“Canadian, Please”: The Intimate Space of YouTube Racism

Cynthia Sugars


“Yeah I know that you wanna be Canadian, please.” This is the opening line of the 2009 “Canada Day” YouTube music video by Julia Bentley and Andrew Gunadie that went viral days after it was posted. The video is a kitsch anthem celebrating the benefits of Canadian identity, but there is a deeper message in it, and, indeed, in the troubling responses that it initiated, that makes it a ground-breaking text in Canadian cultural discourse about national identity and anti-racism. The YouTube site invited responses from viewers, and soon became flooded with racist slurs aimed at Gunadie’s Asian descent and his questionable right to claim to “be” Canadian. In short, the very public space of YouTube became a disturbing site of intimate violence. The backlash against the video was so extreme and unsettling that it led to a CBC news investigation, in which Gunadie described the racism the video inspired and his equally “inspired” YouTube fight against the racists. Fed up with being subjected to online violence, Gunadie retaliated by creating a number of ingenious videos. His responses did not resolve intimate and uncomfortable moments into invisibility. On the contrary, the discomfort of online racism prompted from him a self-consciously “uncomfortable” affective response. These cultural texts stand as a powerful testament to the mediating force of online exchanges as a forum in which debates about national and transnational identities are being waged.


canadian cultural studies; asian-canadian; anti-racism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.33776/candb.v5i0.3026


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ISSN: 2254-1179
Entidad editora: Universidad de Huelva. Servicio de Publicaciones
Licencia de usoCreative Commons 4.0