Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Postscript to Yesterday's Post: More Than One Villlian

According to Evan (let's-beat-this-story-to-death) Solomon's in his interview with Elizabeth May on  CBC's Power and Politics yesterday, all four of the federal parties with seats in the House had to agree to the decision to exclude Elizabeth May in the two televised debates.  If that is  true, then Michael Ignatieff's and Jack Layton's remarks about welcoming May in the debates could be considered, shall we say, a bit hypocritical.  But a spokesman referenced in a story in the Globe and Mail today says the television consortium issued an ultimatum on Wednesday night to the four parties to agree to their terms, arbitrary as they are.  So the charge of hypocrisy may be less weighty unless the parties had already agreed in discussions before Wednesday night to the exclusion.  Very likely.

The point is why does the absence of a seat in the House determine who should be in a federal leaders' debate?  As I've said, the Green Party of Canada is a legally constituted institution with 308 candidates running for seats across the country with a substantial number of supporters.  It is indeed an issue of democracy and inclusiveness.  Why should we fear a wide range of voices on all the issues that concern us?  Debate can lead to enlightenment for both those who participate and those who watch.

After two exclusionary blowups in three years, isn't it about time we take these federal debates out of the hands of big TV and make them truly public?   For all their faults, the Americans have it right on national debates.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Elizabeth May and The Politics of Exclusion

How can a group of five television executives decide to exclude a party running in 308 ridings when they include a party that can never form government as it runs in only one province? How can debates, a critical part of the democratic process, operate in such a high-handed and arbitrary fashion? How can a party with the support of one in 10 Canadians be excluded? And most fundamentally, how can TV executives tell Canadians that a vote for Green candidates is not a real choice? That is in fact what they are doing. Far from facilitating a full and fair discussion in a democracy, they are interfering in democracy by dictating what choices are worth making.   Elizabeth May”, Globe and Mail, March 30, 2011

There is nothing entertaining about Elizabeth May’s exclusion from the federal leaders’ televised debates.  Once again, Canadian main stream media has exercised its habitual politics of exclusion.  Why is such an arbitrary group as the television Consortium allowed to determine who should and should not be involved in the fate of our country?  In what possible way does this gaggle of suits deserve such exclusionary, arbitrary power?  What can they possibly  fear except the possibility  that Harper, as his nasty wont, will threaten to withdraw as he did in 2007? (Just speculating)  Even the Americans, who frequently exercise exclusionary powers in the mainstream media, transcend such concentrated and arbitrary power through their Commission when it comes to national debates.  How embarrassing for Canada once again on the world stage!

The Green Party of Canada is a legally constituted federal party, the Party is running candidates in all 308 ridings, and Elizabeth May (unlike Michael Ignatieff) is a duly elected leader of the party.   If anyone should be excluded, it’s Gilles Duceppe, whose “federal” party is dedicated to the withdrawal of a province from Confederation, and whose party is running candidates in only one province.  But to do so would be every bit as exclusionary and undemocratic as excluding Elizabeth May.

Where’s the petition?   I want to sign up now.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why The Title Politics and Entertainment

Politics and entertainment here in the title of the blog shouldn’t necessarily be read as a set of binary terms that needs to be, a la Derrida,  deconstructed by a third term; in fact, they are  more often than not  -- if you keep an eye on Canadian and American politics -- seldom mutually exclusive.  I refer of course to the habitually nasty but cynically amusing behaviour of Harperites and Teabaggers.

But having taught film studies, film production, and screenwriting in a university, and having worked in both film and television, I want to write occasionally about film or television projects that might deserve a bit more interest than they currently receive since they’re not in the centre of the media promotional  stream in the hope that others might see the value of these efforts.  Except for Executive Producers, everyone with whom I ever worked in a given production did so with utmost responsibility and extremely hard work. It isn't just about talent.

While I taught, I was also very politically active, both within my institution, trying to hollow it out from within,  and in the city in which I lived at the time --especially with respect to environmental issues.   And so the political scene -- federal, provincial, municipal -- continue to intrigue me and might call forth the occasional  rant and other kinds of commentary.

Of course politics and entertainment come forcefully together in entertainers like Bill Maher, and the extraordinary political activism of actors like George Clooney, Leo DeCapprio, Ellen Paige, and Don Cheadle -- not to mention Bono and the gang. This practical use of celebrity status for political purposes also interests me, and so,  I’ll probably have some specific response to a particular action or project.  Don't worry -- no Charlie stuff.

We begin in  earnest soon.