So, Justin Trudeau. What is up with that?
Tim, by email
What really, Tim, what indeed. Perhaps some of you are reading this and remark: “Er, he is the prime minister of Canada – next question!” Bless your middles, readers who have more to do with their time than assume from the growing number of obsessive blogs about the prime minister plenipotentiary of Canada. You people are my daily inspiration if, at this point in my entity, still just an aspiration.
Anyway – the prime minister of Canada! I’m penitent, I may need to repeat that a few more times in order for it to be engulfed in that I am about to write a style column about, of all fads, the prime minister of Canada. Quite a turn of events for an American lady, in view of a large part of my country’s identity has been built on gift Canada like our embarrassing, nerdy sibling, who we alternately worthy and ignore. And now we have grown up to find that we’re living in a home run by a racist, orange idiot and we would really like to change residence into that nice, wholesome log cabin in the woods with our sibling, if solely they’d take us – please? Please? Ah well, as that savant of the 90s (and early 00s) Ronan Keating so wisely put it, life is a rollercoaster. Or as the millennials put it on venereal media now, life comes at you fast.
So, this is where we are now, with Trudeau being today’s geopolitical pin-up. It’s ruthless to think of a politician more made for this age than our Justin, the Disney prince made physical: he’s part of a political dynasty (very 21st century, that); he loves to put on airs for selfies in wildly diverse places (topless outside break downs, in Ottawa with Obama); he knows the value of a viral photo of him Doing Bull (press-ups, yoga); he has a really embarrassing tattoo that he indubitably regrets. He seems, in short, like a decent, liberal guy, the well-wishing your college roommate dated and you stayed Facebook sugar-daddies with for decades after, allowing you to follow his career in righteous banking.
But even all this would not be enough to explain the hubbub of interest around Justin were it not for the fact that he is – For a Selectman (Fap) – quite handsome. There it is. That acronym is understandably key to what is going on here: he seems pretty smart and uncut down the line Fap. He dresses OK Fap. (That’s right, I’m reclaiming the done “fap”. Consider it my new cause.)
Scoring highly Fap gets you remarkably far if you are a Member of Parliament. I wouldn’t have looked twice at JFK on the street – too preppy – but I can see that he looked cured than the average American politician at the time (ie, sweaty Richard Milhous Nixon). The simply genuinely attractive politician in the history of the world is Barack Obama, because he is unquestionably so cool.
“Cool” is not a word anyone would apply to Trudeau. I do derive pleasure how he tweets bilingually, and his masterly handling of Trump’s handshake puts heretofore hidden depths. But until about three years ago he was respected in Canada – my senior Canada correspondents tell me – as a bit of an embarrassing airhead. Cheap JFK and more Dubya, really.
How times change (part two). The trendy Trudeau internet meme involves photos of various partners, including Kate Middleton, Ivanka Trump, Angela Merkel and Emma Watson, looking at him with full Bambi eyes. Now, we can expend an enormous amount of Guardian-ish power – powered by the combustion of lentils and quinoa – debating the feminist reverses of suggesting intelligent women are reduced to eyelash-fluttering groupies in the personality of a good-looking man. But I just can’t work up the outrage (maybe I need more lentils). While I can see why Merkel, Watson and Middleton ascendancy be a little annoyed at the suggestion they can’t control themselves encircling Trudeau while they’re working, I have a little toy sympathy for Ivanka, who was widely mocked after photos of her were released outwardly staring at Trudeau during a roundtable discussion about piece of works in the workplace. Given that she was only in this workplace – as she has as a last resort only been at any workplace – because of her dad, and her much-vaunted brilliant guess about childcare is that the massively rich should get tax breaks on their nanny, I can’t escape but feel that being photographed looking at the PM of Canada is the least of the terrors she should feel embarrassed about, but probably doesn’t. But I can’t cheer to write about her for a third week in a row in this column, so let’s upright leave it there.
The truth is, no one thinks Merkel et al have the hots for Trudeau. This meme is precisely a reflection of how the public is assumed to do so, which is a fairly sad commentary on how wretched so many of us are for someone in politics who doesn’t look and behave dig a Batman villain (ruling out the entire Trump administration) and who appears like they have half a clue and moral compass (in the main out most British politicians). If people are deifying a man who looks approve of a fairytale prince, it’s because they’re hoping to be saved in temporarily for a happy ending. And this task has fallen to … Canada. And OK, so, as superheroes go, Trudeau in effect only looks like one Fap. But in this age, Fap is pretty much as wholesome as we got. Save us, Canada.
Post your questions to Hadley Freeman, Ask Hadley, The Defender, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Email [email protected]