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July 30, 2008

Celeb #1: Obama As Sexual Predator

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Excuse me if I’m a little late to the table on the McCain Celeb video.  I was seeing patients most of the day.

In the meantime, I wanted to say that I liked Rick’s take on the Nazi/Riefenstahl parallel, and I agree with Josh that McCain’s video hit man (reprising his Harold Ford handiwork) is playing heavily on racist allusions to sexual promiscuity and even rape.

If you study the individual frames, in fact, you’ll see how the fades juxtaposing Obama and Britney, and Obama and Paris Hilton are virtually identical.

In each, Obama — framed as a protean black celebrity (like O.J.) — comes up on the woman, each an oversized icon, and creates the digital effect of a physical merger.  (The fact that Britney is “facing” Obama and Paris is “looking away” could be mostly a function of what clips were available.  On the other hand, the difference between the two — Britney more “receptive” and Paris seemingly “unwilling” — also resonates with the two dimensions of this ugly stereotype, one objectifying the white woman’s supposed secretly lust for the black man’s sexual prowess, and the other representing the more predatory “take it by force” scenario.)

(frame grabs: McCain For President)

  • Gasho

    Using Britney and Paris is certainly a cheapshot.. but I don’t like suggesting the subliminal sex attack storyline. It’s just too mean. In my humble opinion, McCain’s people are suggesting something more like – shallow, flashy, self-centered, pop star, rockstar.. etc. Do we really have to jump to ‘rape’ in analyzing this??

  • Books Alive

    When Drew Westen showed the “Call me, Harold” ad at the Yearly Kos convention in Chicago last year, the woman in front of me gasped. She had never seen that negative ad, so must have been really shocked.
    Despite both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama going down to appear with Harold Ford, Jr., he lost that Senate race. My former blog favorite, MyDD, refused to come to Harold’s aid – most of those netroots writers were not rooting for him – but I contributed a few times to his campaign. I really didn’t want to see Mr. Crocker win, and sure enough, he’s quite a lightweight in this session IMHO.
    I believe the “Call me” ad was never rebutted. I hope this one is.

  • Sabrina Gledhill

    I fully agree with this and other interpretations of this video on this website (flash wipeout of Obama’s image – think assassination, etc.). Racism has gone underground. It’s no longer politically correct to be a bigot in America. So now the age-old tactics of subliminal advertising (e.g. nude women on the ice in whisky glasses) are coming to the fore!

  • http://americaadrift.com/ Stuart Noble

    Michael,
    This was actually my first reading. However you make a strong case in your following post which I’m inclined to see as well.
    “Wow! Dude, did your mind conjure up all this?”
    Anyone who dismisses (out of hand) the active employment of subliminal racial narratives (let alone overt racism)into political discourses clearly isn’t familiar with American history and must be completely unaware of the well documented practices using modern media during the past 8, 20, 30 years.
    While it may not always be the case that racial stereotypes are employed where some may read it that way(here they most definitely were), given the staggering history of this practice, I think the onus is on those who deny it.

  • http://lancethruster.blogspot.com LanceThruster

    I think it is wholly justified to look at the memes planted by the photographic images alone. The juxtaposition of the black man (in GOP eyes menacing merely for being black as well as being in proximity to the white women) and the tender white flesh to be protected (a major theme in “Birth of a Nation”). As others have pointed out, all the talk (coordinated talking points, actually) about Obama acting “presumptuous” is just a coded way of saying, “uppity n*gger.” (It’s kind of funny though to realize that Britney is a stauch GOP supporter).
    I remember seeing a TV campaign ad for Shrub with the sound off in 2004. It kept flipping images in an MTV-style timed beat where it showed D-Day landings, American flags, Reagan, American flags, Reagan’s militarism, American flags, more D-Day, American flags, Bush, American flags, Iraq War, American flags, D-Day again, and American flags. The meme was that Bush’s war was a “good war” like WWII and that Shrub was deserving of the mantle of “great Republican” just like Reagan.
    As Bag News Notes has pointed out so well, it’s the image that largely conveys the message regardless of the audio. McCain’s people are trying to get as close as possible without crossing the line to an “electronic lynching.” It is yet to be seen whether this tactic will ultimately be successful.

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com The BAG

    Stuart, with The BAG tiring of all the trolls, “Wow! Dude, did your mind conjure up all this?” has been removed.

  • Gary

    This is allpart of the narrative that the Clinton campaign started, and the McCain campaign has contiued. The Narrative is about the unknown. McCain claims the Media is in love with Obama so the Media scrutinizes Obama even closer while not looking at McCain, even though most Amercan would despise what he is preposing to do as president. They keep saying that his speeches ar full of nice rhetoric but no policy even though(aside from Berlin) the vast majority his speeches have been very poicy wonky. The MSM keeps following the McCain narrative to Obama this is the reason the polls are so close. That MSM idea that America ned to get to know Obama better is being done to cover the FACT that America doesn’t REALLY know McCain. He is a political opportunist whose entire career can be explained in 2 sentences. He’s a former POW who uses that as cover for his lack of creditability. He has no core values and will say one thing in public and do its opposite in private.

  • SB

    Wow. With all due respect, to anyone who thinks that McCain/Rove were NOT playing the sexual predator card with this ad, I have some swampland to sell you. How could they POSSIBLY have made it any more obvious? A flashing neon sign, perhaps? Did you see how close they got Obama’s crotch to Britney’s chin? That was just a harmless coincidence?
    I predict you will hear about this outrageous ad for months to come. This is a colossal blunder by McCain that has left many in the news media speechless. Even they can’t believe he would attach his name to this racist, pandering garbage. Who could possibly want this man for president?

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    “Who could possibly want this man for president?”
    People who stand to make a lot of money, and idiots.
    There are no other kinds of Republicans.

  • bystander
  • Kris T

    I saw this ad for the first time yesterday evening. As always, this sort of attack ad simply makes me recoil in discomfort and disgust.
    The “protect the tender white flesh” comment above seems most fitting. And so now, do the Paris/Britney camps get to sue these guys for using their imagry in such a distasteful and repugnant way?
    Personally, I’m sick to death of attack ads and think they should be barred from such a prestigious thing as a Presidential Election. I mean, seriously, if we are going to elect a person to the highest office in all the Nation, do we really want some guy who “approves” a message of ridicule and racism about their rival? Even in a country such as this, where materialism and consumerism may the highest priorities for most people, I should think that the majority of us still have some sort of integrity when it comes to what we idealize in a Presidential hopeful.
    Apparently the Rovian types out there have manipulated these campaigns enough for the last 8 years that we all now are immune to the idea that these attack ads are just plain unethical. We are simply left to analyze them.

  • http://mcbush08.blogspot.com substitute teacher

    The orientation of any image would not depend on whatever is available. It is a simple task to show a head shot looking in one direction or another by simply flipping it with iPhoto. And the juxtoposition of images is also no accident. Whatever is on that campaign ad has been carefully manipulated in the editing room. for maximum effect.

  • http://www.wallpaper.blogs.ie Walls

    I agree with the reading of this. The two young women have been presented to the public as women off the right path, with some justification. To present Obama with them on the surface attempts to suggest he is equally lacking in depth. However, the unspoken message of a black man being seen with young fallen white women is powerful and carries connotations to those who are afraid of such circulation. I wonder what else they will come up with?

  • Lucy

    Uhh… So now were moving into conspiracy theory mode to justify Sen. Obama bringing up his “different looks”?

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