It takes a lot to anger agreeable Canadians — but when Ben Affleck’s Argo premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last month, the movie managed to do just that.
Argo tells the true story of how six American citizens were successfully rescued from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Canucks were mildly upset to find that the film paints the CIA as heroes while downplaying the role of Canadians stationed at their Iranian embassy, which sheltered the Americans for months. Director Affleck took their criticism to heart, adding a new postscript to the film that specifies that the CIA’s involvement in the rescue was a “complement” to the Canadian efforts.
But even though they expressed outrage — affably, I’m sure — our neighbors to the north can’t have been surprised to see their homeland getting the short shrift from Hollywood. Any time the nation is mentioned in an American movie or TV show, stereotype-filled jokes about hockey, beavers, and, er, excessive politeness are sure to follow. So in honor of the Argo kerfuffle, let’s take a look back at some of American pop culture’s greatest insults to Canada. It’s a pretty good list, eh?
South Park in its entirety
The animated series that gave this list its name has been gleefully skewering Maple Land for 16 seasons and one feature-length movie. Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Canada is a backward place with a culture that revolves around fart jokes; an economy based on logging, porn, and The Terrance and Phillip Show; and a single byway that traverses the entire country. (“This is Canada! We only have one road!”) Take it from the random guy at the copy place in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut: “It’s not even a real country anyway.”
Ditto How I Met Your Mother
Cobie Smulders and the character she plays, Robin Scherbatsky, are both from Canada — which means they’re both constantly the butt of jokes. According to HIMYM, the ’80s didn’t come to Canada until 1993. The nation’s television is laughably low-budget and corny. All Canucks are afraid of the dark and become increasingly Canadian when they get wasted. Oh, and this is the Canadian citizenship test: “Question One: Do you want to be Canadian? Question Two: Really?”
Canada at war with the United States? To director Michael Moore, that premise is inherently hilarious — see, because Canada’s so lame and weak. They love Anne Murray! Their police say “please”! The worst crime you can commit there is littering! And check out the goofy way they talk — it’s downright uncivilized. Luckily, dim-witted, patriotic Americans — who also don’t come out of the movie smelling like roses — are coming to set those Canucks straight. As one says to a Mountie, “We have ways of making you pronounce the letter ‘O,’ pal.”
Unlike the previous entries, this live-action adaptation of a classic cartoon never outright calls Canada stupid — but come on. The very idea of someone dressed like a Mountie playing the hero is supposed to be comic gold. And the endless slapstick and dumb jokes don’t exactly respect and uphold Canadian dignity.
Ren & Stimpy‘s Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen
This one’s sort of a cheat, since Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi is from the Great White North. But since the series was produced by an American studio and broadcast in the U.S., we’ll let it slide. In any case, Kricfalusi doesn’t seem to think much of his home country — his show’s take on the Mounties proudly proclaim that they “always get [their] butts kicked,” and Canada itself is painted as a harsh, barren wasteland covered in both frozen tundra and implausible jungle. Did Kricfalusi actually mean to imply that he had to make stuff up, since the real Canada is far too boring to inspire a TV writer?
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