Winners and Losers
This year’s midterm elections — historically snoozefests or geek rallies — have been anything but boring. In fact, they’ve been downright hilarious! Forget “Glee,” “Dancing with the Stars” and the World Series — politics is such a spectacle now that Hollywood has to put nearly every new movie in 3D just to compete. And for those of us covering the races, it’s felt like we’ve had front-row tickets to the country’s craziest goat rodeo ever. It’s true, there’s a lot at stake for the Obama administration, the GOP and the Tea Party movement, all of which are fighting for their political survival. But it’s also been a pretty good opportunity for other lesser-established outfits to put themselves on the map. For the better and the much, much worse. Here’s a look at some other winners and losers from this election season:
Sister Wife Chic: If 2008 was the year of the hot librarian, to use the crass liberal vernacular for Sarah Palin’s look, 2010 is the year of the sister wife. Maybe it’s the success of the TLC show aptly named “Sister Wives,” or maybe it’s just a new trend to counter the polished brunette looks of Palin, Nikki Haley and Michele Bachmann, but candidates like Ruth McClung, Beth Anne Rankin and Meg Whitman are proving the fertile-plains gingers will be ignored no more.
Masturbation: First there was Judge Reinhold’s award-winning performance in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Then there was Jason Biggs in “American Pie.” But this year masturbation finally leapt off the silver screen and onto our kitchen tables as we all sat around with our families to discuss the considerable pros and irrelevant cons of self-pleasure. If it weren’t for Christine O’Donnell, who knows when masturbation would have seen another moment in the sun. But one thing’s for certain: Pee Wee Herman’s new word of the day is: “Christine O’Donnell.”
Sloth: Thomas Aquinas defined sloth as “sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good,” and nothing better encapsulates the mental state of the country’s most apathetic liberal factions. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert celebrated apathy at their dueling rallies in Washington, D.C. for the young, drug-addled, “rational” folk who were too bored by real politics to actually do something productive. It was the unapologetic rally for people who didn’t care. And the liberal groups who once seemed irrepressible, like MoveOn.org and Code Pink, were no where to be found. (Are Janeane Garofalo and Rosie O’Donnell off making a movie somewhere?) Even NOW, the National Organization for Women, seemed too disinterested to say that Meg Whitman isn’t in fact a whore. Thanks for taking a well-timed vacation — the Tea Party appreciates your unprecedented apathy!
Blurting: Also on vacation this season was the inner monologue. In “The Apartment” episode of Seinfeld, Jerry describes this mechanism perfectly: “My censoring system broke down. You know that little guy in your head who watches everything you say? Makes sure you don’t make a mistake? He went for a cup of coffee, and in that second, ruined my life.” Jerry can commiserate at least with Carl Paladino, Frank Caprio, Alan Grayson, Sharron Angle, Joe Biden, Bobby Bright, Alvin Greene and a host of others who seem to have forgotten that they aren’t just chatting with a buddy in their basement.
Witchcraft: Not since Salem ca. 1692 has the witch been under such duress. Despite huge strides made by disaffected teenage Wiccans and scented candle shop owners in the 1990s, the witch is now facing insurmountable hurdles thanks to Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s unprecedented dismissal of the movement. When Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon put their big hair together in 1987, they probably never thought that their efforts to humanize witches everywhere would be so summarily overturned in just under a quarter of a century. In O’Donnell’s defense, it’s not all her fault — the Twihards have to share in the blame. No word yet if the producers of “Charmed” are planning a reprisal to counter O’Donnell’s stunning walkback.
Alexander Graham Bell: We’re wizards of the iPad, masters of the Tweet. We can upload a new Facebook photo from anywhere on the planet, and with one hand tied behind our backs. I just downloaded 20 new songs and had a skype conversation while typing this sentence. But for some reason, this election season proved we still haven’t figured out the telephone. We overheard the Jerry Brown camp spitballing a winning new campaign idea, and we caught a CBS news affiliate in Alaska putting out a casting call for child molesters. It’s almost like these folks had just been unfrozen. Then there was Ginny Thomas’s bizarre message to Anita Hill and Charlie Crist’s message for Kendrick Meek. Granted, the phone can be tricky — Snooki fought a long and courageous battle with a duck phone last year on “Jersey Shore,” and we were all right there beside her through it all. But for someone out of a job right now, I see a huge opportunity to fill a gap in the market: Your Phone and You: How NOT to Commit Political Suicide.
Madison Avenue: What does it mean to “Lean Forward,” you ask? Beats me. Fox seems to think MSNBC’s new tagline is a little too sedentary, so they’ve countered with a “Move Forward” campaign of their own. (Snap!) From the networks to Obama’s inane “car in a ditch” metaphor, the branding whizzes on Madison Avenue seem to be in the midst of a serious dry spell. What brainiac came up with O’Donnell’s “I am not a witch” ad? Or Alan Grayson’s “Taliban Dan” ad? Some campaign ads even used the wrong names (Ken Salazar for John Salazar in Colorado) or misspelled words (like “atack” in one ad, “lobbiest” in another). Pretty soon our elections are going to look like a scene out of “Idiocracy,” with politicians saying “why come?” and reading profanities off of teleprompters. (Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.)