Wayward Artists

December 7th, 2018

Subscribe To No Ism

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:

2018-12-05.  I need a big favour from you guys.  The AMF has given me another hoop to jump through to get our grant.  They need me to get the whole cast to sign the attached Statutory Declaration by this Friday.

It came out of the blue and it's pretty frustrating that CAVCO numbers won't suffice.

The one concession they are giving us is that it DOES NOT need to be signed by a commissioner of oaths, we simply need your signature, to write in your info and check the lines that apply to you.

Sorry for the short amount of time to do this but I really appreciate the help!

If you could send it to Shaun Donnelly at xxxxxxxxxx by Friday I'd be very grateful :) Hope all is well!

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.

____ I am a resident of the Province of Alberta, and/or
____ I self-identify as female, gender non-conforming, a visible minority, a member of an Indigenous group and/or a person with disabilities.

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

2018-12-05.  I find this really difficult, as the second clause is racist and sexist, discriminatory against straight white men.  I know in some circles, such discrimination is acceptable, it it isn't for me.

My initial inclination was simply not to sign it, but I appreciate you're looking recoup costs on production and may not share in a hateful philosophy which uses 'diversity' as a euphemism for race and gender quotas, and are merely trying to make back some money on cost of production.  So for the purposes of this exercise and as a form of protest, I self identify as a hobbit female from Middle Earth.

Alternatively, I'm happy to sign a residency form which does not have the discriminatory race and gender clause.

Sorry to be a pain in the butt, but this is some serious racist, sexist bullshit for which my tolerance levels are extremely low.

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.

2018-12-05. This is a required document from the Alberta Media Fund and must be signed in the same name you signed your contract and are credited on screen.  It is now a requirement of all AMF funded projects.  Refusal to fill it out properly will result in you not counting as Alberta spend and likely not being cast very often. Up to you.

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.

2018-12-05. Thanks, Shaun;

I'm not interested in being cast in racist productions or productions supported by racists.

I believe my contract is under Eric Pettifor, but I had asked that I be credited as Deimon Slagg.  My name has been legally changed to Deimon Slagg and I prefer not to be dead named.

I'm attaching a second option for residency with racist/sexist clause removed.

Thanks,

Deimon

To which Shaun replies

2018-12-05.  I have never known Jarvis to be racist or sexist but I will make sure everyone knows your concerns so they can avoid these issues with you in future.

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."

2018-12-05. Thanks, Shaun, and I've printed out your threat in order to have it on record even if my hard drives dies.

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:

2018-12-05.  What threat?  You said you didn't want to be involved in productions that require you to sign a statutory declaration so I have let the AMF know your concerns.  Producers will need to budget accordingly if they cast you.  I happen to agree that the clause is ridiculous (although probably not for the reason you do) but in Alberta it's very difficult to produce anything without AMF involvement.  As producers if we take their money we have to follow their rules whether we agree with them or not.

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.