Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Teenage Tuesday: Truce in Duff v. Lavigne
Also, Campaign Diary, Day 31: Don't Fall for the Scare Tactics!

Since Popwherry was busy celebrating with the ol' pater familias yesterday, I was enlisted to cover his beat for a day. So I spent Sunday evening hanging out on the red carpet of the MuchMusic Video Awards, screaming teens with camera phones on one side of me, VJs, celebs and ornery sock puppets on the other.

I don't really care whether Hilary Duff and Avril Lavigne ever get along and I don't suppose the readership of On the Fence does much either. But in the interest of increasing my hit count and misrepresenting my life as much more glamorous than it is, I hereby reprint my article from today's paper. (You can skip ahead to the facile election commentary at the bottom of this post, if that's what you're really looking for):
It was fitting that rocker Sam Roberts arrived at the MuchMusic Video Awards last night with the emergency lights of an ambulance flashing behind him, since he could have used a gurney to cart out his awards. [Editor's note: YIKES! What a clumsy lede. But I was on a tight deadline, yo.]

The sensitive, bearded Montrealer, outfitted in a red jacket over black T-shirt with a howling wolf on it, went in with eight nominations -- the most of any artist -- and wheeled out several awards for the video for his song Hard Road, including Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Post Production. Diagnosis: Roberts is a bona fide Canadian rock star.

Despite that song's insistence that "There's no road that ain't a hard road to travel on," the sexily unkempt Roberts appeared to have no difficulty navigating the red carpet on Queen Street through a gauntlet of screaming teenagers armed with camera phones, affable-looking VJs and the occasional ornery sock puppet.

While Roberts was the most celebrated artist last night, the big attractions for most of the young crowd that milled about outside of the MuchMusic studio were angry young woman Avril Lavigne, 19, and actress-cum-singer Hilary Duff, 16, true teenage celebrities who have recently slagged each other in the press. Both Duff and Lavigne presented awards last night, and Duff performed a song from her album Metamorphosis.

But those who were hoping for another kitty fight between the two Libras were out of luck. When Duff -- who has also feuded with teen actress Lindsay Lohan -- spoke to reporters upon arriving at the gala, she adopted a very conciliatory and Canadian tone when asked about the pride of Napanee, who once called her a "mommy's girl."

"I probably shouldn't have said what I said," Duff said, referring to her prior criticisms of Lavigne as being mean to her fans. "I hope that [Lavigne] doesn't think I'm a rude person or something.... A lot of that stuff got blown out of proportion."

Upon hearing of Duff's comments, Lavigne, who arrived at the gala with her sister and brother minutes later, cackled. But after being assured by a radio journalist that Duff's comments were on tape, Lavigne, all in black except the skull-and-bones design on her socks, said, "[When I see her] I'm going to say, 'Nice to meet you.' I have no problem with her."

Duff and Lavigne were but two of the big names among the evening's presenters, who included musical talent such as Sum41, Evanescence, Nickelback and neo-dandy Hawksley Workman; as well actors Vivica A. Fox, Tom Green, and Samaire Armstrong from The O.C.

Billy Talent's lead singer Ben Kowlewicz injected a touch of rock-star politics into the evening by sporting a tiny "Stop Harper" button to encourage viewers at home to vote against the Conservative Party in the upcoming federal battle of the bands.
The "Stop Harper" buttons were tres en vogue at the after party. I found two different guys who claimed responsibility for passing them out, one of whom was also carrying around a Jack Layton sign.

Confidential to Layton Dude: A "Stop Harper" campaign will only hurt your precious Jack, as people will vote Liberal to prevent the Conservatives from getting a majority.

I feel this should be reiterated, because I've run into several people, normally NDPers and/or Marxist-Leninists, who are voting Liberal for just that reason. Folks: Our electoral system is not the same as the one in the United States. A vote for Layton is not a vote for Harper the way a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush.

In Trinity-Spadina, for instance, it's going to be either Liberal Tony Ianno or N-Dipper Olivia Chow who gets elected. If Ianno gets elected, it's just one more seat for the Liberals. If Chow gets elected, it's one more seat for the NDP, which you can add to the Liberal total in a minority gov't situation. So, in a way, an NDP seat is just as good for the Libs as a Liberal seat is.

I suppose if you live in a riding where the Conservatives and Liberals are neck and neck, you might want to vote Liberal rather than Green or NDP or something. But, frankly, voting for the Liberals in this election is a sin. You will go to hell.

Don't fall for the Liberals' scare tactics. Vote for who you want to. That's what our moderately-more-democratic-than-the-Americans electoral system is all about.

Post-script

Finally, having completely moved away from the topic of Duff v. Lavigne, I object to Andrew Coyne's lumping together of the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc as "left-wing parties" in a recent blog post. The Bloc is all over the place ideologically (which is why I kind of like them), while the Greens -- I continue to assert rather unconvincingly -- are a post-spectrum political party.

Here's Coyne's dubious math:
Interestingly, if you add the three left-wing parties (NDP-Bloc-Green) together, you get another third of the vote -- 35%, actually -- half again as much as they got between them last time. So it's a three-way split between the right, the centre, and the left. More of the Liberal vote has bled left than right. Indeed, Harper has not been able to match the combined vote of the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives in the last election, though the Conservatives have ran well to the left of the Alliance.

The Harper Conservatives have moved left, the Martin Liberals have moved left, and the Layton NDP has moved left. And the big winner in this election: the Left.
Coyne is absolutely correct... Or he would be anyway, if it was OPPOSITES DAYS. Worst. Coyne commentary. Ever.

Here's how I see it: The Conservatives under Harper are further to the right of the Progressive Conservatives of, say, Mulroney or the Kimmers. This is what Monsieur George Jonas wrote in The Post today, arguing that "Canada is closer to having centre-right government than it has been in 40 years... The core of today's Conservatives, the potential Cabinet... are true-blue conservatives, perhaps with a sprinkling of classical liberals."

As for the Liberals, that they are further to the right under Martin than Chretien seems, to me, a truism. Never mind Martin's wishy-washy campaign rhetoric: Just look at his cabinet.

Then, there's Layton, who I think wishes he was more left than he actually is. I'd say the NDP has moved towards the centre under his leadership, which is probably why the NDP has doubled in the polls from the last election.

It's funny how different people (ie. Coyne and myself) can look at the same thing and see something entirely different. Actually, I think that's beautiful. But that's a topic for another time, when I am less tired and more stoned.

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