Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tommy Douglas mini - Playing devil's advocate

Lot's of venom and charges of spinelessness thrown CBC's way but playing devil's advocate for just a moment, how would we feel as Dippers if a docudrama about Jimmie Gardiner had Tommy Douglas say some very unpleasant, discrediting things that he never said, just in order to provide the drama of giving the main character a more villainous opponent?

I get that it never pretended to be a 100% accurate historical record, but we are specifically talking about having a real person who lived only a few years ago and who's family are still alive, say things he didn't say, drink when he didn't drink, condemn trade unionists in a speech when he wasn't even in office, appear to be anti-immigrant when he wasn't...

I'd be ticked if he was my grandfather.

I don't want to lose this otherwise excellent docudrama - I submit some minor editing to remove these apparently confirmed to be false and arguably slanderous elements is an alternative that would be appropriate. I simply don't believe that the life of someone like Tommy Douglas needs to be enhanced with falsehoods.


berlynn said...

It's censorship for f*** sake! Canada is not a country that condones censorship, particularly of a f***ing docu-drama!

Cliff said...

Would it be censorship if I wrote that you were a pedophile and you succesfully sued me over that clearly false accusation?

Also as well as berlynn's comment, and I'm close to a free speech absolutist so I sympathize even if I disagree - I'm getting some anonymous posts. The policy here is put your name to your opinions or post elsewhere.

wonderdog said...

By definition, the film is not slanderous, because you can't slander the dead. So let's put that one aside from the get-go, as well as your pedophile analogy, which relies on the idea of slander.

I would expect that if the roles were reversed, you would see very heavy criticism of the film. I doubt, however, that you would see a campaign to take it out of circulation.

Make no mistake: the reason this film is being taken out of circulation is not that it is unfair to Gardiner. It is being taken out of circulation because it promotes public health care, as a result of an effort backed by opponents of public health care, exploiting the unfair portrayal of Gardiner to that end.

Niles said...

Docudrama should not be defined as "the right to just make shit up and present it as more entertaining than the actual truth, ie: Truthiness".

Speaking as a Douglasonian, if the disputed stuff in the film is false, then the film makers and distributors should by all means get rid of the ridiculous material and let Gardiner's character stand or fall on what he actually DID.

If he was around today, given the rapprochement to Gardiner by Douglas himself, what makes balkers think Douglas wouldn't be ripping people new ones over calumny and bullshit huddling under the banner of 'honouring' him?

It's a disservice to both men if crap is allowed to sit and stink on the floor while being called room decor.

Cliff said...

By definition, the film is not slanderous, because you can't slander the dead. So let's put that one aside from the get-go, as well as your pedophile analogy, which relies on the idea of slander.

Mm. No, let's not 'put that one aside'. From a purely legal perspective you are correct, but I would argue that a docudrama production of a piece of very recent political history, particularly freighted as it was, with heavy public policy implications for current issues, has a moral and professionalresponsibility at least commensurate with what the law would forbid with a living subject.

Demonizing a real person with demonstrably historically false sequences should be indefensible.

berlynn said...

Demonizing?!? Puh-leeze! Gardner was demonized? Oh, that's hilarious! It was a docudrama for pity's sake and you just do not get that!

I agree with wonderdog, this is an excuse to shut down a voice for public health and folks like you are too willing and eager to go along for the ride. A rusty mind, perhaps?

Cliff said...

Can't get past ideology to see simple fairness and justice - who's got the rusty mind?

berlynn said...

Fairness and justice? In a docu-drama? We are talking about censorship of a docu-drama here people!

Cliff said...

So a docudrama biography doesn't have any responsipbility to fairness and justice?

So you'd be fine with, say the Can-West Global Chain, doing their own bio of Douglas and making it a poison pen piece that called him a wife beater and a drug addict?

It's just a docu-drama after all, it would be censorship to stop them.

You're the one who has linked the pulling of the film to political interests opposed to what the film stands for - fine. I won't argue that point, it may even be true - but that still leaves an irresponsible filmmaker who gave such reactionary forces the opening to attack the film.

I return to the idea of removing what would add up to a few minutes of footage of the most eregious falsehoods about Gardiner - so that Prairie Giant doesn't sit in a CBC basement forever.

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