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Blistering Barnacles! Alex Grant on On Freedom Of Speech
The 21st Annual Vancouver International Film Festival.

The final word on the VIFF festival

One of the principal causes of our city’s blasé, know-nothing indulgence of mediocre, coasting-on-empty cultural ‘high lights’ such as VIFF 21 is the ongoing, fat-cat relentless concentrated ownership of the print and broadcast media.

As would-be ‘global’ corporations like Izzy Asper’s Can-West – which owns almost all of the ‘important’ print outlets in the Lower Mainland – get deeper into debt due to overweeningly ambitious ‘takeovers’ they rely increasingly for ‘free’ copy upon any and all festival events simply to fill up space and airtime. They also commonly hire young reporters as low paid reviewers, whose sophistication is paper-thin to ‘push’ these skin-deep events. Asper’s Winnipeg –based Can-West took over Conrad Black’s Chicago –based Hollinger newspaper empire at humungous financial risk and within weeks reduced its national daily The National Post in size and coverage, especially of The Arts, and simutaneously increased its price.

Less for more which has become the byword of this execrable, propagandistic empire – totally pro the Federal Liberals and the State of Israel and providing calamitous coverage of these matters.
More crucially, for all his faults as an extreme right-wing rabble-rouser, Conrad Black at least would consent to publish corrections of the factual errors in The Post. Errors very commonly to be found in the wearying middle-brow and ill-considered writings of Chicago-based film maven Roger Ebert. A flack in the employ also of The Disney Corporation whose relationship with the film industry is too cosy. Being a part of the system Ebert, whose judgement palls every day, is a part of the problem. And he is hopelessly square, endorsing films without a trace of style content or originality.

The Thomson chain’s Globe & Mail national daily also will brook no criticism of its film reviewers, even though one is utterly condescending to both movies and moviegoers and the other is notorious for inept plot synopses and the attribution of cast members to characters [just see his preposterous review of RED PLANET for a confused account of a simple genre film.]

Try getting a correction for a factual error in The Globe – good luck with such an enterprise!
The Vancouver Sun’s editorial board is no less adamantine in failing to admit to faulty reporting. Freedom of speech for the reader is a grossly misunderstood concept in Canada. Even the most egregious lapses in knowledge by its writers are overlooked,

Everyone has a right to their opinions, of course, but nobody has the right to strut their incompetence and to deliver misinformation, surely,,,
Such a sans-faire-rien [who cares] attitude in current journalism is so pervasive that events lacking in rigour and astuteness such as VIFF 21 are treated as though they were The Second Coming of Christ - awesome,dude! Above and beyond criticism of any kind. After all they provide cannon fodder for the raw recruits at the reviews desk.

When mediocrity is indulged, our tax-supported cultural do-gooders and High Pooh-Bahs feel wholly entitled to carry on regardless with their lazy arrogant antics, squandering the public purse.
When not a soul cares about quality, when art is utterly confused with trendiness and the passing fancies of a jejeune public, trained by the media to prefer air-headed capricious know-nothingness, is anyone surprised?

Just spend a half-hour listening to the wannabe filmmakers and pseuds chatting in the VIFF 21 queues and in the auditoria before the film and you will be shocked by the pig-ignorance of many as to the virtues of classic cinema. Penny-pinching, propagandistic media plus mediocrity dished out by our culture purveyors - what an unholy alliance between vapidity and vacuousness!

These selfsame people who allegedly care about the medium of cinema have no excuse for their vapid views, when video-DVD culture beckons cheaply and scads of scholarly film books proliferate as do lively monthly film journals and magazines.

Yet established reviewers often fail to do their homework or research and pass one rubbishy data. E.G. The Sun stated months ago that Texan author Patricia Highsmith, the creator of the ‘Tom Ripley’ novels was British. They never corrected this ludicrous suggestion. Also months ago the aforesaid Roger Ebert utterly confused the trio of John Wayne- Howard Hawks westerns RIO BRAVO ELDORADO and RIO LOBO in The National Post. No staff member caught this typical lapse,
With media ‘leadership ‘ marked indelibly by such a dire lack of care and concern small wonder that amateurish self-glorifying and self-perpetuating festival events such as VIFF 21 blithely pursue inexorable mediocrity.

© Alex Grant - October 9th 2002

Disagree with Alex. Well debate him in person mornings at his 'office' on W10th, the coffee's hot and a crowd welcome follow the 'Bean'.

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