Last summer, Margaret Thatcher snubbed Sarah Palin, turning down a visit from the Tea Party darling because (in the words of someone in Thatcher’s camp) “That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.” If that was really how Thatcher thought of Palin, imagine the low regard she’d have for Michele Bachmann.
That’s not stopping Bachmann from comparing herself to Thatcher in a new ad (embedded above), one that capitalizes on the buzz surrounding Meryl Streep’s Oscar-worthy performance as Thatcher in the new biopic The Iron Lady. Now, it’s often problematic when conservatives try to tap into pop culture and align themselves with current hit movies.* (Remember over the summer when Republicans in Congress psyched themselves up for the debt ceiling fight by watching a clip of thuggish behavior from The Town? Was that really the image these fiscally responsible Republicans wanted to convey, that of violent bank robbers from a movie made by prominent Democratic supporter Ben Affleck?) How tone-deaf is it for Bachmann to associate herself not with the real Thatcher but with the movie Thatcher, played by one of Hollywood’s prominent liberals, in a film that British conservative politicians have criticized as an unflattering smear of Thatcher? Continue reading
My erstwhile colleagues at Entertainment Weekly have a cover package this week on Barack Obama, who these days is the only celeb big enough to upstage the Oscar nominations (which take up the bulk of this issue’s feature well). Much marveling over what rock stars the First Couple are, at a time when celebrities-as-brands have lost much of their influence and allure (see Cruise, Tom). Of course, the flip side, unexamined here, is that stars can fall out of favor just as quickly as they rise; media outlets are just waiting behind the rodeo gate to unleash the backlash at the first sign of an Obama misstep. At that point, I imagine, EW will create a “Can this career be saved?” article, listing a media plan for the tarnished president to restore his image. (Expect them to recommend visits to Oprah, Saturday Night Live, Larry King, David Letterman, The Daily Show, and other usual stations of the cross for penitent media figures.)
There’s also a decent sidebar listing the powerful Hollywood supporters (from David Geffen to Jennifer Aniston to will.i.am) who helped Obama get elected, though it’s unclear if any of them expect or even want to have Obama’s ear now that he’s in office. Another sidebar, listing some of the president’s own pop culture faves (he likes The Godfather, Meryl Streep, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Bob Dylan, but then, who doesn’t?), which also raises the unanswered question: Just because he has good taste and is tech-savvy enough to work an iPod and a BlackBerry, does that mean good policies will follow? Anyway, check it out.