Kevin O'Leary in the Toilet: A People's History

Torontoist

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Kevin O’Leary in the Toilet: A People’s History

It's the ethical question of our age: Is it ok to shit on Kevin O'Leary's face?


In these troubled times, well-meaning American liberals have tied themselves in knots debating the ethics of punching the neo-Nazi Richard Spencer. Canadians should not let themselves get too smug. Far from immune from unsavoury political figures, we’ve often found ourselves wrestling with a tricky ethical question of our own: is it okay to shit on Kevin O’Leary’s face?

The answer, happily, was already implicitly answered last October, when a widely-circulated photo showed the possible future Prime Minister with his head in a toilet.

Screenshot from Shark Tank.

Screenshot from Shark Tank.

Ah, there he is: Canada’s cartoon capitalist… the man who said he wanted to outlaw unions… the man who said that 3.5 billion people living in poverty is “fantastic” because it “inspires everybody”… presenting his huge, barren scalp like a bull’s-eye. We’ve all seen the image, but fewer of us know (or, frankly, care) where it came from. For the record: in March 2016, two young entrepreneurs named Alexander and Michael Kannely appeared on Shark Tank to pitch an attachable toilet nightlight. With IllumiBowl, sleepy people will be able to aim for the bowl without the sensory overload of the bathroom light.

IllumiBowl already raised over $95,000 on Kickstarter before the Shark Tank appearance, and the entrepreneurs enticed O’Leary with a photoshopped image of his face in a toilet. For his $100,000, O’Leary took 25 per cent of the business. “I’m going to light America’s toilets up!” said the businessman. So enthusiastic was O’Leary that the normally buttoned-up tycoon agreed to take part in a commercial in which he emerged from a toilet to warn about the dangers of leaving the seat up. (Though IMHO, the prospect of falling backwards into a toilet is not nearly so terrifying as that of feeling a chrome-domed TV personality against one’s backside.)

We hoped to learn more about the production of this instant-classic ad, but IllumiBowl did not respond to an interview request (and frankly, why would they? They’re surely tired of being asked if they’ve ever shat on Kevin O’Leary’s face). Regardless, as O’Leary prepares to transition from the offices of Bay Street Boston to the corridors of Rideau Hall, this commercial makes a compelling case for how he can win the hearts and minds of everyday Canadians.

O’Leary’s bid for Conservative Party leadership has inevitably been compared to the unlikely rise of Trump, another celebrity businessman and reality TV host. O’Leary currently leads his Conservative rivals in the polls, but still faces an uphill political battle. He has not attempted to replicate Trump’s racist nationalism, and has displayed a tin-ear when it comes to populist rhetoric, clumsily telling the Star, “I can barely afford to eat because I have to pay Kathleen Wynne such ridiculous taxes.” His years as a Scrooge McDuck-like villain on The Lang and O’Leary Exchange generated dozens of hours of assholeish statements, and it will be difficult for him to keep dismissing them as “good television, not policy.”

Even so, the IlluminBowl campaign shows a surprising self-awareness on O’Leary’s part: he knows that people enjoy seeing a reprehensible capitalist’s head in a toilet. Who among us has not dreamed of unloading on someone like O’Leary? There are no sure things in politics, but this is an idea that can unite a divided nation. We humbly suggest that at every campaign stop, O’Leary deliver his stump speech from the confines of a toilet bowl, and allow voters to line up for a very special audience with the candidate.

Please, Kevin O’Leary, trust your instincts: let Canadians shit on your face.

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