A New Obama Cinema?

J. Hoberman over at the NYRB blog:

A lone lean figure strides purposefully through a dark tunnel, maybe a highway underpass. There’s no fear. A familiar husky voice whispers that “it’s half time—both teams are in their locker rooms, discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half.” One needn’t be a genius like Karl Rove to catch the drift of the two-minute Clint Eastwood-narrated Chrysler spot shown mid-Super Bowl last Sunday and everywhere else ever since. But get it Rove did.

First thing Monday morning, America’s preeminent propagandist was on Fox & Friends to whine that “the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.” What he meant was that a grateful automobile industry was engaging in some sneaky subliminal payback, hiring no less than Clint Eastwood as the mouthpiece for Barack Obama’s reelection bid. Well before the Giants edged out the Patriots, Obama adviser David Axelrod had wiped his boss’s fingerprints off the spot. “Powerful spot,” he slyly tweeted to his followers. “Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?”

By Monday evening, Eastwood—a life-long Republican—had given a statement to Fox’s O’Reilly Factor, “I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama.” (Note the use of “mister”—Eastwood may be a secret Ron Paul supporter but, as a good American, he’s bound to give the president props.) Eastwood was actually a critic of the automobile bailout, having told the Los Angeles Times last November that “we shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies.” By Wednesday, Chrysler executives were uniformly declaring that the ad had no political agenda: “It was designed to deliver emotions,” the company’s chief marketing officer was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, “and I don’t think emotions have a party.” (He did not, however, complain about extra publicity generated by the controversy.)