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February 16, 2010

Oh, Canada

Olympics Bathroom.JPG

Being on the road this week, I've been having a hard lending my usual deep focus to the visual politics. (Thanks to BNN's Deputy Publisher, Karen Hull, by the way, for helping pick up the slack. I liked the spray in the face she delivered to "The Donald.")

The one visual story I can speak to, however, is the Olympic coverage … which, after long days of meetings (and driving through blinding snowstorms), has served as a great late night tranquilizer. Doing my usual run through of newswires and photo galleries after tonight's telecast of downhill snowboarding and figure skating, this photo jumped out at me as a crafty bit of truth telling.

This photo speaks to how interminably mundane and, frankly, piss poor much of the Winter Olympic coverage is, but, paradoxically, how it can still deliver some relief. And yeah, in its setting and dual maple leafs, it also highlights how much Americans make a joke out of Canada.

(photo: Harry How/Getty Images. caption:  Canadian hockey fans use the bathroom before the Women's preliminary game between Switzerland and Canada to start on day 4 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at the UBC Thunderbird Arena on February 15, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada)

  • bystander

    Canada a joke? I know I have never been in alignment with a Nielsen or Arbitron rating … so maybe it’s indicative that, if some significant number of Americans make a joke out of Canada, I should probably move there.

  • John

    You don’t think this is a visual cue to the argument about the Canadian style single payer healthcare system – flushing your liberties good-bye.

  • DennisQ

    What happened just before this picture was taken? Did these guys just walk in and take adjacent urinals? That never happens, especially when there’s no partition between them.
    The picture suggests they may be checking each other out. That’s quite a comment, given the ceremonial aspect of the “robes” they’re wearing.

  • Jody

    Laughing at Canada is a longtime US thing — especially among males. It’s socially acceptable. Even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert play to it. When even supposedly progressive friends come to visit here, it’s almost worth betting on that the males will at some point make fun of our currency, preferably loudly, in a restaurant, even while they are guests in the country they are making a butt of their jokes. They’re baiting us, looking for a fight. They need to feel superior.
    We’re used to it. They take advantage of our reticence to call anybody out, and their behaviour also seems to be a symptom of some deep insecurity. Maybe because, in comparison, Canada is actually doing a lot of things right. There’s also a masculinity-defined-by aggression-and-domination thing going on. We’re smaller in population and our culture isn’t ultra-patriotic and militaristic; that makes us somehow ‘feminine’ and therefore worthy of the contempt — both subtle and overt — that women experience.

  • Angus McFarlane

    Canada IS a joke. We let an utter fuzzball run the country. He goes around telling American banker scum that Canadians are idiots. I guess so. We let him take the job as PM. I guess we are idiots. The so-called opposition is run by a man who operated out of Harvard for twenty years. He wrote a book saying.. yeah.. Canadians are idiots. I guess we are idiots. We let that SOB get the job as head of the so-called opposition. All in all.. yeah. The premise is indefensible. We ARE a joke.

  • Jody

    We’re also famous for self-depreciation and self-criticism.

  • Rima

    Alternative explanation: when the flag-clad duo arrived, the urinals on the extreme ends were occupied, leaving only the middle two available. Then, the two bladders at the right-wing and left-wing pissoirs emptied and left. The photographer comes in…

  • Cazalis

    After a total of 9 months living in Canada for the past three years, I would say Canadians are no joke, but they certainly are lost in political correctness and that makes their very own country’s political agenda a dangerous liason of light communism where people who don’t usually talk to each other are now too self conscious to talk about what their PM does.

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