My friend Heather, who, in spite of being chief caretaker for The Baby That Never Sleeps, still manages to unearth all kinds of intriguing cultural artifacts, recently drew my attention to The Rebel Sell, a book by Canadian academics Jeff Heath and Andrew Potter.
They're arguing, she explained, that the problems of the world cannot be solved by crowds of angry hipsters wielding giant puppets. Shocked and intrigued, I scooped a copy from the NOW book-review shelf (only after, of course, being assured that there was no qualified person around who might want to say something intelligent about it).
And being now on page nine of the introduction, I'm pretty sure I see where they're going. They're talking about less Kalle Lasns and more Adam Giambrones. They're talking about that Calvin and Hobbes strip where Hobbes posits a superhero who attends town meetings and writes letters to the editor. (I reckon that's where they're headed - of course, given that I'm only on page nine, the book could really be about anything - it might include groundbreaking research on colon cleansing, for all I know. But this is my guess.)
So I was thinking about that, and, yeah, I can get behind it. I'm all for Adam Giambrone, and I can see how this country would be tons better if it were run by cute young archaeologists with strong leftward leanings. But I was also thinking about the actual mechanics of political change in Canada of late, and it seems to me that, while smart people working hard together can make an impact on policy at the municipal level, when you move up to the realm of the feds, progressive change seems to be fuelled by a near-supernatural degree of malice.
Right? I mean, look at all the good things we've got that are making American Democrats have sticky dreams about moving up here: gay marriage...well, gay marriage. And we might legalize pot. Oh, and we didn't officially join in the war against Iraq (yay us!). And who started those balls rolling, you ask? Why, none other than good ol' pepper spray-boostin', protestor-stranglin' Jean Chretien! And why did he do all this great shit, just before he left office?
Well, you could argue that he was nursing these secret schemes throughout the length of his epic, embattled career, and he waited until he had nothing left to lose before putting them into action. Kind of plausible.
Or, you could argue that he put all these things in place just before he left to screw Paul Martin! Because Paul Martin was screwing him. Stabbing him in the back. Trying to cut him down before his time. My guess is that gay marriage and legal pot were the equivalent of a horse's head in the bed for ol' Paul. Now who's gonna vote for your party, eh, Martin? A bunch of gay hippies, that's who! But try taking gay marriage back, now that everyone's singing in perfect harmony about how great and progressive we are! Try to spin that so it won't look like a hate crime!
Conclusion: as Canadians, if we want to progress, we have to stop wearing black lipstick and riding skateboards and visualizing world peace, and start cultivating some serious spite.