2021.08.19

I finished watching MASH last month—from the beginning, in order—and then I didn’t want to watch anything else. (I started over again from season 4.) After 39 years of watching reruns, I assumed I’d seen every episode, but there was actually one (1!) I didn’t remember at all. (It was the one where Klinger redecorates the office with rugs from home.)

We didn’t have cable at home—only a bunny ears antenna—so I grew up with six channels, one of which was KVOS (channel 12) from across the border in Washington. The late night 11pm block was Cheers and MASH in syndication (though I can never remember which one aired first; did they maybe sometimes switch?). I enjoyed watching Cheers, but I loved MASH. It’s the reason I would grow up to love Sports Night and The West Wing, too.

(As I watched the final season of MASH the only thing I wanted to watch next was the final season The West Wing starring Alan Alda—alas, not streaming on my channels.)

MASH made me feel so grown up. I knew it was more than a comedy, even then. I knew they were trying to say something deeper. At the time, I figured it was just war in general they were against; I wouldn’t learn until my 20s that the show was written as a response to Vietnam.

Today, though, I can’t help but see it as imperialist propaganda nonetheless. While texting my brother about the show, he declared it still holds up. As TV, absolutely. They invented tropes still beloved today. But it’s full of racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic jokes.

August 15th is the day Koreans celebrate their liberation from Japanese rule. It’s also the same day Japan surrendered to the allied powers in 1945. The US claimed the south under their protection; the Soviet Union claimed the north. And five years later, the Korean War started.

My boss, and most of my students, are Korean. She asked me to write something about “independence day”, something for the students to read from a Canadian perspective. But as I read more on the topic, I realised it’s not actually an “independence” day–much the same way the Canada Day celebrated on July 1st isn’t an “independence” day. It marks something, but in the case of both Canada and Korea, that something is really just more colonialism.

This Japanese manga version of Anne smashing her slate on Gilbert’s head reminded me that this month in 2018 I finished reading all the Green Gables books. I made the first version of the zine while I was making a ~thing a day and I was in the middle of reading the series. I made the expanded version after I read Rilla of Ingleside, the last book.

I made a lot of weird zines that month. Over on Twitter, I put together a thread of my faves. You’ve probably noticed I’ve been thinking a lot about these challenges. It’s been a while since I’ve done one, and a new one feels imminent.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, I made a new version of my template zine. It’s a zine with some words about how to make one, what to write, and what to do with it next. But it’s also a Pages template you can open on your computer and replace my words with your own. Plug-and-play. I can’t wait to see what you make.