Justin Bieber. Mayor Rob Ford. Whether we like it or not, these guys are our best known Canadian representatives in popular media as of late.
Masses of teenage fans worldwide worship Bieber as a romantic icon. Others have requested his deportation to Canada– deeming him unfit to influence the youth of America. And consider Rob Ford. Most Canadians would prefer Mayor Ford to quit and focus on getting help. But strangely there are some like Jimmy Kimmel who are intrigued by him and give him lots of air time. It astounds me how Ford has reached celebrity-like status in lieu of his outrageous behaviour. In a recent encounter between these two, it didn’t even get to a handshake before things got out of hand.1 Although America is intrigued by these two Canadian hedonists2 it doesn’t sit well with most of us, although we are entertained by their stories and regard them a joke.
Why is America so obsessed about these guys? Why are we so embarrassed? I have three theories of why this might be the case.
1. Entertainment: First, they are peculiar people and their lack of social awareness astounds us. It makes for an interesting story. We are baffled by their lack of social maturity and self awareness considering the public positions they hold. They have pushed the envelope on social norms. If we’re honest, we might confess that we get some sadistic satisfaction in watching the troubled lives of people who supposedly have it all. Although we find their antics entertaining we don’t respect them.
2. We all have something to hide: I also suspect that we like to focus on their behaviour because it deflects the heat off our own behaviour. Perhaps we don’t feel so bad about our embarrassing choices when we see how far these two have gone. Let’s be honest. We all do things that we would rather people not know about.
3. We are only tolerant and inclusive up to a certain point. As much as we Canadians would like to consider ourselves inclusive we have no reluctance in giving our verdict. We don’t tolerate their behaviour. But at what point did we stop tolerating it? Was it when someone alleged that there was a second Ford video? Was it when Bieber spat down a roof? Where was that line that these two crossed that convinced us that enough was enough, and that we should stop tolerating their behaviour?
We know that Bieber and Ford embarrass the heck out of us Canadians. But we also know that if there’s one thing we value as Canadians, it’s inclusivity. So, how do we be inclusive of Bieber and Ford?
Three ways to increase our tolerance towards Bieber and Ford (but only if you want to):
1. Instead of giving them more attention (it’s only feeding their egos) and getting beyond the entertainment and sadistic pleasure it gives us, encourage them to get the help they need. Ford is currently in rehab right now. Perhaps we should give him some commendation for a least getting one thing right.
2. Admit that we only tolerate people’s actions to a certain point. We make judgments on other people by default. Even Ford didn’t tolerate Bieber’s comments in their brief acquaintance.
3. Be aware that we all have our own social flaws and tendencies. All it would take is for someone to capture us on video or audio and show our folly to the world. We need to be careful about pointing out their flaws, failures and weaknesses while completely being blind to our flaws, failures and weaknesses.1. //www.theguardian.com/music/2014/may/02/rob-ford-alleged-clash-justin-bieber-rehab 2. Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain).