Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 by shaunna murphy, MTV.com
With “Hotline Bling” currently “Trap Queen”-ing up the charts and inspiring more emoji-fueled fire tweets than the latest episode of “Empire,” it’s easy to forget that only 11 years ago, Drake was having a much, much different October.
That’s right, kids — we’re about to fire up an emotional #TBT to that one time when the man who would soon be known as “Wheelchair” Jimmy Brooks (and later, as Drake) was shot in the back by the troubled Rick Murray on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Shot for an emotional crime (bullying) that he didn’t even commit.
You remember it well:
(I’d include more GIFs, but they’re all pretty graphic and awful, so let’s not.)
All “Wheelchair Jimmy” jokes and dismissal of “Degrassi” as light teen fare aside, let’s fully appreciate “Time Stands Still” for what it truly is: a harrowing look at how toxic masculinity, bullying, and unregulated access to guns (in Canada?) can destroy the lives of the best people we know. Because, conveniently, the first half of the “Time Stands Still” two-parter does a really great job in reminding us of what we already know, which is that Jimmy Brooks is undeniably the most likable popular kid at Degrassi High. (Spinner, on the other hand, is an insecure piece of sh-t garbage person.)
It’s obviously not only the most likable, most athletic, and most undeniably handsome kids in town who are affected by our increasing problem with gun violence, but the juxtaposition of Drake’s inner and outer beauty with the unthinkable thing that happened to him really works on “Degrassi.” Here, we get to see someone we love stare hatred and violence straight in the face, bravely choose to walk away, and lose their ability to walk, in a solid example of why it’s often best to keep the camera on the victim when portraying a crime on television. And all this because one boy — one scared, insecure, and lonely boy — felt that he deserved more than what life was giving to him.
Which he totally did! The bullying that Rick faced after he hit Terry was undeniably cruel, and a stark reminder that school faculties and administrations could be doing a whole lot more to support students who are suffering. This “Degrassi” episode was ahead of its time on so many things, including but not limited to the harmful psychological effects of public shaming (whether that shame is deserved or not), and the harm that men can do when they feel that they “deserve” women — which in Rick’s case, applies to both his abuse of Terry and his shooting rampage after his rejection from Emma. (“You flirted with me,” Rick says, chillingly, before he tries to kill Emma. “I thought you liked me, but that was something else.”)
At the end of the day, fans of “Degrassi”’s basketball team subplots probably mourn this act of horrible violence the most, but I’m still of the opinion that “Degrassi” — and of course, Drake — should be applauded to this day for never turning the camera away when its charismatic, popular leading man got shot. The real-life victims of these crimes never get a chance to look away, so as an audience, neither should we.