Monday 10 September 2012

Eastwooding: the memorable meme of the moment

If one thing came out of Clint Eastwood's novel albeit odd speech given at the Republican Convention, it is the cultural tsunami sweeping across the Net known as the empty chair.

Was Clint's so called stunt unusual? According to "The Long History of Americans Debating Empty Chairs" by Colin Schultz (Smart News - Aug 31/2012), it would seem this gimmick for debating a political opponent dates back to at least 1924 when Progressive vice-presidential nominee Burton K. Wheeler used the technique to question President Calvin Coolidge. Quoting from Wheeler's biography, Schultz points out just how effective this "gimmick" was at the time.

I pulled a vacant chair and addressed it as though it had an occupant. “President Coolidge,” I began, “tell us where you stand on Prohibition.” I went on with rhetorical questions in this vein, pausing after each for a short period. Then I wound up: “There, my friends, is the usual silence that emanates from the White House.” The crowd roared in appreciation.

However, we don't have to go so far back in time for a notable use of the empty chair. U.S. Representative and Senator hopeful Todd Akin got himself in hot water like scalding hot water when he suggested that women do not get pregnant when being raped because their body has a way of shutting itself down. This is based on the completely false idea that a woman must have an orgasm to get pregnant. Akin's medieval WTF utterance immediately got him in the crosshairs of the Republican Party itself which wanted to protect their presidential candidate from losing anyone in the potential voting pool of the female demographic. (see my blog: Rape? No problem! Women must have an orgasm to get pregnant.)

Just after the manure hit the proverbial fan, Akin was to be a guest on the CNN interview show Piers Morgan but cancelled at the last minute. The show put out an empty chair and Morgan is reported to have said, "Congressman, you have an open invitation to join me in that chair whenever you feel up to it. Because if you don’t keep your promise to appear on the show, then you are, what we would call in Britain, a gutless little twerp." (Yahoo News Aug 20/2012)

Fox News - Aug 31/2012
Eastwood spars with chair as Obama stand-in, calls Romney 'stellar' businessman
Legendary Hollywood tough guy Clint Eastwood brought down the house with a comic turn Thursday night at the Republican National Convention, telling America it’s time to give a “stellar” businessman a chance to become president and say goodbye to the "attorney."

Published on Aug 30, 2012 by PBSNewsHour
YouTube: Watch Clint Eastwood Speak at Republican National Convention
Actor, producer and director Clint Eastwood was revealed as the Republican National Convention's "Mystery Speaker" Thursday night, talking to the crowd about the need for change and supporting presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

According to news reports, the fun started shortly after Eastwood's speech started on August 30, 2012 as somebody created the Twitter account @InvisibleObama. On August 31, 2012, Fox News reported just 24 hours after the speech that the account had 17,000 followers. As of this writing (September 9, 2012) it has nearly seventy thousand followers.

Aug 30 - 10:36pm
When Mitt Romney says "Mr. Chairman", do you think he's referring to me?

Aug 30 - 11:14pm
I'm behind Mitt! No seriously. I'm right behind him.

Urban Dictionary has wasted no time in defining the term: Eastwooding (verb) the act of pointing your finger or talking to an empty chair.

Published on Aug 30, 2012 by oldfartfootball
YouTube: Eastwooding like Clint Eastwood! #Eastwooding
Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair at the GOP convention. Then "Eastwooding " was born on Twitter! Just use the hashtag #Eastwooding.

Hastag #Eastwooding
Check out the latest on Twitter by looking up the hashtag #Eastwooding.

Final Word
Was Clint's speech good or bad? Roger Ebert, the film critic, wrote, "Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn’t need to do this to himself. It’s unworthy of him." Joel Stein of Time Magazine was quoted by the Orlando Sentinel as saying, "In conventions, that is the best moment I’ve ever been to at a convention. It was insane. How did the Romney campaign allow that to happen?" CTV News reported that Joe Scarborough the conservative host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" declared that "a great night for Mitt Romney just got sidetracked by Clint Eastwood." Rachel Maddow called the speech the Million Dollar Babble.

Whatever the case a new Internet meme was born (see planking or tebowing or horsemanning) and I'm sure pointing to an empty chair will be a staple of online humour for years to come.


Wikipedia: Meme
A meme is "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture." A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures.

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek μίμημα mīmēma, "something imitated", from μιμεῖσθαι mimeisthai, "to imitate", from μῖμος mimos "mime") and it was coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, fashion and the technology of building arches.

Wikipedia: Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republican National Convention
On Thursday, August 30, 2012, American actor and director Clint Eastwood gave a speech at the Republican National Convention. Eastwood had endorsed Mitt Romney for the 2012 United States presidential election earlier that month. Eastwood spent much of his speech time on a largely improvised routine addressing an empty chair representing President Barack Obama. The speech, broadcast in a prime time slot, was viewed live by about 30 million Americans. It met with a wide array of responses and stirred discussion.

Poynter - Aug 31/2012Empty-chair interviews officially a trend after Clint Eastwood RNC speech by Andrew Beaujon
Clint Eastwood interviewed an empty chair Thursday night at the RNC, in a speech that took a remarkably maverick tone even without the stunt.

Poynter - Aug 21/2012
Todd Akin’s empty chair is a CNN star by Andrew Beaujon
Piers Morgan put an empty chair on the air Monday night after U.S. Rep. Todd Akin canceled an interview at the last minute.

NSFW: Not Safe For Work

Published on Aug 31, 2012 by frank151
YouTube: Ricky Powell Goes Eastwooding
Ricky Powell stopped by Frank151 HQ the morning after the Republican National Convention and had some choice words for Clint Eastwood and Co

Wikipedia: Ricky Powell
Ricky Powell (born November 20, 1961) is an American photographer. He is the author of four books.


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