By Drew Hayden Taylor
Originally published in April 2013
I have been writing for a very long time. I have been writing this column for a very long time. And over the years I have received some very interesting responses. Some positive, some negative, and a few puzzling.
Frequently there is humour in what I write about because I find the world to be a very funny and humorous place. Because of this I am commonly thought of as a comedian, which I often go to pains to deny. That is a special talent all in itself.
Whether it’s in the theatre, or novels or creative non-fiction, I always describe myself as either a humourist or a satirist. But of late, I have noticed a remarkable lack of understanding regarding the concept of satire. And it’s kind of weird.
And when people misunderstand what you are writing, they can become … cruel. They think you are serious. For instance, last July I wrote a piece for the Globe and Mail on the fourth anniversary of Harper and the federal government‘s residential school apology. In my piece, I turned the tables and issued several apologies from Native people to the government and non-Native people of Canada in what I consider a very satirical manner. I.E. WE APOLOGIZE for not understanding the subtle connection between God, education, and sexual abuse. Or WE APOLOGIZE for being so inconsiderate as to occupy land that one day your people would want… etc.
Well, on the Globe website the response was overwhelming. Within 24 hours there were over 1,200 postings to that article, about a thousand of them negative—from both Native and non-Native readers. I sure learned a lot about people’s perceptions of me and my writing career. I submit for your approval an assessment of me and my article by “Creef”:
If I were you, I would apologize to all native across Canada for daring to speak on their behalf and offering up such tired, bland tripe that continues to dwell on the past and perpetuates the pathetic victim narrative.
I would also apologize as a native who has obviously made the best use of his opportunities but has not then turned his talents to holding to account the corrupt, vile, self-serving scum who are the chiefs of most reserves and soak up all the free cash while their people rot, and instead spends time writing this kind of BS.
I would also apologize to all the nice, young native women who would like a (probably) successful man like you for a partner. No doubt, as a native who has chosen to be a writer in Canada, you have experienced a life of being feted by understanding, fawning, attractive young liberal-minded, white tarts who tell you what a sensitive, talented, hard-done-by genius you are. In return, you have probably driven your persecuted appendage into many of them and have since acquired a taste for young (and for sure middle-aged) white, female a**.
This column will certainly result in you being the toast of all the cocktail parties you attend in the coming weeks, and a litany of loose, young liberal-minded women with guilty consciences lining up to offer up their wares to you to plunder.
Evidently my secret is out. But in all fairness, I did not attend one single cocktail party, and have not plundered any young liberal-minded white women with guilty consciences, regardless of my hard-done-by genius. My girlfriend…my Native girlfriend… might object. And comments like this went on for dozens and dozens of electronic pages, all seeming to misunderstand what I was trying to say and how.
I did not realize that satire was such a seldom understood concept. According to Wikipedia, satire is “a genre of literature in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.”
One of my last columns dealt with the end of the world according to the supposed Mayan calendar, and how they were getting blamed for the silliness. Just some fun about the end of the world nonsense. Again, I think I was alone on that one. One genius with the moniker RGBrook offered up this nugget of wisdom: “Who cares what Drew Hayden Taylor’s credentials are. This is unworthy nonsense attempting to bring more unjustified attention to a people who would in many cases (not all… so don’t pounce on me for this) rather put their energy into whining about the troubles of the past as opposed to doing something right about the future.”
I think from now on, I ‘m just gonna write about starving children and sick kittens. It’s probably a lot easier.