"Got to. This America, man"
The dudes over at Lost at Sea have put up a feature, penned by me about The Veronicas, Australians making it in America, and Hannah Montana (yes, I'm talking about her again. Last time, I promise). Go read it because it's the only music discussion you'll get out of me right now. Today I'm doing something else. And I can do that, you see, because as far as this blog goes, I'm the boss like Rick Ross.
Screw Rock 'n' Roll presents: the HBO guide to the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections
So Republican presidential nominee John McCain launched the first commercial for the general election. It's airing in New Mexico, which makes sense, because it's next door to McCain's home state of Arizona and was a close contest in the elections of 2000 and 2004. The commercial is called
When I watch American politicians, I often have to remind myself that they're talking to people who aren't me, and I try to view the message from the perspective of the American voters they're trying to appeal to. And I know that seems like an obvious thing to do, but us non-Americans, raised on American TV and American music, sometimes forget that Americans do see things differently to ourselves and just because we've seen "Friends," it doesn't mean we look at America through the same eyes it looks at itself. But even so, I can't help think McCain's tag line sounds pretty ridiculous. "John McCain: The American President Americans have been waiting for." Yeah, yeah, I get the rest of it: dude's been through a lot for his country, if he's served it so heroically in the past, he should be expected to do right by it in the future, the commercial wants us to believe. That's just framing, I'm cool with that. But frame or no frame, "The American President Americans have been waiting for" is in the realm of "Only a moron wouldn't cast his vote for Monty Burns!" as far as straight-up stupid political slogans go. What's the proper response here? "Hey, I'm American! I've been waiting for a President! An American one sounds pretty good to me!"
Not seeing it.
I'm probably doing that thing us non-Americans do, where we hear the word "American" as meaning "Americans, and not everyone else in the world" when Americans more often hear it as something like "You," which is understandable. But still, that's a lame slogan.
Anyway, the guy who narrates the commercial, including that lame slogan, is Powers Boothe, who apparently plays Cy Tolliver in HBO's series "Deadwood." I watched a couple episodes of "Deadwood" with my roommates back when I lived in the States, but I was coming in half way through and only half paying attention, so I couldn't really work out what was going on. But from what I know about, it seems like a good fit for McCain. A period piece (McCain is pretty old) about the struggle to bring order to the wild, dangerous American west sounds a lot like so-called political maverick McCain and his struggle to protect America from a wild, dangerous world. The world can be an uncivilized place and McCain, his campaign would have us believe, is the man strong enough to protect America's interests.
And comparisons to hit HBO dramas come pretty easily to the Democratic contenders, as well. In fact, like McCain, they invite the comparisons themselves.
Hillary Clinton made her actually quite awesome parody of the Sopranos finale video last year, prompting some to wonder why she'd want to emphasize certain similarities they saw between the Clinton and Soprano families. And though Clinton may not be in a good position to claim the Democratic nomination now, the Clintons have dominated and defined American life just like the Sopranos have. A powerful family, the most successful example of their respective organizations in modern times (the Democratic Party, HBO) and even if things have gotten pretty grim toward the end for both families (New York coming at New Jersey = being stuck with a surely irredeemable delegate defecit) we can be pretty sure that, win or lose, life will go on and they'll still be in the picture. Focus on the good times.
The other Democratic contender, Barack Obama, was good enough to give us the HBO drama to define his candidacy: it's his favorite show, The Wire. Like The Wire, Obama's big with the college-educated, the liberal, African Americans, and inner city residents. And like The Wire's Baltimore mayor Thomas Carcetti, Obama's experiencing difficulties in being defined as a candidate of a racial minority (Carcetti is a white man in a majority black Baltimore) when he'd rather run as a candidate of change.
I wonder what Obama thinks of Carcetti. Because unlike other TV politicians, Carcetti is, at least when we first meet him, kind of a good guy. Barack Obama is more like him than the show's other Baltimore mayor, Carcetti's predecessor Clarence Royce, or corrupt State senator Clay Davis. Carcetti starts off as a young, ambitious councilman with a genuine desire to change the city for the better. He isn't too bad with a speech, either, but he's not an Obama level orator. But, I wonder, does Obama see some of himself in Thomas Carcetti? Did he see the councilman become mayor, and subsequently lose all principle and decency he once posessed? And does he see it as a warning or does he not contemplate that should he be elected, he could fall into the venality Carcetti allowed himself to be swallowed up by?
Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter is another politicians who is a big Wire fan, and I thought his op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer about the show's and its final episode was intriguing for what it omitted. He discusses the dealers and the police, Bubbles, Omar and Daniels and the good and bad of Stringer Bell, but he barely mentions the show's treatment of his own place of work, City Hall. For all I know, Nutter may be the best mayor in the world, but he is obviously a fan of the Wire, and I have to wonder why he has so little to say about the political aspect of the show, the aspect which should be most relevant to him. (In this article, we learn that Nutter had been following Carcetti's story with interest, and related to his lack of enthusiasm for fundraising.)
Incidentally, Nutter endorsed Clinton for the presidency. I guess his and Obama's shared love of Omar Little wasn't enough to create a political partnership? Or perhaps Nutter fears the Carcetti in Obama?
OK, that's enough of that. For next time, I'll try to get that Vampire Weekend chopped and screwed like Dan Weiss wanted.