September 1, 2012

"Eastwooding" — the meme.

The term "Eastwooding" — referring to talking to an empty chair — popped up on Twitter and got retweeted — by Ana Marie Cox — with the incitement "INTERNET you know what to do."

Do a Google image search for it — here — and tell me if this is working against Eastwood or against Obama. Even if it's half and half, it's not against Romney. As far as the election is concerned, the harm to Eastwood is irrelevant. And at some point, I think it's giving Eastwood currency. It may not be true that in showbiz any publicity is good publicity, but the kind of publicity that's not good needs to be a lot worse than rambling inappropriately. (It has to be even worse than this. Maybe even worse than this. Let's say: this.)

Anyway, Clint will be fine. He's so much tougher than internet meme-dweebs that it's not worth worrying about him. And I don't think Clint wants us to worry about him. He wants us to worry about the economy and the election.

And so the question is, does all this "Eastwooding" activity help or hurt Obama? I think it's intended to help, but the meme is that Obama is an empty chair, and that like saying he's "Zero" or an "empty suit," which people have been saying for a long time. 

IN THE COMMENTS: Rhhardin says: "There's an empty suit passage in Carlyle's Sartor Resartus that fits." Here:

What still dignity dwells in a suit of Cast Clothes! How meekly it bears its honors! No haughty looks, no scornful gesture: silent and serene, it fronts the world; neither demanding worship, nor afraid to miss it. The Hat still carries the physiognomy of its Head: but the vanity and the stupidity, and goose-speech which was the sign of these two, are gone. The Coat-arm is stretched out, but not to strike; the Breeches, in modest simplicity, depend at ease, and now at last have a graceful flow; the Waistcoat hides no evil passion, no riotous desire; hunger or thirst now dwells not in it. Thus all is purged from the grossness of sense, from the carking cares and foul vices of the World; and rides there, on its Clothes-horse; as, on a Pegasus, might some skyey Messenger, or purified Apparition, visiting our low Earth.
Neither demanding worship, nor afraid to miss it... So then Obama's not an empty suit!

63 comments:

The Farmer said...

It doesn't help or hurt. It's probably forgotten by Tuesday.

America's Politico said...

I am in Chicago HQ. Watching Clint's speech is making us nervous.

The tweet about the empty chair and Obama motto of hope/change, is seriously affecting David A., David P. and Jim M.

Now this: Finding the Mitt in uncomMITTed

We are going to be messed up in Nov. We are starting to call hollywood, bollywood, k-street. We are having some interviews with NYT, NPR, and PBS.

We need to do what we can to help ourselves before our convention.

Damn the GOP. Damn the Eastwood. We are hoping the convention in Tampa will divide the GOP. Instead, we are getting pressure.

How did this happen? What is wrong with America? Why cannot voters love us the way the always loved us?

rhhardin said...

There's an empty suit passage in Carlyle's Sartor Resartus that fits

Also has the most elegant use of "depend" in English

here (back up one sentence for the start)

EMD said...

Good luck with Bollywood, AP.

dreams said...

Ridicule can be very effective and is used constantly against conservative Republicans by the whole liberal culture which is why even though most people are conservative, many of them still vote for liberals who don't share their values. They vote for the more liberal Dems because they have absorbed the liberal spin as it relates to Republicans.

EMD said...

People perpetuating the meme are probably meaning to mock Eastwood, but again, it will have the unintended effect much like Tebowing did.

Ross said...

Am I the only one thinking that America's Politico has been hacked to give right-wing messages?

furious_a said...

"Eastwooding".

EMD said...

How the Stupid Party managed to pull off a viral sensation is beyond me.

EMD said...

Am I the only one thinking that America's Politico has been hacked to give right-wing messages?

You know AP has been satire from the start, right?

Kchiker said...

Is the “empty” or “Zero” attack on Obama effective? Karl Rove says no. I’m inclined to agree.

EMD said...

Is the “empty” or “Zero” attack on Obama effective? Karl Rove says no. I’m inclined to agree.

Kchiker ... it's already an internet meme. It has traction and is a simple visual, like the Fairey poster.

edutcher said...

This is what I was talking about yesterday.

Eastwooding started almost the second his routine was over, even before the Lefties started crying.

It makes Zero a laughingstock and the fact Choom felt obliged to tweet a return makes him look bad, not GySgt Highway.

ricpic said...

We'll never know but I'd be surprised if Eastwood didn't consider propping an empty suit on the empty chair and then reconsidered and rejected the idea as overkill.

Comanche Voter said...

Question: What does Eastwooding Mean?

Answer: It Depends.

As in the sudden increase in use of Depends by Messrs. Axelrod, Plouffe and Messina. Stephanie Cutter may want some too.

kentuckyliz said...

Gestalt Empty Chair Technique

It was therapy.

I like how "such as President Obama" was added to the wikipedia entry.

LOL!

Since we were all watching, it was group therapy. A primal scream.

Michael K said...

I think the answer is the Obama tweet of the photo of him sitting in the chair. He knows it was a stiletto, not an axe.

Who knew that Clint was that good at satire ?

Bob said...

UPDATE: "This seat's taken"

Kchiker said...

"Kchiker ... it's already an internet meme. It has traction and is a simple visual, like the Fairey poster.”

If the point of that line of attack is to spawn an internet meme, I agree that it was effective.

furious_a said...

Tweet and counter-tweet.

President's punching below his weight again.

edutcher said...

Slightly OT:

Anyone wondering what this does for the Republican campaign may want to conjure with this - Ras has the Romster (or is he the Mitt now?) up by 3; considering this is on a weekend, when Little Zero polls best, it tends to confirm Al Reuters (?!?) that he got a 6 point bounce.

Pretty much what Morris predicted.

kentuckyliz said...

Figure 1. The Empty Chair

FleetUSA said...

From the beginning I've been calling the president "B0" using the zero rather than a capital O. Just seemed so fitting.

Hagar said...

Karl Rove is Establishment Republican; Eastwood isn't.

David said...

They were pounding the issue on CNN in Airport Hell yesterday. Gloria Borger. Anderson Cooper. Smug doubled.

Attacking a man for being old. Clint Eastwood, no less.

The lefties are attacking a national idol for being old.

Yeah, good idea.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...but the meme is that Obama is an empty chair...

I was most amused by President Obama's response of this seat is taken. I mean, isn't that something you say about a seat that is actually, you know, empty? It's what you say when you are saving a seat for someone who is not currently there. ( Or it's what you say when the seat is empty, and it is not being saved for anyone, but you don't want the person you to whom you are talking to sit there. )

JohnJ said...

“…but the meme is that Obama is an empty chair, and that's like saying he's ‘Zero’ or an ‘empty suit,’ which people have been saying for a long time.”

I agree; and Rove likely is wrong.

The dems mistakenly believe that they somehow can control the associations elicited by the empty chair; they can’t. Eastwood’s almost senile rambling—which at the time had all the cringe worthiness of the drunken brother at the wedding reception—now has been distilled by that same twitter community to its sound bite essence:

“Politicians are employees of ours.”

“When somebody does not do the job, we gotta let ‘em go.”

I just don’t see how this can be repackaged to help Obama.

AndyN said...

I don't think we can really know yet if it will be bad for Obama. I think we'll know by the end of next week though.

A few comments on the go-watch-the-speech-again post - and a few talking heads elsewhere - say it was bad for Romney because it upstaged him and the only thing most people took away from the GOP convention was the impression they got from Eastwood instead of the headliner. The problem with that thinking is that when you look at the big picture, Eastwood and Romney were delivering the same message - we need to replace Obama. But to the extent that it might be bad for Romney if everybody was talking about Eastwood instead of him, how much worse will it be for Obama if the Eastwooding meme survives beyond the end of next week (which I really expect it will) and Obama doesn't deliver anything positive and memorable?

And what can Obama possibly say at his convention that will be memorable and helpful to him? He has no new ideas on the economy, his foreign policy is of secondary importance to most voters and his most dramatic gun there was fired long ago, Sandra Fluke is a one trick pony and to the extent that anybody buys the war on women schtick they're beyond having their minds changed by either convention. So, what's Obama going to say or do next week that will keep people from clicking on the latest Eastwooding link next weekend and the weekend after that and the weekend after that? If the answer is there's nothing he can do, then yes, Eastwooding absolutely hurts him.

Ann Althouse said...

You know who's old? Joe Biden.

Ignorance is Bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chase said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

Didn't Alinsky say that ridicule is powerful and should be employed at all times? How does it feel libs to be Alinsky-ed?

Johanna Lapp said...

With all due respect, Mr. President. go fuck your stupid self.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

This is not a chair.

Chase said...

`

Question:

If Eastwood's routine was not effective against Obama, why are the Democrats, liberals and the lap dog media so workedup about it - and still talking about it?


Answer:

You know why.


`

JohnJ said...

“You know who's old? Joe Biden.”

He’s in his late 60’s (I believe), but grab your nearest neurologist or neuropsychologist and ask him about the various causes of “disinhibition syndrome.”

I’m a little bit surprised this issue hasn’t been taken more seriously.

harrogate said...

You talk of "Obama versus Eastwood" and how that can't hurt Romney, and it is true if you look at it on the surface level, that particular contest, if people were really and narrowly committed to it, would not involve Romney. That is to say, in fantasy land.

You could much more cogently argue that *everything* that happened on that stage reflects on the man at the top of their ticket. Outside the bubble of "Clint was great!" and "Romney appeals to reason while Obama appeals to emotions only! (but also, cruel neutrality!)", judgement calls are being made on both men, in some measure, based on what others say at their conventions.

But one of the things I find most striking is that Romney didn't say anything particularly memorable or interesting enough during his own speech, for people to be remembering or talking about that speech now. My favorite moment of the night was Brit Hume's analysis of Romney's speech after it was over. One cannot explain it; you just had to see it.

In the end, the best Romney can say about Tampa is that some good stories about some of his good deeds got circulated during the weekend.

If Obama gives a good speech that resonates with people who are not part of bubbles like this blog (where, apparently, things almost ineffably reflect well on the GOP and on Romney, regardless of what those things may be), then it will not go unnoticed that the challenger's most comparable moment was allowing a Hollywood icon to reprise a passe standup comic routine.

All in all, the Dems have no damage control they need to do, respecting the talking points that came out of the GOP convention. So, let's see if an entertainer upstages (for good or ill) Obama at their own convention.

Alex said...

harrorgate - what the hell can Obama say that will make people feel inspired? It will be just one long rambling screed of hate.

harrogate said...

Alex once again rises to his peak level. The hallmark of a curious mind, an Alex comment.

Alex said...

harrogate - really what's been coming out of Obama's side the last months? Attacking business, attacking Republicans for "war on women", stoking the racial fires, stoking the homo fires, throwing Israel under the bus. This is inspiring?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

One small benefit for Romney from Clint's speech-- how many might have tuned in just to hear the great Eastwood and stayed to listen to Romney? It's a common tactic for boosting an unpopular show's ratings by shirttailing it onto a popular one.

harrogate said...

OK, I'll pretend we're in an alternate universe where you discuss in good faith, and respond. The first thing I would say is that I said "resonate," not inspire. Just as the GOP tries to identify national problems with the Dems in ways that resonate, the action flows the other way. Of course, people say they tire of all this and want "positive" campaigns and "inspirational messages," but I think that's utter bullshit, most every time.

Second, there *are* things Obama could do and say that could inspire, at his speech. They won't inspire you, because you have gone on record saying that you think poor people are lazy fucks who deserve no help from the state whatsoever. But if Obama can point to ways in which government under his watch, has helped the poor, as well as working class and middle class people, that will inspire many who do not share your values. Or if he can point to ways in which government under his watch has curbed Wall Street abuses, and the abuses of banks, then that will inspire.

Of course, for my money in the end he cannot point to *much* he has done on these counts, as he has been a pretty down the line corporate president wire to wire. But when you compare him to what came before and what he is running against now, even a down the line corporate guy can sometimes look like someone who believes in the social contract. Or, to Meade, I suppose he looks like a communist. Meade sees communists everywhere and he thinks "Clint looks great!" So I'm not sure I'd go with Meade's standards.

But anyway. I await with bated breath, Alex, your erudite and measured response.

The Farmer said...

harrogate said...
But anyway. I await with bated breath, Alex, your erudite and measured response.


You're going to have to wait till he's done putting out all those homo fires.

Alex said...

harrogate - so Obama is going to appeal to the welfare state degenerates and parasites. That's not inspiring to anyone I know. In fact it's downright contemptible and loathsome. This is easily the most loathsome President of my lifetime. True enough that Obama is a crony capitalist enabler(Solyndra), but he is not corporate America's first choice.

Alex said...

The Farmer - I'm sure you'll enjoy next week's DNC hate-fest.

n.n said...

The "empty chair" technique has been used by artists before. The only reason it has received undue notice this time is because it was not used to exploit Bush. For some reason, Obama's immortality is an especially sensitive issue to his followers.

Doc Holliday's Hat said...

I think the Obama Admin, so often so good at new media promotion screwed up big time, in a way that doesn't quite matter what happens with the Eastwood meme. 1st, they attacked a private citizen and a beloved one at that. It was a gentle attack, and Eastwood certainly placed himself in the firing line, but if Rush Limbaugh was so wrong to attack Sandra Fluke for standing up for what she believed in (and I believe Rush was an ass and went far too far with the slut comment), then how does it look to a normal American when the President himself attacks a private citizen? 2nd, the Eastwood spoke to a chair facing him, and Obama responds with a picture of his back turned towards the camera...the issue with Obama is that people personally like him, but dislike his policies...so he goes with an image that explicitly shows him not engaging the electorate...smooth.

Mary Beth said...

I wasn't sure how well this was working until I read comments on CNN articles about this. Some commenters are indignant that Romney didn't immediately apologize for Clint's performance/speech.

EMD said...

Harrogate-

It's true Obama can give a rousing, resonating speech.

However, he's a certain known entity. The time for speeches may be over in the minds of the independents. They want to see the CHANGE they were promised. Outside of passing the ACA, they aren't seeing much that improves the outlook of the nation.

I personally don't believe the ACA will work as promised, but I concede that the Democrats can at least point to it as "something accomplished."

Bruce Hayden said...

"This seat's taken"

This selection missed some of the photoshops of Obama's tweat of his chair. My favorite, even better than the clown head, is that of Alfred E. Neuman. It is funny because both he and the President both have jug ears, though Neuman's are more pronounced.

For the few too young to remember, Neuman was the Mad Magazine character known for his buck teeth, jug ears, and "What - Me Worry?" attitude.

bagoh20 said...

"You could much more cogently argue that *everything* that happened on that stage reflects on the man at the top of their ticket."

Let's keep that in mind next week. I think the GOP is pretty happy with their volley.

Freeman Hunt said...

It is pointless to try to hurt Eastwood anyway. He has the equivalent of a bank vault in celebrity good will currency.

Freeman Hunt said...

He's a living American icon.

John Burgess said...

@Harrogate: Resonance without inspiration is just an echo. The DEMs have enough echo chambers already. Do they need a big noise in Charlottesville just to clap their hands at the pretty sound?

harrogate said...

Bagoh20,

Responding to the idea that what happens on the stage at the convention does reflect on the man at the top of the ticket, you wrote:

"Let's keep that in mind next week."

Yes, let's. The thing is, i understand that Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum and that to an extent, we'd see different policy from Romney than we'd see from Santorum. We'd *definitely* see different rhetoric. But still, the party platform matters, and the party's list of luminaries matters. it matters that GOP politicians still take William Kristol's and Charles Krauthammer's position papers with earnest seriousness.


I will vote Democratic. However, I expect to see lots of things I don't like next week. There's a lot about Obama, corporate lackey that he often proves to be, that I do not at all like. That being the case, why wouldn't there be things said and done by other speakers that I also dislike?

You also wrote:

"I think the GOP is pretty happy with their volley."

Then they've got a pretty goddamned low bar, dude. Which brings us back to Eastwood. I think far more interesting than whether or not the chair routine was any good or idiotic, etc, is that this routine--and now, a fairly idiotic set of national discussions about that routine!--all got more attention than anything either Ryan or Romney said.

harrogate said...

John Burgess wrote,

" Resonance without inspiration is just an echo."

Agreed if you are sticking to the literal sense of the metaphor. But, think of the claim that the GOP favors the wealthy and enables corporate abuses, and shafts the poor and working and middle classes. That claim resonates for many voters. It doesn't inspire them in a Gettysburg Address sort of way. Nor should it. It ought to be taken seriously and resonance is of a piece with that seriousness.

"The DEMs have enough echo chambers already."

Oh, please. You have the temerity to speak of Dem echo chambers on an Althouse blog comment? BOTH parties have major echo chambers and one hopes that the conventions and major candidates would go a bit beyond preaching to their respective choirs. I do not think the GOP convention in the end left much of a mark, beyond the ridiculous discussion about Clint for God's sake.

"Do they need a big noise in Charlottesville just to clap their hands at the pretty sound?"

Convention will be held in Charlotte. A banking industry center. Obama will speak at Bank of America Stadium. Ahhh, "leftism"!

Nora said...

"Now this: Finding the Mitt in uncomMITTed"

There is something in this. The "Democrates are uncomMITTed" or "Obama is uncomMITTed" sticker, maybe?

bgates said...

the Dems have no damage control they need to do

I agree with this vigorously. Have Elizabeth Warren show up dressed like a cigar store Indian. Bring slide shows for the Planned Parenthood and NARAL talks to illustrate just what they're defending. Get Vladimir Putin to offer a video address expressing his gratitude for the flexibility Obama wants to show him after the election. Put the Black Panthers on stage to reassure everyone that Philly will come through regardless of the Man and his voter ID laws.

Aridog said...

Interesting that Mr Eastwood came off as an "old man" in his spoofing of Obama & the empty chair. Guess what his new movie "Trouble with the Curve", due at the end of this month, is about?

Whoa...among other things, it is about being old, and reconnecting with relationships and values past. Google up the trailer, see if he's the same guy on the stage in Tampa?

Charlie Martin said...

From now on, when people see an empty chair, they'll think of Obama.

Clint is a genius.

traditionalguy said...

The GOP needed to re-nominate their ticket: Ann Romney for President and Clint Eastwood for VP.

But you go to war with the army you have.

I am serious in telling friends that this election will be a landslide for Romney.

Clint Eastwood's performance art has insured that every common man conservative will stand in line in the rain all day to vote. No one will stay home now.

Big Mike said...

I thought Michael Moore invented the concept of interviewing an empty chair in the movie "Roger & Me."

Fourteen years later Michael Moore informs us that interviewing an empty chair is a sign of mental derangement or something.

Wish he'd told us that back then.

jimspice said...

This was my contribution to the Eastwood meme: http://bit.ly/MC-CHER