Some hundred years ago we believed our planet was flat and that the stars and other planets all revolved around the Earth. So we were proved wrong with respect to flatness and our solar system revolves around the sun. But what about the rest of the universe? They revolve around Toronto, of course. At least that’s what I’ve learned from the Toronto-centric national media. And you wonder why there’s ill feelings towards the mega-city in the rest of Canada.
Albert Nerenberg and Robert Spence’s Let’s All Hate Toronto is a cheeky look at the disdain aimed at the Ontario capital from the rest of Canada. The myth of the film has Mr. Toronto seeing a billboard on TV one day declaring that his hometown of Toronto, well, sucks. It was aimed at their football team, but when Mr. Toronto heads up to Hamilton to see the game he finds that the hatred goes beyond football. As he crosses Canada in a whirlwind media tour, Mr. Toronto finds haters from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The film asks the simple question, but the answer turns out to be much more complex. And while the answer may be complex, this documentary is inviting to all, haters and lovers alike.
For years Toronto has claimed to be the most multicultural city in the world. City officials have even gone on record as saying that the United Nations said so. There’s lots of towering skyscrapers and the CN Tower, which until a short while ago was the tallest man-made free-standing structure in the world. And if you live in Canada most of the news you hear is going to be centered here. National sports stations claim the Maple Leafs to be the country’s unofficial team. It is the center of the universe, you know.
So is it jealousy that fuels the “us versus them” mentality of Canada taking on Toronto? Is it bitterness? Is it media overkill? Does Canada really hate Toronto. It’s a little bit of everything and nothing at the same time.
Much of the film revolves around Mr. Toronto’s “Toronto Appreciation Days” that he holds across the country. They were done to cause controversy as well as investigate the underlying question. But here’s the thing that I find strikingly obvious: wear a Maple Leafs jersey in Edmonton during the Stanley Cup finals and of course you’re going to have the drunk interview subjects piss all over Mr. Toronto’s hometown. It’s the most obvious thing I’ve seen in a documentary since Morgan Spurlock got sick after eating McDonald’s for a month straight in Super Size Me.
There’s also a heavy reliance in Let’s All Hate Toronto on Mr. Toronto’s media tour. It’s easy to see that the controversy the film caused further fueled the media’s desire to sensationalize the quest. But perhaps flipping the media on itself is part of the idea. Maybe Nerenberg and Spence were trying the old idea that if you repeat something enough people will think it’s true. It worked for the Toronto public relations team. Regardless, I would have rather more of the running time be spent talking to more “people on the street” rather than listen to the repetitive questions of different news media in different cities.
Much like Nerenberg’s Stupidity, Let’s All Hate Toronto is a light and often funny look at contemporary Canadian culture. It might not offer a ton of grand ideas, but it does leave you with something to think about and gripe over the next time Sports Centre leads off with a meaningless Maple Leafs practice instead of Game 7 of the World Series.
Let’s All Hate Toronto Gallery
Let’s All Hate Toronto Trailer