From the Editor: March 2013
A Century of Stunts and Stars
By Lianne Appleby
Most of us who watched have already forgotten the winners at the 85th Academy Awards, which were held in Hollywood last month. Apart from the fact that this magazine is 15 years older than Oscar, I do remember that during the program, I was impressed that in just nine decades, the film industry has undergone a revolution. Remarkably, it has progressed from silent to surround-sound, from black and white to high-definition colour and from primitive Chroma-Key scenes to computer-generated imagery. That’s an astounding example of progress.
Back in the infancy of movies, audiences were amazed by Buster Keaton’s falling house stunt in the movie Steamboat Bill, Jr. During the making of the picture, accounts say that Keaton drove a nail into the ground to mark where he should stand while the 4,000 pound house facade fell around him. An open window, which conveniently prevented his on-screen demise, was just big enough to give him two inches of clearance on either side.
Five decades later, Canadian agriculture pulled off an incredible feat of its own – the advent of supply management for certain sectors. The transformation was perhaps not as dramatic as those that moviegoers had witnessed on the big screen by this time, but words like “profitable” and “competitive” could be used in the same breath as “Canadian poultry production.” The system still has its critics today, but as with the Oscars, there are people who are very happy with the outcome, people who think it’s not fair and people who couldn’t care less.
Some people still wonder how Keaton built up the nerve to attempt his 1928 stunt. Let’s not forget – he didn’t know it was going to turn out all right. He could have been seriously hurt, which may have delayed shooting and impacted the film’s revenue, or worse, he could have died.
Likewise, the pioneers of the poultry industry didn’t know what lay ahead as they sat around boardroom tables met with government ad infinitum and laboured towards a system that could work for producers – again, in the pursuit of profit. The risk in this case wasn’t individual injury but the breakdown of an entire sector.
Today, supply management is under greater threat than ever of ending up on the cutting room floor. But, whether you are a fan or not, it should not filter your respect for those who determinedly fought to create it. The poultry industry doesn’t have its own version of the Academy Awards, but it does have its Keatons . . . and countless other heroes and heroines who, over the years, have helped to shape the industry we have today.
Funnily enough, Buster Keaton later said, “I was mad at the time or I would never have done the thing,” when asked about his falling house. With retrospect like that, it’s a good thing he was never a leader in Canada’s agricultural industry.
We hope you enjoy this special anniversary edition of Canadian Poultry magazine as much as we’ve enjoyed 100 years of covering the industry’s red-carpet moments, stunts and stars.