Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's the Word, John?

Miscegenation (Latin miscere "to mix" + genus "kind") is the mixing of different racial groups, that is, marrying, cohabiting, having sexual relations and having children with a partner from outside of one's racially or ethnically defined group.

Obama. Britney. Paris. McCain. This should be one of the stupidest attack ads ever, but ultimately it's not. (For actual stupidity, check out this RNC ad - must be seen to be believed).

But. But. What's really going on here? This ain't McCain taking a cheap shot at Obama's "celebrity" status. Too bad, because then he just looks cranky, as usual. I didn't catch it at first. My wife, though, nailed it instantly, without even seeing the ad, soon as I told her about it. (She's sooooo much smarter than me).

This vicious, nasty, disgusting ad is about the black mens and the white womens. And how the former ain't supposed to touch the latter. It's about a threat to the white womens! Rape! Why else juxtapose two comely young white ladies in striking profile shots against the vaguely threatening, kinda shadowy image of a black man, with sorta scary chanting in the background. That chanting has a purpose, too - it says the black man has somehow bewitched the white folk and fooled them with his mystical savage black powers somehow. This is so freakin' 19th century. Is Nathan Bedford Forrest McCain's Veep-pick?

But lookout, black man! It's John McCain! He's white and he's old and he sees through you and knows that all you really wanna do is get them white womens and do nasty things to them. John McCain will save you, white folks! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Postscript: So far, I've only seen Rachel Maddow and Keith Olberman go at this ad from any perspective other than "Huh? What?" And they see the racism inherent in it, too, enough so that Rachel tore Pat Buchanan a royal new one, basically calling him a racist to his face albeit very tactfully. They cut to commercially immediately after she did it. And even Keith was scared of really going for it in his analysis. This is a disturbing place John McCain is taking the election and it's on his head, his heart and his conscience assuming he still has one.


Anonymous said...

[I posted this on already, but I thought it might warrant reposting here.]

I think the sexual symbolism runs even deeper than described here. Consider the visual and audio markers:

1. First, two famous, attractive white women known in part (or in whole) for their promiscuity. [previously noted]

2. Immediately thereafter, photos of Obama and a voiceover describing him as "the BIGGEST celebrity in the world."

3. Next, camera flashes (which are obviously associated with publicity, but also with a different unsavory industry on the web... ahem).

4. Then, a shot which makes the tall, dark victory column awkwardly prominent (i.e. - Obama is squeezed into the lower right corner). It's taken from a terrible camera angle, which is probably why we haven't seen much footage like it on the networks. (Correct me if I'm wrong?) I think the real reason for the inclusion of the shot is to hit on a theme that Rush Limbaugh pushed the other day:

5. Then, a second camera shot which pans up from the crowd and focuses on the tall column.

6. Finally, a voiceover and overlay pertaining to "drilling." (Even though offshore drilling is common line of attack for McCain, it seems oddly placed as the first volley in an ad that mostly focuses on Obama's celebrity status.)

Maybe I'm just a pervert or a crackpot for assuming this is all intentional, but if the admaker is already channeling semi-obscure fascist imagery, I absolutely wouldn't put it past them to reach for subconscious sexual triggers (a la the "call me" attack ad against Harold Ford Jr. two years ago).

tulemon said...

Did you also notice in the chanting crowd the WHITE man wearing the hood? It was WHITE!! - seriously I think the KKK set this whole thing up.

gomonkeygo said...

Wow. Thanks for the comments folks. I was expecting only a bunch of "You're nuts!" as usual remarks.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this ad. I tried looking at via a number of "lenses" - doing different critical readings of it, but only a historical interpretation that examines this as racially-biased (to be nice) seems to work.

Politically, this has no benefit to McCain as it stresses no positives about him or his campaign. The tacked-on voice over could be anything on any subject so long as it denigrates Obama. (What's the derivation of "denigrate" btw?) This was something every TV pundit couldn't wrap their heads around last night because there's no apparent plus for McCain here, nothing to make him look good.

And damn if it don't look like Obama is sneaking up on and stalking the white women as he appears from the right side of the screen. Very creepy. Very intentional. Very GOP.

sharon said...

why else juxtapose two comely young white ladies in striking profile shots against the vaguely threatening, kinda shadowy image of a black man,

Because they are all celebrities without having done anything to deserve it. But thanks for reinforcing what I've told people everywhere since January: attacks on Obama will be declared racist, regardless of whether there's any racism in them at all.

Nazz Nomad said...

We don't get cool ads like this in NYC. That's cause the Republikkkans know they can't win here.
Which, of course is why Bush and his cronies made the deal with Saudi Arabia to have them bomb the WTC. What's a couple of thousand Liberal fuckers dead when it means that we can start a luctrative war with Iraq and drive those oil prices up.

Anonymous said...

At first, I thought the black man imposing on white girl angle was a bit of a stretch... but check out the use and emphasis of the word 'bigger' with the simultaneous image of the obelisk as phallic symbol.

gomonkeygo said...

Sharon wrote:

"Because they are all celebrities without having done anything to deserve it."

Actually, Britney, heart renderingly soulless as I find her music, has at least had to put some effort into her celebrityhood, before it drove her insane. I wouldn't want to go through the grueling idiocy of learning those dance moves!

Paris, uh, hmmm, does born rich count enough to make you a celebrity? I guess so.

Obama? Done nothing? Editor of the Harvard Law Review (a peer nominated position I think) ain't nothin' - though it would be attacked as elitist by some, I'm sure. Winning a seat in the Senate on your first try ain't nothin'. Being the first black candidate for President of a major American political party, that ain't nothin'.

And being the first black President of the United State of America - well, that'll be something!

Nazz Nomad said...

they REALLY should have done a better job making this an homage to "Triumph Of The Will". They had the German crowds already!

Anonymous said...

y'all folks is capital-k crazy.

You can say a lot of stuff about the ad. It's silly. Inaccurate. Substance-free. Snarky and snide. Whatever.

But it has nothing-NOTHING-to do with rape or miscegenation or sex of any kind.

You dropped your tinfoil hat in the gutter. I'll tear you off a little more Reynolds wrap.

Anonymous said...

1526, from L. denigratus, pp. of denigrare "to blacken, defame," from de- "completely" + nigr-, stem of niger "black," of unknown origin. "Apparently disused in 18th c. and revived in 19th c." [OED].

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder when I see you jump to these defamatory conclusions that maybe you're the ones that haven't moved on. I'll admit that the "celebrity" portion of this ad is sophomoric, but you're the ones claiming that black men and white women on the same screen implies rape.

gomonkeygo said...

Yes, I AM claiming that these images are about rape or its spectre, specifically as part of the historical narrative of black on white rape that has been at the heart of racist fear-mongering since at least the creation of the Klan (hence the Forrest for Veep joke). I'm not making any bones about it because that's what I see here.

I also ee the most heinous political ad of the 21st century and I see John "Nothing I say can or will be used against me because I'm white and an American hero" McCain fully endorsing it. And that makes me sick. Not physically (yet), but at an emotional and intellectual level that nothing so far during this election cycle has done.

Exploring this, Bob Cesca sometimes writes some good stuff. Check out this one from yesterday:

It's a pretty damn clear explanation of why McCain can get away with his demonizing ads and why the media allows and encourages it.

Then, if you can either keep from laughing your ass off or punching the flatscreen, read Mr. John "Ya know, they had an episode of 'Seinfeld' about my car, baby. Wanna go back to my place?" Voigt's so-called editorial against Obama. I think Mr. Voigt is trying to single-handedly reinvigorate the John Birch Society.

The two pieces illustrate very well the intensity of media cooperation in the slandering of Obama. The media does not love him except in that he creates ratings for them. And if helping McCain and Co. spread subtle and not-so subtle racist ideas helps ratings, then so be it. Their will be done.

gomonkeygo said...

Seth Greenland has a great piece out, again on Huffpost:

gomonkeygo said...

Sorry, I hit the "Go" button or whatever it is before mentioning that Mr. Greenlnad seems to be in agreement with the editorial writer of this blog about Mr. McCain's recent ad.

"Can you say Mandingo?" Very nice, Mr. Greenland, very nice.

gomonkeygo said...

I'm killing time this morning, waiting to see if the weather will allow us to start the priming of the porch floor, so I'm doing lots of reading. Here's a nice piece to fill you in on McCain's backstory, if you only know him from 2000 on. I've read a half-dozen others like this one, but this gives you the facts and the flavor of McCain nicely.

Anonymous said...

A February 24, 2005, Washington Post article begins:

There's nothing exotic or complicated about how phenoms are made in Washington, and, more to the point, how they are broken.

"Andy Warhol said we all get our 15 minutes of fame," says Barack Obama. "I've already had an hour and a half. I mean, I'm so overexposed, I'm making Paris Hilton look like a recluse."