Don Cherry Hurt My Delicate Artsy Feelings

Yesterday the Toronto Star had a troubling quote by colourful hockey pundit Don Cherry. Cherry has recently drawn attention for endorsing right-wing political candidates Julian Fantino (federal byelection) and Rob Ford (Toronto Mayor. There’s been some rumbling that it’s inappropriate for Cherry, a paid CBC on-air personality on  Hockey Night In Canada,  to endorse candidates. I say phooey: Don can endorse who he wants. If he backs dickheads, that’s on his rep, not CBC’s.

Where I have a problem is with something Cherry said that went above and beyond the call of douchey. Specifically, this:

“I’m happy — it seems things are shifting around a bit to the right, with Julian Fantino getting elected, and Rob.”

And this:

“People are sick of the elites and artsy people running the show. It’s time for some lunch pail, blue-collar people.”

The story with the quote is here.


I don’t have much to say about an idiotic “elites” comment made by an elite national TV star about a couple of elite politicians. Cherry’s entire career as an NHL commentator is built around the celebration of elite athletes. Here’s a secret: People, including Don Cherry, tend to admire elites.

A sports celebrity complaining about the imagined oppression of some fantasy, imagined “elite” is just stupid. But that’s not the reason I’m furious with Captain Fashion.

As for “artsy people running things”? First off, what’s Cherry talking about? What “artsy people” are “running” what? “Artsy” people rarely get to run anything. And so what if they did? “Artsy” people tend to be smart, open-minded, kind and hard-working. In my experience with “artsy” people, which unlike Don Cherry’s is vast, they have proven generous, funny and interesting. What they haven’t been is a bunch of trash-talking egomaniac dipshits like Cherry’s friend Rob Ford or megalomaniac fascists who disparage the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms like Cherry’s friend Julian Fantino.

Fantino and Ford are not nice people. Nor are they thinking people–they seem motivated by the chance to have authority and status rather than by the desire to genuinely help. Critics warned that Ford would do a lot of damage to Toronto; in his first week in office he’s sabotaging an eight-billion dollar rapid transit project. If those are the kind of people Cherry admires, then there’s something wrong with Don Cherry. But we’re all imperfect, we’re all capable of admiring rotten people. He could’ve had a grudging pass on his bad taste in friends.

But trashing “artsy” people? What the fuck? Lots of artsy people are fans of Don Cherry. I’m a fan of Don Cherry’s.

Don Cherry apparently has a delusional concept of musicians, filmmakers,visual artists, dancers, poets, actors and authors. He also clearly has some hostility to them. Well Don, that’s a problem. Canada’s full of “artsy” people who make this country a more interesting and lively place, who entertain us, who ask tough questions about the world we live in, who call on us all to learn and think and dream.

Apparently Don Cherry thinks that’s worthless.

Don, I’m a hockey fan and I’ve usually enjoyed your program. But I’m also an “artsy” guy (by temperment) and a “lefty” guy (by reasoning).

Don, you just told me to fuck off.

You told a lot of people I care about to fuck off yesterday.

Fuck off, Don Cherry.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

3 thoughts on “Don Cherry Hurt My Delicate Artsy Feelings”

  1. Don is like our dad (or grand-dad, depending how old you are) whose heart is generally in the right place but clings to an ideology and image that doesn’t exist anymore (or never did). He means well but he is ignorant. In other words, way too many people out there are just like him and that’s why we have a Tory government. Don, like so many others, doesn’t realize that with the Tories, it IS the Elites running the show…. but they sell themselves as Joe Lunchpail from the Good Ole Days (which also never existed). Telling him (and all others like him) to fuck off sure isn’t going to help us out at all — in fact it’s just going to entrench him all the more. Think about Don, and then think about all the people you know who want fewer taxes and more domed stadiums, and want all those people on welfare to “just go get a job, dammit”. How can we reach them?

  2. I agree with your take on Cherry. His heart seems to be in the right place. He’s just really, really ignorant sometimes. My “fuck off” isn’t anything other than a personal expression of my frustration in support of people he’s crapping on.

    I’m really not sure we can reach irrational people whose opinions contradict their stated values. Maybe some of them can learn over time to smarten up. A mix of justified wrath and compassionate understanding is probably the way to go, but it’s a hard slog.

    Thanks for the comment!

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