Sunday, October 12, 2008

The New Hitching Post.

" Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"
- Job 38:2

Who indeed? What kind of irresponsible bastard would do a thing like that? Poor Job must have been thinking about journalists when he uttered those words. They definitely laid some dark and ignorant counsel on him, and he suffered badly because of it...boils, madness, many deaths in the family. Job's affliction could be the only explanation for Gina Mallet's article in the National Post, reproduced here...with my two-bits:

Canada's culture sham

Gina Mallet, National Post Published: Monday, October 06, 2008

I pray that nobody tries to institutionalize Canadian food. Canadian chefs are doing just fine in their own restaurants. Please, please don't call for subsidies for Cancon food.

Oh? Maple Leaf Foods? Maybe I'm wrong, but government Health inspectors stepping in was...well...probably good? Odd analogy, but I guess that's to be expected from a cookbook writer and 'food' critic. But hey! Let's move along here.

Because you'll end up in the same mess that the arts have been in ever since I first came to Toronto. And theCancons are at it again, moaning that Stephen Harper isn't giving them enough money.

We don't want more money, just stop cutting it.

I think he's right.

Why? Because it's a sham.

I don't mean Canada doesn't have fine artists, actors, musicians, writers. Of course it does. But that isn't enough. Canada must have a national cultural presence, a national theatre and opera and ballet and cinema. It isn't enough to enjoy the artists we have, we must have institutions.

I don't like institutions either. I'll admit it, you've got me hooked sweet heart! I'll forgive the back-handed compliment from a failed theatre critic. Oh shit, just did the back-handed thing myself! Sorry. Forgive me.

And institutions are costly political boondoggles, full of hot air and signifying nothing. As well, very often Canadians are shafted by the institutions that taxpayers are supporting.

Oh, Lord above! I agree! Add triple-dipping broadcasters who get subsidies and protection to that list.

Let me give an example about institutional indifference to the Canadian artist.

I'm ready. Sock it to me!

Telefilm is a Crown Corporation, the government's film institution which hands out almost $10-million a year to Canadian produced films.

Recently I caught the 2004 flick Being Julia on late night TV. It was produced by Canadian Robert Lantos, starred American Annette Bening and Brits Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon and was directed by HungarianIstvan Szabo. The film was based on Somerset Maugham's novella Theatre; the script was written by Brit Ronald Harwood; the film was shot at locations in Europe. It was financed by Canada, Britain and Hungary.Telefilm contributed around $7-million to the $18-million budget (and $3-million more for promotion.

Being Julia is so bad that I couldn't even laugh at it. But quite aside from its quality, the film has nothing whatsoever to do with being Canadian -- with the exception of a two-second glimpse of Sheila McCarthy.

Well, it wasn't my cup-o-tea either, but didn't it get Oscar nominations? Small, thing, but let's move on...

Telefilm doesn't want to spend taxpayers' money on real Canadian films which may be glum and unsophisticated; it wants to be a Hollywood player.

Really? Most Canadian films and TV shows are pretty funny? Corner Gas, Trailer Park Boys, FUBAR etc. Minor point.

But when it comes to films like Being Julia, Canadian taxpayers can see through the charade. The movie's box office take was $1-million in Canada and a total of $14-million elsewhere). I bet a low-budget flick about the sound of waves crashing on the Rock could make as much proportionately.

I wish! I'd be applying for a grant right now, but the paperwork out-weighs the weak 'crashing Rock 'concept. Sorry Gina, don't buy that one. Maybe you could apply...your idea anyhow.

Yes Mr. Harper, it's time to pull the plug.

Maybe he will.

When times get weird and madness starts closing in the form of bad, ill-informed journalism, I always turn to the Bible. I was brought up on it out here on the prairies. Some of my earliest memories hark back to hot mornings when I was young and my grandfather used to lash me to the hitching post with strips of rawhide and order the field-help to throw handfuls of sharp gravel at me while he read from the Good Book. He identified very stronglywith Job. And from now on, I'll refer to The National Post to the 'Hitching Post'. They just keep spreading the good word. Maybe Gina can read to me from her cookbook next time she ties me and my rotten, sinful kind to the post.

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