Acting is a brutal business. There are hundreds or thousands of aspiring actors waiting on tables to survive while pursuing their dream. That’s Hollywood and that’s the American dream.  If you work hard enough, you have a chance.

Canada takes a different approach. Rather than let market forces prevail and cancel the shows that wouldn’t survive a first screening in Hollywood — so bad that you’d be up in front of a war crimes tribunal for showing it to POWs —  they just call it ‘Canadian Content’.

Canadian broadcasters must air a certain amount of ‘Canadian Content’ in order to placate politicians and whiny groups of actors, directors and producers who lack talent. The shows don’t have to be any good and people don’t actually have to watch it — as long as they’re Canadian.

‘Canadian Content’ rules are as idiotic as so-called ‘affirmative action’ hiring programs. Those with talent are stigmatized by association with those who wouldn’t have made it on merit alone. The few gems that Canada manages to turn out are largely ignored because the vast majority of Canadian shows suck. Meanwhile, spineless politicians — admittedly, a redundant phrase in Canadian politics these days — pander to the ‘industry’ and Canadians just change the channel.

As if that isn’t bad enough, Canadian actors and directors are now, according to The Canadian Press, asking the Canadian Government to ‘establish a fund paid for by Internet and wireless providers of about $100 million annually to finance Canadian productions destined for new media.’  Isn’t that just admitting they’re a bunch of talentless hacks that can’t make it in the real world? If these actors and directors are any good, they don’t need to be funded by a new tax on Canadians. If they’re not any good, no amount of money will fix that and I don’t want to see them on my hotel room TV. I want to see them wearing a nicely pressed outfit politely asking if I’d like gravy with my fries.

2 Responses to The Canadian Dream

  1. Evolving Squid
    Feb 27, 2009

    I could not have said it better.

    The real issue, as I see it, is one of Hollywood envy. The USA produces some signficant percentage of the world’s popular “stars”. It does this, for exactly three reasons:

    1. The vast majority of the work coming out of the USA is in English, making it products consumable by about half the world.

    2. The USA happens to contain about 5% of the world’s population. One person in 20 on the planet is an American. That would seem to make for a huge talent pool.

    3. The industry generates a lot of money.

    The third item really depends on the other two. Other nations have huge entertainment industries as well. India has Bollywood – a self-contained, entertainment industry that is huge, among the 20% or so of the world that is Indian. They can manage that because of a huge population. They don’t need the government propping it up.

    The problems with Canada’s industry and the government propping it up?

    For starters, look at the first item. Internal national language issues notwithstanding, the rest of the world does not want our French content. I’m not convinced even France and the French-speaking African nations are that interested in it.

    The second item is the real core of the issue. We have a small population and that means that we have a small talent pool. No amount of government subsidy can ever change that. Not everyone can be an actor, nor should they be. Statistically, I’d wager that we produce the same per capita amount of talented actors and good entertainment content as the US… but even if we do, that’s still 1/10 of what they produce. It’s like a flea fighting an elephant.

    The third item cannot be resolved by government subsidy. The big score is in the USA, that’s the way of things. With the government propping thigns up, the best we can hope for is to produce more mediocre and low-end content. Good ideas and talent will be picked up and executed in the USA because that’s where the money is. It doesn’t matter if the idea or talent is Canadian, British, French, German, or Jamaican.

    The Americans get Gone with the Wind, and Titanic. We get Porky’s. That’s the difference between letting the market work and government subisdy.

  2. Eric Jacksch
    Feb 27, 2009

    Hey, I *liked* Porky’s! 🙂

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