The Loaded Language of Cultural Nationalism
You may not have realized this, but Canada is now “bleeding” some three
quarters of a billion dollars in cultural spending on an annual basis,
to the detriment of Canadian film, television, music, and writing. It’s
a veritable “crisis,” and we need a “collective sense of urgency” or
else our cultural industries will be “decimated.”
Don’t take my word for it; let Globe and Mail arts columnist Kate
Taylor set you straight.
As she wrote in early February, “a successful society does not
import every single cultural good that it consumes” and helpfully, “a
creative society is one that creates things.” The previous federal
government, according to her, was “in no mood to hear this,” and as for
the new one, she’s unsure “whether it grasps the extent of the problem.”
Will There Be Blood?
The hundreds of millions of dollars Taylor is bemoaning are the dollars
Netflix, YouTube, iTunes and others are “taking” out of the country.
Those bastards. How dare they take our money in exchange for goods and
services we want? The carnage is almost too much to bear.
I saw another example of this kind of tragic cross-border market
exchange this past weekend, but it went the other way. After enjoying a
lovely dinner in a swanky downtown Montreal restaurant, my Valentine and
I noticed that some people were out on the sidewalk setting up large
lights on tripods, pointed in at us. Sure enough, we were soon shifted
to another part of the restaurant to let the film crew set up, and
offered a free after-dinner drink for our trouble.
“And shut up, shut up, shut up
if you’re the kind of ‘libertarian
troll’ who dares suggest that
maybe, just possibly, not every single Canadian artist who
puts pen to paper or eye to camera lens is worthy of
Turns out, it was some American studio that had, get this, crossed our
border to come and shoot Bad Santa 2 in our city, “bleeding”
millions of American dollars out of the United States! And I hear this
kind of thing happens all the time. Why do they come up here, I wonder,
to shoot their films in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver? Don’t they
feel a collective sense of urgency? They’re going to be decimated!
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me
Of course, in spite of the fact that we continue to trick Americans into
making a lot of American movies up here, there is the more serious
problem that any day now, if I understand Taylor correctly, we are going
to be a society that imports every single cultural good that it
consumes. This is because the previous government, I guess, reduced all
arts funding to zero, shuttered the CBC, rounded up the directors of
symphony orchestras from around the country and had them sent to a work
camp in Nunavut, and all other manner of evil.
Clearly, artists cannot survive without government support. If we want
at least some Canadians telling Canadian stories, you and I cannot be
trusted to decide for ourselves which of them we’d like to hear, and
voluntarily support those artists we deem worth supporting, either
through the direct marketplace purchase of their art, or through a kind
of charitable patronage. It’s unthinkable. It is furthermore the
sheerest madness to suggest that self-respecting artists should be
insulted to be told that if not for the government teat, they couldn’t
cut it. Government teats for all!
And shut up, shut up, shut up if you’re the kind of “libertarian troll”
who dares suggest that maybe, just possibly, not every single Canadian
artist who puts pen to paper or eye to camera lens is worthy of support.
They’re good because they’re Canadian, get it? You may not be in the
mood to hear this, but we need to create things. And whether you like
them or not, you need to pay for them.
From the same author
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Being Good for Goodness Sake
337 – December 15, 2015)
Giving Thanks and Looking Forward
335 – October 15, 2015)
Overpopulation: Pictures vs. Numbers
333 – June 15, 2015)
Economic Freedom Improves Human Well-Being (with
330 – March 15, 2015)
First written appearance of the
word 'liberty,' circa 2300 B.C.
Le Québécois Libre
Promoting individual liberty, free markets and voluntary
cooperation since 1998.