Radicals safeguard the middle

In a discussion with a reader over a previous post, I was asked what I thought of a group of German feminists who claim heterosexual sex is oppressive to women. The question was stupid and off topic so I didn’t answer, but it got me thinking about radical social/political groups in general and if they serve any positive function in society, and have concluded that not only do they serve a positive function but that this function is essential. It is only through radicalism that we grow as a society. Read More …

What price life?

On The National this evening was a story out of Haiti about the new disabled population created by last year’s earthquake and the doctors who performed emergency surgery without consideration for long-term consequences. Whenever a major disaster hits, our first response is to save lives, and we applaud the medics who sweep in and provide care under the most dire circumstances. But as the doctor featured in The National segment, who revisited those whose lives he helped saved, believes now, if we’re not prepared to be there for the long Read More …

Why Helena Reckitt Pissed Me Off

Just got in from attending a lecture at SFU, Forgotten Relations: Feminist Artists and Relational Aesthetics by internationally renowned curator Helena Reckitt, and boy am I pissed. I’ll explain in a minute, but to put it in perspective, first a bit about Reckitt. Reckitt holds a M.A. from Oxford University, has taught contemporary art history at Emory University, at York, and at the Atlanta College of Art; has written for various art publications; has worked at the Power Plant in Toronto, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and the Institute for Read More …

Debate is Dead

Okay, maybe not dead but it’s certainly terminal and what’s left of it appears to be languishing in a rarefied hospice somewhere, out of sight and mind of the masses. What passes for intellectual debate these days is often no more than a schoolyard scrap, with each side slinging barbs at the other while their mates stand behind them shouting out encouragement (think parliamentary Question Period and you’ll know what I mean). And even that’s only when someone actually bothers to engage an opposing opinion. Most, it seems, take a Read More …

The Ambivalence of Remembrance

I’m ambivalent about Remembrance Day. I believe it right and true to honour those who kept the machinations of psychopaths from invading our shores, as we did in both World Wars, but if we expand our view to look at war itself, the drums of honour quickly fall away with a sickening thud. Wars are never truly about freedom; they are about greed, about preserving and improving one’s standard of living at the expense of the loser, which is why even when we begin as defendant combatants we quickly turn Read More …

Backyard Tourist: Commercial Drive

The rare appearance of the sun in winter tends to bring Vancouverites out of their cramped cocoons, and today is no exception. Despite the crisp wind that serves as a reminder that spring has not yet arrived, Commercial Drive is abuzz and living up to its name — though here the commerce is artfully masked by an array of fair trade coffeehouses and gift shops, alternative music, movies and book stores, and enough organic offerings to satisfy even a vegan hypochondriac. At its heart the Drive belongs to the Italians, Read More …

Reality sucks; we need movies that balance the equation

Commenting upon my previous post, the following observation was made by a Facebook friend: “I was thinking about [The Mist] the other day and I suspect one of the reasons that picture didn’t do so great at the [box office] was because of the ending. It was a one[-]two punch of bleakness (and I loved it) at the end of a pretty dark film. Unfortunately, I think what many self[-]important indy films, Canadian and otherwise, suffer from is a disconnect from a general audience. They’re created in a vacuum and Read More …

Why are dysphoric stories perceived as more authentic?

Forty-seven films and three galas later, my indulgence in the Vancouver International Film Festival is over for this year; and while I saw a good many great films, I found too much of the fiction on offer to be dysphoric. This emphasis on the negative arises, I believe, from a misconception among independent filmmakers that a positive film is inauthentic; and that in their search for an alleged authentic voice, filmmakers have forgotten why we go to the cinema. They have forgotten that we, the audience, seek a momentary escape Read More …

Eastern European films explore co-opting of artists by dictatorships

As some of you are aware, I had the good fortune to acquire a gold pass for this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, and since Friday have been indulging in marathon screenings. I’m not here to offer any film reviews, however, but rather to remark on how three films seen thus far have reinforced my belief, stated unequivocally in my last two posts, that art creates social realities and thus carries great responsibility. The three films, Reverse (Poland), Chantrapas (Georgia/France), and Kawasaki’s Rose (Czech Republic), though otherwise wildly divergent, all Read More …

Government complicit in rape of 16-year-old

Yesterday I wrote about the complicity of the artistic community in the creation of the violent, misanthropic, misogynist media that is adversely affecting us all and in particular our youth, and today I want to look at the government’s role in this, with regards to the arts. Canada is one of the lowest funders per capita of the arts in the industrialized world, and BC is the lowest per capita funder in this country: Yukon, which has the highest funding, spends $268 per capita; Quebec, $41.65; both Ontario and Alberta Read More …