Monday, April 30, 2012

His Icy Hotness

If you have been paying any attention to corporate media political coverage the past couple of days, you might think you were trapped in a seventh grade time warp. This is the narrative: Obama is the cool kid, and Romney is the nerd. Obama is the slow-jamming killah  and Romney the bumbling rich snob who has probably never even killed a fly. (Remember -- Obama did once kill a fly on national TV!). It's Ferris Bueller vs. Napoleon Dynamite. It's the junior high school election as covered by the junior high school newspaper. It's surface, it's shallow, and it's stultifying.

The president is being criticized for his unseemly bin Laden chest-thumping by the GOP, who used to have the market cornered on warrior presidents who never went to war themselves, but made a big show of landing on aircraft carriers and crowing "Mission Accomplished." Barack's bellicosity is so much more refined than Bush's, after all. He does not mumble and he doesn't strut (much) and he doesn't smirk. He slow-jams the Osama Bump, he kills at the White House Correspondents Dinner, he oozes charm and drives dorky Karl Rove nuts. You can practically hear the Turd Blossom whine in the latest SuperPac ad criticizing Barry for being cool: "It's not fair that you're the popular kid, and Mitt's the loser! Waaaaah."  

It's hard to tell which came first: the media complicity chicken or the government propaganda egg. Seemingly on cue, cable outlets and TV networks and major newspapers have all come out with the same story.  Even though tomorrow is International Workers' Day, what we are really supposed to celebrate is the first anniversary of the Death of bin Laden. Obama will give NBC an exclusive and "unprecedented" interview in the Situation Room on how it all went down. He'll coyly defend keeping the death pics secret even as he dishes on the gory details. He may even boast once again on those targeted drone killings that officially don't exist. The New York Times ran a glowing op-ed on "The Warrior President" which had Glenn Greenwald in fits. (Me too. It portrayed Obama as a tough guy who can both dance and operate a drone joy stick by proxy. Take that, Norman Mailer!). 

The Nation goes so far as to point out that the President is even deliberately starting to act black just to drive Mitt nuts:

 .... he's rubbing their faces in it, just like he did when he sympathized with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. for getting arrested in his own home. And that gleams like troll gold to Republican strategists.
Obama has dared to be a cool black man more often lately. First, in January, he sang, “I—I’m so in love with you” at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater, with Al Green in the audience, a totally engaging moment the Rove ad doesn’t fail to sneer at. (As Maureen Dowd wrote, “For eight seconds, we saw the president we had craved for three years: cool, joyous, funny, connected.”) Then, for a Black History Month celebration in the White House, Obama sang a few bars of “Sweet Home Chicago” with B.B. King, once again looking terrifically comfortable in his own (black) skin.
It's the youth vote, stupid! Maybe if the president portrays himself as a celebrity and knocks a few bucks off their crushing college debt, they'll get all fired up and head to polls this fall instead of Occupying. Personally, I give young people more credit. For one thing, you have to come equpped with a certain propensity for being sucked into a personality cult. For another thing, it's pretty insulting to be pandered to when you're unemployed and in hock to big banks up to your ears, only to be cajoled by a jive politician "Stupid youth, vote!"

Obama actually won the "Marketer of the Year" award from Ad Week after the 2008 campaign. His political machine and the access-hungry corporate media establishment are partnering up and rebranding his brand. New Obama has a spine of sub-zero titanium. He kills terrorists with frigid resolve. He slow-jams, but in a dignified adult way.  Even though he pretends not to be as sexy, that graying hair and dulcet voice make everybody hot. He is cool enough that he can still send shivers up Chris Matthews' leg. He is so cool that he makes the Republicans sweat. He is the personification of the Icy Hot Pain Relieving Patch! You've all seen that commercial:

Barack Obama Icy Hot is a typical politician topical pain reliever that gets ICY to dull the brain pain, then gets HOT to relax it away. He It temporarily relieves major angst minor pain associated with unemployment, lack of insurance, being spied on, foreclosure arthritis, tendonitis, and muscle strains and sprains.

Obama Icy Hot speeches formulations include Wall Street-vetted FDA permitted crumbs active ingredients to relieve minor pain. Obama Icy Hot products contain platitudes menthol or a combination of slow jams menthol and after-dinner jokes methyl salicylate.

These ingredients create cooling and warming sensations that divert attention from the actual pain and help block the pain signals being sent to the brain.


Suzan said...

You're so right.

And yet the "icky" factor has left me so disengaged that I've ignored it in my regular political commentary.

I guess my subconscious said out loud: "Forget this guy until he actually does something that makes a difference."

The sad part is that four years in, I'm still waiting.

Love ya,


Kat said...

It is appropriate that this post follow the HRC credit card post since both seem to be about marketing more than anything else. In 2008 I felt his campaign slogan meant very little and was turned off by the pepsi like logo. The Human Rights Campaign has the same doesn't really stand for anything but makes you feel good vibe. Plus, you get a sticker for your window.
Glad you wrote a post about the CC, I received a solicitation. Gag. Kind of like when OFA calls.

Denis Neville said...

Which came first: the media complicity chicken or the government propaganda egg?

Does it matter?

Neil Postman asks, “Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture's being drained by laughter? … For in the end, he [Aldous Huxley] was trying to tell us what afflicted the people in 'Brave New World' was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.”

Postman writes that we have forgotten that “alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” - Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Perhaps Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

Will said...

Anyone else need to drink a whole bowl of Prozac Punch after reading Chris Hedges today? I really hope OWS goes heavy on the wow factor tomorrow. We need a boost in a big way on May Day.

Hedges' "Welcome to the Asylum":

Fred Drumlevitch said...

I've been way too busy lately reading academic biology to even read about politics, at Sardonicky or elsewhere, let alone comment, but today I do have some time, so, on the subject of occupy, which Karen mentions in passing:

A first comment by "Eric - Brooklyn" on the above NYT Cityroom blog notes that the Times coverage is understated, and provides the two links I've copied below.

The youtube link is a compendium of New York City police abuse of power, and sometimes, outright brutality. Watch it and be outraged --- if anyone reading Sardonicky is not already adequately outraged!

Then, to further see what sanity is up against, consider the following comment at the NYT by a "Kent B - Springfield":

"I wish the US followed the English rule so these plaintiffs and their attorneys would wind up having to pay the City's legal expenses, instead of the taxpayers."

I won't pretend to know what's in that guy's head, but I think he'd be right at home in any of the historical totalitarian states. And I wonder if he's a New York City employee or just an "ordinary" reactionary taxpayer delivering his moronic understanding of civil liberties and judicial redress.

@Denis Neville: Thanks for the reference to the Neil Postman media analysis, which was new to me. While dissent suppression by raw state power, as that youtube video shows, is a significant problem, I've long thought that equally problematic in the U.S. are co-optation and televised idiocy.