An Open Letter to Canadians by Bobby Del Rio

So let me get this straight... The bastard Conservatives are anti-gay, pro-censorship, and now anti-art, and we’re just supposed to keep our mouths shut?

Hmmm.

Here’s an alternative: Fuck you, Stephen Harper.
First you try and tell all my gay friends that they shouldn’t have the same rights to marry like you and all your ugly, boring friends. Then you try and decide what kind of art is ‘moral’ and what isn’t. Now you’re gutting our international infrastructure to market our art to other countries – when what we need is MORE money, not less.

If this was the schoolyard, I would’ve kicked your ass like a year ago. And I would’ve spent your milk money on whores.

This political street fight has officially entered the artistic arena. While artists are continually relegated to the realm of pauper, vagrant or morally-ambiguous in the eyes of this antiquated government, it’s time to fight back! Let’s stop writing shitty plays about Newfoundland in 1932, or horrible TV shows about small towns in Canada, or trying to recreate Road to Avonlea as the poster child for Canadiana.

We’re getting fucked here, people. And when you get fucked, you fight back. That’s how I was raised. And, proverbially, that’s how I roll…

What we need is some SERIOUS BACKLASH to all these Conservative moralists who are doing their best to portray a society that is anti-gay, anti-risk and all white all the time. Institutions like the Shaw Festival will have to realize that you can’t keep making all your art to serve the whims of 70-year old white people. Toronto is 47% non-white, the old people here are afraid of computers, and we have more categories of sexual orientation than I could effectively research in a master’s thesis.

I want to see a Canada whose art reflects all of these wonderful things. I want to see a TV show about an Aboriginal lesbian couple. I want to see a play done at Stratford that makes teenagers say, “Dude, you HAVE to go to Stratford!”, I want to see our failed Canadian entertainment industry say, “Okay guys, we’re not making money doing American-lite versions of art we cannot afford to produce anyway. Let’s start taking some serious RISKS, and show that you don’t need MONEY to make great art, you just need great IDEAS.”

Here’s the truth: We have lots of talented, sexy, edgy, dangerous, risky, compelling, daring, young, angry, horny, gloriously-diabolic artists. In this country, they have no home. They’re supposed to make their best attempts at creating pleasure for white, blue-haired, Conservatives. The Stephen Harpers of the world are much happier this way: Gutting funding for artistic projects that might actually succeed, and siphoning that money to kill Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

But who are the worst offenders of all? The Canadian citizens that allow all this to happen. Talk about an inferiority complex…

Bobby Del Rio is a writer, actor, and producer, based in Toronto

8 comments:

VDW said...

Well said, I whole-heartedly agree :)

Sean said...

Wow Bobby. Was there anyone in that insipid rant that you didn't alienate? Conservatives? The Elderly? The Entire Canadian Public? Who are you trying to reach anyway? It would benefit you to draw people to your cause by sighting specific examples of how art improves our world. What about the artist who designed their car? cellphone? computer? What about the artist who designed their clothes or that advertisement their reading or that packaging? What about the artist who offers people the street level opportunity to interact with art in a gallery setting? in public? @ Nuit Blanche? I'm pissed off at Harper too and his blatantly biased attitude towards the arts but you won't see me in the street yelling at everyone "You did this to me!" There are more constructive ways to go about your business. Maybe next time you should consider a more coercive approach before you go off like a petulant 10 year old. Your article makes me embarassed to call myself 'Artist'.

Keren said...

Often times, stating the brutal truth about the paucity of efficacious theatre and other art in our country demands "ranting." The last person who commented on the open letter misplaced who, exactly, is suffering from "alienation." It is our cutting-edge artists who are alienated not the Conservatives, or the well-heeled blue haireds that watch Shaw performed in British accents. And, please, don't muddle the debate by relativizing everyone as "artists": graphic designers and engineers are not artists. They play an important role in our culture, no doubt, but their role is quite distinct from that of companies such as Mammalian Diving Reflex or Bluemouth.

sean said...

Keren and Bobby. I understand now where you're coming from. Neither of you is really talking about artists or their defence, you're talking about 'performance artists' and their defence, huh? I checked out Mammalian Diving Reflex (nice booster site for Darren Odonnell. Maybe you've seen him around?) Bobby, could you be more specific next time when writing your articles? You see, I consider 'performance' based 'art' to be about the lowest of the low on the totem pole of any artistic endeavours. Performance 'Art' is what people do when they have no real talent. Performance is good. Performance 'art' is drech. I'm all for breaking down boundaries. I challenge conventions in Art and society with my own work all the time. I challenge the viewer. I challenge other artists and I'm open to debate about my subjects. People should get involved with Art. I'm all for that. But performance 'art' makes my skin crawl. When Harper went off about the arts on the news I'm sure he had performance 'art' going through his mind. It turns people off, even us legitimate artists. I think we'll just have to agree to disagree.

chris said...

In response to the final line ("Bobby Del Rio is a writer, actor, and producer, based in Toronto")in your open letter; cum "blah, blah, blog", I say to you - "not for long."
How can you anticipate an honest and supportive reply from your peers when your recent diatribe [DEF: "a bitter and abusive speech or writing."] does nothing but alienate your rights of expression and reveal you as a school-yard bully and loud mouth! One who would spend grant money on; as you so eloquently stated, whores. The shitty plays, horrible TV shows and Avonlea-esque Canadiana that you referred to may not especially represent the artistic/cultural Canada of today but the same could be said about a play or television series that tries to envelope Canadian ideals and image through the wacky trials and tribulations of a cast and crew making a porn movie. Sorry, Bobby, but that is not my cultural Canada! The image of the "angry young man" of England in the 1950 has always held a tremendous panache for young theatre artists. But their demonstrations and words were a protest against the morals, mediocrity and hypocrisy of the British Middle Class not a whining rant about grant deprivation. Back to my original point, "Not for long." in response to your
"Bobby Del Rio is a writer, actor, and producer, based in Toronto"
Don't you dare apply for or receive any level of grant funding. You do not deserve it. If you would rail so adamantly against the establishment; one who has supported you in the past, and then happliy cash a grant cheque, the hypocrisy of that would so take the hot wind out of your essay's sails and place you as nothing but a well paid avant garde artiste. But those two things seldom go hand in hand and sadly, never affect change.

J. Kelly said...

I suspect Bobby Del Rio is secretly a for-hire ranter whose clients include the Shaw Festival and the Conservative Party of Canada. How do you even begin to respond to this kind of wrong-headed vitriol?

holigolitely said...

well said. I'm posting a link to your blog.

Darren O'Donnell said...

always late to the discussion but what the hell. Yo, Sean, www.mammalian.ca is not a booster site for me, it IS my site. So, ya, I boost, yo.