Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winston Smith - Alive And Well At The CBC?

You may recall the protagonist of Orwell's 1984, the records clerk named Winston Smith whose job it was to continually rewrite history so that it accorded with the constantly-changing imperatives of Big Brother's government. The novel's ending is ambiguous; Winston, a broken man, may or may not die.

I am here to report that Winston did, in fact, survive, and is currently in the employ of the CBC, going about the old job he had at the Ministry of Truth.

And the Corporation is keeping him busy.

Winston's first order from feckless management is to deftly excise a segment of Stuart McLean's classic about Dave and the Christmas turkey:
In the wake of an online campaign waged by animal activists, the CBC’s Vinyl Cafe radio program has decided to edit out portions of Stuart McLean’s beloved holiday story, “Dave Cooks the Turkey.” The campaigners alleged some listeners deemed parts of the fictional tale degrading to animals.
What are the offending elements, exactly? Here's one of the "degrading" passages:
“As the turkey defrosted it became clear what Grade B meant,” a recorded version of the story goes. “The skin on the right drumstick was ripped. Dave’s turkey looked like it had made a break from the slaughterhouse and dragged itself a block or two before it was captured and beaten to death.”
That is followed by this "insensitive outrage":
Unable to operate his oven, Dave eventually brings the bird to a hotel for cooking, where the chef says that it looks like the turkey had been “abused.”
You can listen to the sequence starting at about the 18 minute mark here.

CBC has posted on Facebook the following exercise in political correctness:
“Clearly we don’t want any part in the abuse of animals, nor in promoting the abuse of animals,” the post read.

“The story will be on the show next weekend. But we have made a few small changes. We have edited out a couple of lines that, after reading some of the thoughtful letters that have come in over the past week, we no longer feel comfortable airing on our show.”

Won't hurt a bit, I'm sure.

But Winston has a far greater and more involved task before him, one that has been made only slightly easier by some preclearance work the CBC has done in its ongoing efforts to exorcise the troublesome visual spirit of Jian Ghomeshi:

Winston is now tasked with removing his haunting digital presence:
CBC management announced Monday they are pulling almost all interviews conducted by Jian Ghomeshi offline, sparking outrage from Q listeners on social media.
But master of doublespeak, Chuck Thompson, the CBC's media relations chief, was quick to clarify:

“We aren’t erasing the archives, we’re just taking them offline for now”.

With language befitting a politician, Thompson went on to say,
“There is no obvious right or wrong approach here”. ... “We’ve been giving this a lot of careful consideration over the last few weeks and want to give the program every opportunity to be as unencumbered as possible while some very creative people reimagine Q’s future.”
Listeners and viewers were not so accommodating:
“Jian did many wonderful interviews. It is part of CBC’s history. You must not erase it!” wrote one commentator. “Editing the past would be very disingenuous,” wrote another.
But, of course, editing and rewriting the past has always been Winston Smith's forte, hasn't it?

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