Thursday, June 16, 2005

Cleaner

I received my midterm examination essay worth 60% of the film course today. Three comments, no quality feedback. Still gushed to my mother about it.

"An A-plus," I giggled into the phone. A few students asked me for my number; they wanted to study for the final. One was an "aspiring filmmaker" whose previous work comically dealt with George Orwell's Animal Farm. He slyly slipped in that he was looking for actresses. I told him, frankly, I was not interested (in addition to spending the rest of my summer overseas).

"I'm simply not photogenic," I tried explaining. "I may look normal now, but in front of a camera, I look worse than a cross between a mule and a man."

He persisted. I was indifferent and vaguely humoured him with a general show of interest.

***

I'm almost done Stossel's book, just a few more chapters to go. It's a great read for any journalist (and non-journalist). You know, I agree with him when he says schemers and liars get away with things because we're too polite to call them on it. First semester of journalism class required that we attend a presentation by a guest speaker every week. I thought the goal of the faculty was to train my budding classmates in the art of confrontation and analysis. It ended up being a forum for public figures to vent their frustrations to an adoring, mostly sympathetic, crowd of students (who, by the way, were required to cover the event like it meant something). Free publicity! Needless to say, I was a casuality of my own impulses everytime I opened my mouth because I, somehow, take pleasure in watching people deflect accusations while painfully maintaining courtesies. (What is it about anger that is so difficult to emote when others are watching? What makes it so tough to stray away from the script?)

I don't think there is anything wrong with humiliating someone who embezzles money and takes advantage of a system that never confronts the perpetrators due to "impoliteness." When Ste-Laurent borough councillor Alan DeSousa came to talk to us, he mentioned how two-thirds of the city's water pipelines are in either disrepair or unuseable. He accused the city of not being reasonable enough to invest in the project. The city? When has the government been quick to (re)act? Ha! I think bureaucratic bullshit can easily be sidestepped if private companies were conveniently allowed to bid for the contract. At least, that way, the threat of termination will guarantee employees will not be paid for just standing around. While unions were created to protect the rights of its workers, their modern incarnation has merely trampled on competition and grown to monopolistic proportions. What's the harm in bruising egos? What's at stake when people take offence? Our society takes pleasure in victimizing itself anyway.

When Tyrone told me he felt sorry for me because the white man is always coming down hard on "my people", I realized what minorities (as in, anti-WASPs) have created: a new social perception that preyed on the pity of others. I am not a victim to petty politics. I am living in the confines of a limited environment that focuses too much on itself, too much on discrimination and discontent that examples of minority satisfaction is systematically swept under the Persian rug. It's a potemkin village, this politically correct proactivism. Why do I want to portray myself in a poorer condition than I am? Yes, I've been hurt by racists and bigots throughout my life, but does that mean I should drown in audience-approved sorrow? I don't need anyone fending for me. I will take offence when I am offended for myself!

It makes me angry when self-righteous, self-appointed "civil servants" take advantage of everyone's plight (both major and minor) and make it into a human tragedy fit for the bank and fresh for funding (though such simplifications are routinely denied).

Sometimes, one confuses the right thing to say with the right to say it. Sooner or later, there will be no alternative left.

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