Monday, May 17, 2010


Regarding that damn Dale Peterson ad, I'm with Digby, who disagrees with Salon's Gabriel Winant.


It's really difficult to give the Peterson ad an honest viewing and come away thinking that this guy thinks highly of the people whose votes he's after. Besides the arguments being total nonsense, the symbolism is just way too aggressive. Peterson tips his cards when he edges that gun into the frame, as if to say, "Yeah, those idiots will eat this up."

Digby replies:

... I think Winant is dead wrong about this ad. It's exactly the kind of thing that works on the GOP Real American constituency, not because its "angry" but because of all the Real American iconography. They could change this ad's copy to be Morning in America and it would work just as well.

We used to talk about this a lot during the Bush presidency, deconstructing his drawl and all the images of him in cowboy costumes. I came to the conclusion that it didn't matter that he was a blatant phony. What mattered was that he cared enough to present himself to his tribal brethren as one of them. His phoniness was a
tribute to their culture and customs.

Peterson's isn't condescending to right-wing real-Amurrican voters any more than teabaggers are condescending to one another when they put on tricorn hats -- in both cases, yes, the iconography is phony, but the intended audience is perfectly content with an obvious simulation. It's not as if most of the people in Peterson's intended audience know a lot of real kick-ass guys who ride the range; what they're comparing Peterson to is the movies. (Same with the teabaggers -- pretty much everything they know about early American patriots they learned from a second-grade school play.) Peterson's not portraying a phony good old boy because he has contempt; his portrayal is phony because phony is what the intended audience wants; phony is better than real because phony is made up of nothing but pure bits of wish fulfillment. Peterson's an idealized tough guy -- a guy who's nothing but tough-guyness. That's better than someone real.

No comments: