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Monday, September 10, 2007

If you're interested in Canadian TV, DMc has a great post today about Jim Shaw, Fatuous Gasbag, Cultural Warrior. Jim Shaw, owner of a big chunk of the Canadian TV industry, thinks
Instead of promoting the creation of better children’s programming or developing a series based on the icons and the elements of our country that make Canada great, they [the CTF] have pumped 2.5 billion dollars into shows about the dysfunctional residents of a mobile home park, shape shifting aliens with a grudge against the government and educational programming that offers instruction on the right and wrong way to host an S&M Bondage Party.
Jim Shaw would like you to write in to complain, so that Jim Shaw won't have to give a small chunk of his profits back to the CTF to support such shows. (Profits he gets, of course, because his stations get a share of the national airwaves for free, and are protected from American signal by government regulation.)

Obviously, he'd rather spend that money buying more American shows.

I love that some of the CTF money goes to TRAILER PARK BOYS, an outrageous comedy about a bunch of lowlifes in a trailer park. I thought parts of KINK were quite illuminating. I don't know what the shapeshifters show was, but I'm sorry I missed it.

Culture is culture. Does Jim Shaw really want shows about Mounties and voyageurs? Of course he does. Because no one will watch them. Then he can claim that "no one wants to see shows about Canadians" as he licenses another season of LOST for far more than he'd have to pay for a show of the caliber of, say, SLINGS AND ARROWS or CORNER GAS or DURHAM COUNTY. Right now that argument doesn't work because CORNER GAS is a hit, and TRAILER PARK BOYS has legions of diehard fans who'll stand in line for hours to see "the boys."

Culture is not high culture. Culture is just culture. Culture is whatever stories people want to see, whatever paintings people want to paint and other people want to look at, whatever music kids want to put on their iPods. The Montreal music scene did not become one of the hothouses of North American pop because The Arcade Fire is writing songs about snow and maple syrup. New York does not have a rich cultural heritage because Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani know how to pick cultural winners.

Cultural policy should, I think, support Canadian artists telling their stories, whatever those are, so long as they're pulling in an audience.

So, as you can imagine, I wrote in to the CTF and the CRTC and the Minister of Heritage:
I don't at all agree with Jim Shaw's self-serving ad in the paper today. Canadian culture needs to be protected, but not by a guy who's getting rich off having a protected share of Canada's airwaves. And I think TV shows like Corner Gas and Trailer Park Boys are part of Canada's rich mix of high and low culture. Canada needs its own voices telling its own stories. Government -- and Jim Shaw -- shouldn't tell us what those voices are supposed to say.

Alex Epstein
co-creator, NAKED JOSH
co-writer, BON COP / BAD COP
You can, too

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This is what I emailed the powers that be...

Please, please do not be swayed by the ramblings of a self-serving billionaire who wants to tell everyone else what Canadian culture is, instead of letting them choose for themselves. One of the biggest problems with Canadian film and television in the past, has been the fact that it was government mandated, rather than popularly chosen. While I may not enjoy watching some of the Canadian shows which have become popular, I am glad that these shows have a Canadian flavour of their very own, rather than an American hybrid which Jim Shaw apparently wants to show. Things are finally starting to turn around for Canadian film and television, as it creates it's own identity. Don't stifle it's growth. Ignore Jim Shaw. Its better for Canada

By Blogger Unknown, at 2:44 AM  

Does anyone know what these "shape shifting aliens with a grudge against the government" are? That sounds like a show more people would want to see, if we'd only heard about it :)

By Blogger Diane Kristine Wild, at 1:38 PM  

You are missing the point here, but for somebody in the industry its not that surprising. Shaw's comments are not against the TPB, they are against the funding of them with our money(which in essence is what the CTF is). That's correct, its not Jim's profits, its Canadian's money. I am a huge TPB fan but still have to question why they have got funding for 6 of their 7 seasons. Ironically the one season they should of recieved it, the first one, they did not get funding. Shut your mouth and do some research next time CTF Fanboy and next time maybe disclose the fact how your program recieved my involuntary support from the CTF.

By Blogger Unknown, at 5:14 PM  

I don't think that Jim Shaw wants to abolish Canadian cultural protectionism. He'd be wiped out the next day. He just wants to keep your money AND have the CTF paid for out of yet MORE taxes.

It's hardly a secret that my shows have got CTF funding. Practically all Canadian shows do. Or they don't get produced.

If you don't want your taxes to support Canadian culture, that's your right as a right-winger. But then don't be surprised when Canadian culture largely vanishes.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 9:05 PM  

Check again, there are many "Shaw" produced shows that do not get CTF funding.

By Blogger Unknown, at 6:10 PM  

Canadian Culture vanish? Where-o-where will I buy my Kraft Dinner if Canadian Culture vanishes?

By Blogger Unknown, at 10:58 PM  

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