I know Americans think they have the market cornered in disgusting, unfit politicians, but before Donald’s fated presidential run, Canada was home to a mayor who made headlines around the world – and definitely not the good kind.
With all this extra time at home, we’re supplementing our movie watching with series watching, and one that recently caught our eye on Netflix (though it has been there a while – it wasn’t interesting enough in a world where we could go outdoors, but it was just good enough for lockdown) is Daybreak. It’s basically like Ferris Bueller’s Day off, but it’s also the apocalypse, and in this one, Matthew Broderick plays the principal. And the protagonist is a student who has recently transferred from Toronto (Canada). Though the kid refers to it as a “small town,” the kind in which all fathers take their sons hunting, it is in fact our most populous city. There are about 6 million people living in the GTA, so someone didn’t do their homework. Toronto is a frequent filming location for big Hollywood movies, movies that pretend they’re actually shooting in NYC, or Chicago. Very rarely does Toronto get to be Toronto, and the one time it does serves only to remind the world of that time when we were the buffoons.
2013: what a simple, naive time it was, looking back on it now. There are basically two sets of shockingly young people behind the wheels of basically everything: the mayor’s “special assistants”, led by Kamal (Mena Massoud), and the eager newspaper intern Bram (Ben Platt). Kamal’s job is basically to babysit the mayor and to minimize the collateral damage as much as possible. Bram’s job, aside from listicles, is to try to convince the grown-ups that there’s a major storm brewing at the mayor’s office, and whoever breaks it is about to earn a tsunami of clicks.
Rob Ford. There, I’ve said it. In the movie he’s played by an unrecognizable Damien Lewis. Rob Ford was a “businessman” who simply inherited a family business that was quite successful. He nonetheless saw himself as a “man of the people.” He was a conservative who loved to shout slogans and cut taxes. And also do crack.
Are you remembering him now? Every late night host loved to skewer this guy and he just kept feeding the fire. While he may not have been the first crack-smoking mayor, he was certainly the most photographed-with-a-crack-pipe mayor. He was also a very heavy drinker, and when he was good and plastered he’d sexually harass, or assault, female staffers, and, well, female anything. He was a black-out drunk who always denied it the next day, and often offered too much information in his denials. And yet 2013 was certainly in the time of smart phones. Video evidence was plentiful.
Run This Town is THAT story. The story of Kamal, a brown-skinned young man with the unenviable job of sweeping some extra-large skeletons back into some very full closets, despite the fact that Ford constantly reminded everyone he was anti-immigrant even if he thought Kamal was “a good one.” And of Bram, who knew this was a whale of a story but never got enough professional respect to do anything about it. It’s a reminder that these millennials we’re always accusing of being lazy are actually just very busy cleaning up boomer messes. Massoud and Platt are both excellent in this, and so are many others. But Lewis as Ford was not my favourite. The performance got lost behind the extensive prosthetics, which didn’t even feel accurate. Yes, Ford was a big, sweaty guy, not unlike a Chris Farley while Lewis’ look is more reminiscent of Fat Bastard.
Rob Ford is a sore spot for a lot of Torontonians, some of whom still defend him. But it’s also hard to criticize him, let alone mock him, since he died of cancer shortly thereafter, only 46 years old. And now Rob’s brother Doug is the premier of Ontario, because people refuse to learn lessons. I will say though, that while I despise his politics, he’s doing surprisingly well as a pandemic premier, his response oddly rational, and he’s taken care to distance himself from Trump’s dangerous rhetoric. So maybe there’s hope for the Fords after all?
The good news is that Run This Town tells the story fairly. It’s not a personal attack, in fact it’s not an attack at all. Rather than shaming Ford for what turns out to be a monumental addictions problem, the movie focuses on the very young people who actually had their hands on the steering wheel. Remember, this is the generation who cannot afford Toronto’s astronomical real estate prices. They are over-educated and under-paid. They can’t afford to be picky about who they work for. Their parents who prattle on about avocado toast are the very people who voted a crackhead as mayor.
Run This Town is now available to own or rent across all digital platforms.
I remember when Rob Ford was hitting the headlines all over the place — simpler times.
Run This Town sounds interesting — I shall have to track down a copy.
I can relate. The Nashville metropolitan area is over 2 million, with Vanderbilt University Hospital being one of the focal-points of COVID-19 therapeutic research, but “Hollywood” portrays us as a village of hillbillies.
I remember Rob Ford, of course. He lived a series of train and plane crashes everyday. Still, I think he was better than Trump.
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Well at least he seemed to have staffers who took the job a little more seriously. And when the scandal came to light, they did in fact strip him of much of his responsibility.
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I sincerely appreciate your attempt at national equivalence in political shame, but you are far too humble on behalf of your country, Jay. Rob Ford was indeed everything you said, but he didn’t manage to turn Canada into an authoritarian nightmare for fact-averse idiots. Only the biggest orange buffoon on Earth can accomplish that. *sigh*
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Well that’s true. He was only the mayor of one town. He made headlines in a time when we still thought there should be some dignity in a politician’s office. We are way beyond that now.
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Geez, Jay, I didn’t know Ford died that young. We all have messes, big ones.
Yes he went very quick in the end. a sad and shocking end to his story. He probably didn’t even seem that young when he was mayor because his health and addictions problems would have aged him.
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Dear God, that is so sad.
Yes, I vaguely recall him. But considering, not throwing stones…
My post today is about a show on Netflix you might like…
Hadn’t heard about this show! Sure remember that Ford guy though!
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