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Media Bites: We're All Living in Rob Ford's Canada | J.J. McCullough

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Media Bites: We're All Living in Rob Ford's Canada
Posted: 11/18/2013 12:28 pm
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watches I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Rob Ford scandal provoked a grand existential crisis of What It Means To Be Canadian. Frankly, what doesn't ?
swiss replica watches There's been a lot of junk journalism churned out in the wake of Mayor Ford's all-too-public meltdown, much of it rank partisan opportunism -- hypocritical lefties outraged at personal vices they used to insist were none of our business, puritanical conservatives claiming jokes about cunnilingus are no big deal, etc. But in terms of sheer obnoxiousness per column-inch, I would have to nominate  this editorial by Tabatha Southey  in Friday's  Globe and Mail  as the most cringeworthy attempt at Ford analysis to date. Southey's the only commentator I've seen, after all, who's somehow managed to spin the never-ending horror of the Ford scandal into a preening, nationalistic humblebrag.
cheap watches Why don't Torontonians just fire this dopey buffoon running their city, Southey imagines "the world" asking Canada. Answer: "We don't have a mechanism for recalling a mayor. We're Canadians and when it comes to getting rid of them at short notice, we mostly rely on our mayors having a basic capacity for shame" and politely resigning. True, she concedes, Ford's said sorry for his misdeeds, but only "about as many times as the average Canadian says 'sorry' in the process of buying a newspaper, coffee and a butter tart."
copy watches In short, Tabby concludes, when Canadians encounter "raging, sulking, bullying men,  we're at a loss.  Impoliteness is our  Kryptonite."  Had "the Germans walked into our trenches at Vimy Ridge and put their feet up on the furniture, we might have just stared blankly in embarrassment until they won."
fake watches I would never deny that these Pollyannaish clichés -- like most stereotypes -- are based on some kernel of truth. Polite fear of confrontation with rude or abrasive people -- be he the mayor of Toronto or the waiter that brings Perrier when you explicitly asked for Pellegrino -- is definitely an experience ubiquitous to a certain slice of the Canadian populace, mostly the urbane, educated, upper-middle-class part Tabatha Southey doubtless inhabits, and perhaps you as well. But one thing those of us within that privileged bubble really need to stop doing is projecting our charmed lives that know only modest discomfort as the quintessential reality of the Canadian existence.
swiss Mechanical movement replica watches Mayor Ford, as the  Globe and Mail  reminded several months ago  and the Toronto Municipal Police reminded more recently , comes from a Canada that's pretty far removed from one where the biggest faux pas  a person can commit is not placing a tasteful Coast Salish art coaster under his commemorative CBC mug.
Ford's is the Canada where teenagers deal hash out of their parents' garages and play with shotguns in the basement. Where St. Patrick's Day is the biggest night of the year, and grown men get blackout drunk on vodka sold in plastic bottles. Where friends speak exclusively in slurs and swears and think nothing of bragging about their wives' ... well, not cooking. It has nothing to do with rudeness (though the man is certainly that ); Ford's going nowhere so long as his Canada -- which is almost certainly larger than Tabatha's -- has his back.
If denial of this other Canada was limited to the musings of airy editorialists that would be one thing, but alas it's not. One of the most distressing revelations of Fordgate, in fact, is the degree to which upholding the myth of polite Canada has apparently compromised the nation's "hard news" reporting as well.
A couple weeks ago, the NPR radio show  On the Media  brought together editor Tom Scocca, from the American hipster news site Gawker, and  Toronto Star  publisher John Cruickshank for an  insightful tete-a-tete  on what the Rob Ford saga says about the state of North American journalism. There's been a  bit of bad blood between these guys  over the last couple of months, partly because Scocca has long resented the  Star for calling the Rob Ford crack video tip their "exclusive" when Gawker broke it first, partly because it's simply ethically unfathomable, from a American journalistic perspective, that a paper as big as the  Star  could deny its readers the full Rob Ford story as long as they did.
"The fact that his brother, who is a politician actively in Toronto, was a hashish dealer... that that was just sitting there and nobody had reported it, is nuts," exclaimed Tom, referring to the  Globe 's aforementioned  exposé on the dirty laundry of the Ford family , which was published two weeks after Gawker broke the crack video story and a full two years after the Ford brothers were elected to Toronto City Council.
I'd say "something is very, very wrong with somebody's culture of responsible news reporting," when that's the status quo, Tom surmised.
To this, Cruickshank could only lamely assert that he's from a "different country" where we "think differently from your typical American social setting." I can't go "too far" digging up dirt, he spluttered, why, my polite, restrained Canadian audience would never stand for it!
Well, considering your polite, restrained audience elected Rob Ford to begin with, retorted Tom with a truly withering burn, I guess we've learned that "in the land of the passive aggressive, the truly aggressive is king."
Or, to put it another way, reality easily conquers make-believe.
Nothing about the Rob Ford story was ever un-Canadian. Canada produced him, Canadians elected him, and Canadians have clamoured to leer at his downfall. To be sure, his is a story about a Canada the press is often uncomfortable confronting, a Canada many try to hide under a mountain of flattering jokes and bourgeoisie snobbery and fawning praise from self-loathing American liberals, but a Canada that exists none the less.
Like Mayor Ford himself, we'll all be a lot happier once we make peace with the truth.

Loading Slideshow
Toronto Rob Ford, right, gestures to Councillor Paul Ainslee in the council chamber as councillors look to pass motions to limit his powers in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Blasting what he called a "coup d'etat," Ford said voters should be able to pass judgment on him, not his fellow councillors. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (centre) dances with participants ahead of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival in Toronto on Saturday July 30, 2011. Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford, left, celebrates after defeating wrestler Hulk Hogan in an arm-wrestling match to promote Fan Expo in Toronto on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 . Twenty-two month-old Micah MacMilan reacts as he is picked up by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford while Ford was signing bobblehead dolls in his likeness at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday November 12, 2013. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds up a replica Grey Cup as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs with fans as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. Ford showed up at Sunday's Canadian Football League playoff game, despite a request by the league's commissioner that he stay away. Canadian recording artist Drake, left, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laugh at a news conference announcing that Toronto will host the 2016 NBA All-Star game, in Toronto, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford displays a milk moustache as he takes part in voting with city council members in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford watches from the sidelines near the Argos bench during a CFL football game between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders in Calgary on Saturday, August 18, 2012. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for photographs inside a giant shark mouth while attending the grand opening of the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. After two years of construction, delays and (Canadian) $130 million in costs, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opened to the public Wednesday. City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for a photo opportunity with other dignitaries in a shark's jaws at the opening of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, October 16, 2013. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is hoisted into the air by his Don Bosco Eagles team after winning the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday Nov. 15, 2012. A civil trial hearing in which the mayor is accused of libel against a restaurant owner went on without him. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (center) smiles as he officially opens the refurbished Sunnydale rink with Toronto Maple Leafs' coach Ron Wilson (right) and other dignitaries who were on hand as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs who practiced on the outdoor rink in Toronto on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford grabs the Grey Cup by the handles during a parade celebrating the Toronto Argonauts victory in the Grey Cup final in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012 . Rob Ford Meets Butter Rob Ford <a href="http://www./2012/08/31/rob-ford-butter-sculpture-ex-cne_n_1846616.html" target="_hplink">Toronto Mayor Rob Ford comes face to face with a butter sculpture of himself at the Canadian National Exhibition</a>. Butter Rob Ford As part of an exhibition at the CNE, Toronto-based artist Olenka Kleban has made a <a href="http://www./2012/08/24/butter-rob-ford-sculpture_n_1828527.html" target="_hplink">butter sculpture of Toronto's mayor</a>. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hoists the Grey Cup on stage with Toronto Argonauts players while celebrating the team's Grey Cup victory in downtown Toronto on Tuesday, Nov.27, 2012. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stands at the door to his office as he waits for an elevator in Toronto on Thursday November 14, 2013. Mayor Rob Ford speaks at city council in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Nov. 13 2013. Toronto mayor Rob Ford during the afternoon session as councillors continued to debate a motion asking mayor Rob Ford to apologize to Torontonians for misleading therm about his use of crack cocaine. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to his Don Bosco Eagles team during the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. In this Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 file photo, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds a bobblehead doll depicting him at Toronto City Hall. An electoral map of the 2010 mayoral election shows that Ford's voter base resides mainly in a more conservative constituency than the downtown electorate. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) and city councillor Michelle Berardinetti (right) smile on stage during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit) Toronto Mayor Rob Ford jumps on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit) Rob Ford's ballet debut Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acts on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit) City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media outside office in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, after the release of a video. A new video surfaced showing Ford in a rage, using threatening words including "kill" and "murder." Toronto Mayor Rob Ford emerges from his office holding slices of a birthday cake to offer to members of the media at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday May 28, 2013. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at City Hall in Toronto amid allegations of crack cocaine use on Friday May 17, 2013, in Toronto. Published reports say a video appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. Ford called the allegations ridiculous. Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford watches players from Don Bosco Eagles, the High School team he coaches, warm up before they compete against the Huron Heights Warriors in the Metro Cup in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012 Those whose antics threaten to besmirch the party name normally don't get a second chance with Canada's federal Conservatives. Not so, it would seem, for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford carries the Pan American games flag in Omnilife Stadium during the closing ceremonies of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. Toronto will host the games in 2015. Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford reacts after Don Bosco Eagles, the High School team he coaches, lost 28-14 to Huron Heights Warriors in the Metro Cup in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to a staff member at city hall in Toronto on Wednesday November 6, 2013.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses reporters at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford briefly takes the stage to greet the crowd as part of the New Years Eve celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on Monday, December 31, 2012. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits on the back of Chicago's First Lady as he takes in an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. Ford was visiting the city on a Toronto-Chicago Business Mission. <a href="http://www./2012/11/21/rob-ford-fall-gif-video_n_2170653.html">Rob Ford was at an event to promote the Grey Cup when he fell while hamming it up for the press. A GIF of the fall went viral on the Internet</a>.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, makes a light hearted comment as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs during the signing of a new "sister cities" declaration Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago. Toronto Mayor-elect Rob Ford, centre, raises his arms with his wife Renata, right, and mother Diane, left, as he speaks to supporters in Toronto on Monday, October 25, 2010. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, top right, waves to photographers during a boat tour with members of the Toronto-Chicago Business Mission on the Chicago River waterfront Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago. Dave Chappelle And Rob Ford <a href="http://www./2012/08/22/dave-chappelle-rob-ford_n_1822240.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics" target="_hplink">Comedian Dave Chappelle met briefly with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford</a> on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 <a href="http://www./2012/08/14/rob-ford-reading-driving-car-gardiner_n_1776183.html" target="_hplink">Rob Ford is seen reading while driving</a> in this photo from Twitter. <a href="http://www./2012/07/30/rob-ford-will-ferrell-zach-galifianakis-sketch_n_1719420.html" target="_hplink">Rob Ford meets with comedic actors Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis</a>.

 


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