One more difference between Canadians and Americans…

…might be their naiveté. If you watch this, Canadians, and mentally substitute the word “Canada” for “America,” doesn’t it look a wee bit like a Rick Mercer spoof?


11 thoughts on “One more difference between Canadians and Americans…

  1. maybe i am a colonized canadian or maybe it’s because i’m an americanist but i have to say that i’m drinking this kool aid.

    i don’t think you’re reading it properly, O. it’s not about a naive belief, it’s about a deep, old, embedded history out of which some of the world’s greatest art, writing and politics has emerged. i don’t see naivete, i see hope and for me it is incredibly moving.

    i think it’s really important to specify which u.s. you’re talking about here. you can’t fold the black u.s. into the entire u.s., or make a statement about the u.s. without seeing how race is at the center of this video.

    i can think of quite a few instances, online and in our circles actually, in which a critique of a predominantly white structure, or a white theorist or whatever is elaborated through apparently negative, most black, examples without ever understanding or taking heed of the peculiar structure that is race.

    i expect it from others, my darling, but not from you, whom i admire so much.

    on the comparative canadian-ness, i have no comment. i am totally out of touch, sadly.

  2. But the video didn’t say a damn thing. The most substantive statement was “Obama isn’t just for black people; he’s for all people” (or something to that effect). Other than that, it’s just a lot of pretty celebrities discussing what their hopes are. Race is at the center of this video, sure. And just presenting the concerns of POC as integral to a political system, as the the central issues to be listened to is revolutionary. But … it didn’t say a damn thing.

  3. I’m an Obama supporter. I was from the beginning. And I can even be moved by this kind of contentless (thanks Julie, right on) rubbish. I was just kind of stunned by the gullible quality of the hope it expresses. Obama’s election will be good, but it won’t usher in a new era of prosperity, tolerance, and mutual understanding. Duh. So how come the suggestion that it *will* seems to be Obama’s main campaign strategy? The video is childishly utopian, like something put together by earnest middle school students for a civic holiday. I find that slightly embarrassing — I’m a wee bit ashamed for these people. It is the unreflective quality that makes me see the video as teetering on the edge of self-parody.

  4. I think that video, media and music scholars would really disagree with you that it said nothing, as I do. (And let me apologize publicly for the sharpness of my last comment — I’m thin skinned on this issue).

    But it is not rubbish, not when put in historical context. Nowhere does it claim that Obama’s campaign will usher in “a new era of prosperity, tolerance, and mutual understanding.,” as Oona says. What it does is emote; it produces and emanates affect. The *claim* is to affect. And you can’t tell me that’s not important.

    Humbly submitted,


  5. Peace. It’s all good. But, hey, do you remember those Remembrance Day assemblies we used to do in middle school? With everyone on stage dressed in solemn black, each with one line, voices blending into one another expressing hope for the future in straightforwardly and sophomorically ideological ways (greener planet, stop war, get along with one another)?

  6. Yes, full kumbaya you are right, and probably more than alitle right about the video, I admit it. I am absolutely a romantic, whatever Minneapolis feeling type I am so I admit my weakness: it totally gets me.

    Never mind RD what about Free To Be You and Me? Remember that? Full sob-a-thon.

    Remembrance Day never got me. Also the whole In Flanders Field thing never got me. Also I feel curmudgeonly regarding assemblies and groups and stuff like that.

    But for someone who has a child refused to stand for Oh Canada, here’s what gets me now that I live in the US: Canada Day. Also watching the athletes march in for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Oh, I am a shameless chauvinist.

  7. uhm yeah I agree. I’m certainly not anti-Obama, but discussing it with many other young people and hearing over and over again, “he’s SUCH an amazing speaker…he’s SO moving” or “I cried when I heard him speak and that’s when I knew I was voting for him” has practically pushed me over the edge. Obama’s appeal and/or strategy has definitely centered around his oratorical abilities.

    But, uh, your vote? Putting it into context with a history, certainly we want somebody a little more eloquent (at the very least) than George, but does anyone recall the nasty negative connotation of rhetoric? He’s a politician and he’s supposed to be an amazing speaker, he’s supposed to put out affective and emotional videos, he’s supposed to do all these things Obama is doing. Just because we haven’t had a decent politician run in years and years doesn’t mean we should fall for the first one to come along again.

    He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. Now we should be doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Looking at the issues, the stances on issues (not whether so-and-so said s/he likes jam) and what we think would be best considering all the crap solutions. I’ll admit, it would suck considering other historical issues, if the candidate proposing the best solutions happened to be non-revolutionary in terms of race/gender. Luckily, for us the old white man isn’t proposing anything better (I’d say worse). So luckily, we may be able to satisfy our affected revolutionary utopian sentiments AND our duty to vote well.

  8. The problem with Canadians is that they don’t know how to be simple. Read a Canadian novel. You’re always hearing the author’s voice. “Margaret Attwood’s superintending intelligence, always there,” as one critic says. The author, critic, artist is present, clever, ironic. Seeing the sour side, the down side. Simplicity, earnestness: that’s for Americans, I guess. It’s too bad.

    An old clipping. From Margo McCutcheon of Gabriola Island, B.C. “Of late it seems to me that Canadian writers want to punish the reader for buying the book. Oh sure, the writing is wonderful, the story sucks you in and then, wham! You are caught in a horrible world of incest, sexual abuse, assault, cruelty to animals, masochism, sadism … well, you get the picture. One memorable night last winter, I was so upset that I opened the door and threw the offending book (another Canadian prize winner) out into the rain.

  9. Maybe another way to say that is that Canadians cringe at public sentimentality, which is perhaps what O. was getting at? Sentimentality is a huge topic in 19th Century American Studies — it’s ill usages and its radical political possibilities.

    There’s something entirely anti-intellectual about sentimentality, as Ann Douglas said very early on (and was totally shushed in the field for saying so), and yet there is no doubt that following feeling can lead to experiential truths that in turn lead to change. The obverse – the regressive politics seen in the ridiculous posturing of the immediately post 9/11 world – seems to occur when the feeling is trauma or fear.

    Where and how do feeling and intellect meet?

  10. Janet, I agree. I know those novels and I can’t bear them. I blame Atwood for the whole trend, the whole sour business that Canlit has become.

    But these awful novels aren’t the opposite of the Obama video. They are just the other side of the coin. To use Kyla’s terminology, they are indeed trying to avoid sentimentality but they don’t succeed in exciting the intellect. They are empty.

    Kyla, I think you’re getting at something here. Sentimentality (or, at any rate, sentiment) and intellect are, or ought to be partners.

  11. aaaagh I still don’t think they are empty, but we agree to disagree.

    glad to hear someone else refer to atwood as “sour.” i’ve always thought of her as tannic, like tea that’s steeped too long.

    over-steeped red rose! only in canada! (pity.)

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