Deconstructing Mayor Gregor Robertson's visit to the Biltmore

Comments6

As far as media stunts go, give the mayor of Vancouver an A. Showing up to perform as a DJ at the Biltmore on Saturday (December 17) made Gregor Robertson appear cool enough to woo the votes of some of the most cynical hipsters in town.

Poll

How do you rate Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson's skills as a DJ?

Got my vote 45%
65 votes
Don't quit your day job 40%
57 votes
No comment 15%
22 votes

As a musician, Robertson can claim some street cred, having put in a cameo on the tuba on Sunshine Coast songwriter Slim Milkie's debut album.

But let's not kid ourselves. By making an appearance at the Biltmore, the mayor was riffing on an old trick employed by politicians across the ideological spectrum.

One of the highest-profile examples came when Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to humanize himself (if that's possible) in 2009 by playing some Beatles music with Yo Yo Ma at the National Arts Centre.


Steven Harper gets down with Yo Yo Ma.

That prompted an amusing response from Bob Rae, who converted "Let It Be" into "Stephen Harper: He Prorogues". Rae played the tune before becoming leader of the federal Liberals.


Bob Rae can also tickle the keyboards.

Meanwhile back in 2005, former NDP leader Jack Layton entertained the crowd at the annual press gallery dinner with an amusing rendition of "Party For Sale or Rent". It helped endear him to the national reporters.


Jack Layton shows his funny side.

Here at home, the mayor's spin doctors, led by chief of staff Mike Magee, have created a formidable political machine by portraying Robertson as the antipolitician. By doing a mashup rather than playing an old Beatles standard, Robertson came across as fresher and younger than those federal leaders.

But his clever backroom operators should also keep in mind that nowadays, voters are demanding more authenticity from elected officials. This creates the possibility of a backlash if Robertson's younger constituents ever get the feeling that they're being manipulated for the benefit of his political career.

This hasn't occurred yet. But that doesn't mean it won't happen in the future.


Gregor Robertson makes music at the Biltmore.

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

Comments (6) Add New Comment
R2
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
HANG THE DJ, HANG THE DJ, HANG THE DJ
HANG THE DJ, HANG THE DJ
HANG THE DJ, HANG THE DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
HANG THE DJ, HANG THE DJ
HANG THE DJ, HANG THE DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
HANG THE DJ, HANG THE DJ
HANG THE DJ, HANG THE DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
HANG THE DJ
3
1
Rating: +2
After party
Charlie, were you there that night? That night was for an after party of a comedy film short that premiered at the Cinematheque and coincided with the three year anniversary party of the dance night Glory Days. I think the people involved with the film asked him to perform.

I'm tired of the cynical hipster jokes. The people there weren't cynical hipsters.

I didn't look at it as a stunt.
2
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Rating: 0
Derp
Dude, come on. You had a decent article with a compilation of politician's musical pandering, but book-ending it with some ridiculous ungrounded speculation. "This creates the possibility ... ever get the feeling ... hasn't occurred yet but doesn't mean it won't happen?" Come on, you're grasping at nothing here except cynicism.

1. Attemping to draw the line behind genuine interest and pandering to a community is an uninteresting question because it asks a question of intention. You can't really answer that without strapping Robertson and the rest of his staff to a polygraph. Even then you probably won't get the answers you're looking for.

2. Pandering or not, Robertson's group is interested in interacting with a community of young people in Vancouver. This is a good thing, yes?
0
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Rating: 0
Give Me a Break.
Wooden, as always.

What, no Bob Marley?
1
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Rating: 0
Give Me a Break.
Dear god,

It's like having dad come down to the recroom, and try to give our music "props'.

Please, if Gregor wants to "interact" with me, he can figure out to grow the business base, so that I might actually be able to pay rent here. Because I would have an opportunity for a real job.

This other crap, if it appeals to people still living in their parent's basement, I guess that's "groovy, man".
2
5
Rating: -3
GZLFB
I hope no one had to pay a cover. I hate paying them for seeing things I like. Really I blame Clinton and Arsenio Hall.
3
1
Rating: +2
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