Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lazy Sunday #164: On Class Warfare and Payback

During one of last week's private, hush-hush "in-camera" sessions between CRTC Commissioners and Canadian broadcasters, the staff wheeled in afternoon tea and set down a plate of a dozen cookies.

The President of the network present pocketed eleven of the cookies and then offered the plate to Commission Chair Konrad Von Finckenstein. "Watch out for those union guys from the Directors Guild, Writers Guild and ACTRA," he said, "I think they want a piece of your cookie."


It was hard to listen to all that was said about the future of Canadian television last week without getting thoroughly depressed, selling everything you own on Kijiji and buying a foreclosed double-wide in the distant LA suburb of "Buenos Noches Enfermera" from which you can concentrate on writing pilot pitches starring Charlie Sheen.

God knows it could challenge trying to get a Canadian show off the ground as a worthwhile career move.

Certainly the picture every single one of the networks painted was one where programming anything made by or about Canadians was tantamount to fast tracking them into bankruptcy.

As I've said many times before, the average Canadian TV Exec's definition of good Canadian television does not include anything even vaguely "Canadian".

So I can understand the self-preservative response of packing up and going someplace where your talents are at least a little appreciated.

But I'm not sure any of us can outrun the direction the social pendulum seems to be swinging these days. It feels like the Banksters, MBA Grifters and financial manipulators are fully in control and anything that can't be immediately codified on an actuarial scale has no value whatsoever.

But I've always been one of those guys who figures if you can't see any light at the end of the tunnel, then maybe it's time to start your own fire.

I saw the first glowing embers in the passionate presentations of the Directors Guild of Canada, Writers Guild of Canada and ACTRA on the final day of hearings. And maybe for the first time, I detected a hint of resigned understanding from Commissioners who have made a habit of politely ignoring what Canadian artists have had to say in the past.

You could sense that even the Commissioners who had spent years in the bellies of the cable and broadcast beasts before their jobs as regulators were having difficulty either digesting what the networks had served them or figuring out how they could show their faces in public again if they went along with it.

I think a lot of us in a lot of walks of life are coming to the conclusion that those who would run our lives in a way that always seems to benefit them far more than anyone else should no longer go unchallenged.

It's time to start fighting back. And if you truly believe in yourself and your art and maybe your country, then the people who run Shaw and Rogers and Bell and Corus need to have their lifetime pass to getting their way revoked.

In the coming weeks, I'll be offering some strategies to accomplish that. But for starters, I need you to get your head around the core problem and then put a little fire in your tummies.

So this Sunday, I'm offering a triple feature. I'm sorry that all the clips are American. But let's face it. This kind of passion is what's been slowly bled out of Canadian television while most of you poor bastards have been simultaneously convinced that you can't do anything about it.

First up is Bill Maher, from Friday night's episode of HBO's "Real Time", getting to the heart of the issue. Whenever he uses the words "Rich" or "Wall Street", simply insert "Canadian Broadcaster" instead.

Bill's simple wisdom is followed by two promos from the Versus Sports Network, the American home of Canada's game, hockey. Consider them your pre-game and half-time speeches.

It's fight or flight time people. Enjoy your Sunday!




Clint Johnson said...

I don't resent the rich. The top 1% already pays 20% of the taxes and well over half of the tax revenue comes from the top quarter of income earners.

This is also where most of our jobs come from- whether it be directly working for the big companies or at the hundreds of thousands of jobs that only exist because of what they do.

What I do resent a whole hell of a lot is the politicians and bureaucrats selling the rest of us out to them... and I can't see any way to stop it.

As long as the voting public wants the government to balance every perceived injustice and to ensure that there is a unicorn in every frakin' garage... this will go on.

A government that has the power to do everything that the public demands of it can't help but become a market of influence. As long as it can legislate billions of dollars into or out of bank account with the stroke of a pen there will be corporations and individuals spending whatever it takes to enure the money moves toward them and not away.

It is a matter of self preservation and the only way to stop it is to limit the amount of control and power the government has... but that means the politicians have to give up their primary vote buying tool and the public has to accept that they themselves sometime have to step up and take care of a problem rather than taking the (illusory) easy path of selling their vote to the politician that promises to give them the most and to do the most for their favourite cause.

Trying to fix this problem with more regulation and control? Well, that just makes it even more imperative for the rich to spend and the power flows to the most compromised politicians and the most machiavellian of the rich.

As long as we let them, the politicians will buy our vote by selling us to the rich.

John McFetridge said...

I imagine in the weeks to come one of the things you'll be talking about is tge revolution that's going on in that other storytelling industry - publishing - with self-published e-books. And it really is revolutionary. Sure, self-publishing, vani presses, have been around forever, two things are very different now.

One is that some of these self-published e-books are finding very big audiences, and two, some established, traditionally published authors are leaving their publishers and going directly to e-books themselves. Have you checked Joe Konrath's blog lately?

Of course, making a TV show is very different, but the idea of taking fewer steps to get from creater to consumer is worth looking into.