Canadian politics, censorship, christians, Consevatives, entertainment, politics, religion, religious right, willful blindness to absurd extremes

I Don’t Know Art, But I Know What I Hate…

Call it Old Politicians Fucking (up). I am still shocked and angered by the fact that nobody from the opposition parties felt an omnibus tax bill was important enough to actually read. Forget Conservative office raids, forget wishy-washy leadership, THIS is the true scandal, THIS is what allowed a travesty like Bill C-10 to get as far as it has, and THIS is why the electorate are disengaging and declining to participate in our democracy. If the people we elect don’t care, why should we?

My vitriol this morning, in addition to that I have already expressed on C-10 and its paternalistic supporters, comes from a Globe & Mail article on the Bill, indicating that the bible-thumping wingnut who has become its spokescretin thinks the ‘protection’ offered by C-10 “may not go far enough”.

Forget the fact that this idiot couldn’t convince me the sky was blue, let alone the fact there is an invisible guy living there, watching everything I do, how and why would anyone believe this person had anyone’s best interests at heart? Anyone who tries so hard to impose their view of morality on the world is selfish, immature and arrogant.

This in particular is rich: A group led by evangelist Charles McVety says a contentious proposal to withhold tax credits from TV shows and films deemed pornographic may not go far enough because the majority of Canadians do not want to fund those types of productions. (Emphasis mine)

I’m sorry, what? Did I miss a meeting? How can anyone know the opinions of the majority of Canadians on an issue like this? I’d love to see the sample size on that ‘scientific’ study. I am always troubled by individuals who claim to represent a majority opinion without any evidence to back it up – hell, right now, the government in power is one that was not supported by the majority of Canadians – the ‘First Past the Post’ system has pretty much guaranteed that. The largest group of yahoos wins, whether or not they receive the majority of the votes. That, plus citizen disengagement has, quite frankly, trapped us in the system of government we deserve. Our failure to learn from this has doomed us to repeat the cycle over and over again.

But, I digress. I will leave the politics to my esteemed colleagues.

I am a film buff, so I have during my lifetime seen some things on screen that I have found offensive, for one reason or another. I have seen things that shocked me, and in one case, I actually stopped a film 15 minutes in because I couldn’t stand looking at it any longer (it was quite a popular and well-liked film – my own personal feelings won over popularity). At no time, however, did I feel that the filmmaker shouldn’t have been able to make the film in the first place. I am a grown-up, I do not object to sexual content in movies (in context, to aid the flow of the narrative, not so much with the “Pizza Man!” wow-chicka wow-wow), and, as I have indicated, I have mastered the apparently rare art I like to call Turning Off The TV, a talent or skill related to Not Going To The Film. I don’t particularly like excessive violence, and I am not a big fan of the “Torture Porn” genre of films like Saw or Turistas, so I just don’t go to them, simple as that.

Artistic expression is by nature subjective, it expresses the feelings and attitudes of the painter, the writer, the filmmaker, etc. The images or ideas transmitted by works of art in any form are received subjectively by the viewer or reader, who reacts to it positively or negatively based on the feelings evoked by the experience. You either like or dislike a certain piece of art based on your reaction to it, not based on a set of objectified standards – there are always reference points or comparisons that can be made, but even those are subjective, and dependent on the viewer. In the ideal case, a work of art is ‘successful’ or lauded or just accepted based on the subjective opinions of a group of people.

Canadian films have a reputation of being boring – from that standpoint, they are the perfect reflection of our society (sorry, cheap shot). We are people that relate, that argue, that have sex, that make mistakes and pay for them. The films created by Canadians have more emotional depth than most countries’ output. It’s not to everyone’s tastes, but there are examples of completely exceptional films being made here that would stand up to comparison with anything Hollyweird has to offer – Bon Cop, Bad Cop comes immediately to mind. Brilliant and funny, with people that relate to one another in believable ways. If Canadian films are successful, or not, it is because the audience that discovers it has an emotional connection with it, and is able to identify with it. Identifying ‘Canada’ or ‘Canadians’ through our films is probably easier than identifying an ‘Indian’ through the films of Bollywood or an ‘American’ through the output of a Los Angeles suburb.

I do not have the right to suppress someone’s creative expression just because I don’t like it. I agree with Kevvyd on a lot of musical choices, for example, but not all of them. I am not in any position to dictate what is desirable in music, film, sculpture, etc. I do not have the right to break into people’s homes and steal movies I do not think are acceptable from my subjective standpoint (well, there go my plans for the weekend). It is a simple matter of respect for the opinions and emotions of other human beings.

The imposition of a narrow, state-sponsored or state-approved view of art has been attempted before, and in fact disappeared along with the regimes that did so – Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The provision of tax credits is not supposed to be an indication of support of an individual director’s ‘vision’ or of the subject matter of a film. It is a recognition that art is an indispensable and inseparable part of culture, and that Canadian art in the form of film needs support to encourage the survival of whatever vestiges of unique Canadian culture exist after the continuous onslaught of American cultural domination. On a practical level, the credits also recognize that film productions put significant amounts of funds back into the Canadian economy.

Basically, here’s the thing: Nobody has the right to tell you (or me, or anyone) what ‘culture’ is or should be. In particular, nobody with a particular hidden (or not so hidden) agenda should be able to decide what is and what is not acceptable (I am excluding child pornography or that involving violence, naturally – that’s a whole ‘nother minefield). Imposing a view of morality on artistic expression is an attempt to shape a culture to fit your own insecure needs. If we allow our Canadian identity to be hijacked by narrow-minded, pompous jerks who think they know what’s best for us, well, we are no better than those who looked the other way when the Taliban tried to reshape the world in their image (by eliminating images, paradoxically). I am shamed and disappointed by Parliament, and those who claim to have all the answers. This is what our country is supposed to be fighting against.

I can think of one book that needs to be banned right now. It’s called the bible, and I find it offensive. It’s full of violence, incest and racism, and demands that I do not show respect for (or outright destroy) others who do not think the way I do. That sounds like hate speech to me.

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7 thoughts on “I Don’t Know Art, But I Know What I Hate…

  1. I’ve said this elsewhere, but doesn’t McVety look like the Televangalist from that episode of WKRP, the one the wanted to ban “Imagine” because it said there was no god?

    Life imitates art….

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  2. I heard this asshole last night on the news spouting the old chestnut – “Me and many other Canadians don’t want our tax dollars supporting pornography”. Well, I don’t want my tax dollars supporting the churches of Canada via their tax-exempt status, so what are we going to do? For my part, I go to bed with the thought that my tax dollars were spent on porn, sports events, and support for the donair industry. Perhaps McVety and his supporters can take the same approach instead of trying to turn our industry into a family-friendly Sunday night Disney distopia.

    As for the parliamentarians who didn’t actually read the bill – well done! Between the sleeping NDP and the cowardly Liberals (who would have backed the Tories with a stern look from Harper), I don’t know where to turn with my vote. Is the Rhino Party going to come to rescue us?

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  3. Eric:
    Thanks for the link to ‘entartete Kunst’ and the list of similarities! Very interesting indeed.

    Kevvyd:
    I’m waiting for the Silly Party – I like what Kevin Phillips Bong has to offer, at least in comparison to what’s on the menu here…

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  4. Once again, I’m not sure what to say in the face of this level of lunacy. I’m gonna take a stab at it though (oops, said stab, no tax credit for me). I’m trying to decide on a primary target here. Do I pick the apparently useless chair-warmers in parliment that couldn’t be bothered to read the damn bill in the first place or even have a staff member do it for them and give them a precis afterwards, or should I aim at the god-botherer who figures that belief in an invisible superhero in outer space qualifies him to set government government policy on tax distribution. Without having to go through all of that “getting elected” unpleasantness either. I don’t know if there is or isn’t a god. Don’t much care either. If there is one though, I seem to recall that he has some pretty definite things to say about the sin of arrogance and the subject of hubris which McVity may want to read up on. Or maybe not, he seems to aready know god’s views, doesn’t he.
    Let’s try this one then. Like Kevvyd I’m not big on tax exemption for churches. Support my desire to remove same unless the church can prove it does a major amount of real charitable work i.e. no bake sales for the local bible college, and I’ll support your tax exempt status. As far as your desire to financially penalize those who don’t think like you do, not a fucking chance asshole. Turn off your damn TV, stay out of the theatres and leave them to the people with the emotional maturity of a functional adult. We’ll let you know if it was good or not. You seem to prefer that sort of thing anyway. Hey, looks like I picked a primary target after all.

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  5. I distrust censorship of any kind, at any time. There are few examples of things I think should be censored (child pornography being the chief). I feel strongly that there is too much opportunity for the abuse of censorship to limit freedom of speech/ thought, and to stifle debate about many things that should be debated. I am willing to run the risk of seeing something shocking, or offensive; if, as Flash says, it furthers the narrative. When it comes to extreme, gratuitous violence, or the degradation of another, I could be convinced it didn’t need to be shown – on a case by case basis. I certainly don’t need a pompous, stridently-devout,pseudo-expert on moral values telling me what I can and can’t see. Doug, there is only one thing TO say, in the face of this crap bill: “I don’t want my mind made up for me by a minority – of evangelists. Nor by a government cringing in front of such a minority”.

    What the hell is an ‘evangelist’, anyway. Sounds like the inbred, overtly-dev0ut cousin of the plethora of uncredited individuals who call themselves ‘naturalists’. By which, I refer to the people who don’t actually have accredited degrees or diplomas, of some sort, related to biology, or even better, ecology. They simply like to go for walks in the park, or get warm, fuzzy feelings when they think about amorphous, vague entities like ‘nature’ or the ‘environment’.

    If one spends enough time truly observing the natural history of biological entities or ecological interactions in a truly natural context (parks don’t count – they’re usually heavily managed for a aesthetic appeal) one might acquire a certain amount of experience and knowledge (As did one Charles Darwin) to make that claim. But most of the folks I have met don’t really bother to look that closely. But they claim to be a ‘naturalist’,and are frequently given the same recognition in the media as a scientist who has made their life’s work of studying natural history/ biology/ ecology. But I digress…

    Does an ‘evangelist’ have some sort of accreditation from a religious school or institution (say a priest(ess), monk,or nun of some sort)? Or do they simply like to read the bible, and maybe talk about it to other religiously affiliated people? Hangout with oter religious people Perhaps going regularly to have someone, who does actually have some accreditation, read the bible at him/ her and tell them how to interpret it?

    As for tax exemptions, either ALL religious institutions, of ALL creeds, should receive it; or none. They certainly should be made to demonstrate that the charitable work, that allegedly justifies an exemption, gets done – just as secular charities have to do.

    Canada’s artistic community (of all media and creeds) has enough trouble trying find means to express itself, things canadian, and canadians; in face of the crass, elephantine multi-media juggernaut of plastic non-culture to our direct south. We do not have to further strangle our artists by giving the self-appointed moral minority control of what does and does not get produced. There are already laws in place, in this country, to deal with inappropriate material. I would vastly prefer my tax dollars to be spent promoting canadian art and media, than on a lot of unnecessary military hardware – like pilotless drones.

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  6. I distrust censorship of any kind, at any time. There are few examples of things I think should be censored (child pornography being the chief). I feel strongly that there is too much opportunity for the abuse of censorship to limit freedom of speech/ thought, and to stifle debate about many things that should be debated. I am willing to run the risk of seeing something shocking, or offensive; if, as Flash says, it furthers the narrative. When it comes to extreme, gratuitous violence, or the degradation of another, I could be convinced it didn’t need to be shown – on a case by case basis. I certainly don’t need a pompous, stridently-devout,pseudo-expert on moral values telling me what I can and can’t see. Doug, there is only one thing TO say, in the face of this crap bill: “I don’t want my mind made up for me by a minority – of evangelists. Nor by a government cringing in front of such a minority”.

    What the hell is an ‘evangelist’, anyway. Sounds like the inbred, overtly-dev0ut cousin of the plethora of uncredited individuals who call themselves ‘naturalists’. By which, I refer to the people who don’t actually have accredited degrees or diplomas, of some sort, related to biology, or even better, ecology. They simply like to go for walks in the park, or get warm, fuzzy feelings when they think about amorphous, vague entities like ‘nature’ or the ‘environment’.

    If one spends enough time truly observing the natural history of biological entities or ecological interactions in a truly natural context (parks don’t count – they’re usually heavily managed for a aesthetic appeal) one might acquire a certain amount of experience and knowledge (As did one Charles Darwin) to make that claim. But most of the folks I have met don’t really bother to look that closely. But they claim to be a ‘naturalist’,and are frequently given the same recognition in the media as a scientist who has made their life’s work of studying natural history/ biology/ ecology. But I digress…

    Does an ‘evangelist’ have some sort of accreditation from a religious school or institution (say a priest(ess), monk,or nun of some sort)? Or do they simply like to read the bible, and maybe talk about it to other religiously affiliated people? Hangout with oter religious people Perhaps going regularly to have someone, who does actually have some accreditation, read the bible at him/ her and tell them how to interpret it?

    As for tax exemptions, either ALL religious institutions, of ALL creeds, should receive it; or none. They certainly should be made to demonstrate that the charitable work, that allegedly justifies an exemption, gets done – just as secular charities have to do.

    Canada’s artistic community (of all media and creeds) has enough trouble trying find means to express itself, things canadian, and canadians; in face of the crass, elephantine multi-media juggernaut of plastic non-culture to our direct south. We do not have to further strangle our artists by giving the self-appointed moral minority control of what does and does not get produced. There are already laws in place, in this country, to deal with inappropriate material. I would vastly prefer my tax dollars to be spent promoting canadian art and media, than on a lot of unnecessary military hardware – like pilotless drones.

    Like

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