I never actually watched Batman: The Animated Series when I was a child; it was on the wrong channel for me, so it wasn’t part of my morning viewing routine*. It is only now, as an adult, that I am slowly making my way through it, and I must say (as virtually everyone must say sooner or later) that it’s actually pretty amazing. The music is incredible, the art is excellent (for a TV show), and the incorporation of themes and motifs from films noirs of the thirties and forties was most impressive**.
As most fans will tell you, probably the greatest thing that it added to the whole Batman mythos is the character of Harley Quinn, a genuinely nice young woman who is codependently infatuated with the absolute worst boyfriend logically possible: the Joker. Harley’s infatuation motivates her to obsessively court the Joker’s favour by embarking upon a life of crime; as you might imagine, the Joker (being as he is a complete psychopath) is completely unimpressed by her antics, never showing her anything more than contempt or at best condescension, and keeping her around only as unpaid help in his schemes. Harley, suffering from an almost complete lack of self-esteem, is always back for more.
I’m bringing it up right now because I am increasingly finding that the relationship between Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, and the Stephen Harper regime is reminding me of that between Harley Quinn and the Joker.
Let’s be honest here; isolated exceptions aside, the Conservatves don’t like the CBC; they never have and they never will. The very idea of a national, government-owned-but-arms-length broadcaster is anathema to their political ideology. They know that killing the CBC outright would provoke too much of an uproar***, so they have evidently committed themselves to killing it slowly through tens of thousands of cuts, until it is incapable of producing any programming that anyone would ever actually want to watch.
The CBC, however, seems to have convinced itself that if it kisses Stephen Harper’s ass often enough, and toes his ideological line to the very letter, that he will eventually come to love them, and they will ride off happily together into the sunset. Thus, we see ever expanding forums given to the empty-headed pork-fisted populist Don Cherry, the thoroughly repulsive crypto-fascist Kevin O’Leary and the anti-scientific windbag Rex Murphy. We see easy-ball interviews of the Prime Minister (during election season, no less), and a contest to “name the Prime Minister’s new kitten.” While I have heard the economic case for it, it’s hard not to see this latest bit of lowest-common-denominator patriarchal horseshit as more of the same.
Now, understand, obviously I’m not saying that the Prime Minister is working busily in behind the scenes, ordering up these changes while cackling maniacally. Quite the opposite; my point is that Harper in all likelihood, doesn’t give a flying toss one way or another, other than perhaps occasional amusement at the fact that something which should exist to hold him to account is perfectly willing to neuter itself out of naked fear of him. Nor am I saying that “While the Women Watch” was brought in exclusively to court anti-feminist support, but I do believe that it is part of a conscious trend towards dumbing down in the hopes of appearing less “elitist.”
So in the vanishingly unlikely possibility that anyone actually making decisions at the CBC ever reads this, let me make it easy for you: the Tories are never going to love you: not ever. You can change every aspect of yourself; you can purge every vestige of lie-bral intellecshoolisum and fill your line-up exclusively with idiots, internalized misogynists, and blowhards calling for violent crackdowns on organized labour…it’s not going to make a fucking bit of difference. They are still going to sieze upon everything that you broadcast which can be remotely interpreted as critical and hold it up as proof that there is a vast left-wing media conspiracy against them. That’s just what they do.
Now for god’s sake, cover your shame already!
*I was, however, one of vanishingly few people who can honestly say that I saw Mask of the Phantasm in theatres.
**Plus, I’m more than a little surprised by how cleverly they went about skirting regulations over sex and violence in North American children’s television.
***In spite of its lengthy downward slide (largely brought about by generations of budget cuts), the CBC retains a broad chunk of popular support.