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Let’s All Hate Toronto (2007)

by on 2012/09/17

“See, that’s the problem. When you ask the question, no one really knows why exactly, but we know we hate it.”

“If it makes them feel better, well, so be it.”

* * *

Having just returned from an extended stay in Ontario’s capital — no, not Ottawa — Canada’s largest, most prosperous, tallest, and possibly-most-diverse city, I thought it would be fitting to review Let’s All Hate Toronto, a quasi-mockumentary concerning my home at the centre of the universe.

Watching it for now my third time to date, I was reminded of my transition between the grades of six and seven. I had been expected to feed into the same schools as my classmates. Instead my parents allowed me to attend one nearer to our home. I spent the latter half of grade six being attacked for my betrayal.

Gru experienced something similar when vacating Alberta for Ontario.

Why does Canada despise “Onterrible” . . . or specifically “Terrauma” so much?

I believe it’s a simple matter of human nature. Toronto is an easy target: distant enough to demonize, diverse enough to provide innumerable excuses, and too self-involved to care about retaliating. Many outside the Maritimes have joked about the “Newfies”. The Quebecois gang up on Montreal. Alberta’s Calgary and Edmonton bicker like fraternal siblings. Toronto scratches a common itch for all the above, without the lingering guilt of a prejudice based on political incorrectness.

But my rationale is only half-heartedly pursued by Let’s All Hate Toronto. In fact, I strongly suspect it might only fracture the country more. At the least, we’ll keep our existing views, maybe laughing along the way.

Chronicling the journeys of Torontonian Robert Spence, director Albert Nerenberg follows the self-appointed “Mister Toronto” as he travels across our home and native land, ineptly “promoting” his home turf by hawking sewage, flashing his boxers, and being generally passive aggressive.

Spanning nearly a dozen locations, and meeting a Who’s Who of familiar faces — including Dan Aykroyd (My Girl), Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), Douglas Coupland (Everything’s Gone Green), the late Jack Layton, David Miller, Dalton McGuinty, Colin Mochrie (Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town), Terry David Mulligan, Russell Peters, Jane Pitfield, Dan Redican (The Frantics), and Alex Trebek (Jeopardy) — he gathers a list of ten frequent “reasons” Toronto is reviled.

Of particular interest to this Torontonian is how many of the reasons differ, contradict each other, suggest equally selfish interests, or mask hidden insecurities. Some of the stated hatreds, on further inspection, stem from envy, fear, or pity.

There’s a lot of potential to mine here but, unfortunately, Let’s All Hate Toronto falls a bit short. At one point I began to wonder whether it was actually produced by Toronto-phobes, as the “comedic” elements often boiled down to stunts insulting to locals.

Somewhere in this hodgepodge of animation, news clips, stock footage, and streeters, you may find bits and pieces which appeal to you, but it probably won’t change your mind. And if by chance any non-Canadians happen to see it through, they’ll learn we’re less harmonious than we seem from the outside, then forgetting it all in favour of their own chosen scapegoats.

* * *

Not Rated, but contains coarse language and nudity

73 minutes

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