Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020 - 1:56pm
The year 2020 started for me in 2019, on the eve of October 28th to be precise, when I went out into the backyard to start a bonfire for a Halloween gathering, slipped on the ramp we had set up for our elderly dog, and broke my leg. In three places. A Maissoneuve fracture. Fucking dog. What started out as three months unable to leave my couch, let alone my house, has turned into fourteen fucking months, thanks to Covid-19. Thanks to you. And fuck you for complaining.
Fuck you for thinking this is part of a conspiratorial “great reset.” Fuck you for thinking this is a ploy of the “illuminati.” Fuck you for thinking Bill Gates just wants to inject us with some kind of tracker. Fuck you for being an anti-vaxxer, an anti-masker, an anti-authoritarian firearms dreamer who wants to resist against a totalitarian government. Seriously, go ahead and try, you fat fuck. Fuck you for thinking “only those who have pre-existing conditions will die” or “the old die soon enough, anyway.” Fuck you for thinking the number of dead people is statistically insignificant. Fuck you and your freedom, and fuck you for not realizing that your freedom comes with responsibility. Fuck you for thinking this is all part of some conspiratorial governmental plan. To what end, you stupid, ignorant fuck?
The other day, we learned we will end the year pretty close to where we started it…in a full on lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19. In the early half of the year, we had truly flatlined the infection curve. Everyone was onboard, willing to do what needed to be done, and we all stayed home and the infections minimized. Then, we opened up the world and the economy, too soon I would say, and that infection curve started to rise. People were starting to conspiratorially theorize, Trudeau had said something about a great reset. The tin hat tantrum folk thought this meant a worldwide cabal planning our doom. But maybe, just maybe…benefit of the doubt here…he meant equalizing the fairness of our society. Perhaps this would mean completely renegotiating our social contract and changing things in such a massive way they would be unrecognizable to now. Have you ever considered how much pain and misery is suffered right now? Maybe, just maybe, a reorganization would be for the better of all. But maybe you’re doing okay, so you hate this idea. Well, fuck you, you selfish coyote. And to be true, fuck you for even thinking he meant something beyond the obvious. It's surprising the mental gymnastics it takes to turn an innocuous comment such as that into this inane conspiracy theory. I didn't think the YouTube University folks had enough equipment in the gym.
It sounds like I’m angry. I am angry. I am angry at these people. Yet the one I’m angriest at most of all, the worst of the crazed jackals who have made this situation as insufferable as it can be, is me. You think I’m angry at all these uneducated fools who mistake opinion for fact? Well the true target of my vitriolic angst is myself. And I’ll tell you why…because what hurts me the most is my fault. All these tin foil tools who think the cabalistic, cultish, conspirators are all out to get them? Well, they are deserving of our scorn. But it’s not really their fault.
You see, they’ve been lied to, cajoled, misinformed and de-educated. The modus operandi of conservative political thinking is keep the people dumb, give them enemies they can direct their anger at, and while they’re confused and bickering and blaming a Liberal government or brown people stealing their jobs, the cons can try and gain or retain power, and fill their pockets with green backs. Or multicoloured, rainbow Monopoly backs, for we Canadians.
Conservative political thinking has convinced their followers that there’s too much money going to public education and that teachers are whiny babies who need to get a real job. They’re all convinced teachers summer in the Bahamas laughing at their huge pay cheques, enjoying their massive pensions and high fiving the union leadership. The Conservatives make people scoff at education, and convince them that anyone who has gone to university for a liberal arts degree is a socialist and an elitist. And by god, we’ve ensured everyone hates the elite. Why would we want the best of the best of anyone for anything? They don’t understand the common man, those fucking communists. But I want the best person for the job. Sure, you can make an argument that the word ‘elite’ has come to mean old stuffy white men using their social cache to keep the working stiff inured to their pay cheque scrambling plight. But…isn’t that a Conservative? Oh, they’re so good at misdirection.
So they defund education, and the voters love it. They mock so-called fat cat teachers, and therefore their voter base has a hostile relationship with the people who spend more time with their children than they do. Then anyone with a higher education or a degree is looked at suspiciously. Suddenly, you’ve devalued education to the point folks believe their opinion and lived experience is more important than facts, and they rail against anyone trying to learn them something. Now you have an electorate full of the New Dumb, with enemies around every corner, and they live in a situation that, if bad, is everyone’s fault but their own.
Now, take these mentally stunted troglodytes and throw them amongst the wolves of Facebook and other social media, a messaging system that they have no real understanding of, and they create these little social echo chambers for themselves, forcing them to think that everyone believes the same things they do. They’re forced messaging and ads and misinformation that will suit their biases so that they’ll click and read and subscribe and buy, and that echo chamber becomes a din of delusion, a panacea for everything that ails them. They’re suckered, their brains turn to mush, and they fuck the world up with their ineptitude.
But it’s not their fault. They’re too far gone into the realm of the nescient at this point.
So you see, I’m not really angry at them. I pity them, in a sense. My anger and restlessness isn’t even because of Covid-19 and lockdowns and the loss of living. I’m mad that my living was lost long before Covid-19. And it was my own damn fault. I have no excuses like the mentally retarded brethren of the conservative community. I chose filmmaking as a vocation, and filmmaking is an incredibly risky endeavour, yet one that I always succeeded at, by hook or by crook. So when it came around to bite me in the ass, I should not have been surprised.
I happened upon an opportunity by a leading Canadian broadcaster to create a single camera sitcom for them. They loved my idea, saw our spec episodes, and wanted new ones. So I signed a deal...one which didn’t provide any financing until the shoot was over and I proved it was made. So, how the fuck do you create an entire six episode, half hour series for a major national broadcaster when they aren’t going to give you your financing until the shoot is over? You seek out a producer whom you trust will get you financing up front...somehow...and pay everyone back when the financing finally comes in. But what if you want to prove yourself by making something so much better than the amount of financing they’re going to give you? This is your shot, right? You beg, plead, borrow, and find a producer who promises you they can get the financing.
The one element of filmmaking I’ve never been able to get a handle on is a good producer. Or more precisely, an executive producer. The money man, for lack of a less sexist term. I’ve always acted as writer, director AND producer for all my productions. But I would not have the time or ability to be a producer on this production. It was too big. So I searched for a producer. And I found one…after a long, unimportant part of the story.
I had spent years building up a crew around me who saw filmmaking the same way I did. To wit; the final product may fail, there’s no guarantee, but if you surround yourself with talented, kind, great people who believe in the work you’re doing and just want to have fun working with said great people, they’re the folks you want to surround yourself with. I had done that. I had my cinematographer, who at the time was one of my best friends, a great Steadicam operator, great sound recordist, great gaff and grip team, etc., not to mention incredibly talented performers. I was surrounded by amazing people who were also my friends, and we were working together and creating. We had made many projects together, and this, finally, was our chance.
But the money. I found a producer who I got along with, and also promised me she would be able to find all the money we need. I remember my cinematographer saying; “you sure you can trust someone who just promises you money?” It was a great fucking question. But I was too eager to believe. She worked hard, she kept that production moving along and was amicable to everyone the entire time, and did everything she was supposed to do…except get good people who could achieve what she set them out to do.
It was in the middle of production that she called a meeting, fed me copious amounts of alcohol (she knew me well, and my cinematographer warned me that was a bad sign) and told me the money wasn’t coming in. What could I do, other than say ‘I just need to get the production done, we’ll figure it out afterwards.’ Is there anything else that was possible? You tell me. But needless to say, even after the production was over, the money never came in. As a matter of fact, after the production was over, she ghosted me. Gone. Fucked off.
But we did the show, I paid who I could, and I released the show to the network. Then, waiting.
Finally they got in touch and said the ratings weren’t what they should be, and there would be no second season. No more money. And yet, I owed my friends so much.
I thought I could earn the money, but work was slow. I could only afford to pay my own living expenses, let alone anyone else’s. I had worked on this show for so long, believing in it, that I had not pursued any other work. And now my usual clients had dried up. Gone elsewhere. I fucked up. Because they were people who would pay me. This national broadcaster wasn’t going to. I was fucked.
Friends got angry. Friends wouldn’t work with me again until I could pay them. I didn’t want to work with anyone else, and had no reliable contacts for another crew.
That producer can’t be entirely blamed. I trusted her. I trusted her when I shouldn’t have. I should have questioned her before production began, asked where the money was, but I was just so eager to start the production and live up to this opportunity. Perhaps she felt guilty and had as much anxiety telling me as I’ve had telling my crew. How can I fault her for that when I’m practically doing the same thing? If she’s a heinous jackal, so am I.
And I lived up to that. I failed. Perhaps most spectacularly in my entire life, I failed. I failed my friends, my colleagues, and my reputation, which was everything I had built my career on. Now, it was all gone. In 2019. I was already broken by the time I broke my leg, but it was 2020 that was my breaking point.
All of 2020, I have done what I was supposed to. Closed down our store, wore a mask, not gone out except for necessary supplies like food and toilet paper. And booze...because I’m a failure and need it. I have suffered the lockdown, the isolation, the not seeing my Mother, and the loss of income. But that loss of income is my fault, and I hate myself for it. Everything since has been icing on the pain cake.
And I hate you for not taking this shit seriously. You think you have it bad? I’ve been in isolation far longer than you, lost my career and vocation and sense of self long before you. But I’m still here, doing what I need to do and hating every single one of you who don’t take this seriously. Fuck you. If I haven’t said it to you before now, fuck you. I’m struggling like you wouldn’t believe. And still, there are those far worse off than me. Cancer surgeries postponed indefinitely. People who haven’t been able to see their dying family members. And much more that is far worse.
Yeah, this is mostly my fault. I take the blame. I trusted this producer. I promised my friends. I sunk my career. I did a careless thing that ended up with me breaking my leg, and ultimately, breaking my spirit. And for anyone of you complaining about the inconvenience of the mass social situation we find ourselves in, if I haven’t said it yet, fuck you. You've been brought to your breaking point? 2020 has ushered me past mine and into the midnight showing of "The Andromeda Strain."
Why compare my pain and inconvenience to yours? Because it makes us feel better to do so, and after a year like this, don't we all need to feel a little better?
Oh...and the dog that required that ramp? He died this year. I had to go to a veterinarian, who has Covid protocols that won’t let you into the office, and he had to die alone.
So fuck you.
End of line.