Friday, September 26

Atwood on Harper, via Oz

Oz pulled an Atwood quote on Harper today that made steam come out my ears.  Go read it.

I call Godwin. This is ridiculous. Did you seriously* just call Harper a dictator? Did I really just hear you do that? Yes, it's true that dictatorships suppress dissent -- that's the fucking definition of 'dictatorship' -- but this particular excerpt stinks of some overly self-important whiner having to shell out for the top-shelf stuff herself when she's off telling the French how wonderful they are rather than having the taxpayer foot the bill.  OK, maybe that's a bit reactionary of me.  But it does seem like Atwood is overreacting quite a bit - nobody's in jail, nobody's even threatened with jail.   Her overreaction weakens her criticism of a cut to arts funding by leaning on the threat-to-democracy angle rather than the more obvious (to me anyway) angle of the importance of Canadian art over the market's desire for it. 

I do think Canadian art is important.  I think it's good for our government to support it, because there are valuable pieces of art -- paintings, theatre, music, books, among many others -- that won't be made if there aren't grants to support them, because there's not enough of a market here for them.  I disagree with the Conservatives' decision to cut arts funding.

But I disagree more with Atwood's knee-jerk reaction to it.

1 comment:

Pharaohmagnetic said...

I'm all for public funding of the arts*, and I'm an admirer of Atwood's work, but her statement violates the transitive property. With some strategically placed ellipses, you can see the break in logic:

"Every budding dictatorship begins by muzzling the artists . . . that's why Mr. Harper began by shutting down funding for our artists abroad."

Unless "muzzling" == "shutting down funding," then Atwood is explicitly saying that Mr. Harper is not a budding dictator. This is the kind of muddled, incoherent thinking you'd expect only of a US Vice Presidential candidate.

*I find it painful to direct tax dollars to public funding of the arts when budgetary considerations cut at vital social services. What are you supposed to do when the cookie jar is empty? Nevertheless, your angle --that we must nurture an independent, small Canadian cultural environment-- is a more powerful argument than off-putting, knee-jerk accusations of fascism.