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Laura Mitchell: What if we're just a bunch of Hosers?
Maybe we're not very important. Maybe that's okay.
By: Laura Mitchell
Remember Bob and Doug MacKenzie? I’m old enough to have owned a bag featuring this pair, Canada’s quintessential Hosers. But for those of you who might not remember, Bob and Doug were a pair of TV characters played by Canadian comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, who played up Canada’s silly, self-deprecating sense of humour on SCTV.
Take, for example, this clip about donut shop parking.
The brothers regale us with the age-old question — why are there 20 tables at the donut shop but only eight parking spaces? On a visit to a donut shop, Doug McKenzie can’t find a parking spot, parks on the street, and gets a ticket. That’s some straight up bullshit. And it’s something we can all relate to.
Now, The Canadian Encyclopedia has a definition and an entry to define this particular personality subtype, and it’s not terribly flattering:
Hoser: is a slang word for a Canadian of limited intelligence and little education
I profoundly disagree. Hoser is all of us and we are all hosers.
Hidden in the silliness of baby bottle beer chugging and yodelling, there is subtle genius to the premise behind these characters (beyond the genius of the entire concept, of course — Bob and Doug sketches were cheekily and overtly mocking “CanCon” rules by providing government regulators content that was wildly over the top in its stereotypical portrayal of an average Canadian). In this particular sketch, we see just two normal dudes concerned about local matters and asking basic questions. They don’t try to be anything more than they are and they don’t apologize.
In the entry above in the Canadian Encyclopedia, there is much hand wringing over the idea that a hoser has to be white. This obviously stems from the fact Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas are white and the skits are set in rural Ontario in the early ‘80s, when Canada was noticeably less diverse. But focusing on race misses the point of the whole thing. Hoserdom isn’t racial, it is a state of mind. To be a Hoser is to accept your place in the world and to be at peace with it.
Canadian political leaders have of late made a production of acting like Canada matters in the world. We “are back,” as the saying goes. I would argue we were never there in the first place.
No one gives a shit about Canada, guys. And that’s okay.
Our prime minister went to Europe last week and met with lots of important people and talked a lot about stopping Russian aggression (this has yet to pay off!) and reiterated that Canada is standing by Ukraine. That’s … nice? He even put out a video!
If this is Canada being back, I’ll take Hoser.
In an interview in 1982 with David Letterman, Letterman nails why Bob and Doug struck such a chord with Canadians and Americans alike. It’s rooted in our inferiority complex with the United States and Bob and Doug took that stereotype and beat it dead. But there was poignant core truth to the message.
Maybe being inferior is okay. And we should own it.
The Canada of the 21st century is suffering from an identity crisis — somewhere along the line we stopped feeling inferior and began to fancy ourselves superior. Whether it be our health-care system, immigration policies, perceived influence on global affairs or success of some of our celebrities (looking at you, Celine Dion), we took on a feeling of grandiose majesty we simply don’t deserve. Our current prime minister is the personification of this collective delusion — pretty on the outside but hollow and fake beneath. Canada is alarmingly little more than a two-bit Instagram influencer with a closet full of free designer clothes but no ability to pay the gas bill.
I am not suggesting Canada doesn’t pull its weight — Canada, and Canadians, have proudly done good in the world. And we aren’t done. We have an incredible amount to offer as the caretakers of the globe’s second-largest landmass whilst the caretakers of the largest are, shall we say, indisposed and reviled. We can grow the food and pump the oil and build the cars and catch the fish. We can rear the cattle and wire up the warehouses. We can take in the dispossessed and send in the ambulances.
But the idea Canada can play a major role in geopolitics as the superpowers of the world rattle their sabres and prepare to battle is naive at best and outright dangerous at worst. We are not fit for battle.
We’re just a bunch of hosers.
And that’s okay.
Editor’s Note: The Line is operating with less than a skeleton staff this week due to the March Break holiday, but we will be publishing on a reduced schedule, and will respond as best we are able to any breaking news developments here or abroad.
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