December 7th, 2018
The Wayward About page attempts to outline Wayward values, starting with, "It is a perpetual work in progress, beams exposed. It subscribes to no ism."
Wayward Artists should be singular these days, mostly just me, Deimon Slagg. Back when I was setting down what it should be about, it didn't occur to me to include anything about equal opportunity for all, or the importance of freedom of speech, perhaps because I'm a child of the sixties and these principles are part of my bones from my mother's milk. It seems to me that those battles were fought and won back when I was a tot barely aware of the seismic social changes going on around me, so we don't need to say any more about them. Done deal.
The other day I get this email:
I was very grateful to Jarvis for the opportunity to act in his film, John, 316. I set out to attend to this immediately. I open up the attached form.
It took me a couple of moments to figure out the second clause. It seemed related to the progressive privilege stack of social justice ideology, so much so, I just assumed inclusion of gay men, but on further examination, it appears they have been dropped from the stack.
If you had to neatly summarize the second check box, it would reduce to:
I am not a white male.
So basically, a production in Alberta can get support from the Alberta Media Fund provided the only white men it employs are from the province of Alberta. The production can employ anyone else in the world, so long as they are not white men.
It also raises issues of privacy, because they are asking for information they don't need to know and have no business asking for.
Why do they need to know your intersectional status, unless it is to discriminate, that is to say, to make distinctions based on race, gender, or other intersectionally recognised group determiners. Though in this case, the distinction is pretty damn specific: white men and everyone else.
Principles apply to everyone. When you try to fudge a principle by saying it applies to these people but not to those, the principle is reduced to a prejudice.
As I mentioned, I erroneously assumed gay men were still part of the stack, so I replied
Jarvis was sympathetic, but I got the feeling he was disappointed that I hadn't checked the residency field, so I came up with another option: remove all the discriminatory material from the form thus turning it into an inoffensive residency confirmation form.
In the meantime, I get the following from Shaun who I believe is handling the paper work.
As if I would want to work on productions which discriminate against people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other stupid reason for discriminating against a person.
To which Shaun replies
I hadn't read the end of Shaun's previous message as a threat, but now I'm hearing a Monty Python mob voice in my head saying "nice little career you got going here, guv, shame if anything bad was to happen to it."
Deimon, it's either "hard drive dies" or "hard drives die", you can't have that many 's's. Clearly Shaun has me rattled.
But then I get this from Shaun:
What threat indeed! Silly me. I certainly accept what Shaun wrote at face value, and have thanked them for the clarification (I'm using plural pronoun to avoid misgendering). But it is interesting that in spite of having my best interests at heart, as well as the best interests of producers, that I could feel as though my livelihood was being threatened.
And I should have clarified myself that I don't regard Jarvis as a racist or a sexist, of course not. He's made a movie, it cost money, he needs to recoup the cost, so he is compelled to bend the knee to the ideology. As Shaun says, "As producers if we take their money we have to follow their rules whether we agree with them or not."
Shaun and Jarvis aren't the baddies -- never castigate someone for telling the truth. Shaun isn't threatening me, they're just telling it like it is: bend the knee to the ideology, or your prospects for employment will be jeopardized.
I feel a cold wind blow over me from the past. Can you think of an authoritarian regime from history which demanded people publicly declare for an ideology (even if they didn't believe in it), or else they couldn't work (or worse)? Maybe you can think of more than one such regime. Maybe you recall a time and place where people were black listed because authority didn't like how they thought or expressed themselves.
Emails above are quoted verbatim with only contact info redacted. I know you can google, but I would prefer Jarvis and Shaun be left alone; as I said, they're not the villains of the piece.
If you want to do something in relation to this, and you live in Alberta, write to your MLA (Find your MLA), as well as to Minister of Culture and Tourism Ricardo Mirando, and to Culture and Tourism Critic Ron Orr.
I suggest we encourage our politicians to hit the ideologues where they want to hit us, in the wallet. Any arts organization which serves primarily as a means of promoting an ideology should not receive government funding. All of our arts organizations should be apolitical and serve the people without prejudice or discrimination.
For those outside Alberta (and more broadly), please consider carefully before voting for any left or centre-left party which has not disavowed social justice ideology.
Our society moved forward by huge leaps as a result of the principles at the foundation of the civil rights and women's liberation movements, principles of equality of opportunity and freedom of expression. We should oppose anyone who would turn these principles to prejudices. We should resist being dragged backwards to a darker time when it was ok to treat individuals differently because of their race or gender.