The blogosphere has been afire today with a lot of back-and-forth about Clint Eastwood and his potential motives for having made a Chrysler ad, which of course ran during the Superbowl:
I think most people who commented on this are being really analytical about it—looking at things from the perspective of policy wonks, academicians, and would-be advertising executives, rather than seeing the spot as a director would. Or, for that matter, an average football fan.
It’s easy to look for subtext in the ad, and to see it as an affirmation of the wisdom behind the auto industry bailouts (which of course Eastwood did not support). From there, it is a hop-skip-and-jump to supposing that Eastwood feels that the Northern auto industry, with its union dominance and association with the traditional American marques, should be subsidized by the rest of us, and that the Southern auto industry (which turns out a lot of Hondas and Toyotas in right-to-work states) should be left on its own.
People have even analyzed the word “halftime” as it was used in the ad, and come to the conclusion that it was meant to allude, sub rosa, to the Obama Administration. So, why are you shilling for the White House, Clint?
Of course, “halftime” might also refer to the fact that the spot aired during a football game. But taking it at face value would be too easy, wouldn’t it?
Look at the ad. Look at it with the sound off, the way I first saw it. What is it saying about the country? It exhorts us to remember that we are a nation of fighters, and that message holds whether or not we want to buy Chryslers, or whether we think a large city in Michigan should pull itself up by its bootstraps—and maybe even allow a few industries in that aren’t dominated by Big Labor.
It says we’re on our backs, and we need to get up and start punching again. And other than the Chrysler logo at the end, and the allusion to Detroit, it’s pretty much left up to us to determine how do do that, and what it is going to look like.
What Clint Eastwood did, in the weeks leading up to yesterday, was use money that came from Chrysler (and therefore, arguably, from the government) to point out that we still have plenty of fight left in us, and it’s not too late to get going again.
Where we go, of course, is still up to us.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey makes the best case for Clint-as-whore. I still don’t quite buy it: there’s still too much subtext one has to more or less place there oneself.
UPDATE, 2: Iowahawk is sublime, here—but then, this is in his wheelhouse. For it pertains to . . . wheels. Goddammit, somebody get me a throat lozenge.