Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sopranos Swan Songs

Speaking of the 2008 presidential campaign, the subject of my previous post, and speaking of The Sopranos finale, the subject of a recent post (Sopranos Extinction Event), it was probably all but impossible to miss the coverage of Hillary Clinton's YouTube video announcing the selection of her campaign song, spoofing the final five minutes of The Sopranos finale. "So what's the winning song?" Bill asks. "You'll see," Hillary answers. "My money's on Smash Mouth," Bill adds, going on to say, "Everybody in America wants to know how it's going to end." And then the sudden cut to black, just like on HBO. But why listen to me, you can review the video right now:

And if you want to listen to the winning song, which is not Smash Mouth, but Celine Dion's "You and I," just click here. Now, I know that musical taste is not a prerequisite for political leadership, but I have to wonder if this song was selected by Hilary herself, or by a bunch of marketing types. I'd much rather hear "And You and I," by Yes, to be frank, but that's neither here nor there. I do think that Bill's choice of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" back in 1992 was genuine, and maybe this is just Hilary's kind of music, but it strikes me as the kind of song that you would hear on American Idol. And I mean that as a pejorative, in case that's not obvious.

But this isn't about the tunes. And yes, the use of YouTube shows that someone in the Clinton campaign has learned the lesson of tapping into new media, viral marketing and social networking and all that. And they tapped into the zeitgeist of a significant portion of America in quickly responding to and producing a take-off of that final episode, all timed to the announcement of the selection of the official campaign song, turning a complete non-event--how many people know that there is such a thing as an official campaign song, let alone care what it is?--into a story complete with ready-made footage that got picked up by the television and cable news programs and stayed alive for what surely was a longer than expected news cycle.

I wonder if anyone from HBO or The Sopranos staff, or David Chase himself, provided the Clinton campaign with an advance copy of the series finale to facilitate the creation of this parody?

There's also something gutsy about the Clinton family, having been accused of some shady practices of their own, to play the part of the fictional mafia family. Maybe they're thumbing their noses at their political enemies, but maybe it's also foolhardy of the Clintons to forge an association, however humorous, between themselves and The Sopranos?

The ending of the series finale evoked a sense of justified paranoia and ever-present potential for violence, and I have to wonder about the presence of such elements here, such as the threatening stare by actor Vince Curatola, who played Johnny Sack on The Sopranos, not to mention Bill's revealing preference for Smash Mouth--yes, I know it's an attempt to be current, but it's still a decision to give voice to a violent image. Does this reflect a worldview where you are always defending against that vast rightwing conspiracy? Where you have had to live with accusations (however unfounded they may be) that extend so far as to suggest that Clinton White House Deputy Counsel Vincent Foster was a victim of murder not suicide? Where you actually have gone through the ordeal of impeachment?

Of course, the images are mostly bright and sunny, and that counts for much when you're talking about television. And most of the people who watched The Sopranos and would therefore understand the YouTube video would tend to be sympathetic to, if not identifying with Tony and his family. And Hillary certainly wrapped up the New Jersey vote with this one (which I think was pretty much sewed up with Governor Corzine's endorsement, but the lingering effects of his April 12th automobile accident, itself a side effect of the Don Imus fiasco, may seriously hamper his ability to campaign on Clinton's behalf, affecting how she deploys campaign resources, potentially affecting the outcome of the primary). Although I wonder how all of the Italian-Americans who were offended by the ethnic stereotypes perpetuated by The Sopranos feel about the Clinton ad?

But I'm sure that the effort to get this one out is a reaction to the Clinton campaign being blindsided by a YouTube video earlier this year, one that gained massive popularity on the internet and consequently got picked up by the news media, which means you probably saw it already, but oh, what the hey, here it is:

This was a remix or mosh up (as they say nowadays) of the famous 1984 Apple commercial, "Think Different," that introduced the Macintosh, which originally aired during the 1984 Superbowl. It had a devastating effect on the image of Hillary as the Democratic Party frontrunner and establishment candidate, and served as a boost for Obama. Based on what we've seen so far now, I would expect to see political ads drawing on the brilliant Mac and PC guy commercials from Apple at some point during the campaign, and maybe some take-offs on the Geico caveman ads as well.

But enough about politics, and more about The Sopranos. And I admit that I'm not very active in the YouTube social networking scene, but when I did a search for "Sopranos ending" to find the Clinton video, over 300 different videos were listed. Some were recorded from TV, some were amateur productions, some were just videobloggers explaining their view of the finale, and some were mosh ups. In the latter category, here's one that caught my eye:

Here's another with a great deal of finality:

But don't panic, it could happen to anybody. And, now this:

So, this is just a sampling, and I could go on with this ad nauseum, but then again, you can just go to YouTube and see for yourself.

In the meantime, with The Sopranos over and done with, and Hillary's winning song coming from a Canadian (not that there's anything wrong with it), I guess I might as well end this post with an image that my old Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother, Jordan Strub, e-mailed to me along with the suggestion that I "blog this one, eh?"

Honk if you see me on the Turnpike!

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