As the field of competitors for the latest CBC Canada Reads competition narrows, I am compelled to present the mothership with a heartfelt plea: PLEASE, Please, please, do not allow strategic voting (a la Survivor) this year! The popularity of Canada Reads, I believe, stems from a real wish on the part of the reading Canadian public to hear informed, intelligent discussion about our writers and our stories. Despite the endless bleating about attention spans, the wired culture of immediacy, and the (over-hyped) popularity of reality TV, mostly from opinion-makers who have little real contact with a public they tend to regard as alien (and lowly, but unfortunately necessary) consumer life-forms, there is a hunger in this land for informed, smart, CONTENT, delivered with integrity.
Hands up if you immediately assumed I am an elderly elitist bemoaning the deplorable drop in standards of public broadcasting, and who can’t understand the phrase “dry as dust?” Nonsense! I’m definitely pre-elderly and I wholeheartedly endorse creativity and fun. There’s lots of room between “dry as dust” and Survivor for witty, wise, knowledgeable and entertaining discussion that will leave us all better informed. I think that’s what we want and strategic voting won’t get us there.
The listening public, I believe, is genuinely curious about what makes a book good or even great, and how this might be evaluated and are anxious to hear informed discussion and share ideas on the subject. Strategic voting reduces this process to a joke — knocking clear contenders out of the race early, randomizing the results, and perpetuating the inanity that winning is all, no matter how. As soon as it starts, my interest in the results wanes exponentially. Although the show makes much of being respectful (and even sometimes adoring) of our literature, these reality TV methods do not.
CBC Canada Reads rule makers — I hope you’re listening!