Monday, August 18, 2008
Chauncey DeVega says: Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ? Apparently We Didn't Get the Memo
In boxing, one of the worst mistakes you can make is to get tunnel vision, to fixate on one hand while ignoring the other. This is an error even experienced professional fighters often commit when they are looking for a big punch to come from one direction and inevitably get tagged from the opposite. In the best case scenario the punch is a jab. In the worst case scenario it is an uppercut or a hook. Either way, you are going to get hit. The question then becomes, is this the "go to sleep" knockout punch, or is it a stinger that you can shrug off?
Two weeks ago, we, meaning you and I, and most of America, got caught sleeping, focusing on the wrong hand. To make matters worst, we didn't even realize our error as the McCain camp threw a knockout blow that we didn't even catch. Why? because we were looking for the left hand, when in fact, it was the right hand that would do us in.
McCain's two commercials, Obama and Brittany aka the uppity Negro ad, and Obama is "the One," were crafty combos. The first was a jab, a punch quickly followed up by the second punch--a devastating body blow:
We laughed at these commercials, for their awkward crudeness seemed desperate and clumsy. No one would take these ads seriously because no reasonable person could respond to them. They seemed to register a bit in the polls, closing the gap for McCain, but we again laughed at the gullibility of the American electorate. I must admit that I fell into the trap as well.
In fact, in an earlier post I reflected that McCain, that old out of touch fool doesn't get that "the One" is Neo from the Matrix and that his uppity Obama appeal was misdirected. I spent a good amount of time patting myself on the back for my quick wit (aren't I smart!). You know what? As the days past, and I began to think more about these two campaign commercials something just didn't sit right. My Spidey-sense was tingling but I couldn't figure out from which direction the threat would come:
Eventually it clicked. In a moment akin to laying in bed with your woman after a session of kundalini stimulating bliss, all hot and stinky, a Boon's Farm wine bottle resting on the chest of drawers next to the lamp, polyester sheets sticking to spent bodies, with either some Silk, Jodeci or R. Kelly's 12 Play stuck on repeat in your broken cd changer, 99 cent inscents burned down to their nub--the sandalwood still hanging in the air mixed with a little p funk--and you realize that she liked something, said something, moved in a way she never had before, and that mamacita muttered the wrong name in a half-awake dream state. It is a moment of crystal clear and painful clarity. Only one explanation passes muster: you realize in your heart of hearts that you have just played yourself.
As my mom, as well as Zora would say about how hardheaded and self-centered I can be at times, "must everything be about you, Senor Chauncey?" You see, we were not the audience for McCain's ad. Not black folk, not blue state voters, not progressives, not center left, or even I dare say, center right, undecided voters. Nope, we were not the audience. The Obamaholics certainly were not the audience. In reading Time Magazine and the Washington Post's pieces on the widely held belief that Obama is the Anti-Christ (and how popular this narrative is among the Christian Nationalist and internet conspiracy crowd) the horrible truth dawned on me. The audience for "the One," and its parallels of Obama to Moses were Christian Nationalists, the Left Behind crowd, those mouth breathing Rapture awaiting troglodytes...those folks who believe that Obama is the anti-Christ, even as they claim he isn't:
I thought about it again. I watched the videos once more. I digested the analysis. I had to admit, if this were a boxing match, we were outplayed. You, me, the American public in mass, the non-Evangelical crowd were knocked the fuck out by McCain's one-two punch:
For the initiated, McCain's commercial utilized what is known in the business as "a coded appeal" or what is also less politely and more appropriately termed in my opinion, as "the dog whistle effect." McCain's "the One" ad contains messages and codes that only the target audience can detect. In the same way that a dog owner uses a whistle to tell Fido to sit, fetch, or stay, the coded appeal keys off of the ability of the target audience to "hear" commands and appeals that the rest of us are immune to.
For example, when Bush talks about the courts and references the Dred Scott decision he is making a coded appeal to the anti-abortion crowd to overturn Roe v. Wade. These signals often combine the obvious, as in the case of McCain's ads, with the subtle, images and visuals we perceive, just out of range of our perceptual range, but can't fully get a grasp of--sort of like Tyler Durden's "playful" antics in the movie Fight Club:
These coded appeals are pheromones of a sort, causing the target audience to act like Jack Nicholson in Wolf:
Not all of us were blind to this appeal as critics such as Keith Olbermann did in fact point out the racial appeals embedded in the first Obama is an uppity negro celebrity ad. He highlighted the implied relationship between a blond white women, a black man and the implication that Obama was arrogant. We understood the ad on that level. Our error was seeing this ad as nothing more than a desperate ploy, when in fact it was the setup punch. It got us to drop our guard, to have a "they are at it again" moment. Because McCain is feisty and shrewd, this obvious attack was the point (sort of like Ali's right hand leads in the Foreman fight). But even here, there were the grains of something more sinister: notice the white phallocentric objects in the ad, those penis like monuments that hint at the always potent triangle of sex, white women and miscegenation which lies in the heart of the American racial subconscious.
As highlighted by Time magazine's great piece (and these others here and here), the Obama is the One ad is laden with coded appeals which point to Obama being the anti-Christ. As though taken from an enterprising semiotics professor or graduate student's wet dream, McCain's ad features the following codes and symbols: a man of foreign birth who claims to be the savior of the world and ushers in a New World Order; a narrative which seems to be directly taken from the Left Behind series of novels; and most damning is the symbol which flies out of the parting sea, an allusion to the crest carried by the anti-Christ in the Bible, a direct linkage to Obama by the campaign commercial:
This is dangerous and frightening both for what it portends about how far McCain and the Right are willing to go in order to win an election, as well as what it signals about the inevitability and primacy of a re-centering of religion and religious appeals in the mainstream of the American body politic. However disturbing to a secularist such as myself that presidential candidates would feel obligated to stump for "values voters" (doesn't the rest of the public have values too?), and to seek legitimation in a mullahesque (I just coined that word) Saddleback forum (cue Brokeback Mountain music---it was so obvious I had to go there) a move which further hints at our sliding towards an American theocracy, for me it is ultimately the fact that a mainstream presidential candidate would tar his rival as the anti-Christ which is beyond belief. People's exhibit number one of the (re)merging of politics and religion, consider this disturbing clip regarding Christian Zionists:
This is serious business and I remain deeply stunned at the silence of the mainstream media on the story, and why Obama himself is not confronting it directly. The use of coded appeals, ones as pernicious as these, is made doubly problematic by the historical precedent set by totalitarian and fascist States such as Nazi Germany. I also understand that democracies need propaganda more than any other type of government. But, that the appeal would be so narrow, and play along the dual fissures of race and religion, is particularly poisonous to our collective civic health.
What of the obvious response, that perhaps Obama is the Anti-Christ? I have to ask it in order to give fair treatment to those who "believe." While trying not to reject the claim on the face of it or to point out the interpretative errors which buttress this mythology, I would simply appeal to my ghetto nerd, Art Bell, Nostradamus, Father Malachi Martin respecting, Illuminati studying, Bilderberg group observing, Behold a Pale Horse Reading, Skull and Bones kitchen attending, conspiracy studying credentials. Frankly, Obama doesn't fit the mold or the timing of whom the Anti-Christ will be. Moreover, we can't and won't know who the Anti-Christ will be until it is too late, and whoever it is certainly won't use the Left Behind novels as a template. And oh yeah, I don't believe the Anti-Christ will be anything like the figure that these religious hucksters and their bamboozled followers imagine him to be.
Random theological note: perhaps the anti-Christ is looking us in the mirror everyday? Our collective human baseness, mistreatment of one another, greed, and bad behavior could be the literal Anti-Christ among us all.
And you know what? As much as I condemn them, I admire McCain and his campaign for the excellence with which they have executed their plan. The coded appeal is a perfect strategy in fact because it hides itself in the open and hits you before you know you are under attack (sort of like hiding metagenic agents among background radiation and sending them towards a planet on a subspace carrier wave to later be activated by a Theta band signal: extra points for any ghetto nerds whom get the allusion). It is also utterly impervious to counter-attack because to respond to McCain's ploy is to make yourself look like you are in fact the crazy one, or in this campaign's vernacular, to be guilty of that most grievous of sin, "playing the race card." Or to paraphrase Luscious Fox in the Dark Knight: "Let me get this straight. You think your client, one of the richest men in the world, is a vigilante who likes to dress up as a bat and beat criminals to a bloody pulp with this bare hands. And your answer to this is to try and blackmail him? Well...good luck with that." Exactly.
McCain, or whoever put together this Goebbels inspired, Obama as anti-Christ commercial, I would love to pick your brain, to complement you on your smarts, to get a drink or three with you, preferably either a Jack on the Rocks or a Manhattan, but on principle I couldn't take a meal with you because I can't digest properly when seated across from someone I don't respect.
Per tradition, some questions:
1. Where is the mainstream media on this story? Are they scared? Do they not get its gravity?
2. More importantly, where is the black blogosphere and black political "leadership?" Folks throw fits over stupidity and want to bury "the n-word" but a black presidential candidate is called the anti-Christ and folks are as quiet as church mice. People throw fits over knuckleheads like the Jena 6 who act like fools and then are valorized for it, but they aren't raising the call to arms over a real issue, something really worth fighting for, are they?
3. Is Obama doing the right thing in not responding to these Obama as anti-Christ appeals? Or is he letting McCain chip away at him bit by bit?
4. Speaking of which, should Obama have gone on that Saddleback forum? Especially given the serious questions being raised about McCain's cheating?
5. On this anti-Christ stuff: so if one in fact believes that Obama is the evil guy, the harbinger of doom, shouldn't the Left behind, saved, rapture loving crowd vote for him? Wouldn't Obama's victory speed their journey to paradise, their lifting of themselves out of their clothes and into heaven?
6. Intuitively, isn't McCain more of an anti-Christ figure than Obama? Just going on instinct here...
7. Are folks afraid of "values voters?" Are they afraid to take the Christian Nationalists on in a fight? To respond, to put them in their place? If yes, then why so?
8. The Obama is anti-Christ crowd, along with the political Zionists and Christian Nationalists share a striking similarity to the political Islam/Islamo-fascist crowd do they not? How ironic, it really is a clash of civilizations with a bunch of fools willing to kill us all in order to see who gets to heaven first. What can the radical middle do about this, be they either secularists or what I like to call "the reasonably religious?" Or are we all just screwed?