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Jul 31, 2008

Celeb #2: Exploding Obama At The Subliminal Level


I think we are really being played if -- in analyzing "Celeb," the McCain Obama-attack video -- we go so far as unearth the racist sexual stereotypes but overlook the possible allusions to violence itself.

Here's where I think this video is most insidious....

At the surface level, the message is that Obama is nothing but a celebrity, an idol, a cultural phenomenon.  In fixing the viewer absolutely on that premise, however, we are prompted to see the incessant flashes in this video as exclusively attributable to Obama the paparazzi magnet and Kodak moment.  As well, Obama's walk down that impressively long entry ramp at the Tiergarten also compliments his juxtaposition with photo icons Britney and Paris as a lens-loving runway model.

But then, watching the video without the sound, and looking at it slowly, bit-by-bit (lessening the "distraction" of the celebrity meme, and considering the subliminal allusions hitting the brain as fast as the scenery from a speeding train), the imagery starts to suggest other inferences.

Beginning with a sequence of flashes paired with isolated hands, followed immediately by a sequence (above) from what looks like the last Democratic Convention (where Obama made his first major jolt, but where the scene itself bears next-to-no direct connection to Obama having his picture taken), now all the "pop-pop-pop" and the violently-sensory "flash-flash-flash" seem indistinguishable from explosions.

With those fireworks serving as a (possible Denver) table setting, and just on-the-other-side of the seductive Britney/Paris segment, we arrive at this chronological sequence in which Obama is mingling with the Berlin crowd, a single nervous-looking Secret Service agent fixed off the candidate's left shoulder:






Again, following the Rovian admonition to block out the words (removing and freeing up the fuller visual value of the imagery from the advertisement's oral/textual envelope), I don't even want to think what this looks like to me -- except to say that, I wouldn't count Hillary as Obama's only political assailant with the instinct to turn off the electricity.

Killing The Electricity (BNN)
Campaign Visuals In the Age of Facebook (American Photo)

(screen grabs: McCain For President)


Maybe I missed this part of the discussion, but the repeated visual of the large phallus in this ad seems an obvious and easily read allusion to sex. It first appears beside Obama, (at an interesting angle) and the long shot of the crowd and tower is shown several times. The first time the tower appears (in a split in the trees) the shot pans up adding emphasis to the phallic nature of the subliminal message.

The SFX of the flashes "popping" are from a long past era, ending when digital flashes came into use. This method of evoking of the past is a trope conservatives have often used to call into question "change". The sounds and images remind me of archival footage I've seen of celebrity excess during times of economic hardship, quite possibly resonating with the demographic McCain is aiming at.

"If you don't like seeing elite rich kids' ostentation lifestyles then don't give that to Obama, vote for McCain who calmly looks toward the light.

The images are indeed very similar to video of suicide bombings in Pakistan, London, or Madrid. Fade to white leaving... McCain. Not to suggest that Republicans would exploit a national tragedy for political gain... again.

I agree. The flashes and the popping make the ad look like the trailer for a political assassination movie.

The chanting Germans, the sexual innuendo, it's trying to be scary, and yet it weirdly fails.

Painting Obama as a "celebrity" is a doomed meme. Americans LOVE their celebrities. They have rackfuls of magazines and countless TV shows delving into their celebrities' lives and doings.

The ad only works on a subliminal level, which is hit-or-miss. There's no telling how many people will be attuned to those subtle cues.

I'm curious about the words Obama is uttering in the two scenes where they show him talking, one of the scenes looks like he is saying War! but I'm not sure about the other. It doesn't look like he is being very positive, however.

It reminds me of old black and whites where the end shot was that the person died. The photos of Lee Harvey come to mind but many films used similar images for fictional and docudrama assassinations with the really evil guys always seemingly ended up being filmed in black and white.

It does add to heighten tension for me when I see scenes like this because of the expectation that something violent will occur and you get the inevitable 'black screen' before the funeral. If the person who died was good the color was restored; if they were evil it faded to grey/black.

I have to agree that the stills from the video serve to erase Obama's presence and must have been carefully and willfully constructed. I might have to rethink the sexual implications of the first post as well, given the treatment that's being exposed in these images.

The Bush machine has acquired an extraordinary amount of power. They've proven that they will not play by the rules. To think that a simple election is going to derail the Neocon quest for supremacy is a joke. On the other hand, Obama has been making noise about reviewing all executive orders and reversing any that trample on the Constitution and our liberties. He might even go so far as to investigate. So here we have a massive amount of force and power about to come into conflict with a single human being, upon whom the world has heaped it's hopes and dreams. One bright flash of light is all the Neocons need to keep their puppet in power and continue their plans of dominating the globe. They've done worse things.

Why would they telegraph such evil intentions in a campaign video, though? Who are they communicating this information to? Is it foreshadowing or instructions for a right wing loose cannon?

But...but...Republicans LOVE violence and explosions! More than anybody!

Such an ad would delight any conservative.

Awww...look at Obama! penis symbol, check, implied violence, check, glowering bodyguards, check, pretty blond girls, check,...he's a manly man!

OH, wait. He's not a white manly-man. Must feel threatened. Get out the lynching noose, or at least don't vote for him.

I get it now. But I didn't at first. It seemed like some kind of flattering E-magazine coverage. But then I realized the ad must be for the over 50 crowd.

To know how the election will go, we just need to know how many baby boomers are still alive, and if they are still the biggest voting block. That's all.

I'm sure it doesn't advance anyone's political consciousness or anything to point this out, but there's an old Chris Cunningham music video for an Aphex Twin song called "Come to Daddy"; the music video kind of vaguely tells the story of a monster living in a discarded television set outside an apartment complex in Britain somewhere. Interspersed throughout the video there are these occasional couple-second cutaways, of just these very abstract brief visions of flashing lights and slow-motion water sprays. The first few framegrabs at the top of this post look to me like they could have been actually taken from the Chris Cunningham video-- if you'd told me that was where they came from I'd have probably believed you.

Taking the Bag's advice and watching the "Celeb" video without any sound (convenient advice-- this machine has no speakers anyway), the feeling that the most appropriate analogy for what I'm looking at is some kind of music video doesn't really lessen any. It doesn't really seem like any kind of coherent communication or political argument, more like just a series of attempts at imprinting on the viewer, something like the description in 1984 of the Two Minutes Hate as descending into a series of abrupt cuts between the face of the Enemy and various disturbing images (maggots, Britney Spears, etc).

Nail on the head. I was thinking earlier, after watching Olbermann, that what they weren't talking about was the language. The words used were 'nice white folks' words when they don't want to appear racist. Like saying, he's so well-spoken. (Gee, he's black but he can speak English!)

I'm getting the feeling that McC is saying, 'aw shucks, I just don't get all this computer stuff' while kicking the dirt with his shoes. Meanwhile back at the ranch, his team (and remember they are the same handlers as Hillary had) is cleverly putting together all the racist ads. They don't buy time (except for one little area in PA) but it's been talked about incessantly on pundit shows. You can bet that all the racists out there got it immediately. Then, when Obama (who also gets it immediately) challenges them on it, they stick their hands in their pockets and exclaim that Obama is brining race into the campaign. Anybody see Rove lately?

And why haven't we haven't heard much from Hillary in the past few weeks. After the Obama victory tour, she and Bill just disappeared. Whydat? Regardless of how much money McC says he doesn't have, the republican party has LOTS of it. Enough to hire a room full of evil genius techies.

S2: I wondered about that column, too. It seemed so out of place, but your explanation puts it right where I'm sure they planned it to be.

Gasho: Yeah, possibly they hope another 'lone nut' will take up the challenge. Like that guy who shot up the church last weekend. Where on earth did he get the idea that liberals were evil? Huh? Where oh where?

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