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Karina’s Capsule: Jack and Hill

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On Friday night, YouTube user FFABT (it stands for Foundation for a Better Tomorrow, which doesn’t appear to be any kind of organized body on record) uploaded a clip to the site called Jack and Hill. It strings together scenes from films starring on-the-record Hillary Clinton supporter Jack Nicholson, with titles that reflect the Clinton campaign’s typical “experience” -obsessed fear and loathing.

The Huffington Post apparently originally credited the Clinton campaign with producing/uploading the clip, although they’ve now obliterated that reference from their story, while the New York Times’ Caucus blog, which sniped that the clip had only been viewed 518 times as of yesterday afternoon, expressed doubts that Hillary had her hand in it. Then this morning –– at which point the YouTube clip was well on its way to its (at last check) current count of 1,147,991 views –– The Politico revealed that it was not the handiwork of the Clinton campaign, but that of American Beauty producer Bruce Cohen and writer John Krokidas. For $300. And yes, the Nicholson endorsement within is not only real, but was taped with this clip in mind.

OK, so it’s a professional clip, made for an amateur budget. But is it any good? And does it actually accomplish the goal of making Hillary Clinton look good?

Most of the Nicholson characters represented in the clip are, if not out-and-out villains, Class-A jerks. Chuck Tyron notes the weirdness of promoting Hillary via famous “characters — or at least behaviors — we are meant to find unlikeable.” Most of these film clips could only work to Hillary’s advantage out of context. Take, for example, the one from A Few Good Men, in which Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup drawls, “There’s nothing on this Earth sexier, believe me, gentlemen, than a woman you have to salute in the morning.” In the movie, he follows that line by describing receiving oral sex from a commanding officer. Is THAT what Hillary means by “experience?”

This is also not the first ostensibly pro-Clinton web video to associate Hillary with famed pop cultural villains. In my mind, Jack and Hill is markedly less successful than the Clinton campaign’s Sopranos parody, primarily because it’s not as funny, but also because the pop cultural nostalgia it’s trying to draw on is hopelessly irrelevant. Are the people who think Jack Nicholson is cool, who can actually recognize a film like Five Easy Pieces from a 5-second clip –– in other words, Baby Boomers –– really spending a lot of time watching candidate promos on YouTube?

2 Responses to “Karina’s Capsule: Jack and Hill

  1. It’s intriguing, in the same way that commercials for DirectTV are. Those ads use re-shot clips from famous 80s movies, e.g., Aliens, to command the viewer’s attention and then deliver a message. I find those ads compelling, but unlike this Nicholson-Hil ad, there’s not much dissonance between the ideas of movies and DirectTV.

    This Hil commercial trades on nothing but nostalgia and the idea of the charismatic, authoritarian male. I agree with you, Karina: Deconstruct the ad enough and it delivers the exact wrong message about trust and leadership.