it’s something of the past.  We call the University of Victoria sports teams the Vikes (Vikings).  We don’t call them the UVic Norwegians.  There is another team I’m sure is called the Pilgrims (I will admit…I’m not especially a sports person.  Apologies to those who are.).  The folks who are referred to as Braves are still very much alive and active as well as the use of real ceremonial garments (and unless your entire sports team is First Nations, which would have the name make more sense).  The best way to think of this is consider something that is important or sacred to yourself and ask yourself if you would want it used like a gimmick.  Yeah, First Nations people don’t love that either.

This is one of the things about working with my cowriter Cheri Jacobs that I think has it’s own influence on the Ollie and Emma project.  Our two cultures can work together with common respect and have lots of fun doing it.  All the people who I have met have been very welcoming and free of judgement. 

Community is possible.

Cheers,
Tom

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