For those that missed it, Stephan Harper made a statement last week about ordinary Canadians not caring about the arts. After my evening at Nuit Blanche, I found myself thinking about his statement more and more. I’ve concluded that Stephan Harper embodies what I believe many high school students to be (at least in Barrie).
The most obvious failure in Harper’s comment was his concept of the “ordinary Canadian.” There is no such thing. The product of multiculturalism is diversity; thus, nothing is normal and no one is ordinary.
Harper has taken hold of the Canadiana that is Tim Hortons and beavers and Kraft Dinner and hockey, and has applied it to everyone; a logical fallacy and proof of village idiocy. Just because he and his white buddies take their kids to hockey every Saturday morning and watch the game on CBC at night does not mean that they are the standard.
What’s sad is that the leader of our country has pigeonholed the majority of us as homogenous, low-culture, sports-watching meatheads with no concern for critical thought and new ideas. In a single statement, Harper completely undervalued our creativity, diversity and intelligence. He told the world that Canadians are as simple as the Mackenzie brothers.
What’s even sadder is that he chose to sustain his views by cutting arts funding. If he really thought that “ordinary Canadians” didn’t appreciate art, shouldn’t he be rectifying the problem? After all, cultures that pour into their arts are the richest and the ones we know the most about.
I feel like Harper and his cronies are the jocks in high school. Even though there is nothing inherently better (or worse) about sports than art, the jocks win out because a prewritten social script has already determined that they are cool. Sports = popular. Arts = nerdy. Nonsensical, but often the case. It’s time for Harper to grow up and realize that those definitions are shallow, inaccurate and harmful.
I should say that I’m not heavily involved in the arts community. But I still recognize that we have one and I know that the people in that community are some of our smartest. It’s a mistake to alienate them.