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June 19, 2007

Bubba’s Back (If Without The Same Badda Bing)

Hill-Bill-Sopranos1

Hill-Bill-Sopranos2

Hill-Bill-Sopranos3

What was brilliant about the Clinton/Sorpranos video was not so much the hype over the "campaign theme song" — or even the parody of the Sopranos episode.  What was brilliant was how the buzz over both topics provided effective cover, and a smooth entree for Bill Clinton to officially enter the campaign.

With most eyes on cameo guest-star "Johnny Sack," the video also allowed Hillary — through the cinematic sub-text — to take America into her confidence over Bill's supporting role.

Most of the communication occurs in the "carrot" scene.  In contrast to Tony Soprano, who ordered onion rings in the final Sopranos episode, Hillary takes the initiative to order carrot sticks for Bill.  Noticing his dejection at the sight of the vegetable, Hillary informs Bubba: "I ordered for the table."

"No onion rings?" Bill asks.

Hillary smiles, announcing: "I'm looking out for you."

The underlying message to the folks at home?  a.)  The syndicate has a new boss.  b.)  Bill's on a short leash.  c.)  Bill — unlike Tony — is going to do what's good for him.  (After all, if she can't manage the one person, who is going to trust her with another 300 million or so?)

Finally, drawing an analogy between the Clintons and the Sopranos was also a master stroke.  By way of comparison, Team Hillary points out that a family's dark side can not only yield stronger bonds, but can even form the basis for wide popularity.

(screen shots:  hillaryclinton.com)

  • croatoan

    The video’s great; very clever and funny. (Here’s a direct URL.) Her videos asking for campaign song suggestions and giving an update on the suggestions were nice, too. I’m not a big supporter of hers, but the sense of humor and self-deprecation in these videos is appealing.

  • ummabdulla

    I’ve never seen the Sopranos, but I guess in the U.S., news, politics and entertainment are pretty much all wrapped up together. You go on Jay Leno to get your message out…
    Maybe it’s because I don’t watch this kind of TV, but I was not impressed by that video. Bill Clinton was the better actor and more likable. I guess it does show that Hillary’s in charge now, and he’s a white-haired has-been who could be her father… But if she’s supposed to be doing an amusing spoof, can’t she at least relax a little bit and come across as a real person?

  • margaret

    I find the lowest common denominator aspect of this: the appeal through slick Hollywood/Mad Ave media exactly what is wrong with political debate in this country. And, I’ll bet it cost Hillary a pretty penny. And, what if it isn’t true, that Hillary is, in charge, and Bill isn’t? Can anyone really believe that those two don’t communicate and influence each other? The whole thing offends my innteligence and that of the public. Of course, if people are dumb enough to be brainwashed by this nonsense, then they deserve Hillary for President. Oy Veh!

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Taylor_%28superintendent%29 MadameGonzoPrideWeek

    ref : “…in the U.S., news, politics and entertainment are pretty much all wrapped up together…
    Andrew Sullivan : “Supreme Court Justice Scalia cites ‘Jack Bauer’ and the Hollywood torture show “24″ as relevant background for constitutional jurisprudence:
    “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent’s rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.
    “Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?” Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. “Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.
    “So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.”
    Earth to Justice Scalia: Jack Bauer does not exist.

  • http://www.lettuce.org Eric

    It takes a pop culture moment to diffuse a political problem.
    Think back to the Reagans. Everyone thought she was distant, mean, spoiled. Her wardrobe was extensive and during a time of recession, people were displeased.
    Cue the Gridiron dinner. She wore tattered togs and sang “Second Hand Rose” and everyone laughed and Nancy’s days of liability turned around.
    What was Clinton’s turning point in the 92 election? The 2nd Place in New Hampshire? Or the saxaphone on Arsenio? Does it matter? Clinton’s surprisingly strong showing was due, in most part, to his retail skills. He shook hands with something like 1/2 the state. Of course, that doesn’t mean he stated his views to them all; he just shook hands.
    In a national primary — especially now in the increasingly-important “stupid season” when everyone’s jockeying for position — this can be the handshake. If you laugh at this, maybe you’ll be more open to hearing what Hillary has to say.
    Brain scans have shown — but it was hardly necessary to prove — that politics is an emotional game. We’ll be closed to ideas from Candidate A, but open to the same ones from Candidate B. If we laugh at this, maybe we’ll equate whatever endorphens are released to Hillary the next time she talks about Iraq. Or Health Care.
    One last point to Margaret; there is no such thing as “slick Hollywood/Mad Ave” on the web; the biggest campaign video out there in 04 was the JibJab thing. The campaigns will be trying to have similar things; it’ll be a long couple of years for candidate youtube attempts. Think of Obama’s 1984/Apple bit. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
    But in the end, the Mad. Ave. stuff on traditional media is what works. There has been strong speculation that what put Bush over the edge in 04 was an ad where he hugs a kid who lost a parent on 9/11. Humanizing a guy who was getting whomped on the issues. Spread some happy chempicals through the brain. Retail politics on a national setting.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Like The Sopranos TV show itself, this video is sheer genius.
    (Sorry, margaret, this time you’re not only wrong but wrong-headed. As an experiment, try watching the show. The Sopranos is the best social commentary since All in the Family, and smarter than many contemporary novels.)

  • PTate in FR

    An excellent overview of the visuals, thanks. When you watch the video, check out the titles of the songs shown briefly (about one second per screen) after Bill enters the diner. How do we feel about subliminal suggestion, eh….?
    “Believe”
    “Rock this Country”
    Shania Twain
    “Your Still the One”
    “Ain’t no stopping us now”
    Then,
    The Police
    “Can’t Stand Losing you”
    “Get Ready”
    The Temptations
    “Don’t Look Back”
    “The Best”
    It is a cute video, though I didn’t get the Sopranos reference. I interpreted it as, vote Hillary, get Bill back (but submissive to the Hillary.) And, as margaret and MadameGonzoPrideWeek point out, there is that marriage of entertainment to politics. That just creeps me out.

  • Tara

    As someone who had never seen The Sopranos, and was not familiar with the “guest star” actor, I thought the video was unsettling and depressing. The darkened, obsolete “diner” with its personal jukeboxes seemed like a bad memory of 40 years ago. I thought the grouchy fellow who glared at Hillary as he passed by represented “those Americans who will always hate Hillary,” and so, “what can you do about it? nothing.” I was aware of the new song campaign, and understood that the song titles flashed represented “other choices,” but was puzzled by the music of “Journey” playing in the background — why not use that song? “Don’t Stop Believing” — OK, never mind. It was disturbing, though, when the wan, impotent, docile Bill Clinton, eating his restricted, unappetizing and frugal rations, said “My money is on SmashMouth” — Yes, I know it is a poorly-named band, but my first thought was that this was a gratuitous endorsement of a casually violent ethos. Also, isn’t Hillary using the monotone, deeper version of her voice a little too much? It is as though her voice has an extremely limited range. She often uses this, of course, in an effort to seem serious and tough, but I think it’s part of what’s off-putting about her. One day it’s this voice, and the next it’s her “black-cent.” Am I mistaken, or did the commercial end very suddenly with a black screen? Did we get nuked? Did a huge asteroid hit the earth? Watching this commercial, I felt depressed that the possible Democratic nominee was presenting such a gloomy vision, and I am sure that millions of other non-Sopranos watchers will feel the same.

  • margaret

    Sorry for the italics……..but not for the sentiments. I’m not criticizing “The Sopranos” TV drama…I’ve never seen it. I’m criticizing the manner in which politicians communicate, at great financial expense, such as some simple idea that Hillary doesn’t take orders from her husband. (I don’t believe they don’t communicate, constantly about thingd.)
    I don’t watch TV anymore……got rid of it 11 years ago, for the reason that it is so terribly minipulative, agitating, and not conducive to clear apprehension of ideas. My point about all this is that this video and others like it cost so much money, are the result and cause of campaign spending in the billions, all of which monies come heavily from corporations and the extremely wealthy who do not have your best interests at heart. Public financing of campaigns would take care of some of this misuse of money. The messages we need to hear from politicians running for office should be in a reasonable setting of reasonable debate. Politics has just become another form of “entertainment.”

  • http://home.comcast.net/~sfs73/index.html MonsieurGonzo

    earth to MadameGonzoPrideWeek : Jesus, The Bible Show Season 2 does not exist, either.
    Characterization : “ is the process of conveying information about character in fiction…
    So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes?

  • Gahso

    Enough with the italics already.

  • Gahso

    Arggh

  • Ccam

    Whether or not it creeps you out, there is a marriage of entertainment and politics now. You may be too hip and sophisticated for television, but the majority of Americans aren’t and we need their votes. The Republicans have been doing a better job of it for some time now. They have also been winning elections. The complaints about the video and the Celine Dion song by folks like Tim Grieve in Salon’s War Room miss the point. Bemoaning the tacky song and the use of pop culture references in the video just makes you look like a snooty member of the liberal elite, you know– those guys that keep losing elections.

  • http://www.thehuffingtonpost.com gabriela

    Chelsea was not parallel parking Bill, you red-nosed W.C. Fields look-a-like. She hit the curb on regular angled street parking.
    Which hitting the curb in a dated Chevy sedan is typical of the $250,000 per year Wall Street Fund Manager that Chelsea Clinton now is, how??? Or is she really the stoned goofy college kid of 5 years ago.
    In our favor, Michael Bloomberg – Independent Candidate for President of the United States.

  • zatopa

    The video strikes me as just playful enough. It’s for a web-based audience who can be presumed familiar enough with its references to get the jokes, and I think they did the best they could with Hilary’s notorious formality. Bill was a charmer, as always, but dang, that shirt makes him look old!

  • KingElvis

    Die Billary.
    Please please die.

  • g

    It is important to discuss the use of TV commercials in political campaigns, but in a blog that’s devoted to the analysis of images, isn’t it a little irrelevant to put forth an argument about the use of these images at all? We’re here to talk about them – they’re a given.
    I’m not really a Hillary fan, but I thought the video was clever. And since I am a Sopranos fan, I enjoyed it. The questions above about why the black-out, what’s with the parking reference, well, they’re all inside jokes, so if you don’t get them, you don’t. I didn’t get “Git-er done!” for years, not knowing who Larry the cable guy was.
    I found it a little slow-paced though, could have used some better David Chase-like editing. With the suspense element missing, it needed to move faster.
    Regarding the comment about Hil’s low-pitched delivery – well, she’s kinda damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t, huh? If she’s not low-pitched, she’s shrill – someone’s going to complain.
    Also – I think it’s funny that the video intended to unveil Hillary’s much-touted campaign song instead features throughout a totally different song. She got the rug pulled out from under her on that, didn’t she? Bet she wishes she’d picked the Journey tune instead of Celine (I don’t know if it was in the running).

  • Johanna

    The sole message is that she is in control now, not Bill. He humbly asks questions about the campaign, like an outsider, in his leisure, out to pasture clothes. Like Margaret, I don’t buy this at all. Her domineering persona can mask the fact that he has always, with his superior intelligence, strength, and powerful selfishness, had the upper hand. Why would that change? The most artificial moment for her came, weirdly, when she asks him about Chelsea. That seemed so staged one had the impression it might not happen in real life.

  • croatoan

    She didn’t pick the song; the people who voted on her web site did.

  • ummabdulla

    They didn’t feel the need to pick an American (as in U.S.) singer? How many voters are going to be turned off by knowing that Hillary’s theme song is performed by a FRENCH-speaking Canadian singer? Just kidding… sort of…

  • Cactus

    I thought it was a clever way of showing Hillary in command, but The Bag brought in the other dimension of Bill in the supporting role. Now I’m wondering how ‘blue- collar-america’ is going to see that. Her putting a man in his place, or everyman’s wife putting her foot down? The former would possibly raise their hackles, the latter engender empathy for Bill. But his acceptance of the carrot sticks IS symbolic of him taking on the role of #2. Actually, they are both better actors than I would have expected.
    I also think a secondary, perhaps subliminal, comparison to the Sopranos is that Carmela was the one that held the family together, who told Tony what was going on with the kids and the other mob families. Tony may have killed people and gone to a shrink, but Carmela held his life together. Not a bad comparison to what Hillary has been through. I also wonder about the subliminal connection to Bill and McDonalds and junk food from his first term.
    As for you nay-sayers……..lighten up already! This ad shows a humorous side of Hillary (would you want to have a beer…….) and softens her hard edges. A little levity in the midst of a grueling campaign (or war) calms everyone down, sort of like the 7th inning stretch. It’s very clever and does several things to help Hillary. The only thing wrong with it is that the ’song’ chosen is stupid stupid stoopid! A song by the one woman who is probably more disliked than Hillary. It would have been perfect if they chose “Don’t Stop (thinking about tomorrow)” by Fleetwood Mac.
    But, FGS, at least we can give credit to Clinton for her ability to grab and use the internet/YouTube on its own terms.
    Tara……you ever eat raw carrots? Ummmm. Even my dog likes them.

  • http://www.thehuffingtonpost.com gabriela

    Bill looks like he is still paying the price. And H. has no prob. holding him to it. UPDATE: A new infusion of courage. Hillary just said this, in public, at a conference. “a stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok,” in one of the more partisan speeches of her campaign. “It is everything our founders were afraid of, everything our Constitution was designed to prevent.” She just rose 30 points in my personal opinion poll!!!

  • readytoblowagasket

    Here are at least 5 reasons to like the video:
    1) It doesn’t attack any other candidate. (It doesn’t even mention any other candidate or George W. Bush.) Much smarter to produce a spoof video than a “stupid” and “caustic” Punjab memo that Hillary’d have to apologize for later.
    2) It doesn’t remotely smack of Karl Rove. Isn’t that a gift in itself? Bill Clinton can pull off a hipster reference like Smash Mouth, something no Republican candidate would be able to do. Haven’t we seen enough Stars and Stripes fluttering in patriotic slow motion, majestic bald eagles soaring protectively overhead, and burning Twin Towers in the last 6 years to last a lifetime? The video’s color palette isn’t even red-white-and-blue.
    3) Speaking of the Twin Towers, will we see a Republican campaign ad that doesn’t once mention the Twin Towers, 9/11, or terrorism? The Democrats have it all over the Republicans already.
    4) Just like in The Sopranos, the use of a strictly mundane (even downright ugly) setting is juxtaposed with the anything-but-mundane careers of the characters in the scene (hence, the humor arising out of the absurd). The opening credits for The Sopranos always makes me laugh because David Chase used the lovely industrial swamp/wasteland views that you really do see along New Jersey’s interstates near New York City.
    5) Come on! It’s funny! Hillary is revealed as the “boss” of the “family.” That’s the big revelation.
    Besides the direct reference to the final show of The Sopranos, the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” is meant to rally the Clinton “faithful.” It indirectly evokes Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign theme song (Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”) from 1992. The Clintons are doing what they do best: appealing to their generation.

  • monoceros4

    “It takes a pop culture moment to diffuse a political problem.”
    When did the difference between “diffuse” and “defuse” vanish? I can understand “loose” and “lose”; only one letter separates the two and there are words like “choose” that hint at the improper use of “loose”. But mixing up “diffuse” and “defuse” is plain illiteracy.

  • Mojo USA

    The one thing that is never shown in the end is that
    Ole Bill pulls out a fat Jamaican cigar, a Macanudo, sniffs it, rolls it in his mouth and lights it after the onion rings, and just does his best sh+t eating grin and smiles at Hilary….fade to black.

  • Cactus

    MojoUSA: You are WICK-ED!

  • J R

    And here I was hoping that the US people would have this undeniable urge to CLEAN OUR GOVERNMENT UP! BushCo and all Republicans need to go the way of the dinosaur; they should be voted out of office and never be allowed back in. But I think that MOST Democrats are JUST as corrupt and power-drunk as their Republican counterparts. Bill and Hillary are a prime example: They ARE a crime family, and their thirst for power (mostly Hillary’s these days) is pretty scary stuff. I say we vote out EVERY person in the federal AND STATE House and Senate and send the appropriate Senators and Congressmen to jail. And while you’re at it, do criminal investigations into the journalists who helped perpetuate this travesty of a war. That might be a good first step to regaining the trust and confidince of the American people.

  • ummabdulla

    Bloomberg’s possibly running as a third-party candidate is interesting. Not that I like him (actually, I know nothing about him) or think he’d win, but it’s another step towards having a viable third party.

  • Northern Observer

    Fixed?

  • NewtoForex

    Excuse me. Does anybody realize how to choose a real EA from bad and a real signal from fake? sorry for inconvinience

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