Douglas Coupland would have been an Olympian…

Deborah Solomon puts her questions to Canadian pop-lit icon, Douglas Coupland in this weekend’s New York Times magazine, proving the man is as sharp as a kebab skewer, especially when he’s not being edited by a committee of VANOC-word-police, as one suspects happened in his Vancouver 2010 Official Souvenir Program piece.

(For that story, Coupland was criticised by Damian Inwood of the Province for “shelving his acerbic wit and instead writing a saccharin-laced article.”  But, let the masthead reflect the record: it’s pretty hard to get much citrus tang into an official Olympic story as it passes through the hands of at least six editors.)

In conversation with Solomon, Coupland’s in fine, uncensored form. Consider the following:

The drama at these Olympics seems to be the absence of snow.
The drama continues — no snow. This is the first year in Vancouver history when there has been so little snow on the North Shore Mountains this time of year.

What will happen if it doesn’t snow in the next few days?
In the movies, they use potato flakes. They sprinkle it from up above to simulate snow falling.

It would probably be hard to ski or even luge on potato flakes.
Going to a luge event, what does one actually do? It’s like: “There. It went by. O.K.”

What I don’t understand is why they can’t call a luge a sled.
Probably the International Olympics Committee has some rule about it. My question about luging is, How do you get into the luge community to begin with? Is it one day like, “Mom, Dad, I really want to luge.” And your parents are like: “O.K., I’ll quit my job. We’ll move to an Alpine community.”

How would you define the current cultural moment?
I’m starting to wonder if pop culture is in its dying days, because everyone is able to customize their own lives with the images they want to see and the words they want to read and the music they listen to. You don’t have the broader trends like you used to.

Sure you do. What about Harry Potter and Taylor Swift and “Avatar,” to name a few random phenomena?
They’re not great cultural megatrends like disco, which involved absolutely everyone in the culture. Now, everyone basically is their own microculture, their own nanoculture, their own generation.

What are you saying? We are all Olympians?
I could have been an Olympian if only my parents had bought me a luge.

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