I hope to have more to say about this in future posts, but I’ll begin by discussing 527s and other entities not officially linked to or licensed by candidates as paratexts. Or perhaps the post is about paratexts as 527s. Read more…
I see McCain as likely to be able to count on endorsements from Lucille Bluth; Boss Hog; Dr. Bob Kelso; Dwight Shrute, Angela Martin, and Andy Bernard; Victor Newman; Daniel Linderman; Eric Cartman; and Statler and Waldorf.
Maybe not so keen on McCain, but brought in by Palin are Michael Scott, Borat, Denny Crane, and the one person who will always find something positive about something horrific, Paula Abdul.
Jessica Fletcher was swayed by Joe Biden.
John Lockeâ€™s in it for Bob Barr.
Tobias Funke is all about Ralph Nader.
And I see Lester Freeman, Kermit the Frog, and Lisa Simpson as Obama voters.
Joking aside, how does Roseanne Conner vote? If Andy Griffith can pack a punch like few other than Ralph Stanley, Roseanne and Danâ€™s endorsement could be a neat one.
Yet another celeb endorsement video using the actors’ characters as the centerpiece. In the midst of the McCain campaign’s insistence that Obama isn’t like you, isn’t a “real American,” isn’t from a “pro-American” part of the country, etc., there’s particular extratextual power at work here. First, surely if Palin and McCain think that anywhere’s the “real America,” it’s Mayberry, and so Andy Griffith and Ron Howard hail their simple, decent, smalltown folk characters’ images to endorse Obama. Then Howard channels Richie Cunningham from the ultra-schmaltzy Happy Days, a show straight from the nostalgia zone, full of teens who come home before curfews and rebels as unrebellious as The Fonz.
I find it interesting that it’s the pro-Obama side that’s calling up images of the all-white sitcom (supposed) wonderland. As amusing as the clip is (and as surprised as I was to see Griffith endorse Obama), I find it a little worrisome that the strategy aims to make Obama seem safe by surrounding him with these images of white small town nostalgia. It’s a little too close to the insistence that Obama is not a Muslim — ideally, just as I’d love to hear more of a defence of Muslims as real Americans who aren’t all hell-bent on destruction and spousal abuse, rather than a quick “no m’am, no m’am, he’s a decent family man,” I’d rather that we fight for the image of a diverse, open America that I think Obama represents, rather than surrender to the Mayberry model (cf. Pleasantville). I’m not blind to the rationale behind the strategy, or to its tactical importance when it’s the independents and undecideds who are left, but I’d rather see and herald a Lt. Cedric Daniels, Sergeant Carver, and Detective Freeman for Obama PSA.
Iâ€™ve been amused by two recent political ads, one including Gossip Girl stars/adverbs Blake Lively (Serena) and Penn Badgely (Dan), and the other with Heroesâ€™ Hayden Pannetiere. Celebrities making political appeals is hardly anything new, but both ads play quite cleverly off the shows and the characters to aid their cause.
Lively and Badgelyâ€™s ad mocks the â€œtalk to your kids about drugsâ€ PSAs by imploring young viewers to talk to their parents about voting McCain. Lively and Badgely are Gossip Girlâ€™s resident good kids (well, as good as one could be in that show, I guess), and their make-believe school suffers from substance abuse aplenty. Thus, one can imagine them to be called upon to deliver the â€œdonâ€™t do drugsâ€ message; instead, a more sinister behavior concerns them â€“ voting McCain. One could imagine a more conflicted ad if the stars were replaced with Gossip Girlâ€™s resident bad kids, Leighton Meester (Blair) and Ed Westwick (Chuck).
Hayden Pannetiereâ€™s piece also plays with her character. In Heroes, sheâ€™s invincible, and fighting to save the world. Moreover, as anyone aware of this thing called â€œpopular cultureâ€ knows, Heroesâ€™ catch-phrase in Season One was â€œSave the Cheerleader, Save the World,â€ and Pannetiere was the cheerleader in question. So, when she warns of how â€œweâ€™ll all probably die,â€ thereâ€™s a (playful) added level of horror, as if the only thing worse than Sylar, Adam, or another Ali Larter character is McCain.
I realize now that my last post was also about stars using their characters to add weight to a political message. And, of course, the obvious other example is Martin Sheen, who got many years worth of political rallies and stump speeches out of being the beloved Jed Bartlet. All are interesting examples of how to use oneâ€™s stardom as para/inter/extratext.
Many a blog on my feed reader has something on this inspired, campy would-be pro-McCain viral video (see here particularly). Chuck Tryon, at his (fantastic) blog, The Chutry Experiment, has long been discussing YouTube candidate videos, and noting the lack of pro-McCain videos he has continually asked readers to point him towards one, and now here it is, in all its awful yet spectacular glory.