Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Halftime in America
Well, that certainly caused quite a stir! Republicans everywhere have been outraged, outraged I tell you, over the "blatant politicization," "partisanship," the "free political ad for Obama" which they attribute to this ad by Chrysler that played during halftime of the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Of course, President Obama did work to save the American auto industry and to bail out two of the three major carmakers (one of which was Chrysler) in the face of much Republican opposition, including that of Mitt Romney who spoke out against the plan and even wrote a strong op-ed piece saying that the auto makers should declare bankruptcy and move on. Never mind all the jobs that would be lost and their ripple effect in a failing economy. But the industries were saved and have come back strong. They've even paid back to the American taxpayer most of the money that was used to bail them out. They are a contemporary American success story, one that we need in these rough times. So any ad that highlights this story, as the Chrysler ad does in a very understated way, is bound to cast a favorable light on President Obama's leadership.
But, forget all that, if you can. Just look at that ad again from an artistic viewpoint. It is brilliant! The lighting, that Eastwood walk down a lonely street, the play of light and dark, the famous gravelly voice narrating the scenes, the faces of the ordinary people in the various shots, it is all just perfect. It might have been a movie directed by Clint Eastwood instead of a car ad directed by David Gordon Green.
It's not just the images that we see here that affect us. Even more, it is the words that explain the images. What inspirational words they are. They don't sugarcoat the situation they are portraying. They acknowledge that these are tough times and that people are suffering, but they reassure us: We've been here before. We've passed this way and we've come through. We will again, as long as we stick together and don't tear each other down. It is an essentially inspirational and uplifting commercial, made even more so by the narration by Clint Eastwood, a man who notably goes his own way but has famously been a supporter of Republican candidates for president over the years, including John McCain in 2008.
I don't know when I have seen such an affecting and effective television commercial. We don't often think of such commercials as being works of art, but this one certainly is.
The fact that it also pisses off Karl Rove is just a bonus.