Arm in arm, the happy couple amble across the sand. Stage right, a shirtless Justin Trudeau, having stumbled onto the scene in a wetsuit, looks on respectfully, yellow surfboard in silent salute. The event photographer gets the shot. The image goes viral. The crowd goes wild.
It was accidental, of course. But Justin’s unscripted appearance at this Tofino wedding couldn’t have been written better. To convey a picture of manliness and grace, other world leaders stage photo shoots propped with wild animals, racecars, fighter jets and/or legions of swooning schoolchildren. All Justin has to do is spill into frame. It’s enough to make a propaganda department weep.
In Italy, where I was travelling when the story broke, the word they’d use to describe the camera-ready aspect of Justin is sprezzatura: the ability to look good without seeming to try. Every time a selfie (or photobomb) of JT flies, his sprezzatura amplifies. “Your Prime Minister is a good man,” our Pugliese waiter beamed, when he learned we were from Canada. “And handsome. Like George Clooney.”
The Italians love George Clooney. The next morning, in a tiny fruit store on the outskirts of Lecce, there was George Clooney again. In a tux. Courtesy of the shop’s selfie station. That’s when the idea came to me.
How cool would it be if full-sized reproductions of Justin were planted in random yet strategic locations across Canada. Cowboy Justin in a Calgary mall during Stampede week. Jogging Justin in Stanley Park. Rainbow Justin in Toronto’s Gay Village. And yes, Wetsuit Justin at designated wedding chapels. Canadians would be sent into a Where’s Waldo-esque frenzy. Tourists would love it!
The Justins wouldn’t actually be made of cardboard, of course. We’d use weatherproof, self-adhesive vinyl. To discourage vandalism and worse, The Justins would be stationed only in well-lit, well-monitored public places. There could even be a charity component worked in.
At home and abroad, Cardboard Justins would unleash the hypnotic, seductive power of a selfie with Trudeau, inspiring thousands of photo ops and propelling our PM into the social media stratosphere for months to come. All while liberating the real man to shine his light on such matters as job creation and the economy, both of which could use a little sun.
The Co’s Katherine Gougeon explores social and cultural details that have an outsized ripple effect. Follow her on Twitter @kgougeon