Painted Motorcycle Helmets

As many have noted, Canadian culture has been given little mention in the current election. As an employee of the CBC, I find this lamentable, but as a citizen of Canada it is understandable. The Crisis at the CBC has jumped the shark.

But now the NDP has spoken up with a plan that makes our old friend Kate McMillan’s eyes bleed, as she wrote in a post in the CBC Rountable blog called “My Name is Joe.” (The title confused me until I realized it is actually lifted from a 6-year-old beer commercial)

Ms. McMillan is a blogger and an artist. She paints motorcycle helmets. She makes a living doing this. She thinks that artists who fail to make a living at their art are bad artists:

“Perhaps, if we had the same expectations of self-sufficency of those in the arts, theatre, television and film as we do of any other entrepreneur or employee, they might actually create something worth paying for.”

Of course, in his lifetime, Van Gogh only sold one painting. Does this mean Kate is a better artist than Van Gogh, because she sells more painted motorcycle helmets than he sold paintings?

What kind of comparison is that? you ask. Ok then, forget about Vincent Van Gogh and Kate McMillan. Know that Sum 41 have spent time at the teat. As has Corner Gas. As has Mike Myers. If your yardstick is profitability, even the most commercial needed a boost at some point.

Because the reality is that we are a sparsely-populated country sharing a language and geography with a much bigger one that happens to be a cultural monolith. There is no shame in admitting this. We’ve known it for a long time. So sometimes our artists need some help.

And some of these artists we don’t agree with. But hey, that’s art.

Look, I’m no snob. But if all we’re left with is painted motorcycle helmets, and all we’re inspired by is beer commercials, well, maybe a little government funding isn’t so bad after all.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted January 20, 2006 at 12:47 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Nice try, but Van Gogh wasn’t funded by the government

  2. Dwight Williams
    Posted January 17, 2006 at 7:44 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    No argument there.

    And I speak as someone who’d like to see at least one home-grown comic book publisher achieve the success levels of a DC or a Marvel.

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