The Commercial

The chatter around the water cooler at the office this morning is about the Clint Eastwood commercial from last night’s SuperDooperBowl.

“Did you see it?”

“Yeah, I saw it, it was awesome!”

“What’s wrong with his voice?”

“Who cares! It’s great! He’s great!  It was a great message!”

Last night, Twitter was ablaze with references to The Commercial.  I would say that 80% of it was favorable.  Don’t hold me to that number, it’s very much a guesstimation, but it’s directionally correct.  Most people said they liked it.  They especially liked the quick reference to the Madison protests.  If you didn’t see it, here it is.

I’m in the 20% camp who didn’t like the commercial.  I found the message manipulative, exploitative and, in retrospect, a hollow vision of America as a corporate controlled wasteland.  The rah-rah of Corporate America, represented by the Chrysler automotive group, never referenced the destruction of good jobs in America through an endless series of trade agreements, championed by these corporate hacks, that moved work offshore and destroyed the manufacturing base of the midwest.  With apologies to Saint Ronoldus, patron Saint of Crony Capitalism,

Chrysler isn’t the solution to our problem, Chrysler is the problem!

Forgive me if I can’t get all misty when a gravely-voiced Clint Eastwood tells me how we’re going to come back stronger than before.  I’m sorry.  I can’t do it.  I’m not buying what Chrysler is selling through their High Plains Drifter spokesmodel.  Because that’s what he is.  A spokesmodel for a corporatist vision of America.  The lone gunman.  The guy who can overcome all obstacles.  Except that that’s a lie.  It’s the biggest lie we tell ourselves as Americans.  The lie of the American Dream that anyone can make it.  They can’t.

You see, the deck is stacked against the average American to a degree we haven’t seen in more than 100 years.  Income inequality and intragenerational income rigidity have combined to make America pre-Revolutionary France.  Born Rich – Die Rich.  Born Poor – Die Poor.  It’s now the American Way.

Forgive me for not cheering.


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24 thoughts on “The Commercial

  1. What was so nice about the commercial is that it talked about how divided this country is they used a short clip from the temper tantrum WEAC and AFCSME threw last year and how they are working so hard to divide this state.

  2. “The lie of the American Dream that anyone can make it. They can’t.”

    Wow. wow. wow! I think we have gotten to the core of our ideological differences with that one sentence of yours.

    I was poor growing up. I have been self employed most of my life. I’ve failed A LOT. But if I ever once even let a thought like that creep into my head, I would have called that the end of my life.

    No matter what you write or link me to, you could never make me believe that that sentence is true.

    1. Cling to your faith-based beliefs in American social mobility, by all means. If that’s what gets you up in the morning.

      Meanwhile, the rest of us who don’t believe in faith-based policy will obsessively point out the fact that American intragenerational mobility is frozen. We will actively work to promote policies that will ensure increased socioeconomic mobility via good tax and fiscal policies.

      1. If “faith-based beliefs” are the elements that bring me to do the actual work that I do in order to maximize positive results in this capitalist system, then I guess that’s how it gets done.

        It seemed to work OK for the college dropouts who built the computer I’m typing on. It worked fine for Dave Thomas, an abused and adopted high school dropout who built the Wendy’s chain. Oprah hasn’t done too bad with it either.

        1. You confuse anecdotal evidence with actual evidence, a common conservative mistake.

          That is the very definition of a faith-based view of the world.

          When you write

          No matter what you write or link me to, you could never make me believe that that sentence is true.

          You’re really saying is

          When you accept faith as a reasonable way to believe, then there’s no way to ever tell when you’re wrong….

          Common sense is great. But it doesn’t replace knowledge. It doesn’t negate the need for evidence. If the evidence indicates otherwise, then your “common sense” is simply wrong.

          Science, it works.

        2. Oh, and by the way, I’m not advocating you do anything more than recognizing the reality we, as American’s all face. I’m simply asking you to join us to fight for a fairer nation.

          You can’t fix what you won’t admit is broken.

          1. I wouldn’t call the specific individuals I referenced as anecdotal.

            Ok…how about this. You give me specific instances where a specific individual was prohibited from using the capitalistic system to their benefit. And please keep it modern day.

            1. Did you click on the link for anecdotal evidence? I mean, seriously?

              I wouldn’t call the specific individuals I referenced as anecdotal.

              Ummm…. Yeah… they are.

              Accounts of direct personal experience are commonly equated to anecdotal evidence where the evidence is anecdote, hearsay or represents a conclusion deduced from generalisation.

              A common way anecdotal evidence becomes unscientific is through fallacious reasoning such as the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, the human tendency to assume that if one event happens after another, then the first must be the cause of the second. Another fallacy involves inductive reasoning. For instance, if an anecdote illustrates a desired conclusion rather than a logical conclusion, it is considered a faulty or hasty generalization.

              Sorry, not going to play that game with you. It’s a game not worth playing.

        3. James,

          Where in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence does it say we have a capitalist system? I can’t find a reference to capitalism in any of our founding documents.

              1. I fail to see how that question is germane to the discussion. Here is what drew me to make the point about capitalism:

                “The lie of the American Dream that anyone can make it. They can’t.”

                My fair assumption was that Phil was saying that not enough people can “make it” within our economic system of Capitalism. I simply disagree with that.

                1. I believe I mentioned Crony Capitalism which is what passes for American Capitalism in the 21st century.

                  We have a capitalism where average people have convinced themselves that shoveling their money to big corporations (in the form of massive subsidies, tax breaks, etc.) as a kind of sacrificial offering to the Job Creator Gods will hopefully allow the money to return to you threefold. That the Gods will create jobs for the masses.

                  Like a massive potlatch of money destruction, the dupes continue to pray their prayers of unworthiness to the Capitalists they so admire, hoping against hope that maybe today, we’ll get some new jobs.

                  Kind of sounds like a ponzi scheme to me.

  3. Intragenerational income rigidity has been more prevalent in the US than in many class based societies. That’s partly because regardless of income the vast majority of Americans consider themselves middle class. The myth was that it didn’t matter who your father was, your future was in your hands. Like all myths it was based on some fact, especially since post World War II.

    The problem today is somewhat worse. With the shrinking of the “middle class” more parents look around and fear their children (and likely themselves) will be worse off than they are now. “Born Middle Class – Die Poor.” Of course, since LBJ’s War on Poverty has been stigmatized by Republicans, no one wants to call themselves poor. Most people have been calling this group the “Working Poor.” The term used to be “The Deserving Poor.” Poor is poor, and more likely than not, its not a choice.

  4. The commercial was wonderfully ambiguous in its writing, it seems, as rightwing squawkers claiming that the “discord and blame” line during the scene of Madison protests puts the blame on the protesters. As if! What I heard in that — and so did everyone I’ve talked with last night and today, and from a wide range of political leanings — was in reference to Walker’s incredibly divisive actions, causing discord in Wisconsin, with the blame all on him. I liked it!

  5. Phil, maybe you need to watch the ad again, and really give it some thought. I believe it was a very apolitical, pro-American ad, and the goal was meant to stop such divisive dialogue. The only way we will get America (and Wisconsin) moving forward, is to work together.

    The whole reason the protests erupted here last year was because Walker and the Republicans wouldn’t negotiate one iota to fix our state’s economy. The Dems had a plan that saved more money and kept everyone’s rights. If they wholeheartedly negotiated, they wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on in stripping rights.

    Obama won’t get anything you want passed unless the Republicans start working with him. We have to demand that the parties actually start working together based on meaningful debate.

    Maybe this ad wasn’t for you, but then don’t cramp on everyone else’s optimism. We have to find something else to hold on to instead of our rehashed talking points which don’t convince either side.

    I wrote a little bit more about my opinions on the ad here.

    1. I will admit that I wrote this shortly after seeing the commercial the one time. I have since seen clips of it on various talking head shows and while the message may be good, the medium is not. I guess I’m one of those cranks who always has to look through the message to the medium behind it, because that, my friend, is where the real message lies. 🙂

      My $.02. YMMV. Void where prohibited.

  6. Facts are facts. the olny person responsible for your own success is you. Our system provides the tools to succeed it is up to the individual to do it. Failure to succeed is a decision by ones own conscinece. I am not more responsible for your failures as you are for my success.

    1. I rarely quote scripture, being an atheist and all, but I think you may find this passage instructive: (Genesis 4:8 – 10)

      And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

      And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

      And he said, What have you done? the voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.

      We are all our brother’s keepers. Cain’s words symbolize people’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellow men and women — their “brothers” in the extended sense of the term. When you write

      Failure to succeed is a decision by ones own conscinece. I am not more responsible for your failures as you are for my success.

      You fall prey to the myth of the atomized individual. Perhaps the poetry of John Donne will make it clearer.

      No man is an island entire of itself; every man
      is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
      if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
      is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
      well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
      own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
      because I am involved in mankind.
      And therefore never send to know for whom
      the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

      1. Phil, I agree with all of what you quoted and commented on. Especially the part where you did NOT mention the federal government having anything whatsoever to do with being “our brother’s keepers”.

        I believe people should take care of each other. In their neighborhoods, in their workplaces, in their schools, on the roads. The state of the family unit in this country is an abomination. Single parent homes are at an all time high. Education is failing our young people. All of that. ALL of it…can only be solved at the local level. Neighborhoods, cities, and states. I want BIG government. But I want it right here in my little town.

  7. I think the most interesting aspect of this whole business is that a single commerical aired during the Superbowl can generate such controversy. It doesn’t speak well of our political sensibilities when the best way to reach Americans with a quasi-political message is to have Clint Eastwood talk to us for two minutes during a football game.

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