Oh, Canada: Policymakers accused of censorship

 
 

I’m not going to pretend to understand
the legalities here. I suspect that like most of us educated in the
U.S., my knowledge of Canadian politics and history is sorely lacking,
but I have that nostalgic liberal (and that’s not a four-letter word,
Fox News!) American tendency to view Canada as a little more sane than
the land of my birth. You know, health care, gun control, laws
that occasionally recognize LGBT citizens as human beings.

But it looks like more than my delusions
of utopia could be at risk. Working its way through the Canadian government
right now is a bill that would
give
the Canadian
Heritage minister the right to ax promised funding for any film project
it deems “offensive.” This
apparently includes

“gratuitous violence, significant sexual content that lacks an educational
purpose, or denigration of an identifiable group.”
That would seem to include films like these:

When Night Is Falling

Exotica

 

Crash (1996)

The Saddest Music in the World

I can’t say that I liked all of those
films, but I support the world that makes them possible. And that
may be under attack.

Back to the text of the bill — “Significant sexual content that
lacks an educational purpose”? Now that’s chilling. Imagine
an industry doomed to a future of Dear Diary. It’s true that this legal maneuvering
is pulling the funding rug out from under filmmakers, rather than outright
banning violence and sex, but the film industry is crying censorship. David Cronenberg calls the move an assault on the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms:

    "The irony is that it is the
    Canadian films that have given us an international reputation [that]
    would be most at risk because they are the edgy, relatively low-budget
    films made by people like me and others that will be targeted by this
    panel. The platform they’re suggesting is akin to a Communist
    Chinese panel of unknown people, who, behind closed doors, will make
    a second ruling after bodies like Telefilm Canada have already invested."

There’s little doubt what kind of content
will be under the cutting room knife. Conservative MP Dave Batters
want to limit funding to films for "mainstream” society that
“Canadians can sit down and watch with their families in living rooms."
Of course, there’s no living room for queer families.
Pat Robertson’s Canadian clone
Canada Family Action Coalition
President Charles McVety, who claims his lobbying efforts are partially
responsible for the proposed changes, says that his contacts in government
agree that “films promoting homosexuality, graphic sex or violence
should not receive tax dollars.”

Hey McVety, doesn’t a film “promoting
homosexuality” count as educational? When I was coming out,
these were my part of my manual:

I can’t say I was going to be first
in line for a ticket to Martin Gero‘s Young People F—ing.
And if we’re talking films that don’t make the world a more pleasant place,
I could live without Saw XXX: Another Return to a
Pit of Gratuitous Violence
. But when any government whittles
away at an industry based on a vaguely defined notions of offensiveness,
it’s a worry.

Canadian readers, is this getting media
play? Think the changes will go through? What’s going on
up there, anyway?

 
 

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