The Homer Simpson Complex
by Angela Pancella
Website Review: Canada Rocks the World
hat do Canadians think about the superpower next door? Canadian websites can’t answer that question—they aren’t designed to answer it. But unwittingly, they can help answer a similar question: What do Canadians think the US thinks about them? Jim Mroczkowski, in an online journal entry called Hate White North, addresses the problem of perception succinctly. After visiting a site called Canada Rocks the World," he came to the conclusion that Canadians are needlessly worried about US opinion, and further, that they believe US opinion is solidly against them. He complains,
I would wager that there are no "America Rocks" web sites. Maybe there are three, tops. More importantly, if such sites are out there, I would wager that NONE of them has a subpage called "Canada Sucks." Yet, nearly every pro-Canada page I visited took time from my day to tell me that, although we’d never met, the author and I were mortal enemies. None of the pages could resist a downward spiral into "Why Canada Kicks Yankee Butt, Even Though We Don’t Care What America Thinks About Anything Anyway, Although If You See Any Americans Be Sure To Ask Them What They Think About Us."
Actually, "Canada Rocks" itself does not match this description. It is a pleasantly patriotic site with much of what one might expect for a site like this, complete with graphics offering variations on the maple leaf. You can visit this site and take a test to determine whether or not you are Canadian. You can discover that some famous people are Canadian, and that many useful inventions are Canadian in origin.
The problem begins, as it so often does, on the feedback page. You said it is the sort of page that records comments by visitors and scrolls past comments out of sight when new ones come along. So the comments Jim found so distressing, including this one:
"I don't know if you watch 'this hour has 22 minutes', but they phrased the following. Face it america . . . we're faster (Bailey), we're bigger (size), and we're on top. You could actually say that technically, the united states is . . . our bitch. I laughed for hours when I saw that. I live in Windsor, so I'm right on the border, and I absolutely hate all americans..."
--were no longer there. But since Allie, the author of the site, takes the time to point out that opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily hers, these sorts of comments must come up frequently.
The author of "Canada Rocks the World" wants to have her cake and eat it too. On a page marked soapbox, she complains some visitors have misunderstood her site:
"Some Americans who have written me angrily are accusing me of bashing the USA or bragging Canada is better than the US because we have fewer problems. I have made every effort to keep all of my pages free from any messages like this. NOWHERE on any of my pages do I mention ANYTHING derogatory about the USA!!! I challenge you to find something. YOU WON'T. I have, however, posted some of the opinions sent to me on the ‘you said it’ page, and I cannot stress enough that THESE ARE NOT MY OWN."
Yet she doesn’t seem to realize she fosters the misunderstanding with her "you said it" page. If she doesn’t wish to promote chauvinism masquerading as patriotism, she could at least edit comments before she posts them. Otherwise, she should not complain when she gets angry emails.
Jim in "Hate White North" ascribes the chauvinism to an inferiority complex suffered by Canadians—the inevitable result of living next door to the world’s last remaining superpower. His equally hostile reaction, however, comes from a different source—what I would call a "Homer Simpson Complex" suffered by some US citizens. On "The Simpsons," Homer is continually irked by his neighbour, Ned Flanders, because he thinks Ned is a showoff. Ned is not showing off, though—he just happens to have well-behaved kids, and more nice things than Homer. He is unfailingly polite and friendly to boot. Stateside folks find Canada irksome in much the same way for many of the same reasons. It is difficult maintaining belief in the superiority of one’s homeland when just north is a country with so few drugs and murders and hardly any racism. (Jim makes the mistake on his page of saying, "it’s easy not to be racist when everyone in your country is the same color. Or colour. Whatever", but anyone who has gone to Toronto knows there is no uniform colour in Canada.)
To sum up: Canadians, don’t worry if people in the US secretly harbor negative opinions of you, or think of moose as your country’s defining characteristic. People in the US are ignorant about all sorts of things; it’s nothing personal.
And US citizens, don’t fret if Canadians think you’re ignorant. Your country is still the world’s only superpower.
Angela Pancella was Canadian in a previous life. Now she is a freelance writer living in St. Louis, Missouri.
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