Letter: Canadian content rules fearmongering and bigotry

I do not need to be told by Canadian media how to be Canadian

Canadian content rules fearmongering and bigotry

Re: “Canadian Content rules vital to growth of Canadian entertainment” (Aug. 3)

If the United States can be the international media powerhouse it is without its own “local content requirements”, then surely so can Canada. The belief that without these regulations that little or no Canadian media would exist is logically fallacious and fuelled by pure confirmation bias. This semi-xenophobic fear of “foreign” (American) content is nothing more than thinly-disguised fearmongering and bigotry with no concrete basis. It also reeks of nationalism, which ironically is bad according to the left. Blaming or crediting the U.S. as an “initiator” of local content rules is ridiculously backwards. I guess a bunch of insecure leftists are going to be nervous and alarmed if ideals of American free enterprise and expression get broadcast widely. Horrors, people might actually start to believe in it.

If the letter-writer appreciates and consumes Canadian media, that’s OK. They’re even free to like Trailer Park Boys (entertaining, yes, but quality TV it most certainly isn’t). I have no problem with that at all. In any case I’m thankful I live close enough to the border that we got a bunch of U.S. channels by antenna (and later, cable) to get more of what I wanted to watch. I never positioned myself as the absolute arbiter of what is objectively good media, but I think I’m a decent judge of writing and story structure.

The letter-writer makes a big strawman by assuming that I don’t consume any Canadian media. I like American stuff, British stuff, Japanese stuff (anime), and yes, even some Canadian stuff. I can’t make an exhaustive list here because it would make the letter impossibly long, but I’m preferential to sci-fi, animated shows especially of the 70s and 80s, 80s action/adventure, some comedy, and fantasy. My first consideration is not, “Is this Canadian?” but rather, “Do I like this?” and “Is this entertaining/good enough?” Whether or not a thing is Canadian doesn’t even enter into the equation at all for me, as I do not need to be told by Canadian media how to be Canadian. Heck, even The Littlest Hobo (80s version) isn’t very good; about all that’s worth watching about it is the dog. Watching it doesn’t make a person more Canadian. The human acting and the writing left something to be desired, which is probably why one kid I knew wrote The Littlest Hobo fanfiction back in the day.

Netflix has sort of changed the game here and made the content regulations obsolete — especially if one has a good VPN. Netflix didn’t buy Canadian shows because Canadian content rules exist. It bought them because it liked them and thought American viewers and others worldwide would enjoy them. If a thing didn’t pre-exist, Netflix can and will make it exist, without government help. Canadian culture — whatever you believe that to be — is not at risk here; it won’t disappear if the airwaves are no longer loaded with Canadian Content quota-filler.

If the unspoken underlying belief is that without government funding these shows wouldn’t exist, that’s an entirely separate issue. America has 300 million potential consumers of media, compared to Canada’s approximately 38 million. It’s the reason Canadians such as Stephen Amell and William Shatner went to Hollywood. If the U.S. likes something we make, we don’t need to have the government fund it.

A partial list of countries that have content regulations doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, as many of them are repressive, especially in regards to free expression.

Sure, nobody’s literally forcing someone to watch something they don’t want A Clockwork Orange style, but given that reality, why make or keep rules that limit the choices people have? I don’t turn the TV off if what is on Canadian TV doesn’t appeal to me; I just turn it to a U.S. channel, because I can.

April J. Gibson