It’s not that I dislike America…
It was brought to my attention recently that to an American maybe sometimes my blog has a bit of an anti-American feel. Nothing could be further from the truth; I’m definitely not anti-America or anti-American. I’m happily anti-bush…but then so is anyone with half a brain and open eyes. But to me, Bush is not America. As the old joke goes, “Some of my best friends are American”. But it is easy to poke fun at American media, and American policy and even American culture sometimes.
To understand why Canadians are quick to needle America, you have to understand Canadians. First off, we’re fiercely loyal to our country and possibly more patriotic than most other countries out there. We show it differently though. Secondly, we’re crazily self-effacing. No one can laugh at themselves like Canadians, except maybe the Australians, but they’re all a bunch of crooks anyways. Just look at a beer commercial in Canada if you want to see examples of both our patriotism and our ability to laugh at ourselves.
Canada also has an undercurrent of cultural insecurity. A big part of our culture we share with our neighbour to the south. The majority of media in Canada (at least outside of Quebec, which is a whole other story) comes from America. Our movies, our music, our television…all American. In the 70’s it was in such a state that the CRTC (our version of the FCC) mandated that a certain percentage of Canadian content (CanCon) must be played on Canadian radio stations or else they would get kakked. This CanCon regulation resulted in mediocre yawners like Anne Murray becoming stars. Not to diss Anne Murray, she’s a Canadian icon…but come on…yawn! For much of my youth Canadian TV was “The Beachcombers”, “Hockey Night in Canada”, “Wayne and Schuster”, “Tommy Hunter” and the news. Eventually we got SCTV as well, but that was more American than Canadian. Heck the biggest stars from SCTV all became massive US movie comedy stars (John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas). This trend of Canadian comedians becoming huge in the US continued with The Kids in the Hall, with a couple of them becoming minor US stars. Other Canadian stars have, of course, become massive in the US as well, such as William Shatner, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Ann Moss, Celine Dion, Alanis Morrisette, Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, Donald Sutherland (and Keifer too, interestingly enough…), Pam Anderson (I actually used to know a dude who dated her in high school…I think she still looked like a woman back then instead of a drag queen), Nickleback, Mike Meyers…the list goes on. We are, however, very happy to admit that David Hasselhoff is not Canadian. Er…I digress a bit. The rest of my world’s media came directly out of the US. Alot of that has to do with size of population; there are ten times the people in the US as Canada, hence it makes sense that America would have ten times the movie stars, TV stars, Rock stars. Uh…what was my point? Oh yeah…for years Canada was innundated with American culture, and our cultures became completely intertwined. Except different.
Canadians HATE to be called Americans, its a big part of why we wear the maple leaf when we travel. It’s not because we have disdain towards Americans…it’s because we have our own identity that we want to protect (well, that and in some countries being perceived as American does have it’s share of drawbacks…I don’t think I’d want to walk through downtown Tehran or even Cairo with an American flag on my back. Soon the Canadian flag will be just as contentious, thanks to our current leadership here…). But…we’re insecure about that identity due to the cultural influence referenced in the last paragraph. So we try to distance ourselves from our American cousins by accenting our differences.
But don’t take that to mean we don’t like America. The first place most Canadians go on vacation is America. The majority of our trade income comes from America. And goes to as well. We drive American cars and eat American food and listen to American music. And watch American TV…both the good and the bad. And of course, if there was ever a situation where we needed a little military support, we all know where we’d turn. Although…if anyone were ever to invade Canada it would probably be the US. Of course we’d just say “heck, u don’t need the guns dude, come on in. We welcome the lower taxes and higher fat foods! Try not to be too mean to the newfies or Saskatchewan, ok? If you need a little R n R BC has some pretty good pot, and Niagra has some good wine. Tim Horton’s will treat you very well if u don’t imbibe in either of those vices.”. Having said that, it’s important to note that we are the only country to officially whup the US in a war (although Viet Nam did it too, but it wasn’t called a war), and we did burn down your white house in that one. Of course, really it was the British, but we like to say it was us.
No, it’s true, most Canadians don’t have any problem with America or Americans…sometimes we poke fun at you, but no more than we poke fun at ourselves. And it’s not meant to be mean spirited, it’s meant to be light hearted. There is alot of disdain for your current leadership and it’s crazy foreign policy and dangerously incompetent diplomacy, but that’s not directed at the whole country. When I posted “I’m afraid of Americans” some time ago, remember that right after that I posted that “I’m afraid of Canadians too”.
Now, could you please pass me a serviette? I spilled poutine on the chesterfield. (If you can decipher that, you’re Canadian or should become an honorary one).