#61 – Channel Surfing, Part Three: Rick Mercer Reports on Nothing

English Canada’s sad excuses for television shows include a program about a man who goes about having fun in Canada.

This makes him the only person in Canada who is doing such a thing and getting paid for it. He gets this privilege in exchange for his journalistic integrity, which remains locked in the CBC’s Dungeon of Integrity right beside Peter Mansbridge’s. Presenting Potemkinized towns dolled up for festivals (or for Rick Mercer’s Wacky Adventures), his Rick Mercer Report is the antithesis of showmen like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Playing at snowmobile riding and dog-sledding and eating large poutines while belching out platitudes and soft-humor, Rick Mercer is a massaged pseudo-political variety show on par with the best Soviet state TV could offer.

His “rants”, banal softball complaining coupled with dad-jokes, are the stuff of legend. Rick Mercer exhorts the value and goodness of the Canadian people in the same breath as he complains that Canadians aren’t donating their organs enough. “We are a generous, intelligent people” says Rick about a country whose academic systems are failing fast and whose generosity ends the minute that the Canada myth isn’t followed. He thinks that Ottawa wants a hockey rink closer than the one in Kanata, or the many public rinks available outdoors during the winter, or that Canal that Ottawa loves bragging about having as a skating rink. Rick can’t believe that Canada would lie about anything, especially not about what happened in an ultimately unimportant fly-by.

This peddling of the Canada myth is inexcusable in the context of a person who is given national voice with a specific segment that could be used to decry real problems. Here is a fellow with a hand-crafted personality designed to inveigle comforting non-words into your ear, slapped onto national television and given pride of prime-time spots, and set loose to play around and talk about nothing. How lucky we are to live in a country (quote directly from Ricky, by the way) that values idle self-aggrandizing and safe opinions over a chance to provide the sort of satire and insight that a character like Jon Stewart or John Oliver can deliver. I don’t see Rick Mercer trotting out Jeff the Diseased Lung with a Cowboy Hat and throwing it at the misdeeds of a huge industry.

This sort of comforting pablum clogging the arteries of information flow in Canada is totally normal and encouraged. A scoop of tripe and a bunch of unintelligent pseudospeak playing at critical discourse and the fetid Canadian apologist’s cocktail is complete!

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