Just before Christmas, and replayed on CTV last night, we had the benefit of a "conversation" with our Prime Minister Stephen Harper (and how I still wince and rub my eyes after writing those last four words). Veteran journalists Robert Fife and Lloyd Robertson lobbed a series of not-so-hardballs in the general direction of the PM, supplemented by televised questions from des hommes (et femmes) moyens sensuels. The whole thing was as smooth, frothy and eminently forgettable as a vanilla milkshake.
Except for one thing. Harper's hair.
To call it a bowl job would be to discredit the hard work of countless Depression-era parents struggling to make their boy-children respectable. It's as though a greyish hair beanie had been glued to his head. A horizontal line on the left side of his scalp clearly traces the border of this unmistakeable skullcap. While he droned glibly on, and on, and on, about his wife, his kids, his parents, his policies on the environment, Afghanistan and the economy, separatism (in a "terrible retreat") how 2008 will be a "challenging year," and what he has on his i-pod, I couldn't take my eyes off his hair. It didn't move. And his pink, hairless, cherubic face. It barely moved. A Stepford Prime Minister. Or could The Powers That Be have an entire garage full of these things?
He's mastered the lingo, seems less ill-at-ease, and his famed petulance was scarcely in evidence. He's doing his best to appear more human. He even cracked a smile or two, summoning up reserves of energy I never knew he possessed. But somehow the result is even creepier than his former irritable incarnation.
“Stephen is not Stephen. On the outside, Stephen is still Stephen, but on the inside, I can tell that there is something different. Something is missing. Emotion, feelings, he’s just not the same person.”
But perhaps we aren't dealing with simple replacement. Could Harper be a simulacrum--a copy with no original? Is he an exemplar of a Deleuzian "ideology of difference," in which a stultifying sameness forces us to perceive even the most minute distinctions?
In this case, it's all about the hair. Hair is important. Hair is political. Don't waste time calling me superficial: sometimes superficial is more than skin-deep, if you know what I mean. RCMP, put down those Tasers and start searching 24 Sussex for pods.