Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ET: Canadian Awards - Best or Incest?

The Governor General Literary Award nominees have been announced. And as always, the same old, same old nominees will pull out the same old, same old tuxes and formals to attend the same old, same old gala as they attended for the Giller Awards a short while ago.

They are to be presented by the Canada Council, which Lemon ripped apart a few months ago.

There's a major problem in Canadian culture awards. And for that matter research awards. The field of reviewers is so narrow and so politically correct since it's a government funded award, that nomination packages can be recycled year to year.

Write a play, poem, novel or collection of short stories that focusses on a segment of multicultural society, on feminism, non-heterosexual, or victimization and you get nominated. Period.

That's a major problem with awards in Canada that are funded by the government. The system sets up review boards that fund, essentially, themselves, or clones of themselves, or non-threatening non-innovative work. All the awarders know all the awardees.

A second problem is that all reviewers must be bilingual, which cuts the 'population base' for reviewers to a small minority. And a third problem is that the big universities rely on these 'awards' to maintain their research centres and graduate students; these universities complain if the heads of these research centres aren't funded.

The result is that Canadian research is non-innovative, repetitious, locked in the postmodern ideology of the 1980s. All you have to do is take a look at Canadian journals in the social sciences and humanities, to see how deadlocked the ideas are. And - that's what gets funded, because award winners are selected by their friends. Mutual Masturbation at public cost.

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