Friday, February 29, 2008

C-10: Censorship is unGodly

A Tory appointee reviews tax credits for your film! Pray you get one of these!

The Globe & Mail broke the story yesterday that Bill C-10, a palm frond away from being passed into law, includes an amendment that would allow the government to claw back tax credits on “offensive” films.

The bill, specifically relating to the Income Tax Act covers off myriad topics, from pensions to air navigation to oil. And buried like a needle in a haystack, changes related to the tax credit system.

Oh God. Doesn’t the Charter of Rights and Freedoms cover the following: “Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication?”

Yes, it does. Major kudos to Gayle MacDonald who led on the story. Well, it really hit the fan today after the Globe reported that Western evangelist Dr. Charles McVety was taking credit for lobbying and directing the change.

Jesus, is it Christian to boast?

Hard to see where the impetus for this came from…we already have porn provisos and obscenity laws in this country…but no, apparently the Christly Tories want to broaden the definition to cover gratuitous sex or violence that isn’t “educational,” or anything that denigrates a particular group. Wow, imagine challenging that sex proviso…would you argue that your film is educational and that some folks could stand to learn a little?

Current rumour (as of Friday, Feb. 29 at 6 pm PST) is that the Senate is sending the bill back to committee. Bill C-10 went through ALL THREE READINGS in the House of Commons on October 29, 2007 and through its first in the Senate on October 30. It’s now between its second and third reading and likely en route to the Valley of Death.

You can find the bill online (

Note the very vague reference to in the Summary: “Part 2 enacts provisions to implement announcements made by the Minister of Finance…on November 14, 2003, to simplify and better target the tax incentives for certified Canadian films.”

It’s not official until it receives Royal Assent…so we’ll see what happens on Monday.

For more check out the facebook protest page, “Keep your censoring hands off of Canadian film and TV! No to Bill C-10!”

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Well another great writer and talented journalist has been downsized. Check for the 411. Yes, Roger Catlin is American but the same is happening here.

Another layoff; another day closer to the one when there'll be little if any credible, knowledgeable arts coverage and few real arts reporters left, just an abundance of paparazzi and star-f**ker bloggers who know nothing about any art form.

I accept change and will adapt. Wonder if I might speed things up a bit with this missive? Feel free to distribute...WTF. But the real story here is what this means for Canadian content and coverage of Canadian TV and film.

Blog Directory - Blogged

We suffer in this country for not having a "star system." Well, a significant element of the one we have - TV & Film reporters - is being eliminated through attrition. Soon, there'll be but a handful of journalists left, massively reduced coverage of Canadian TV and film as an industry, and even fewer voices commenting on filmed entertainment, or the government agencies and cultural policies that shape the industry. The trickle down effect will be huge on Canadian documentary makers, who already struggle to get coverage of non-fiction films.

The root of this major, largely unreported, media shift is the owners' (bean-counters) total lack of regard for the importance of the arts and entertainment in society. The prevailing focus is on producing “profitable content” that monetizes multi-media platforms and and maximizes revenue streams (in network exec speak).

Writers aren’t writers any more…we’re content providers – and that applies as much to people penning TV and film scripts as much as it applies to those of us in the media writing about their work.

The conflict between creativity in the arts and profitability is historic, but it has never been greater. And the balance has never been so out of whack. Too many decision makers seem to not appreciate either the social or economic value of quality programming or the legitimate role of journalists who write about it. That offends me.

Check the A&E section of most dailies. More and more, it's all about American stars and exploiting multi-media potential. Give us nice photos ((great hair & fake tits = bonus points)) and as few words as possible please, and absolutely nothing that's too complicated for a computer screen or iPod. Personally, I realized the light at the end of the tunnel was a train when went online. It's TMZ for dumb people.

More and more arts coverage is nothing but gossip and glam, from Hollywood that is. If anyone thinks Vancouver or Toronto "celebs" can compete with what comes out of the world's wealthiest showbiz factory they are wrong, just plain wrong.

As convergence continues and celebrity culture explodes, legitimate, sophisticated arts coverage (especially of Canadian content) is being sacrificed. Soon, it'll be all sortsa Ben Mulroney asking: "Who are you wearing?" instead of people like me or one of my downsized friends saying: "Tell me what you are creating."

Rogers and Shaw will go from threatening to pull out of the CTF and will “just do it,” to quote a suitably corporate slogan. Who'll notice? Who'll object? Who'll be left to cover it as a news story? If an industry falls in the forest, does anybody hear it ...not if you leave it to certain broadcasters.

Doubtless, this won't concern those who say they don't watch film or TV that "looks Canadian." Well, at this rate, there'll soon be very few movies or series like that. And even fewer journalists writing about Canadian TV or movies...the knee bone really is connected to the thighbone.

This should please those who think Oprah’s Big Give and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader – Canadian Edition are high art.

Next up: CTV is getting busy and into production of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. At least they’re also making Flashpoint.

Meanwhile CanWest Global boasts it has the number one show in Canada in House, created by David Shore of London, Ontario, who bills himself as the second-most successful Canadian in Hollywood, after Paul Haggis. It makes no similar boasts about The Guard.

All the while the eggheads on Front Street in Toronto wet themselves promoting The Border as great Canadian TV. It’s good but you can’t help suspect that what CBC execs most like about the show (deep down) is that it’s made in Toronto – and NOT by Chris Haddock.

It's a shame arts reporters aren't waging their own awareness campaign. But I guess that would just be self-serving…no potential to monetize anything there. Maybe a bit of dialogue between those making and those writing about Canadian content wouldn’t hurt.

(These comments are mine alone and don’t reflect the opinions of anyone who sends me cheques)