4 min

Rants! F-bombs! Role models!

BY ROB SALERNO – Everyone’s all abuzz about rants at the CBC today.

This morning CBC broke a story that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford spouted an expletive-laden rant at 911 dispatchers when police didn’t arrive quickly enough to remove a sexagenarian comedienne from his driveway.

A few days ago, the CBC’s Mary Walsh tried to ambush Ford for a comedy interview at his house for This Hour Has 22 Minutes — yes, that show still exists. After a brief exchange in which Ford was clearly not amused, he went inside to call the cops. 

It should probably not surprise anyone that 911 didn’t treat this as an urgent matter, but Ford called back twice to complain that cops hadn’t shown up and that Walsh was still standing in his driveway with her scary camera and microphone. The CBC says a source claimed that on one of his calls, he shouted at the dispatcher, “You
. . . bitches! Don’t you fucking know? I’m Rob fucking Ford, the mayor of this city!” CBC said a tape of the call has been circulating among police.

Ford now admits that he swore, although he says he didn’t call anyone names. He says he dropped the F-bomb out of frustration because he was “frightened” after having been “attacked” in his driveway by Walsh, which makes perfect sense, because this is Rob Ford:


and this is Mary Walsh:


Meanwhile, This Hour alum Rick Mercer made waves the other night with his rant on teen suicide during this week’s Rick Mercer Report. In the rant, Mercer talks about the rash of teen suicides in Canada — 300 annually — and Jamie Hubley’s in particular.

"It’s no longer enough for us to tell kids who are different that it’s gonna get better,” he says. “We need to make it better now."

So far, so good.

"Every adult has to step up to the plate, and that’s gay adults, too.” Uh-huh. “’Cause I know gay cops, athletes, soldiers, cabinet ministers — a lot of us do, but the problem is adults, we don’t need role models. Kids do. So if you’re gay and you’re in public life, I’m sorry, you don’t have to run around with a pride flag and bore the hell out of everyone, but you can’t be invisible, not anymore."


I don’t want to shit on what Mercer’s saying here, but it’s a bit of a head scratcher that he doesn’t say anywhere in his rant that he’s gay. After all, he’s a public figure. So why isn’t he owning this, especially if he’s calling out all those invisible gay cops, athletes, soldiers and John Bairds?

I know Mercer’s been out of the closet for about a decade now, he donates to gay charities, and he even recorded an It Gets Better video. But how many people outside of the established gay community even know he’s gay? (As the Star reports, the Twitterverse was still largely in the dark.) I agree that Mercer doesn’t need to drape himself in the pride flag, but the occasional reference to his sexuality on his TV show — especially when he’s actually talking about sexuality would go a long way.  

It’s a very Canadian attitude to not want to impose yourself on others, but that’s pretty much what a role model does. Imagine if Wayne Gretzky wanted only his closest friends to know that he was a great hockey player. Imagine if Beyoncé was only a diva behind closed doors. How would either have been role models? Being a role model means putting your whole life out there and saying, “I’m fabulous” for everyone to see and emulate.

So no, you don’t need to “run around with a pride flag and bore the hell out of everyone.” You could be Anderson Cooper or Oprah or Missy Elliott or John Baird. Or you could be Ellen. Who do you think is a bigger role model for gay kids? (Sorry, those claiming a middle ground don’t get to be role models.)

Mercer apparently told The Current that he doesn’t include his sexuality on his show because that’s not what it’s about. *ahem* Rick Mercer, if you’re reading, it’s called The Rick Mercer Report. It’s about you. It’s about your worldview and your perspective, and being a gay man informs that. You can make it part of the show if you choose to.

The Daily Show isn’t about Jon Stewart’s sex life, but he still manages to mention his wife and kids every now and then. The Ellen Show isn’t explicitly about cunnilingus, but Ellen still manages to mention her sexuality every now and then.

Ultimately, I agree with everything Mercer says in his rant this week. But if he’s going to call out others to accept the responsibility of being a role model, he should make more than rudimentary effort to be one himself.

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