The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Stuff’

Posted by Matt on February 1, 2011

Hey, I mentioned the CRTC yesterday morning, so why not again today?

Basically, the CRTC has spent the last month or so making every possible wrong decision.

My take on the CRTC: for every complaint I hear about Canadian content from my friends (and really, if the local rock station weren’t mandated to play mediocre Canadian music, do you think the quality would suddenly shoot up? Fuck no, there’s plenty of mediocre music from all over the place to fill the void), there’s a real, legitimate complaint about the CRTC, mostly about how they are obviously compromised to the nth degree and are enthralled to the industries they’re supposed to regulate. I mean, they aren’t stopping consolidation, even when it’s pretty obvious that all of these corporate buyouts are what made the idiots like local rich jackasses the Aspers lose all their money and be forced to sell or close down all of their smaller markets, leading to things like my dad losing his job (by the way, the Shaw purchase of Global only reminds me of how not long ago the two were at each other’s throats over how much money everyone should be getting for must-carry TV. I guess the cable guys have figured out a way to get around that problem). They barely make sure the television and movie industries keep up on their end of the bargain by actually, you know, funding Canadian-made movies and television shows. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m not feeling like digging it up.

So, yeah, this comes as no surprise. The cable companies (who now conveniently own the major TV broadcasters) want more money and get the CRTC to let them go about limiting and charging people in a most ass-backwards approach to providing the Internet. And while they’re at it, don’t hold their news shows up to any journalistic standards, either.

Fuck ’em. Burn it down and put some people in charge who won’t kowtow to the corporate tyrants.

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Posted by Matt on August 28, 2010

Here is a post about CBC (I’d also check the previous three posts, all on the same subject, as well)

I for one completely agree with the assessment: the CBC gets FREE money, maybe not as much as they used to, but it’s still there; they are a government institution, and a well-established apart of the country’s cultural fabric. That said, why are they such big pussies when it comes to making new shows? They are almost as conservative (and the margin of difference grows shorter every year it seems) as the for-profit channels, who also get free money, but for different reasons. And as Henshaw points out, that means that NOTHING ever gets funded; if the channel that’s not supposed to worry about ratings as much (although it sounds like the recently-departed tyrant who ran the corporation pushed for the opposite) doesn’t feel like funding Canadian-made shows, why would the ones who DO care about ratings?

CBC TV has been drifting into irrelevance for the past few years, although thankfully radio and web news have been able to maintain some level of quality during the same timeframe (I must say, however, I guess I’m one of the few who isn’t up in arms about the shift on CBC Radio 2 from classical to contemporary). I do hope that something will be improved when the new regime is brought in. But with the federal government constantly finding new ways to make the CBC feel less welcome, I won’t count on it.

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Posted by Matt on July 23, 2010

Here’s a dumb little newspaper column.

There’s obviously a tongue-in-cheek element to it, but it does bring up an interesting point. Do Canadian shows need to be more ‘American’ in order to sell anywhere? What makes a show ‘Canadian’ and ‘American’?

I’ll start off by saying that I haven’t seen any of the three shows mentioned in the article, and I don’t plan on it; not my thing. Even so, I find the failure and success of shows like these at least somewhat interesting, as they are the industry’s scattered attempts at mainstream entertainment, and I like to see how that’s going. Because you need some sure-fire hits in order to fund the better stuff, most of the time (unless you’re cable. But they’re off in their own little fantasyland of rainbows and freedom, so we’ll just leave them out of this conversation).

The thing is, up here, the major networks usually only greenlight a very select few new shows per season. This, of course, hurts their chance of success even more by putting all the network’s eggs in one basket, thus leading to the networks getting a new excuse they can use to convince the government to loosen the original content spending requirements so they can continue to air American shows while still being government-protected. In most TV seasons, there’s a larger number of new programs so that the likelihood of success is greater; not every show is going to catch on, but the more you air, the more likely you’ll find a winner. Canadian network television doesn’t seem to get that luxury, or aren’t willing to spring for it, making their own shows more out of obligation than actual desire to create their own hit programming.

The point being that new shows in fewer numbers may mean that, if the networks like CTV are serious about making these shows successful, they will try to make them as safe as possible. Combined with the need to make sure the show succeeds in the US as well, a second revenue stream that they have seemed to embrace more often now, and you can see why the ‘Americanization’ of the shows seems to be taking place.

But on the other hand…what would make a sure recognizably ‘Canadian’ to viewers like this guy? Aside from the stereotypes, and settings being recognized, what would make a cop procedural made in Canada different from a cop procedural made in the US? Maybe I need to do more research on the subject, but I can make a guess that cop shows are pretty similar all over the place, based more on adherence to formula than real cultural imperialism. The column writer seems to think that having the shows be cliche-ridden high-octane thrillers is not representative of Toronto, or Canada in general, but what the fuck else is a big budget cop show going to do?

When I think of successful Canadian TV shows, I think of the same two everyone else on the Internet does: Trailer Park Boys and Corner Gas. The two are on opposite ends of the spectrum (a cable comedy able to do whatever it wants and an unabashedly mainstream network comedy, although one that still seems to be of a greater quality than most), but they both have what most shows in either country would envy: long, successful runs that ended on their own terms. I’m not too sure if they ever found any sort of success, or even a cult following, anywhere else, but they were both big deals in Canada. Were either of these shows noticeably Canadian? They seemed to capture their own unique settings in this country very well, but I don’t think there’s really anything either show did that made them unaccessible to Americans, or anyone else really. So, what is the ‘Canadian voice’?

To me, at least, the Canadian voice is simply whatever it is the people who create entertainment and those who buy into want it to be. We should just attempt to share ideas in order to build up our ‘culture’, whatever they may be, without having to worry whether or not these are identifiably ‘Canadian stories’. In my mind, if they come from a Canadian’s imagination, they’re a Canadian story. It doesn’t matter if they’re set it in Ontario, Alabama, or the distant moons of Shabadabahey; whether they accurately depict our municipal bodies, or whether or not people talk about milk bags and lacrosse; the whole point is to support the ideas of the creative forces in this country, so we can learn what is ‘Canadian’ from their output.

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Posted by Matt on June 14, 2010

Important links to things:

This blog goes over the new Canadian copyright bill in multiple parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

In summary: copyright lasts 50 years after publication, lots of obvious things are added, and lots of vagueness remains. Not awful so far, but they really need to overthink this a little bit.

Update: Added newest posts.

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Posted by Matt on May 22, 2010

Bear with me, I’m on a nostalgic trip.

Early this morning, I saw that CTV was airing OWL TV. I used to watch OWL TV in my preschool days. It was one of those shows that made me interested in Animals!

How many of these kinds of children’s science magazine-format shows do they have now? Honestly, I think one of the easiest ways to get kids more excited about learning and science is to just show it to them, plainly, because nature has a way of being awesome on its own. I’m sure kids still like animals, and animal facts, right? They damn well better.

This, of course, led down the rabbit hole of children’s shows that I watched. Camp Cariboo, Fred Penner’s Place, The Umbrella Tree (fucking horrifying puppets), stuff like that. Then came…PJ Katie’s Farm. Upon reflection, I now realize the utter strangeness of this show.

Here’s the thing: the show was about a woman manipulating little home-made clay figurines to tell a story about farm animals, doing all the voices as well as narrating. No camera tricks, stop-motion, or anything. She just moved the clay figures and told the story in plain view. It’s sub-Manger Babies level television. Yet there’s something to the low-key affair and its public access production values; it makes me kind of glad it exists.

To show you how this show worked, here is a highlight reel:

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The Hell

Posted by Matt on November 26, 2009

And then this:

But then I go to the source and:

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