Monday, September 6, 2010

The Right Thing to Call Rob Ford

Try googling Toronto Mayoral candidate Rob Ford* and one of the first things that comes up is a short clip entitled “Councillor Rob Ford in action.” Taken from a 2005 documentary film called “Hogtown: The Politics of Policing," directed by Min Sook Lee, the film shows a nonplussed Rob Ford standing off to one side at first while another councillor, Case Ootes, attempts to correct the misinformation that Ford has manipulatively spread to reporters. When Rob Ford himself joins the press scrum, he is shrill and defensive and flustered, but the real excitement comes when, after he attempts to shout down Globe and Mail reporter John Barber who is asking for a clarification about his inconsistent remarks, a member of Rob Ford’s entourage accuses Barber of calling Rob Ford a “fat fuck.” There follows a name-calling chase by Rob Ford of Barber, the like of which I haven’t seen since the schoolyard at recess when I was in grade five. It offers, I suppose, a glimpse of the fine, dignified mayoral style that we can expect from Rob Ford in office. Here’s the video:

Now, if Barber did call Rob Ford a “fat fuck,” it is not audible in the video. But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that he did; the question, then, is why Rob Ford is so insistently demanding that Barber explain the label.

I think we can assume right off the bat that there can be no objection to the “fat” part of the label, which, while a tad bluntly expressed, is not exactly a surprising assessment. Indeed, when I have been even a little more overweight than I am now, I have readily used the adjective of myself, and I have many friends who would not hesitate to self-apply the label, who are not nearly as overweight as Rob Ford is. After all, facts are facts, and as Orson Welles so memorably and honestly put it, “gluttony is not a secret vice.” So we can assume that Rob Ford knows full well that he is indeed fat and that he accepts that other people know it as well.

So the trouble must be with the word “fuck.”

Now here, I am inclined to agree with Rob Ford’s indignation, and to wonder why Barber chose such a word. After all, “fuck” has to be the very last word or image I would want to associate even fleetingly with someone so vile as Rob Ford is. So we must assume therefore that Ford is indignant because he wishes to be known by another noun. And what might that be? Well, as the record shows, he's worked very hard for some time to earn a number of other labels. for starters, how about:

Rob Ford the unregenerate bigot?

Rob Ford the bald-faced liar?

Rob Ford the selfish, insensitive bastard?

Rob Ford the homophobic jerk?

Rob Ford the casually homicidal and fascist automobile owner?

Rob Ford the drunken lout?

Rob Ford the would-be wife-beater?

Rob Ford the law-obstructing criminal?

But come to think of it, there’s the point in Barber's favour: the list is such a long one. There are so many legitimate labels to choose from where Rob Ford is concerned, that one can hardly blame an overwhelmed and bullied columnist for opting to go with the time-honoured journalistic vice of the alliterative phrase.

At any rate, I remain puzzled by one thing: who, just exactly, is intending to vote for this pathetic, shrill and stupid little brute?

*(As I understand it, the more times a name, such as Rob Ford, is mentioned on a webpage, the higher it will appear in the search results when “Rob Ford” is entered.)