Is Canada’s high-low culture war a figment of John Doyle’s imagination?
For the second day in a row, the Globe and Mail‘s television columnist, John Doyle, is boldly claiming there is a culture war going on in Canada that’s taking place on our television screens and in the pages of our books. Today, Doyle rails against the perceived elitism of both the Giller Prize and the Gemini Awards, both of which he claims laud praise on work that satisfies an overeducated few. What people really want, says Doyle, is entertainment for the masses. His evidence? The popularity of Stephen Harper and Rob Ford.
He also points to this year’s victors. Giller winner Johanna Skibsrud‘s The Sentimentalists is undeniably obscure, and Gaspereau Press’s initial refusal to outsource printing to a larger publishing house reeks of elitism. Why are we rewarding books and authors no one has ever heard of? What he fails to mention is that among the past 10 winners of the prestigious literary award are Linden McIntyre, Joseph Boyden, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro and Michael Ondaatje. Hardly the little guys.
Doyle is similarly irked that The Tudors was awarded best drama at the Geminis: “The Tudors is only in the most vaguely technical way a Canadian show,” laments Doyle, before claiming Flashpoint should have won. He finishes his rant with the following rhetorical question: “This is a hockey-and-Tim-Hortons country, isn’t it?”
But The Tudors is a popular show in Canada, not an obscure elitist one. Doyle also neglects to mention that the Geminis were hosted by Glee‘s Cory Monteith, and that the ceremony featured a tribute to Degrassi High, as selected by the public’s votes. Or that the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a drama went to Jared Keeso from Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story. We’d say a CBC-produced docu-drama about the life of everyone’s favourite loud suit–wearing hockey commentator is about as Tim Hortons as it gets.