Search This Blog

Friday, August 31, 2012

Are you there, chair? It's me, Clint.

Hello! First off, I'd like to briefly introduce my new blog format. In an attempt to be more professional and less whiny about my personal life, I will now (try to) limit myself to writing about my observations on the world at large. Who did what? Why did they do that? What does it mean for their career? What does it mean for... THE WORLD?

Now that that's out of the way, I want to talk about a fellow who, up until recently, I had an inappropriate May-December crush on. Clint Eastwood.

What a stud. [Picture from henrysheehan.com]



Clint Eastwood is Hollywood royalty. I mean, Dirty Harry, right? The Good the Bad and the Ugly? The Bridges of Madison County?? But recently, Clinty's taken to starring in car commercials and making his political beliefs very well-known.

Which is cool. I mean, that's what celebrities do, and I honestly have no beef with that - even when the political views don't align with my own. If you have access to a platform on which to appropriately share your political opinions, why not? From a PR perspective, it could be a pretty clever career move.

But... when you start talking to chairs... that's a different story.

Last night, Mr. Eastwood made a speech at the Republican National Convention in Florida. During the speech, he stood behind a podium next to an empty chair he repeatedly referred to as Barack Obama.

Even if the president was sitting there, you think they could've gotten him a comfier chair. [Picture from motherjones.com]


To be perfectly frank, I didn't watch the speech. I don't know what Clint said. The only reason I even know this happened is because of Twitter. And it's safe to say many people are in the same boat.

According to CNN: "Comedic takes on Eastwood's speech went viral and all of a sudden, what might have been for some younger viewers a ho-hum speech by an octogenarian actor became both a national joke and a means to engage in the political process."

Indeed, mere hours after the speech, a parody Twitter account called "Invisible Obama" had been created. At the very moment I'm writing this post, it has nearly 50,000 followers. The hashtag #eastwooding took off like a house on fire.

So, my question is this: in the age of Twitter and instant information, are moves like this even worth it? With the thousands of people making fun of Clint and his stunt, was it still worthwhile? Clint took a risk, and yeah, it got people talking. But it got more people laughing. And they were laughing at Clint, not with him.

It also opened the door for the Obama campaign to respond with clever moves like this:

"This seat's taken." - @BarackObama
 

There's a pretty sizable generation gap going on between Clint Eastwood and most Twitter users. If the GOP were really trying to reach out to younger generations, shouldn't they have considered the very real possibility that this stunt would go viral, and not in a favourable way?

Or am I misinterpreting everything - was this a brilliant way to get younger people engaged in the political process?

Let me know what you think.



4 comments:

  1. Here's a history of empty-chair debates going back to 1924.
    http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2012/08/the-long-history-of-americans-debating-empty-chairs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who knew! Thanks for the link, it's cool to see another side to the story - and I like how it emphasized that while many folks at home weren't too crazy about Clint's stunt, the delegates on the convention floor LOVED it.

      Delete
  2. Great post, Laina. As for the delegates on the floor, they would have LOVED anything Eastwood had to offer, as long as it sounded like what they already think (which I suspect it did, although it might have been a bit more rambling!).

    But the target public for this convention isn't the people in the room: for the most part, their votes are assured to go Republican. The target public for this event was the "undecideds" watching on TV and online - and I think you've hit on why this was a risky choice. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out beyond the first 24 hours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good points, Melanie. I'm curious to see whether this stunt will have any real effect on either candidate's chances in the election. I'm guessing not, but you never know!

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete