It’s Election Day, and millions of voters are casting their votes for the presidential candidate of their choice. The race between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney begins to wind down on Nov. 6.
But on this day, when voters’ interest runs high as do some tempers, it’s worth a fun look back at the pop-culture moments that have informed and amused us this 2012 election race. Worth a laugh, a moan, or a headshake, these moments have at least kept the race worth watching from both sides of the aisle.
In no particular order, here are some recent pop-culture moments related to the presidential election.
Mitt Romney suggests cutting PBS funding. When Mitt Romney said he would cut federal funding to PBS in the first presidential debate, a lot of feathers got ruffled – yellow feathers. Big Bird became the unofficial symbol of Romney’s controversial statements, although Romney specifically said he liked the character. The remark immediately spread through entertainment and social media, becoming fodder for jokes, memes and political ads.
“Sesame Street,” through its non-profit educational arm, refused to take sides on the issue, saying:
“Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and, as is our general practice, have requested that both campaigns remove ‘Sesame Street’ characters and trademarks from their campaign materials.”
Still, the pop-culture political moment had traction, with Big Bird costumes becoming one of the most popular Halloween costumes of 2012. And the controversy inspired the Million Puppet March on Nov. 3 (formerly the Million Muppet March, but renamed for inclusivity) to demonstrate support for continued public funding of public media.
“2016: Obama’s America” is a box-office hit. The political documentary looks at President Obama’s life and speculates on the state of the country if he is re-elected. “2016: Obama’s America” is co-directed by John Sullivan and conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, and based on the latter’s “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.”
The movie opened on one screen in mid-July. “2016: Obama’s America” was immensely popular, making $31,640 over opening weekend. The movie spread to other theatres and by the end of August took the number-two box office spot (behind Meryl Streep’s “Hope Springs”). Made on a small $2.5 million budget, the film grossed more than $33 million.
More important, the film attracted attention from a broad conservative audience. Reviews for the film were as divided, as one might expect given its subject matter, but the film also got people talking: about the film, the presidential campaign and the genre of political documentaries, such as those made by Michael Moore.
Celebrity endorsements are cartoonish. Literally. In addition to expressing support for a favorite candidate, celebrity endorsements allow famous faces to focus attention on themselves. So it’s no surprise that many celebrities came out in support of either President Obama or Romney.
With a built-in entertainment factor – idle speculation, checking to see if you’re in agreement, the “who cares, but it’s fun” element –tracking which celebrity supports which candidate takes on a touch of the spectator sport. But even celebrity watchers might have been surprised that Mr. C. Montgomery Burns, the wealthy businessman of “The Simpsons,” endorse Romney. It was a clever move from the satirical “Simpsons” creators, and created a buzz for both the show and the candidates.
Clint Eastwood talks to a chair. Speaking of endorsements, Clint Eastwood took the stage at the Republican National Convention. But the actor-director might have gone all method in his speech when he decided to have a one-sided conversation with President Obama…represented by an empty chair. It was unexpected, it was odd, and it was the most entertaining thing about the convention. Eastwood said that Romney himself found it funny.
Voters use social media to express exhaustion with political discourse. Many voters, tiring of a lengthy and contentious presidential campaign, took to social media to express exhaustion and criticism. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest were among social networks that circulated generated memes, such as the user-generated cards at Someecards, to humorously express political ambivalence.
Everyone’s all like ‘I love Obama’ or ‘I love Romney.’ And I’m just over here like ‘I love… Fill-in-the-blank [wine, chocolate, sports team, television show].’
Think of the children, Bronco Bamma and Romney, think of the children. Even children grew tired of the presidential campaign. And know what children do when they get tired? They cry. Abigael Evans, a four-year-old, started crying when listening to the campaign on NPR’s “The Two-Way.”
“I’m tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney,” Abigael told her mother Elizabeth.
The whole moment was captured by her mother on video and quickly went viral on YouTube, perhaps because it reflected how many voters feel. “The Two-Way” apologized to Abigael on behalf of NPR and other news outlets. Now, what about apologies to the rest of us?
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