Ezra Levant is throwing a fit because some music he doesn’t like got a government grant. The music in question is a punk band called Living with Lions, and Ezra Levant is angry because they named their most recent album, which he almost certainly has not actually listened to, “holy shit”, and depicted Jesus Christ as a turd on the jacket:
“But to smear Christians that way? Free money from Heritage Canada!
It’s one thing if private citizens, or even music companies, want to buy that kind of crap. But since when does the federal government — especially one called a Conservative government — hand out cash for trash?
But that’s the paradox of subsidizing music. By definition, you’re going to be subsidizing the worst of it.
Because the best don’t need subsidies. They’re successful on their own. People pay to hear them or see them.”
Levant should really know better. He would not currently have a show on Sun News Network if he hadn’t been able to so cleverly cash in on his run-in with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, so he of all people should realize that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Levant’s butt-hurt rant will do a lot to help Living With Lions sell more albums. He is playing right into their hand.
But the issue of offending Christians is a side-show here. The real issue, the one that is actually politically relevant right now is that of arts funding. Levant’s intention to use this non-controversy to whip up some good ol’ righteous indignation in all the Ordinary Canadians (TM) is pretty obvious in the above quote. Enter Matthew Angus of the Fast Romantics. Angus is a musician, and by all accounts a very well-spoken one, so one would expect him to be able to tackle this issue much better than I ever could. He does not dissapoint:
“I’m going to assume you’re a quality journalist, and as such, you obviously did a lot of research into the music industry. I’ll assume, therefore, that you know all about some of Canada’s incredibly talented bands like Metric, Broken Social Scene, Sloan, and the New Pornographers. These bands and others like them are among the most successful in Canada, in some cases also seeing strong support internationally.
According to your logic, those bands didn’t need any financial assistance to get where they are. They were so incredibly good from the get-go that they managed to record their albums without any seed money. They were also so amazing that from their first live show, they were packing venues without any assistance from PR firms or promoters. They didn’t have to spend any money on food or rent, because their music was just that good. When you’re a great musician, according to your logic, all of life’s basic necessities just come to you, and all of the requirements of being an active recording and touring band just appear magically from the gods.
It only works like that, Mr. Levant, in your head. You see, all of the aforementioned bands are a cross-section of Canada’s “best”. They did not, however, get there purely on their own merit. They needed government help, and believe it or not, they all benefited from a significant amount of federal and provincial money.”
That’s what us on the internet like to refer to as “pwnage”. Without arts funding, there would not be a Canadian music industry. Or worse, it would be made up entirely of highly profitable Celine Dion, Justin Bieber and Nickelback clones. We need somebody to level the artistic playing field to avoid this near-apocalyptic scenario. This is the kind of argument that we on the left are going to have to make a lot in the coming years of Harper majority. Some things, like music, art, education, and journalism are just too priceless to be left to the private sector. Just because public expenditures don’t yield obvious quantifiable returns, doesn’t mean that they aren’t valuable investments.
Just to piss Levant off, I think I’ll go buy both Living with Lions’ and the Fast Romantics’ latest albums on itunes. I’m hardly a music critic, but I’ll let you know if they were any good.