Rex Murphy, noted vultureman, despite years of public indifference, is still coming up with opinions.
I think we can all agree that “Is Justin Trudeau the Avril Lavigne of Canadian politics?” is a loaded question. He means “Yes, Justin Trudeau is the Avril Lavigne of Canadian politics.” But what does that mean? What is Avril Lavigne the Avril Lavigne of?
Celebrity is a broad word. It is award to achievement and it is a mere bubble floating above another one. For extreme illustrations of these categories, from utterly hollow to absolutely substantive, we could cite Paris Hilton and Nelson Mandela. Both are celebrities, but one is incandescently more worthy than the other.
I wonder which one of them he means? Also, I’m fairly sure that Rex Murphy is the only person thinking about Avril Lavigne in 2012.
These notions came to mind when I [was] checking the Avril Lavigne Twitter page, as I do regularly, (for the lifestyle tips mainly) and noted she has well over six and a half million followers.
“For the lifestyle tips”? What? “…mainly”? I went to Avril Lavigne’s Twitter page, and I have to admit: I didn’t understand any of it. LET ALONE FIND ANY LIFESTYLE TIPS. I guess this could be some weird vulture joke but what does he mean?
What is Murphy driving at, besides a brick wall of an analogy? It’s his burgeoning math skills – he may not be able to sum it up, he may not even be able to add it up, but by golly, he can count when the number is put right in front of him.
The little Songbird of Napanee must have at least a million (say) purely Canadian twitter fans. Justin Trudeau, by contrast has — it’s curious, but I think almost everyone knows this figure — 150,000 Twitter followers. Avril outshines Justin in the Twitter density by at least a factor of six.
Several things: “Little Songbird of Napanee”? Does he think that nickname’s going to stick? I Googled it, and no. No it isn’t. Also: everyone knows how many Twitter followers Justin Trudeau has? Just try and say that out loud. You’ll sound like Porky Pig. “Ah, beh, plee, bah, bdee bdah.” Which leaves us just confused enough to maybe miss the phrase “in the Twitter density”, which sounds like a line from The Waste Land.
Alright, say we concede that Avril outshines Justin in the Twitter density. Does that mean she gave herself to him but retained her chastity despite gossip? How did that phrase get past an editor? I am 100% sure my editor who isn’t paid any money at all to edit me is going to cut that crack I made about readers not being literate enough to read this column [I did. – Ed]. That’s why I put it in. What excuse does a salaried anonymous clinical depression inpatient at the Post have?
Should Ms. Lavigne translate her abundant talents to the political stage I am almost equally aware that her Twitter fan base would not take that vast swim with her. She is ‘just’ a celebrity after all, and her appeal would evaporate as soon as she ventured outside the gilded world of pop stardom.
“Gilded world of pop stardom”. Somebody has to be fucking kidding me here. I’m being kidded – by Rex Murphy.
If Mr. Murphy is so sure that politics is some “vast swim” then Mr. Murphy has never gone on the adventure that is being a member of the pop audience. It’s a test of will over pure, animal instinct. Your average musician is going out of their way to extinguish their appeal with a mindset so dead-set on destruction it would terrify most politicians. I am sure Chris Cornell wants me to destroy mine and everyone else’s Soundgarden records:
Not gonna do it. You know why, Cornell? Because “Nothing To Say” is so heavy you can throw anything at me and I’m going to force myself to like it. Like Canadians feel about Trudeau: Go ahead! Send those tanks on in. We voted for you, and part of democracy is tolerating the greatest prime minister of all time suspending the constitutional rights of a nation over what amounts to a provincial grudge.
However, with Justin Trudeau, as with so many things in his singular case, the matter is not quite that clear cut. Mr. Trudeau has the burden/benefit of being simultaneously a “pop” figure as well as a real, vote-seeking politician. His fame is, to put it plainly, both serious and fluff. The question is what is the proportion of each. How much of his aura, for want of a better term, is the thin stuff of celebrity fandom, and how much springs comes from his standing as a politician, a thinker, or a real leader? I don’t think we know.
I can’t wait for #JustWatchMe to start trending, that’s for sure. Not even a question.
Maybe I’m not being fair, but then again, I haven’t been played by Colm Fiore (fingers crossed).
He does possess the red-carpet star quality. Everyone by now has witnessed — either on television, or in the case of reporters, in person — Mr. Trudeau becoming the centre of gravity of almost any room he enters. Everyone has seen fans swirling around him asking for pictures. But there are also a number of quite different followers, those who see Trudeau as a very serious contender for the leadership not just of his party, but of the country itself. That cadre are a subset of familiar figure of 150,000 followers we so often hear of his Twitter account.
Again with this Twitter figure. What nonexistent media coverage is Murphy so fixated on? Did he just discover Twitter? Is he going to write a column next week about how the Darth Vader Wikipedia entry is longer and more detailed than the John Turner article? Why did I choose John Turner? Again: What does any of this actually have to do with “the Little Songbird of Napanee”?
Leadership campaigns are high abrasion exercises. His celebrity standing will be quickly submerged by the grind of the campaign, the tedium of a thousand questions on matters serious but utterly unglamorous – what he thinks of pipelines and where he stands on coast guard stations etc. The campaign, little by little, will dissipate the aura of stardom, wear away the facile attraction of celebrity charisma. Even Avril rarely gets asked about beef inspection.
Rarely. Possibly ever. Also, there’s a joke in there about “rare”, “beef inspection”, her engagement to Chad Kroeger and the Alberta beef recall. In fact, I’m already disappointed that Mike Bullard isn’t on TV anymore.
The campaign will measure how much his fame really counts, tell us whether it is merely the flip curiosity and tinsel-thin regard we give pop stars, or springs from something deeper which will endure as he strives to become a real and major figure in Canadian politics.
You may remember the “sandwich theory” of writing an essay. The introduction is the top part of the bun, the lettuce, cheese and meat are the body paragraphs, and the conclusion is the bottom part of the bun. Well, in this case, Murphy skipped the bottom. After missing a great chance at a cheap Avril Lavigne handjob joke (say “The cleanest Alberta beef or you get your nickel back! Your nickel back”), Murphy forgets he mentioned Avril at all, and never gives us any closure on his ill-conceived Justin/Avril comparison. I’ll give Murphy this, though: he doesn’t treat Trudeau’s prime ministry as a given. Or did I speak too soon?
Can Justin Trudeau survive the translation from somewhat pop phenomenon to a person of consequential achievement, worthy of being considered (ultimately) the leader of our nation?
What’s that “ultimately” doing there? I suppose it’s some sleight of hand, attempting to make a column that is utterly hollow appear to be absolutely substantive. Well, I suppose journalism is a broad word.