Monday, June 28, 2004

Saving America and so forth

So for my inaugural post, I'm going to ask anyone who truly cares about the future of our nation for Kerry slogan submissions. Nick O'Rette's input is also welcome.

The crux of the issue, gents, is this. Kerry's current official slogan is:

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN.

Which, upon cursory inspection, means nothing, but upon closer inspection...means nothing. So it comes from a celebrated Langston Hughes poem. I ask you: (1) Who celebrated Langston Hughes? I didn't. I'm sure I'm going to literary hell for this, but I find the guy a blowhard, a disenfranchised echo of Whitman with no faith in his readership. Like Steinbeck, he's the guy at the end of the bar who just won't shut up. For an African American voice appropriate to a campaign, try Gwendolyn Brooks, W.E.B. DuBois, Sterling Brown, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, hell, Huey Newton! If you're going to go socially extreme in a nationally broadcast campaign slogan, get angular, dammit. Put some hair on those balls. (2) Kerry really is "trying to go socially extreme" here, and the Republicans are going to smack this line around like a gin-soaked Koosh. Two counterpoints include: (a) Placed in context ("America never was America to me") the poem debunks American liberty and fairness; (b) Hughes was a black gay socialist atheist* - which is fine, Dems will retort, nothing wrong with that, but Kerry won't have swept swingvoting Ohio moderates off their feet.

And (3) -- more compelling than the first two -- it reinforces the kind of candidate that folks suspect Kerry may be: pompous, patrician, and vaguely circumlocutory. So let's get some better ones. My boss is on a bunch of writers' committees that are trying to do just this, and I bet we can come up with some sweet stuff. Three ideas:
1. I LIKE KERRY BECAUSE I'M SANE. (Young smart)
2. KERRY US BACK (Populist, "US" in red).
3. JUST FOR KERRY (Old School Dem (each word on top of the next, playing on JFK)).

+++ My first blog. Whew.

*Also, isn't this a carefully blanched form of pet primitivism?

13 Comments:

Blogger naptime said...

how about

hari kari for kerry (passionate, plays to international crowd)

or

a john in the hand is worth two in the bush (hip, 'fresh' association of party platforms to legalized prostitution, handjobs)

ok, ok

'let america be america again' is ridiculously bad. it's clunky and pompous. there are 3 circumstances in which someone can reasonably start a sentence with 'let' -- 1) if he is god and is currently writing the commandments, 2) if he is a mathematician and is assigning variables at the beginning of a proof, 3) if he is a tennis official, in which case it's also the end of the senence. other than that, it comes across as a bit condescending (i suppose 'let freedom ring' is a fourth exception, and on second thought, tennis is a pretty pompous sport anyways)

speaking from the standpoint of someone living outside the u.s. who cringes everytime a diatribe on u.s. foreign policy begins (which happens essentially everytime i go to dinner with non-americans), a platform of 'kerry-- he's not bush' would secure my vote. i sort of doubt it would appeal much, south (or north) of the mason dixon, so maybe we still have some work to do.

June 28, 2004 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Nick O'Rette said...

Here's a slogan for Tom Wolfe: "I shit cultural relevancy"

June 30, 2004 at 1:48 AM  
Blogger Nick O'Rette said...

How's about:

"Kerry: Richer, Blacker, Badder"
"Isn't it time you had a quiet conversation?"
"Not-Bush: not the handmaiden of evil"
"John Kerry: when he paints a floor, he ends at the door"
"Kerry: a bigger man, a smaller liar"

& for the military: "I'd kill for Bush but I'd die for Kerry"

June 30, 2004 at 1:59 AM  
Blogger Monseigneur said...

The DNC is coming to town next month and downtown Boston will be shut down. Everyone is being asked to leave the city, I-93 will be closed, the police have refused to work unless they get a new contract. Kerry snubbed an event held by the mayor (also a dem) because he refused to cross the picket line... so the mayor called Kerry's campaign "out of touch". Massachusetts may go republican for the first time ever.

June 30, 2004 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Nick O'Rette said...

The NYC convention looks to be contentious, too, however the Repubs have swung it so that all the protestors will have to do their complaining from Staten Island, like good little poor people.

Anyone seen the Michael Moore movie yet? (Lim- got it on divx yet?).

July 1, 2004 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger naptime said...

i'm somewhat on the fence about michael moore. much as i like his subject matter, i find his movies pretty annoying. in 'roger and me' he ambushes gm executives in interviews with impossible questions like 'are you moving jobs out of the US because you hate america, or because you hate americans?' then when the gm guy understandably stumbles with the question, he does a voiceover of something like 'maybe i underestimated general motors... maybe they hate america AND americans....' and he cuts to another scene. kind of humorous to watch for about half an hour, but basically he presents such a one sided picture that it leaves you wondering what's on the other side.

i'm definitely a fan of 'bowling for columbine,' particularly the part where heston comes across as a raving loony, whereas marilyn manson has a totally rational and sane conversation. i'm guessing that fahrenheit will be more like 'roger and me' given its subject matter, and the fact that he has a specific bone to pick with a specific person, as opposed to a general dissatisfaction with guns and violence.

anyways, the short answer to your question is no, i haven't gotten it on dvd yet. i did just get back from shanghai last week, where i picked up several pirated copies of old michael jackson videos, in an effort to show some solidarity with him in his time of need. then i realized that buying pirated goods doesn't show him solidarity at all, since he doesn't get royalties from it. that's fine, though, he's a total molester.

July 2, 2004 at 1:12 AM  
Blogger Nick O'Rette said...

Moore was interesting in "Columbine." Segments of his two television shows have varied between credible and execrable. That said, there aren't too many avenues for protest left in the U.S.: protest songs are still being recorded (but with the consolidation of the radio industry, you have to go to Kazaa to hear them); television's self-censorship won't even allow it to repeat Cheney's words to a senator on the floor of the Senate ("Go Fuck Yourself, Leahy" - bon mot indeed!); and the chain of movie theaters showing Michael Moore's movie, Loew's/Cineplex Odeon, has just been bought out by George H. W. Bush's Carlyle Group. It's almost enough to make me get sober and do something about it.

July 2, 2004 at 2:57 AM  
Blogger Nick O'Rette said...

I'm sticking with "John Kerry: when he paints a floor, he ends at the door" - just weird enough to capture the zen vote.

July 2, 2004 at 4:10 AM  
Blogger Parsley said...

Seen "9/11." How well you like the movie will depend on (a) how much you viscerally agree with Moore's axe-grinding "points" (which are not logically but emotionally constructed); and (b) what sort of contract you make with the movie going in. That is, if you go in thinking that its intent is to be a caustic caricature of Bush et al., if you expect a funny but one-sided invective with token/strawmen counterpoints, then for what it is it does very well - coherent demagoguery. But if you expect Moore is going to present an even-handed documentary, you will get angry for different reasons. Conservative Christopher Hitchens got all pissy, but he protests too much, methinks. Certainly the quickness with which neocons have pooh-poohed the film betrays their fear of its market potential. Definitely shadows their fear of Al Franken, anyway.

I dug the film, having fully accepted that many logical ligaments were either ripped out of context or based on conjecture.

Moore really is doing something new, or resurrecting something forgotten since those old-school political cartoons - or less flatteringly, since Leni Riefenstahl. After viewing, consider David Edelstein's defense of what is essentially an original film format (but less happily, a dangerous political weapon).

July 2, 2004 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Lunchtime said...

I'm sure that Michael Moore is gratified to be uttered in the same sentence as Leni Reifenstahl (no, I can't spell it). The only thing I've heard about 9/11 that sounded positive were that there is actually less of Michael Moore in it, and that he spends less time taking cheap shots at normal people (as it asking people impossible trick questions, then showing them look stupid through the miracle of film editing).
I actually prefer to listen to conservatives than liberals, because then I can argue with them. Listening to liberals is sort of like preaching to the choir. If I agree with them, then I don't get much satisfaction out of it. And whenever they start shelling out "facts", I automatically discount them out of some sort of intellectual honesty because I presume that they are skewed for effect. But if a conservative commentator says something that I agree with, then I feel good about it, and mostly when they don't I have a chance to do some good hollering, and I can dismiss them as being addled and feeble.

July 4, 2004 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger Lunchtime said...

As for slogans, we could always fall back on:

"Bush--shmush"

July 4, 2004 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger naptime said...

a surprisingly two sided take on the one sidedness of michael moore, from the new yorker "Michael Moore has become a sensational entertainer of the already converted, but his enduring problem as a political artist is that he has never known how to change anyone’s politics. "

July 5, 2004 at 3:07 AM  
Blogger Nick O'Rette said...

From my experience in my one & only afternoon manning phones for MoveOn.org, the problem may simply be his crusading sense - you don't change minds in an afternoon, you only plant seeds, and that's not compell-a-vision. On the other hand, unemployment and dead soldiers make those seeds grow....

July 8, 2004 at 4:32 AM  

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