I've said this before: I think the Obama campaign's Sarah Jessica Parker ad was a misstep. It was their first national TV ad of this election cycle; it ran during the MTV Movie Awards; it was a foolish attempt to energize some mysterious/nonexistent swath of young people that care about either the MTV Movie Awards or SJP. The move seemed like bad strategy.
The commercial accompanied a very similar YouTube clip featuring Vogue editor Anna Wintour. This second video spot was at once utterly stupid and totally irrelevant. Stupid because the Republican charges of elitism and and limousine liberalism were practically pre-written. Here's a candidate campaigning on the grounds that his opponent is an out-of-touch gajillionaire — and he thinks it's a good idea to visibly align himself with the grande dame of high fashion? If there's anything in the world that's fundamentally at odds with the spirit of populism, it's Vogue — a brand which is built on the principle that noteworthy and interesting people tend to be the ones who invest outrageous sums of money and time in their clothing and appearance.
On the other hand, unlike the SJP ad, which ran during a major television event, Wintour's spot was just quietly placed on Obama's YouTube channel. She's kind of a big deal in the fashion world — around these parts, people tend to hang on her every word — and her endorsement video was never intended for a broad audience. It was geared towards two relatively narrow categories of internet nerds: fashion junkies and political junkies. Just over 129,000 people watched the video on Youtube. 3.2 million tuned in for the MTV Movie Awards, and that's down 29% from last year. The video is actually so not a big deal.
But right-leaning political pundits and commentators have been yammering about it for days now, and for good reason: it's easy bait. Glenn Beck devoted ten whole minutes (video below) to talking about the Wintour and Obama association on his show today, going so far as to call the Vogue editor "the devil." The political personality has apparently seen The Devil Wears Prada, and he totally gets that it's about Anna Wintour:
"She was the devil part. She was the person who was actually in the movie treating her co-workers… like garbage, waiting on her every whim. She is what [Obama] says capitalists are like all the time. She is everything she says the Republicans are and she's an Obama supporter."
Right: so we can determine that Anna Wintour is evil based on a fictional novel and movie about how demanding and sometimes emotionally abusive the Vogue editor is as a boss. Another point against her? The accent. Beck mocked the way Wintour pronounced "Michelle" in her video spot. "She's not from a foreign country, she's an American." Let's not even get into the actual facts of Wintour's background, like her British birth, because these are ad hominem attacks, but there are real reasons to take issue with Anna Wintour's political turn.
Her campaign clip dropped on Friday, on the same day as the disappointing jobs report. Even if you really love fashion and Vogue, it's still a pretty enraging association. The economy's crummy, and Wintour spearheads a magazine which prioritizes materialism and luxury consumption above all else. Even in the best of times, looking at the retail cost of items photographed in Vogue is enough to make your blood boil if you have to worry at all about the price of housing, groceries, health care, education, or retirement. I would love Anna Wintour so much more if she seemed just a little cognizant or compassionate about the grim, banal reality of most people's everyday lives. That might not be the stuff of fashion, but it is the stuff of politcs, and Wintour seems to be angling for a political voice.
Image via WENN