30 August 2013

Tar sands ain't funny, says Travel Alberta

Travel Alberta was begging for it. Its latest ads, featuring the many attractions of the province, are really quite nice. But then they end with the extraordinary phrase, "Remember to breathe." Remember to breathe. How could any satirist resist a phrase like that coming from tar sands Alberta, the country's pollution province.

And, of course, they couldn't. A couple of American filmmakers are working on a documentary entitled "Welcome to Fort McMoney" which will incorporate part of the “Remember to Breathe” ad campaign. How could it not? "What's happening in a certain area in Alberta is going to make it difficult for all of us to breathe in the near future,” said Andy Cobb, one of the film's producers. Indeed.

They recently posted a trailer for the documentary on YouTube, raising the ire of Travel Alberta. Lawyers were informed and YouTube agreed to pull the video. Banned in Boston, you say? This time it was banned on YouTube. The results were much the same, however. The publicity helped the filmmakers raise over $20,000, which they claim will allow them to travel to Fort McMurray to finish the documentary.

Travel Alberta CEO Bruce Okabe says they are only trying to protect their brand. Nonetheless, the comics are fighting back. “Being a satirist, we take certain liberties with material in order to make fun of it or to make fun of the people who produce it,” said Mr. Cobb, “That's one of our rights and gosh darnit, we love it.” He is of course defending a traditional and important exercise in freedom of speech.

Nonetheless, on one thing I agree with Travel Alberta: the tar sands aren't funny. Yet I can't wait for the documentary.

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