Author Topic: Engineering Culture  (Read 39 times)

Offline MH

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Engineering Culture
« on: June 08, 2017, 07:19:23 am »
http://www.canadalandshow.com/podcast/end-canlit-hustle/

Diving into how government, and the Trudeau era, got together to build a wall around Canadian culture. 

My question is: is this still necessary ?  If so, is it futile ?  How would this work today ?

Note that countries are a recent phenomenon, that were formed on the back of the printing press, maps and linguistic conformity.  (Source: McLuhan)

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Offline MH

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2017, 05:49:49 am »
From ROYAL COMMISSION ON NATIONAL
DEVELOPMENT IN THE ARTS,
LETTERS AND SCIENCES
1949-1951

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It is probably true, for example, that most Canadians now in their thirties or older will recall that the church organist and the church choir provided much of the music of their earlier years. More often than not the organist in English-speaking Canada was from the old country, trained in the English tradition of organ and choral music. He not infrequently was at odds with the church authorities on matters of musical taste and propriety. The great musical events of the year were usually the concerts given by the local church choirs, aided by a visiting celebrity. Although the radio has vastly increased the size of listening audiences, we must not forget that long before its day there flourished in the towns and cities of Canada a vigorous musical life, or that the musical tastes of a considerable part of our population were in large measure formed by the well-trained musicians who came to us, bringing with them a tradition of fine music. We might suggest that the work of English organists in Canada from about 1880 to 1920 would form the subject of a valuable historical and social study. The names of a few of these in Toronto and Montreal and in some other cities came to be nationally known and are still remembered; but the work of the scholarly musicians who brought to so many of our smaller towns an important part of the world's great music should not pass unrecorded.

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/2/5/h5-408-e.html

'Vigorous musical life' ... 'flourished'.   Already in 1951 this past local culture was fading and the names of these organists and musicians were on their way to the forgotten graveyard.  Mechanical and electronic central programming provided cheap and accessible mass culture that supplanted the existing local culture.

To understand culture and technology, I always look at the infrastructures as the landscape for the challenge and response.  As such, it can be informative as to where we are today.

The Canadian government saw the provision of American mass culture as a threat, and Trudeau enacted cultural protectionism a generation later.  It is easier for a government to control entities that come from a few sources, so the Canadian content regulations worked in many ways.

-Popular radio replayed Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah McLachlan, Blue Rodeo and Barenaked Ladies into platinum status. 

-Television and Film aren't ambient performance arts, but narratives.  And the government support model didn't require these forms to be successful, so an industry grew around producing mediocre and unpopular fare.

-Quebec was already insular, so they were successful in producing their own film, television, magazines and music.

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Back to the question of how this would work today, it's clear we're in a new world.  There are myriad sources of stories and music, which are driving us back to a point where local markets are more viable:

-Music as a global industry was destroyed by the replacement of gated delivery systems with the web.  As such, musicians can make their own mark via the web however the prospect for mega-riches is dimmer.  Musicians who are willing to perform live for their working lives can make a meagre living, though, and live music seems to be thriving but I don't have anything in the way of hard statistics on that.   http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/ontherecord/2007/11/02/state-of-the-live-music-nation/

-Television and film audiences are becoming balkanized, which has been a boon for television culture but has pushed Hollywood to go back to the 'mega blockbuster' approach that they tried in the face of television in the 1950s or 1960s.  It failed at that time until they connected with the counter culture, and produced the boomer film renaissance which eventually came around to the mainstream via Spielberg et. al.  Right now, we are in the era of the odious superhero and 4D roller coaster "films".  Ugh.

-Canadian television is slowly finding the 'small is beautiful' vein that worked in Quebec, and a string of appealing 'hick' comedies (Corner Gas, Trailer Park Boys, Letterkenny and - on film - Fubar) is laying the groundwork for perhaps a renaissance of local culture

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As I said, it's important to look at infrastructure.  If you do, you will realize that culture is naturally 'local' and that mass culture only became popular because of low cost and higher accessibility.  I expect that as costs of delivery and accessibility come down, we will see more of this.

But be careful what you wish for.  Central programming provided a national identity, and a national moral sphere which gave us a stage for discussion issues like civil rights, the environment and so forth.  We're going back to our roots now, which is neither good nor bad but a challenge and response.

Offline cybercoma

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2017, 12:39:09 pm »
The arts document how we live our lives, our society, and the natural and developed environments where we live. If you look at the selection of things that the film board houses, it's important documentation of our histories as peoples. Not a single history, but the many experiences of life in our country. It is important to support the arts and humanities as they endeavour to document our history. This allows us to look back and track change over time and to see ourselves, what we were and what we've become as a society. Documenting these things takes time, money, and motivation. The threat of foreign arts taking over is an important one when the foreign parties have massive amounts of wealth to dump into their cultural exports. If arts document culture, then the absence of our own cultural products while simultaneously being overwhelmed by heavily finances foreign cultural products is cultural genocide for our society. We would no longer be able to see ourselves through our own eyes because there were no financiers to document our perceptions. That is why it is crucial to protect our cultural products and ensure that they survive in contrast to the products of foreign cultures.

Offline MH

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2017, 12:53:27 pm »
It is important to support the arts and humanities as they endeavour to document our history.

Okaaaay.

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This allows us to look back and track change over time and to see ourselves, what we were and what we've become as a society. Documenting these things takes time, money, and motivation.

Okaaaay.

But... what of 'engineering','cancon','grants' and so on ?  Not much of this is about museums, and I only brought up archival information to highlight how 'the arts' were in the past. 

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The threat of foreign arts taking over is an important one when the foreign parties have massive amounts of wealth to dump into their cultural exports.

Sort of.  Also you get me suspicious when you overuse the term 'important'.  There are two dueling facts at work here:

1) Government alone CANNOT protect culture, although it can sometimes promote it.  It has a strong voice in some quarters.
2) People will always ask government to protect things, including things that can't be protected, and government will promise to do it.

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If arts document culture, then the absence of our own cultural products while simultaneously being overwhelmed by heavily finances foreign cultural products is cultural genocide for our society. We would no longer be able to see ourselves through our own eyes because there were no financiers to document our perceptions. That is why it is crucial to protect our cultural products and ensure that they survive in contrast to the products of foreign cultures.

'foreign cultural products' meaning Los-Angeles-produced recorded entertainments are as foreign to Toronto as upper New York State in many ways.  As such, I urge you to go back to my post and look at it apart from a 'national' lens and more about mega-money-entertainment centrally programmed VS local programming.  Of course, Canadian culture pretty much ALL falls into the latter category.

I also think the word 'document' is strange here.  Maybe 'reflect' ?  I dunno....

Offline Moonlight Graham

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2017, 05:17:17 pm »
The web is a massive change that lets media bypass the "gated communities" of past pre-internet media distribution.  For example, instead of the CRTC regulating radio and television waves with CanCon, things like illegal downloading/streaming or music/films/TV shows and places like YouTube means the CRTC has absolutely no control over the media Canadians watch from those sources.  This is indeed causing a turn away from the Canadian mass media content we all enjoyed in decades past.

Not sure you can get around this, other than making stricter copyright laws on internet ISP's on allowing certain illegal downloading/streaming or better enforcing these laws.  I think certain protection is important.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

Offline MH

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2017, 05:48:01 pm »
This is indeed causing a turn away from the Canadian mass media content we all enjoyed in decades past.

Sure but I would argue the Canadian gatekeepers had poor taste.  They turned down Trailer Park Boys and Letterkenny, both of which are global franchises.  For every 1/2 hit like Beachcombers and Street Legal the culture borg produced 1000 losers like Check it Out !
 

Offline MH

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2017, 06:01:56 am »
Case in point about the 'tastemakers' you never see.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CBC_Radio_3

CBC created an entity called CBC3.  It was a single-threaded live radio stream with a DJ playing indie Canadian music across genres: country, rock, hard rock, punk, hippy hoppy, all of it.  The interface was great and the kids they got to build it clearly had passion.  A community built up around it, and the DJs and members got to know each other and would post about artists as the music played.  Nerve.com called it the best music station on earth.

It was such a success that the main CBC took notice, created a bland streaming service called CBC music out of it and destroyed it.

These people are completely unable to detect quality and that is what prevents Canadian culture from growing, not money.  Money fosters product, not art.

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I saw Jay Baruchel (The Trotsky, Goon) at the Bloor Cinema where he talked about these people and the film sphere.  They are expert at soaking up government funds to produce unwatchable dreck in film and TV. 

http://www.canadalandshow.com/podcast/jay-jesse-solve-canada/

Offline kimmy

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2017, 11:09:12 pm »
So are "Can-con" and grants an attempt to engineer a unique Canadian culture, or are they just intended to provide work for Canadian artists and producers?

 -k

Offline MH

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2017, 11:58:11 pm »
Both are true.  The idea is that they're creating Canadian culture and providing Canadian jobs to do so.

If they were smarter about it, we could be exporting our products.

Offline cybercoma

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2017, 03:08:12 pm »
So are "Can-con" and grants an attempt to engineer a unique Canadian culture, or are they just intended to provide work for Canadian artists and producers?

 -k
That's the question I was going to ask. MH is talking about "engineering," and to me it just sounds like alt-right conservatives whining about "fake news," (ie, "FAKE CULTURE!").

Offline MH

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Re: Engineering Culture
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2017, 03:16:19 pm »
Fake culture is still culture.  Fake information is not information.