As the US election campaign descends farther and farther into black farce

Jesus’ General makes the appropriate accompanying video: Passionately Credulous Bigots For McCain (We’ll Believe Anything)

So, is anything marginally more sensible happening in the election campaigns in NZ or Canada?

Categories: Politics

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25 replies

  1. Hopefully that lil lady will be too busy bonking her brother or something, to remember to vote on election day.
    Another reason why I support non-compulsory voting.
    Speaking of which – to vote or not vote – in the upcoming NZ election? Unlike Australians, we kiwis are not fined if we don’t choose to exercise our democratic right. Being offshore I have very little idea as to what the issues are. Should I make an uninformed, blind vote, spend the next couple of weeks subjecting myself catching up with the woeful NZ media or just not cast a vote?
    another outspoken females last blog post..606 – Roseanne cross-post

  2. Unfortunately, a while ago, while reading a rant by an annoyed liberal southerner, I had an epiphany about how they’re kind of equivalent to us west australians in terms of how the rest of the county (and world) sees us as hicks. So now I can’t as much enjoy any liberal satire which relies on cues like banjos and a “funny accent” :/ (I also have less fun making fun on Tasmanians and Queenslanders) The way it’s tied in with classism doesn’t help.
    Dammit, I’m running out of groups I feel able to other and make fun of!

  3. Sophie: If it were just making fun of “funny accents,” I’d be right there with you. But in the same way that it is at least marginally socially acceptable for black folks to use the “N word,” I feel that it’s perfectly legitimate for me to point out that we have some scary goddamn crackers in this part of the country.
    I feel toward the folks in that video the way hard-working black folks must feel about thugs who fit the inner-city “gangsta” stereotype. They’re ruining everything for the rest of us. Now I have to deal with that flashing through a stranger’s mind when he learns I’m from Georgia.

  4. Mmmmm. Poor people are funny and less deserving of the franchise. Heh.
    That is what the humour there is, isn’t it?

  5. I’m voting in the NZ election – I’m only 10 months gone from there. Besides, “vote early, vote often,” I say.
    I have Australian citizenship too, so I will be voting here next year in the SA election – fantastic.
    As for the NZ election, the Labour government is looking for a 4th term, and it had been looking like a long shot, but recent polls had the gap with National (equivalent to the Libs here) closing up a bit. Labour has been looking very substantive in the past week or so, taking charge in the financial crisis, and releasing some good policy (universal student allowances, anyone?).
    Must get around to writing something at Larvatus Prodeo, where I’m supposed to be blogging the NZ election. I’m thinking of a piece on the importance of the Maori seats. Maybe in a day or two.

  6. Also on the NZ election, The Hand Mirror has sent out a survey to candidates, on issues of concern to women. The responses (so far, on day 1!) are collated here. We’re hoping that we will get quite a few more.

  7. Liam, I saw it more as purely a mockery of nonsensical talking points and how easily they’ve been accepted. As plenty of wealthy and well-educated people are equally capable of spouting nonsense about Obama (who is just another politician, not a saviour, but definitely not a terrorist either), I don’t think their lack of riches was the point, really. I’ll give you the mockery of folks that speak funny, but we do it to Kiwis and Saffers who are no poorer than we are, so I still don’t see it as necessarily a poverty thing.
    I’ve been very surprised at how far some bloggers I used to follow, bloggers that I really liked once upon a time, have gone down the Obama is the enemy approach. I don’t know how wealthy they are, but they’ve certainly been expensively educated, yet they’re merely running a more sophisticated version of the same arguments (they don’t claim he’s a terrorist tool, they do claim he’s a capitalist/misogynist tool).

  8. Notgruntled: No, you *are* offended, but are so oppressed you don’t realise it! Or not 😀
    Certainly I think there’s plenty in what that’s woman is saying which is worthy of satire/mockery, and “Passionately Credulous Bigots For McCain” is a nice slogan. But personally it crossed the line for me in it’s ratio of stereotypes to political commentary (I think it was the final line which did it) That said I don’t begrudge people who are enjoying it for the legitimate satire, my line is not your line, and I have a fairly low tolerance for humour which I feel is mean spirited without being very witty.

  9. Without condoning mockery of the less fortunate, excusing vile racism on the grounds that people are poor is Hansonism, and I’ll have none of it. It’s patronising to say a group is incapable of doing wrong because they’re oppressed (in a different way – although the people portrayed weren’t necessarily that poor. We don’t know that. There are plenty of ignorant, uneducated people with jet skis.) They’re adults, and they’re expressing ugly views. They are mockable.
    And yes, I am being jet-skiiist-ist. That is my achilles heel.

  10. Yes, TT and Helen, I’m all in favour of mocking the stupid. Error, as they say, has no rights. I just know the kick-the-bogan impulse when I hear it, and it sounds like a duelling banjo.

    I’ve been very surprised at how far some bloggers I used to follow, bloggers that I really liked once upon a time, have gone down the Obama is the enemy approach

    Oh definitely. I think we’re thinking of the same people.

  11. I just know the kick-the-bogan impulse when I hear it, and it sounds like a duelling banjo.

    Sometimes a folk classic is just a folk classic (I have extremely fond memories of a Canberra duo called Prickly Pair performing DB with a fiddle and a mandolin back in the early 80s). Sometimes it’s sharper social commentary than simple bogan-baiting.
    Remember that in the movie that made DB a pop-culture reference in the first place, the initial duet between the local yokel and the city slicker was actually a highlight of momentary social bonding. The tune’s later use in the sinister parts of the soundtrack were to highlight malevolence, not stupidity.
    There’s certainly plenty of malevolence on display in the video above.

  12. And this is why I avoid posting on blogs, the lack of comment threading makes it hard to clarify things, and I’m tactless :/ Anyway. Things I did not say make clear:
    -I’m against racism and people voting McCain, and have no problem with people making fun of racists and McCain voters
    -that woman is a racist idiot, clear and simple, and fully deserving of being made fun of *for being a racist idiot*
    -On the other hand, I don’t like classism/regional stereotypes etc, and I don’t like humour which relies on them.
    -This does NOT mean I don’t think you can make fun of people with certain class/regional etc markers. It means I don’t think you should make fun of them *for* those markers.
    -The ad to me is a mix of “lets laugh at the racist” (a valid target) *and* “Let’s laugh at the hick” (not so much). I would have no problem with a similar ad about the same woman which had less “lets laugh at the hick” and more “let’s laugh at the racist”. If it just had a different background music and last line it wouldn’t have bugged me, though then I think it would have just been a bit dull. My problem is not with this sort of ad in principle, it’s with the way *this particular ad* was made.
    -Similarly, I don’t like Sarah Palin, but some *particular* anti-Palin jokes ping as sexist to me, and I don’t like them. Doesn’t mean I’m pulling the “Don’t make fun of her, she’s a woman!” argument.
    -This is all very subjective. If the ad doesn’t ping as classist or whatever to you, fair enough. It’s not so comprehensively or unambiguously bad that I can’t understand people enjoying it just as political satire, but I *personally* didn’t enjoy it.
    *removes aside about how I personally would make this video funnier and more biting, because this is long enough :D*

  13. Sophie, I hear you. Of course it can be a mixture of legitimate satire and bigoted stereotypes, as I just posted on today – if the point can’t stand up without the bigoted caricuture then it’s not a point worth making.
    I think this video does have points that stand up without the caricature. It would, nonetheless, be stronger without it.
    I agree that the last line voiced-over is pushing the kick-the-bogan stuff too far. I’m still on the fence with the banjo music, but then I’m one of those rare people with fond memories of the tune.

  14. The duelling banjos, delivered in anger, can also be heard as an ableist trope. “Hur hur, aren’t these people inbred and retarded?” is what I’m getting along with the relevant bits. [R-word used in quotes for a reason.]
    It may have played as a pleasant moment in the movie, but I pretty much only see the tune wielded as a mix of classism and ableism nowadays.

  15. That is also my impression. It’s something that irks me a lot. I didn’t say anything at the time (trying not to brawl on blogs any more) but I thought the commenter here who pointed out that a lot of the initial anti- Palin stuff also slipped over into classist tropes had a point too. It is a fine line to walk I know, but for me there have been quite a few moments when I have cringed for ‘our’ side. A lot of the people on the street where I grew up were very much like that family. Many things to criticize in their world view but so often I see that criticism become sneering derision and I don’t feel that is warranted or helpful. I think you can point out when an idea is appalling and racist without indulging in dehumanization of another kind. This is a message that has been tailored for a demographic by the suits with Ivy league educations behind them. They are the regressive element we should be recoiling from because they are quite aware of where these ideas could lead and are prepared to go there.

  16. I would agree with Lauredhel’s analysis–I’m from Ohio, and the private high school which I attended drew in students from both urban/suburban and rural regions, within about an hour’s radius. People from the more urban/suburban areas used to mock the more rural people–and one tactic was by humming that song. The general consensus was, if you came from the country, you were a dumb hillbilly with bad teeth who liked to shoot animals and wanted to marry your cousin. The other side of the coin, of course, was that some of the people from the country actually weren’t very knowledgable when it came to issues of race and gender (my long-term high school boyfriend was one of these people). So I’m slightly sensitive to the issues surrounding mocking ‘rednecks,’ but I also understand that there are a lot of poor people from rural areas who really aren’t the easiest people to get along with, for progressive liberal anti-racists.
    (sorry if I double-post, my computer is having some issues)
    Genevieves last blog post.."Can’t make no progress/can’t get ahead/can’t stop the regress/don’t wanna be dead"

  17. I’m becoming more persuaded that I was tone-deaf to some of the implications of this video. I’m a little embarrassed, but I’ve learnt from it.

  18. tigtog: The downside is now you, like me, may find yourself having *even more* humour to be irritated/offended by 😀 (Though it probably doesn’t help that I come from a working class background so tend to take it all a bit personally)
    Genevieve: It is a bit complicated isn’t it? Though I think it’s easy to confuse superficially knowing the right words to use with any genuine understanding or interest in making any practical positive difference to the lives of POC. Better educated/higher class people are good at the first, but in my experience not that much better at the latter :/

  19. Where we tie ourselves in paralysing knots in these discussions is in the difference between ‘stupid’ and ‘ignorant’, and in the degree to which ignorance is produced by disadvantage. (Thank you, J. Howard and, it pains me immeasurably to say, J. Gillard.)
    I too have been guilty of using the Duelling Banjos music as shorthand in just this way, and yet when you think about the movie it makes no sense as that kind of signifier at all; quite the reverse. The banjo/guitar duet in Deliverance is (a) a moment of pure connection between the local and the visitor, and (b) an indication that the apparently inbred-to-imbecility kid is actually a banjo genius.

  20. Annendum to my last comment: not that using the right words doesn’t make a practical positive difference in and of itself. But it’s not much good if you’re just racist in code.

  21. As an banjo-themed antidote, may I offer the radio ad Ralph Stanley did for Obama.

  22. When I see those people I suspect I’m seeing the effects of generational poverty and marginalisation and I don’t like mocking them, even though they’re painful.
    And I hate that ‘Duelling Banjos’ has become shorthand for inbred hicks. As others have pointed out, it’s actually used in a far different way in the film. And I love me some good ol’ banjo music.

  23. To be clearer about my position here: I support class-based and ethnic humour. Any mocking of the stupid and the ignorant—categories I’m happy to conflate into a big slack-jawed mass of duh—gets my unqualified endorsement.
    I just stand firmly behind the universally exercised franchise as the best democratic instrument I know. I believe everyone should vote, even if their lips move when they’re reading the type on the ballot. It’s another outspoken female’s comment I object to, to be honest, more than the video.

  24. … and if this isn’t related it should be.


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