Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baggin' with the Stars

I'm not a fan of this show, so it's somewhat hilarious to me that their money-grubbing decision to enter the Palin Family Enterprise may backfire bigtime:
At first, having Bristol Palin participate in 'Dancing With The Stars' seemed like a brilliant idea. Just like Kate Gosselin before her, casting an admittedly bad dancer who was shrouded in controversy has raked in big ratings and tons of press. But now the joke is on the show's producers, as they fear Bristol is actually going to win this thing.

"This will be a disaster for the show if Bristol wins," one TV insider tells me. "Any creditability the show had will be over. It will go from being a dancing competition to a popularity competition where whoever has the most rabid fan base will always win no matter how little talent they have."

"Another problem the producers foresee is that after Bristol wins no one in Hollywood will ever want to be on the show again," a well-placed ABC source tells me. "Why would a real star want to compete and lose against someone like [former U.S. Senate candidate] Christine O'Donnell or Levi Johnston."

A friend of one of the judges tells me Bristol has made a fool out of all of them. It's now painfully obvious that the judge's scores and opinions mean nothing.

I'm sick of hearing people say that Palin is winning because people identify with her failings. This is the exact opposite of what Conservatives claim to believe, that it's all a meritocracy and we shouldn't be dumbing down classrooms to make it nicey-nice for the less talented. No, this is massive Tea Party drone voting, making their political point, whether or not they're using computerized means to generate "legitimate" email addresses and flood they system. Does anyone, anywhere, honestly doubt this is all about Sarah?

I'm starting to think that Palin's world and that of her drones is an even more self-aggrieved subset of the Glenn Beck audience, your true talent is, ostensibly, your adherence to the Sarah-approved ideology, no matter have provisional or acausal the selection. Because the apparatchik reason isn't even what it's all about; the only ideology that matters is that which reinforces the vanity production of Sarah Palin that is her politelebrity career.

And this is where Sarah Palin is, for once, a true pioneer. Her grifter roots are clearly Amy Semple McPherson, Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy but no one has ever done what she's doing before in world political history, mainly because there wasn't a mass media quite like this one before. With so many outlets, so much hunger for content, this rapacious time of widening rich-poor gaps as our corporate feudalistic solidifies for what may be centuries, with so many buyers out there, mass media networks of books, cable, digital, social, Sarah Palin has engineered the very first political campaign where the networks have paid candidate for the honor of creating their long-form campaign commercials and giving them huge hours of airtime, frosted with dominating amounts of free publicity

TLC has given Palin her biggest TV deal, paying her production company to make the shows, with their staged scenes and obvious cutaways, semiotics gone haywire in the ultimately lumpen service or reinforcing Palin's brand messaging and image, endlessly tiresome, endlessly smug, endlessly mean high school girl in the big leagues.

The Obama Family and the Democratic Party had better start adapting immediately. If you think this is polarized nation now, just wait until we're watching entirely separate television shows.

Wait, we already are:

I don't care how serious a candidate, politician or statesman you are. You have to at least acknowledge that this new evolution of bullshit is the most significant since Sen. John Fitzgerald Kennedy bested Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon in the first nationally televised Presidential debate.

One can only hope that, thanks to some combination of narcissistic ambition and aggrieved venality, just as Nixon ultimately lost control of his brand image Palin and her family will lose control of theirs. I mean, even the type of vile use of "gay" and "faggot" as a vicious insult by a teenager, the type of language parents are generally held responsible for teaching their children is wrong, hasn't led to a single admonition of Sarah Palin's mothering skills. Is this the kind of language Mama Grizzlies teach their little grizzlies? Grrr.

The fact is that Palin is media ascendant. There's a rule in Hollywood that you're only a superstar for three years, then the public moves on. You can still be in the firmament, even at your peak earning, but the audience for and against you is already formed, and you're not dominating their fantasy lives anymore.

So can we date Palin's superstardom from when she spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention? I think maybe from when her book came out last year, her first purely commercial endeavor (and a huge success -- her big step-up that caused her to ditch her elected office about halfway into her commitment). If that's the case, she'll peak next year, and start fading in 2012, just in time for the GOP Primaries.

But is the answer more ominous. Is the TLC show where she really starts, taking over the airwaves? Even on Fox, she's not in control, and you can see the short-circuits behind her eyes, her hard little smile growing tight or tipping downwards when O'Reilly catches her out as is his sport.

This is the playing field now. The killing field. The battleground. This is where political war is now being waged. Politicians on the Left may develop a different flavor, maybe one that doesn't seem so constructed, really candid and unedited as Obama can be in ways she never will. The key is to leverage your celebrity as a brand that attracts curious, interested and engagement-starved viewers. If you're not already a politelebrity you need to become one, and if you already are then you need to exploit it with speed and savvy to get control of your image and blast away with your messaging.

This will also become a new discipline in political consulting. I recommend the talent agencies getting their Blue and Red political teams on and integrated with production and network sales. I even mean Below the Line crew. Control everything.

It's post-1984. 1984 has nothing on this. Orwell meets McLuhan. Makes you want to burn the whole mother****ing thing down.

Vote Bristol.

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