Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The election through a TV critic's eyes

Food for thought from John Doyle:
And what truly struck me was finally seeing the infamous footage of Michael Ignatieff doing his “rise up” thing at an election event somewhere. He lists all the peculiarities of recent events engineered by the minority government and notes that “Canadians kinda shrugged,” or that people say “so what?” or “who cares?” in response to everything. He’s right. This is a shrug-it-off, show-me-the-hockey, let’s-watch the-royal-wedding, let’s-watch-that-Amazing Race country. The Amazing Race, not the election race, is what truly interests and engages us. The genius of the Conservative campaign is understanding the smug indifference that Iggy decried.

Now that the election is in its final days – though it will barely exist during the royal wedding fuss on Friday – the last TV commercials are being unleashed and add to my impressions of who and what we are. The defining one is NDP Leader Jack Layton’s “Imagine a Leader” ad. The idea, I think, is to posit Layton as prime ministerial. This is, of course, delusional. Also I’m struck by the blandness of the ad – those well-scrubbed, obviously well-off people in very nice, intensely clean homes or offices musing about “a leader.” What’s truly striking is the lack of energy and zest, and the complete absence of ideas.

This is part of that distinct set of Canadian values – indifference to new ideas, shrugging off chicanery, fetishizing hockey, watching Survivor. The idea that the future belongs to us is immensely attractive, especially as we do actually have the oil and the water. But are we ready and do we have the drive to take anything from the opportunity, apart from a handful of people making big money?

A week after returning home, I still say “nope.” That Canadian well of the energy of ideas, openness to change and embracing vigour has run dry. But never mind, American Idol (Fox, CTV, 8 p.m.) is on tonight.
I'm not that cynical but there are germs of truth here. Interesting themes to be explored another day.