Books·Canadian

Gentlemen of the Shade

With books about Chinese Canadians to young adults, writer and radio host Jen Sookfong Lee delivers an argument for the relevance of 90s landmark film today.

Jen Sookfong Lee

The radio personality and writer examines the cultural ramifications of Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho. (ECW Press)

Gus Van Sant's 1991 indie darling My Own Private Idaho perplexed and provoked, inspiring a new ethos for a new decade: being different was better than being good. Gentlemen of the Shade examines how the film was a coming-of-age for a generation of young people who would embrace the alternative and bring their outsider perspectives to sustainability, technology, gender constructs and social responsibility.

My Own Private Idaho — fragmented and saturated with colour and dirt and a painfully beautiful masculinity — also crept into popular media and its influence can still be traced  — R.E.M, Portlandia, Hipsterism and James Franco. Referencing the often-funny and sometimes-tragic cultural touchstones of the past 26 years, Gentlemen of the Shade sets the film as social bellwether for the many outsiders who were looking to join the right, or any, revolution. (From ECW Press)

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