Cultural Bad Habits

Cultural Bad Habits

2014 Jessie Award Nominees

My name is Camyar. What is that? No, I’m not being rhetorical in a ‘Hi you’re watching a play now’ way. I really mean what the FUCK is that? I am very uncomfortable with my name. Sorry parents but it’s not your fault … well maybe a little bit. Camyar. It makes it so difficult to assimilate. Who doesn’t understand that? OK, maybe Ryan and Tom don’t.

YES, I signed my name to that letter. I hesitated at first. It can be so thankless on the business side of the biz, I didn’t want to burst anyone’s bubble. I’m also not certain awards matter that much. Besides, I’m no longer entrenched in the business. Sure, I’ve won Jessies, lost some, and been ignored plenty of times as well. I’ve felt all the ups and downs of that ego train. In the end, I liked the letter and the point it was making. The punches were graceful like Mohammad Ali.

My name is so stupid. Only horny sixty-year-old new-agers find it sexy. In the same way they like the exoticism of Julio, Omar or Wilhelm. I remember a time when I was pre-underarm hair (the arrival of which harkened a succession of eras that all had the common trait of unnecessary hair growth/loss.). The point is: that was the last time I remember disappearing in a fun way.

I’m talking about myself in order to provide context for my spiel.   I can also be self-centred and manipulative. The reason I’m telling you I was born in IRAN (also squirm inducing) is so that I can feel my irritating artistic bravado is justified. I have to feel comfortable in my authority to lambaste all cultures ranging from whiteys (which I have been called so I can say that) to wogs (which I have been called so I can say that).

So, whiteys and wogs, as dear Ali Ababwa once said: “If you think that’s rude, you better get out right now.”

Persians, Iranians, whatever. Yes, we invented everything. Yes, we are so enlightened we can’t stop talking about it. Yes, we are exceedingly educated, humble, resourceful, liberally pious, and make a mean skewer of meat.


We lie. We cheat. Face it baradars, baba joons, and azeezams. We are bipolar, schizophrenic narcissists (no offense to crazy people, which I am allowed to say). We are xenophobic and racist. Some of us are excessively clean like an out of control gay dude while others stink. I love you buddy, I really do, but I’m pretty sure soap is legal in … EVERYWHERE!

camyar jessieDisclaimer: I am not talking about women because I really don’t know enough about them to do them justice. For instance ladies, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to be telling you I really, really want to call you chicks right now. I know in the big scheme of things that’s a pretty innocuous C-word. I mean, I think it’s pretty cool. But, do you? Keep in mind I’m a party deprived middle ager so my cool threshold is low. I mean I only just rediscovered Bryan Adams, OK? Did I say Persians are annoyingly self-deprecating? Or is that just me?

Look, my point is I think we have this huge schism amongst people who think. I’m not talking to the meatheads right now: both the red-neck archetypes and the annoying hipster nerds who say ‘talking about identity is so 80s.’ Look guys, I love you but you really are dicks. I mean you remind everybody how ugly our penises truly are. Women get their faces close to them out of obligation, pity or fear while I’m pretty sure George Michael (the Captain Ahab of cock chasing) isn’t obsessed with glory holes because penises look nice. The caveat here being black guys. Even the most straight man in the world is lying if he denies how gorgeous black guys can be.

Back to my point for those who think: Perhaps we are painfully inching our way to the post race utopia when we should be running. So what if we stumble, isn’t that creative gold? We need to speak our truths to each other. ALL of our truths. We need to OUT our bad habits and break them down because it’s gotten heavy.

It’s time to get the Jewish thing out of the way. Despite what a CBC interview host on a morning show in Toronto once ambushed me with: just because I was born in IRAN doesn’t mean I hate Jews. I just find you guys irritating and I’m kind of jealous at the same time. You’re almost like us but you are actually nice to each other and your food would be gross if it wasn’t boring. It’s cool to hang out with you but getting any closer would be like having sex with one of my siblings. Ew. But you guys are so talented. You create art like PK Subban plays hockey. No one does deadpan like you, except for maybe Jason Bateman. Ignore all the people who say you look out for your own like it’s a bad thing because it’s pretty admirable. But come on, admit it: you are a little smug aren’t you? And sure you look after your own but you will shank someone if you need to. We’re all obsessed with money, but you really are all Scottish about it.

I haven’t been given enough copy to start in on Orientals and red Indians but,


What about the other side of that sword? We take a good thing and qualify it as a double-edged sword. Why not do the same when the first view is the bad edge?

Maybe when I am being aggressive (or passively so in Vancouver) it’s because I am yearning for your approval. Isn’t anger the illusory blanket that covers vulnerability? NOW you get offended? I love earnest! There’s not enough earnest. Honestly, none of this piece was meant to be sarcastic.

In my understanding of the Muslim faith you should rather die rather than betray the truth of Allah. Shia Muslims, who are predominantly Persian, created a caveat: If it doesn’t make sense to die on a particular hill on a particular day, it’s OK to break that rule. Persians have been subjugated by one group or another, including Persians themselves, for thousands of years. We became master obfuscators in order to survive and it’s gotten deep into our bones. We became so good at it we can’t let it go. The only time we are real is when we are expressing our love.

To all of you who care enough to engage in this conversation: I love you. I really do. Just be yourself. Don’t be afraid. If you say the wrong thing … let’s fix it together.