I always have fun with my silly Emmy predictions posts, even though so much of my opinion is based on hearsay and prior bias rather than any passion for most of the season’s nominated shows themselves. It occurred to me as I was writing this year’s entry that because I sample so many Canadian shows as part of my TV, eh? duties, for once in my life I have seen more Gemini nominees than Emmy nominees. So I did consider for a few minutes writing a similar Gemini prediction post. And then I came to my senses.
I was exaggerating when I said no one would read it. Some of the people whose shows I mentioned might read it, and based on past history, there’s a good chance I’d open my email to much ego-fuelled vitriol unless the post was about how every show was deserving, rah rah rah.
Because in the world of Canadian television, the Internet is not for fans. There’s a small fan base in any case because of our smaller population and the anemic viewership most Canadian shows generate. On top of that, too often opinions are shouted down and ridiculed by people who draw a paycheque from the industry, some of whom choose not to identify themselves as such.
It’s part of the professionalism discrepancy between the US and Canadian systems that’s evident in other ways. One of the most damaging examples is the disdain for the populace that oozes out of many industry discussions. Television Without Pity was co-founded by Canadians, but if there were a TWoP-like site focused on Canadian TV, it wouldn’t be dominated by fans being merciless about the shows they watch, it would be overrun by industry people being merciless about their potential audience base. Unless of course it’s election season, in which case contempt for ordinary Canadians turns into passionate attempts to speak for ordinary Canadians, while ordinary Canadians stay silent or speak for themselves. No wonder Stephen Harper believes it’s politically expedient to turn arts funding cutbacks into votes.
Berating people who care enough to talk about a show is an interesting way to try to cultivate interest, as is disparaging the population at large, but it’s in keeping with the Canadian industry’s witness protection philosophy. “Canadian TV: Shh, don’t tell anyone we’re here.” The addendum: “And if you fools accidentally discover us, scram.”
I started TV, eh? not because I cared about the industry, but because as a viewer I cared about people like me, never getting to make the choice of whether a Canadian show was worth watching or not because I’d never even heard about them. Unfortunately, now what I hear, read and experience leads me to believe that the Canadian industry cultivates and therefore deserves its obscurity.
Viewers, on the other hand, deserve a thriving homegrown industry (read John Doyle of the Globe and Mail and Mark Leiren-Young in the Vancouver Sun if you’re questioning why). So I can only hope awards season and election season will pass without further damaging its reputation and its foundations.