By Jim Henshaw
Last week, it appeared that CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais had found himself in a socially awkward position.
The Writers Guild of Canada had presented their clear and cogent argument on the quality and appeal of Canadian made television. It wasn’t anything Blais hadn’t heard before. And maybe he was tired or maybe had just heard too much irreconcilable difference from a week’s worth of self-serving interveners. But the man knew these people had put a lot of work into their presentation and deserved at least a couple of half-hearted questions.
But somehow he asked this one — How would the WGC as Story tellers make the people of Canada understand a complicated regulatory system involving SimSub, linkage rules, and the business models that make up the Canadian television system . . . ?
This took me somewhat aback, mostly because of what the question revealed of Blais himself and perhaps his entire Commission.
He was just like the rest of us, a guy who looks for guidance or at least the kind of plausible world view that so many glean from the stories they see in movies and on television.
Gee — despite all those broadcaster arguments about what the audience thought was good or how commerce obviously mattered more than spending money on Art — Blais recognized the inherent need for individual clarity and social self-examination for which the Human race created Drama in the first place.
It struck me that maybe, after all these years of CRTC hearings on Canadian television, that maybe we were getting somewhere.
My own movie about CanCon would have paralleled Romeo and Juliet, in which the star-crossed creators of drama and those hungering for it have been kept apart by a broadcast system ruled by what keeps violence from breaking out on the streets of Hollywood.
Or it might be one in which the star-crossed find themselves aboard a doomed broadcaster ship heading straight for an iceberg labelled “Netflix,” its Captains rigid and unable to change business model course and save not only themselves but all aboard.
Either of my movies, it seems, would require Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the leads — meaning we’re back to International Co-Pros or buying big budget American product, which doesn’t really help our case.
But maybe one of those in the tribe of Canadian writers can. There must be a story out there that turns all those arcane concepts from “Pick ’n Pay” to “OTT” and “Cord Cutters” into relatable characters every Canadian can recognize and embrace.
If you know that story, feel free to share it here.
Or at least share it somewhere.
I think the CRTC might finally be ready to listen.
First published on The Legion of Decency