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Canadian Idiocracy


 

There was a time when… People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about whose ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again!
– Private Joe Bowers, Idiocracy

Thus it is revealed to me. This election finally makes sense. In 2008 was selected as a guinea pig in a top-secret hibernation programme, and I have been awakened 500 years later. In the preceding half millennium, the relentless forces of cultural evolution have led to a spectacular dumbing down of Canadian society. Back in the late noughties, we believed in things like culture and the arts — we took notes during Corner Gas, held reading groups to discuss Trailer Park Boys. It was a difficult, challenging culture, but it gave value and meaning to our lives. But this… this idiocracy in which we live… you call this a culture?

*****

What is up? Here’s what is up: Laureen Harper, the wife of the Prime Minister of Canada, has told the NAC that she won’t be attending their fall gala on Oct. 4 after all. She wasn’t just going as a guest, SHE WAS THE FREAKING HONOURARY CHAIR. Tony Bennett — Tony Bennett! — is the headliner. The purpose of the gala is to raise money to send kids to music camp and stuff.

Taber’s got more details:

Mrs. Harper is creative and usually rolls up her sleeves and helps with the decorations for the event; she has been photographed in the past wielding welding tools putting together an elaborate chandelier.

“I love working behind the scenes … I love showing up and pointing out to everyone how much work was done on the sets and how hard everyone worked … I think I belong behind the scenes and this year I missed it all,” she said.

They’ll make some excuse, like she has to campaign or something. But everyone knows what this is about. For reasons that completely escape me, her husband has decided to turn this campaign into some sort of whoopie-cushioned assault on art, culture, and taste, like the Conservative victory of 2006 was the Revenge of the Cheddarheads.

Which means his wife, who by all accounts loves doing this sort of thing, and which also happens to be the sort of thing the wives of heads of government do all over the civilized parts of planet Earth, can’t go. Because Canada isn’t a civilized place, or at least it won’t be if Stephen Harper has anything to do with it.

The prime minister’s wife, in a gown, at a gala? Whatever would the rest of the world think of such a country?


 

Canadian Idiocracy

  1. “Other politicos have had to cancel as well, including Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and his wife, Janine Krieber.”

    Andrew

    If Harper is canceling because her husband wants to turn it into “whoopie-cushioned assault on art, culture, and taste”, why did Krieber cancel as well?

    And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Harper canceled because she didn’t want to get an earful from people like you all night about how awful her husband is.

    I did love idiocracy though, one of my fav movies in the past few years.

  2. I did love idiocracy though…

    Yeah, it was a great documentary.

  3. JWL: KRIEBER ISN’T THE CHAIR OF THE GALA.

  4. You’ve got to take pity on jwl, Andrew…he’s a bit thick.

    Austin

  5. Sorry, Laureen. Unintended consequences, friendly fire, optics, ya know. I’ll make it up to you at the Inaugural …. er, Swearing-In. Really.

  6. some sort of whoopie-cushioned assault on art, culture, and taste,

    Too bad we didn’t get to enjoy some real substantive, you know, CUTS, for all this trouble.

  7. It sounds to me like people like the idea of funding the arts a lot more then they actually like the arts that are funded. Art is not a collective action problem. Art is about subjective preferenceand varies widley from person to person. The only kind of art that is needed is the kind that people care about. Like you said in the Rebel Sell Andrew, it might be annoying for a tourist to go to China and see a burger king but if the Chinese want that what buisness do we have saying they need to stay “authentic?” The same is true with art, it might be really nice if if people wanted mozart and bach and then paid for them and supported orchastras but they don’t. in the same way that te chinese would like to have burger king it seems like todays people want Mtv and comic books. If thats the case what right does anyone have keeping around things that no one really cares about?

  8. Maybe Laureen should attend and, when heckled by a bunch of self-appointed world savers and creators of the Canadian identity, she can explain that cultural funding has actually increased by 8% under her husband’s watch.

    I’ve often heard that the cultural industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in Canada. Thats because the government already pays $3.14 billion to support the arts.

    At the end of the day — the marketplace is what tells the real story: the large majority of Canadians would rather watch Seinfeld or the Office than the Road to Avonlea. Artists who want more money should maybe ask if the CBC is willing to share some of the billion they recieve before they ask for more from you and I.

  9. And pls, lets reinforce that this was for CHARITY… oy ve! man… regardless of where your partisan alliances fall, has it really come to this.

    and it should be noted, that if, as he clearly does, team Harper was worried that people would use it to smear him or take away from his ‘we aren;t elties’ rhetoric all anyone has to do is sift through capital diaries and they can come up with lots of photos of her attending such events.

    and to be crystal clear, that is not what i am advocating, i am just saying. while no fan of her husband, my understanding is she, as AP points out, like all the significant others of heads of state here and abroad, has done great charity work. she should be commended for this, not forced to quit it.

    also, as a glance through capital diary shows, she was usually doing double duty by occupying boisterous baird’s time as her official escort and keeping him away from microphones and tv cameras those nights thus giving all the rest of us a huge break!

  10. I love that the Conservatives count vote-buying events in Quebec and contributions to the Olympics, a sporting event, as part of their “increased funding for arts and culture.” They’re so clever.

  11. Harper nickel and dimes the arts by yanking a bit of state money and Canada is suddenly an idiocracy? Give me an effin break.

    Have you paused to think, even for a moment, that 98% of Canadians have just a bit more self belief than to honestly think their country will slide into oblivion simply because the federal government pull the plug on a few dollars?

    The other 2% write for a living.

  12. Mike Young

    “If thats the case what right does anyone have keeping around things that no one really cares about?”

    We “anyone(s)” are waiting until y’all grow up and grow old, have grandchildren and want to offer them some emotional, moral and intellectual stimulation.

  13. Potter,

    You should have paid attention to your boss on “at issue” last night. He was bemoaning the media and their fixation with minutiae, I think this fits the bill.

  14. One of the elitist fat cat programs at risk:

    Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program by the Manitoba Theatre for Young People

    Those inner city aboriginal kids and their galas. Hah!

  15. To call this minutiae is deeply unfair to minutiae. This is a rounding error in some distant subset of minutiae.

    If anyone this Candian culture is about to buckle because a level of government pulled a few bucks from a few programs they have a rather ill view of what makes up Canadian culture. Those are the real members of the “idiocracy”

  16. The Conservative spent 3 billion dollars in the budget last year for arts and culture and then slows the growth down by 48 million and this is somehow indicative of evil meanie red neck barbarians who don’t like opera! Personally I think that the artists protesting should be ashamed of themselves and they are not doing their cause any good in point of fact quite the reverse. The strange thing about this fight though is that Harper and Dion’s numbers went down in Quebec but both Gilles and Jack’s went up which in a strange way helps Harper as the NDP and the BQ are sucking up the disaffected LPC – only in canada

  17. M Harper obviously cancelled because our useless National Press Corps wouldn’t stop writing stories about some bogus contradiction between a government trying to limit waste in government art welfare and her donating her time as a private citizen to promote the arts. Logical conclusion to your actions: take a bow.

  18. We are literally in the middle of the worst international financial crisis since 1907. We are a nation at war. Thousands suffer on health care wait lists. Is the media all over these huge issues, getting reactions from various parties and right/left experts in the field? Absolutely not. Furor and madness in the press over a $45 MM “problem”, which is actually line item that can be “solved” either way by the stroke of a pen. No wonder people are moving away from traditional media. I am disappointed that you have thrown yourself in with this lot Andrew.

  19. You guys don’t get it, do you?
    The 45 million was the spark.
    The flame is Mr. Harper’s comments trying to divide this country into the “elites” who enjoy art, and the “normal joes” who apparantly don’t.

  20. Well, I’m done subsidizing religious organizations through their tax exemption. I’m an ordinary Canadian who is tired of looking outside and seeing groups of people, you know, walking out of a church, smiling, on my dime. If churches and religion are so important, why can’t they support themselves? It’s a multi-billion dollar a year part of the economy that taxpayers are subsidizing.

    I agree with Harper, this has got to stop.

  21. The flame is Mr. Harper’s comments trying to divide this country into the “elites” who enjoy art, and the “normal joes” who apparantly don’t.

    That’s not what he said, even though the Star tried to twist it that way. He didn’t mention a word about enjoying art or not. He mentioned that the elites like government subsidies, and normals joes don’t resonate with that.

    His leap at the polls started within a day or 2 after this brouhaha. I think it’s safe to assume that there is a correlation.

  22. Dije,

    Sure, Harper talks a great deal about cutting subsidies for religious organizations, eliminating tax exemptions for churches (and charities too, according to Elizabeth May). But haven’t direct government subsidies for these organizations actually increased under Harper? And it’s not just another shocking example of his hyprocrisy, it’s lousy strategy. How is he ever going to be a successful dictator if he doesn’t silence the churches and the environmental NGOs?

  23. Seems to me Laureen Harper is now fair satirical game. Assuming we had real satire in Canada. She should be deeply ashamed of her role in this fiasco.

  24. Jack Mitchell, I would tend to agree with you but Laureen Harper is hugely popular; more so than her husband. I can’t see either the Liberals or NDP risking taking a shot at her.

  25. Style – I’m not sure. I pray he finds a way to be a successful dictator though. I’m getting pretty tired of having free choice and culture.

  26. john g – she might get a mention as the victim of an over-zealous PM, but no one would be attacking her character.

  27. “The prime minister’s wife, in a gown, at a gala?  Whatever would the rest of the world think of such a country?”

    What they usually think of us: absolutely nothing at all.

    At least, that’s been my experience in the U.K., France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and (of course) the U.S. over the last ten years or so.  They don’t pay attention to us — we’re well below the radar of the average person in these countries, and I suspect, many other countries besides.

    C’est normal.

  28. Dije – sadly, he can’t make himself dictator as long as Margaret Atwood is able to attend galas. It’s the classic paradox – we need a dictator to destroy our culture, but we need to destroy our culture to install a dictator. And now there are artists coming out in support of some of the program cancellations – clearly hoping to curry favour with the incoming dictatorship. We need our artists to stay strong and united in their resistance. You should not be discouraging them from attacking Laureen Harper. That sort of compromisin’ undercuts the strong leadership we need.

    http://elections.radio-canada.ca/elections/federales2008/2008/09/26/001-Latourelle-accord-compression.shtml

  29. If only he had a frickin raygun.

  30. Harper doesn’t want to see her at a gala, er, you know, a gala, a rich gala.

    He wants her in the kitchen at home making Kraft processed food like all the other time-pressed Calgary Stepford wives.

    Inferior men have a lot of phobias about their wife looking hot in a new dress at a gala, you know, a gala, a rich gala. They get, you know, kind of obsessed about what might happen, who might hit on her, what *better* man might hit on her. They’d rather she stay home and watch him beat up a girl he tried to keep out of TV debates. Just so she knows to keep in her place.

  31. Stopping government funding to the arts is not silencing artists. Fidel Castro throwing Raul Rivero in Jail for writting andti-castro poems is muzzling free speech. Thereis a difference between not funding something and muzzling it.

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