Thursday, September 26, 2013

Polarizing Polaris Prize

Since 2006, the Polaris Music Prize has been awarded to a top Canadian musician or band.  According to its official mission statement,
The Polaris Music Prize is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours, celebrates and rewards creativity and diversity in Canadian recorded music by recognizing, then marketing the albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history, as judged by a panel of selected music critics.
At a September 23, 2013, gala ceremony, the 2013 Polaris Music Prize was awarded to the band GY!BE for its album ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!.  The band was not amused.  They released the following disapproving statement regarding their Polaris victory:
A FEW WORDS REGARDING THIS POLARIS PRIZE THING
hello kanada.
hello kanadian music-writers.
thanks for the nomination thanks for the prize- it feels nice to be acknowledged by the Troubled Motherland when we so often feel orphaned here. and much respect for all y'all who write about local bands, who blow that horn loudly- because that trumpeting is crucial and necessary and important.
and much respect to the freelancers especially, because freelancing is a hard [!@#$]ing gig, and almost all of us are freelancers now, right? falling and scrambling and hustling through these difficult times?
so yes, we are grateful, and yes we are humble and we are shy to complain when we've been acknowledged thusly- BUT HOLY [*&^%] AND HOLY COW- we've been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and "this scene is pretty cool but what it really [!@#$]ing needs is an awards show" is not a thought that's ever crossed our minds.
3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=
-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.
-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn't serve the cause of righteous music at all.
-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS [!@#$]ING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.

these are hard times for everybody. and musicians' blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT if the point of this prize and party is acknowledging music-labor performed in the name of something other than quick money, well then maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn't just lazy money patting itself on the back.
give the money to the kids let 'em put on their own [&^%]damn parties, give the money to the olds and let them try to write opuses in spite of, but let the muchmusic videostars fight it out in the inconsequential middle, without gov't. culture-money in their pockets.
us we're gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them…
amen and amen.
apologies for being such bores,
we love you so much / our country is [!@#$]ed,
xoxoxox
[GY!BE]
Politicultural critiques of the artistic establishment as scathing and heartfelt as this one are exceedingly rare.  This one is fascinating. 

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