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WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND…

How SNL Got it Right

pjeridos Icon Posted by Patricia Jerido

September 16th, 2008

Since the nomination of Sarah Palin for the Republican vice presidential ticket my email and brain has been overloaded with media articles covering all the reasons why this decision was cynical, wrong and scary. I’ve also seen in a very short time the demoralization of many people who just a month ago were preparing for Democratic victory and thought they could finally put their applications for New Zealand citizenship to rest. But once again, the Republicans have shown that they are not ready to concede defeat. Paying attention to the clear calls for change and the celebrity appeal of Barack Obama they took the charge and repackaged the McCain campaign in a way that we’re used to seeing and that benefits them.

Our incessant training for looking for the next best thing – who can even remember the winner of 3rd season America’s Next Top Model or last year’s Project Runway winner? - has successfully programmed us to forget about last season and put our attention toward what’s new in front of us so that the introduction of Palin proved a perfect media strategy for revitalizing interest in the McCain product that previously, very few people were interested in buying.

The problem I see with many progressives facing this last stretch of the campaign season is

1) taking what is happening as an indication to dismiss the public that buys the product of McCain/Palin;
2) not infusing vigor behind their product (where is Obama and why isn’t he headlining big events anymore?) and
3) letting the “reality” of polling data determine our course of action.

One of the few responsibilities that community organizers actually have includes identifying clear attainable goals that can keep us focused especially when the big picture looks bleak. In the time that is left before Nov. 4th there needs to be an increased enthusiasm for events and spectacle that embody what is at stake and what change may look like.

What I find useful out of the SNL skit, [to see the clip, click here or watch the video directly in Jenn’s earlier WIMN’s Voices post] lampooning the ridiculousness of the media-created appeal of Palin is that:

1) it made me laugh. There have been many swipes at Palin and the jokes have been funny but have left me with the after taste of ‘man, the progressives are really screwed.’ Ideally I would love to see more of this kind of relief that helps to give us insight into the joke so that we can better participate instead of dismissing our fellow Americans for being so stupid as to fall for this. Cynicism has fueled this choice. But the choice is still female. The language is still a call for change. Feminists own that. To put it in marketing speech - progressives are the Apple of change; conservatives will only deliver a Vista version of what we can deliver.

2) The SNL skit also flips the cynicism on its head. They took the display for what is was – turning the Republicans pick of a Tina Fey-looking candidate on it’s head, with Tina Fey in the part. What is fun about this skit should also be fun about the organizing for the last 90 days of the campaign. We need to get in on the joke and not bemoan that the joke exists. Conservatives hate feminists. They hate them so much that they are willing to have a non-feminist woman in power to keep feminists at bay. That’s not rocket science – we’ve known that all along.

We need to stop pretending that qualifications are what will make or break this election. That is not to say that we should not continue to push on demanding quality leadership, but the current holder of the presidency did not come in with an impressive resume. And we now know that Reagan held office with Alzheimer’s. The presidency is a machine. The individual sitting in the seat is less relevant. So if qualifications are less important image becomes more so. And what image does a McCain presidency give you? We know from the incessant questions of “why do they hate us” after 9/11 that the need to be liked, respected, valued are still important aspects of American citizenry. Who is more likely to restore those feelings?

Lastly, we need the positive spectacle that will keep us going in mile 25. How do we ignore the ‘media-created reality’ and stick to our guns and vision for reaching out and touching more people with the opportunity to correct the backwards slide we’ve been on for the past eight years and in terms of the Supreme Court provide the necessary offensive to secure our traditional values of liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness. Because right now in this country the majority of us are not happy. Another reason I’m watching SNL.

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