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Canada suddenly “hip”
Jan 22, 2016

Hosers are now “hip,” according to a recent New York Times article by Paul Stevenson.

Well, maybe not the beer-swilling hosers of SCTV fame, Bob and Doug McKenzie, portrayed by comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, but today’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a bevy of other beautiful people who all have a Canadian passport.

Stevenson begins his article by mentioning “male beauty,” film maker Xavier Dolan, who was the “darling of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and the star of a new advertising campaign for Louis Vuitton’s Ombré collection ...”

For those more familiar with pop culture, Dolan directed English singer and songwriter Adele’s Hello video, which on January 18 reached one-billion views on YouTube.

While Dolan has been ubiquitous among the beautiful people, he still languishes in obscurity, which “may have something to do with the fact that he is from Canada, the country that gave the world ice hockey, the snow blower and Labatt beer,” explained Stevenson.

“But the notion that our neighbor to the north is a frozen cultural wasteland populated with hopelessly unstylish citizens is quickly becoming so outdated to be almost offensive.”

Topping Stevenson’s list of the Canadian “hip” is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His description of the new Canadian prime minister froths over with praise: “In the months since his election, Mr. Trudeau, 44, the 6-foot-2 self-described feminist, who has been a television actor, snowboarding instructor and amateur boxer, has assumed the role of world leader with a heart.”

Apparently, when Trudeau welcomed a planeload of Syrian refugees with the phrase, “You’re safe at home now,” the phrase was greeted with delight by the “Twitterati.”

Singing the praise of Trudeau has become a popular pastime for publications across the globe, including Vogue magazine, which called him “dashing in his blue suit and jaunty brown shoes.”

Stevenson also cited Rupert Murdock’s New York Post, which featured a 2006 photo of the prime minister wearing torn blue jeans and an unbuttoned black chemise. The headline for the accompanying article was, Hunky Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Is the JFK Jr. of Canada.

Canadian news broadcasts have shown Trudeau as the object of admiration by many in countries he visited during his first days in office, typified by the numerous “selfies” he posed for with enraptured teenage girls.

While we have Trudeau, “United States citizens grimacing over a political and cultural landscape riven by a brassy real estate kingpin, endlessly recycled superheroes and reality-show dopes may be forgiven for looking northward with yearning.”

Of course, Stevenson failed to mention Kevin O’Leary, who has the same inclination for insults as Republican Party candidate Donald Trump, the “brassy real estate kingpin” south of the border. As a Canadian, though, O’Leary, noted for being rich, but not in the same league as “The Donald,” is more subdued in his criticisms, exception in the case of Rachel Notley, the NDP premier of Alberta, who he says is responsible for Alberta’s present economic doldrums and the sinking Canadian dollar. He even offered to hand over $1 million if she stepped down as premier.

To be fair to Notley, it should be noted that Alberta’s economy was tanking under a more O’Leary-friendly Conservative regime well before she came to office.

The feisty premier, when asked about the former Dragon’s Den regular’s offer of $1 million for her to step down, quipped: “The last time a group of wealthy businessmen tried to tell Alberta voters how to vote, I ended up becoming premier. So if now we’ve got a Toronto wealthy businessman who wants to tell Alberta voters how to vote, I say bring it on.”

While O’Leary isn’t among the beautiful people, those on the list include rapper Drake, singer Grimes, comedian Samantha Bee, actor and director Sarah Polley, and fashion designer Tanya Taylor. “And even the latest album from Justin Beiber, the pride of Stratford, Ontario (population 33,430), is — gulp! — pretty terrific,” commented Stevenson.

“It’s all very exciting, eh? But still ... Canada? The land of hyper-politeness and constant apology? The home of maple syrup, poutine, the gentle sport of curling, and 10 per cent of the world’s forests?”

Apparently, “niceness” is either the great Canadian curse or the nation’s greatest blessing.

Sarah Nicole Prickett, who was born in London, Ontario, and has written for the New York Times Style Magazine, was interviewed by Stevenson for the Canada is “hip” article. She told him that the for the first month that she lived in Manhattan, she heard from seven people that she was ‘Nice.”

“That’s when I realized I was Canadian,” Prickett added.

Stevenson mentioned that Canada has produced “sultans of cool” in the past, such as “the polite folk rock of Gordon Lightfoot and Anne Murray, there was the melancholy genius of Joni Mitchell ... And we would be foolish to forget the alternately sensitive and raucous Neil Young, who never met an expectation he did not defy.”

Apparently, Young is — like Stevenson — a Trudeau fan. “Obviously people are delighted with the change that has taken place,” said the elder statesman of rock. Young called Trudeau’s election “very positive news.”

According to Stevenson the coolest Canadian “cat in a hat” from the past is 81-year-old Leonard Cohen, the poet turned singer.

The “kings and queens” of Canadian comedy are David Steinberg (originally from Winnipeg’s North End), Lorne Michaels, Mike Myers, Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara.

“Canadians have always been funny, according to the Toronto-born editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter. ‘S.J. Perelman used to think that Stephen Leacock was the funniest writer in the world,’ Mr. Carter said, referring to the multifaceted author who moved to Canada from his native England at age 6. ‘And he was. The trouble is, the self-deprecation so regularly on display is often lost on Americans. Now Marty Short is the funniest person in the world — although he’s far too modest to admit it.’”

I would certainly agree that Leacock was an extremely funny writer. Consider this line: “Lord Robert said nothing: he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”

Of course, some Canadians would disagree with Stevenson’s list of the “hip,” but that is by way of omissions from the list rather than who he includes.

Still others argue that Canada has been cool all along — not meaning the adverse winter weather for which the nation is noted — but in the sense of having the “hippest of the hip.”