My latest column deals with the rather superficial concept of “cool-ness,” arguing that the candidate deemed to be the most cool usually wins. This, I suggest, could pose a problem for Hillary Clinton. After all, “Grandmothers (and grandfathers!) may be a lot of wonderful things, but ‘cool’ isn’t typically one of them, at least in the popular imagination.”
That’s not to say Hillary is doomed. After all, what good is propaganda if it cannot manipulate our perceptions? (“Political campaigns try very hard to make candidates look cooler than they really are,” and on top of that, the mainstream media will “eventually attempt to come to [Hillary’s] rescue, and undermine whomever her GOP opponent is.”)
So how can Hillary project a cool image if she ends up running against one of the GOP’s young turks? First, she will obviously play up the historic aspect of her candidacy. Second, as noted above, she can and will attempt to dismiss the youthful appeal of her younger opponent by arguing that his ideas and policies are old and, well, un-cool. And third, I think we’re already seeing Team Hillary make some shrewd strategic stage-crafting decisions. Let’s take, for example, her announcement video (which some people confused for a pre-roll advertisement).
Most of the video is about other random other people; Clinton only comes in at the end.
The flattering way of explaining this is that she wants this campaign to be about you, not her. But I have another theory, and that is she has to hide behind a video because, frankly, her live show is a snoozer.
And maybe this shows my age, but it also reminds me of something.
Back in the 1990s, the aging rock band Aerosmith had a renaissance, of sorts, with hits like “Crazy,” “Cryin‘,” and “Amazing” (this was still when MTV was still king). But you know what the most interesting thing was about the videos for those songs? They barely featured the band. Instead, they featured lots of images of Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler (which was a huge trade up).
It was also a tacit admission that — even for a rock star — it’s hard to be cool forever. And it’s not merely about age, it’s also about playing the same old songs for decades now.
We can probably expect more such videos (instead of speeches), featuring more such surrogates. And this is probably smart. If Hillary thinks she can win by playing the same old song and dance, she’s probably crazy.