Questions for My Readers

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1. My sarcasmometer is on the blink. Will someone please tell me if this flash video is supposed to be earnest or ironic?

2. Who sings that song, and why did he leave out the part about Danny Boy?

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  1. That was either masterful satire or really crude support…

    Either way, that music sucked 🙂

  2. Terrifyingly, I think it’s sincere, but I’m pretty sure it win’s the month’s “Unintentionally Hilarious Award”

  3. They’re clearly being serious. Nobody would use those 9/11 images for satire in that way. At least, not if they were aiming for something as subtle as this would be if it was a satire.

    The Bush as Jesus theme is really scaring me, though.

  4. I’m sure it’s very moving and effective to the obedient drones for whom it is intended.

  5. I think the reason it looks almost like satire is because of the really unflattering photos of Bush they used…

    And I agree that the Bush-worshippers are annoying. I can’t decide if they are more or less annoying than the rabid Bush-haters…

    Suffice to say that I try to avoid both.

  6. How do you pronounce “sarcasmometer?”

  7. I think that’s Josh Groban singing “You Raise Me Up”.

  8. My favorite was the Mt. Rushmore shot: Washington…Lincoln…Jefferson…Bush…

    Nothing heavy-handed here…

  9. The singer is Josh Grobin, I’m not sure of the name of the song. It’s like watching a recruitment video. Pure fluff.

  10. I’d pronounce it “sar-kaz-MOM-&-ter”

  11. That’s 100% Hannity baby!

  12. db: I can think of two acceptable pronunciations. Feel free to invent more.

    Eric (both of you): Thanks. Every time I hear that song on the car radio, I leave it on because I think it’s going to be “Danny Boy.” About a minute in, I get really disappointed.

  13. “Danny Boy” is a better verson of itself.

    I think I agree that this is clumsy deification.

  14. “Will someone please tell me if this flash video is supposed to be earnest or ironic?”

    I’ll take them to suggest that you haven’t been reading much National Review lately.

    What I’m curious about is how this Horst Wessel-esque piece of propoganda wound up on the site of a web hosting company, one that happens to offer web site templates based on “Adult Themes” to customers.

  15. I think that this is the most blatant attempt this election cycle at “leader” worship. The use of religious and neo-religious metaphors, combined with reverential and awed references (text, images, and audio) present Bush as “Great Leader”.

    Combine that with the one glaring (to me) re-interpretation/re-definition of the President’s call to Congress about Iraq. The video states that Bush called on Congress for a “…declaration of war.”, which is exactly what the President did not do. A Declaration of War against Iraq, while Constitutionally legal, was politcally unlikely, so the President ask Congress for “authorization” to use force (meaning the US Military) against the “grave danger” posed by Iraq.

    This video feels like a straight up appeal to Patriotic/Religious awe, conflating the man with the powers of the office he holds.

  16. I thought it was a satire when the words “…Our true leader emerged…” appeared and they showed a picture that I initially thought was of W on a golf course. On a second viewing it’s not clear that it’s a golf course, but some guy strolling through a park is still a poor choice of picture for conveying leadership. Maybe choking on a cheetoh or calling a journalist a major asshole, but not strolling through a park….

  17. Jesse,

    The video was sincere, but it won’t work on people with a realityometer as sensitive as yours.

  18. Arrghh, typo: I’ll take that to suggest…

  19. I think it was sincere, but seemed like a roadside shrine, meaningful to those involved but kinda tacky to the rest of us.

    And Jesse, what radio stations are you listening to that play Danny Boy? Or is there some country version of Danny Boy that I don’t know about?

  20. If this piece is indeed satire, it is flying very low under the radar. I figure most satire would give a much more overt wink or nudge.

    Jesus, all those pictures were making my brain melt. When we finally saw the pic with the Bushies waving from the airplane I thought “Thank God it’s over”, since this would serve as a natural closing image.. but nooooooooooooo.. we are treated to a dozen more.

    Note to the webmaster: in propoganda, you must be BRIEF. The common peasant has the attention span of a gnat. Make your point and get out. Oh yeah, and also include cheesecake photos of Olympic girl athletes. Yum.

  21. And Jesse, what radio stations are you listening to that play Danny Boy?

    As far as I know, there are no radio stations where I live that play “Danny Boy.” That’s why I get excited when I think I’m hearing it, even though it’s clear from the opening strains of the Groban record that it’s going to be schlock. When you’re listening to the radio, even a schlocky version of “Danny Boy” is something to treasure.

    Or is there some country version of Danny Boy that I don’t know about?

    Actually, there’s quite a few country singers that have recorded “Danny Boy.” Don Walser does a nice version on Texas Top Hand, for example. But you’re not going to hear Walser on the radio either…

  22. Earnest. All but guarantee it. There’s a lot of stuff like that out there. Kinda remided me of prayforgeorgewbush.com

    I couldn’t get through the whole thing. Did Dale Earnhart make an appearance? Bathed in heavenly light?

  23. “where the eeeeEEEEEEeeeagles sooooaaar…”

    man, my patriotic dander is up! woo-hoo! where’s my gun?

    lol — why do i imagine that the mob rendered such similar praise as they could upon caesar (without the benefits of flash animation, of course)?

  24. Micheal, Little Outhouse on the Praire, Landon would have been proud of that video.

    Incidently, I support Bush, but he’s not Jesus. Wasn’t that Bill Clinton?

  25. Is this a Trey Parker production?

  26. My vote is for earnest, amateurish and low budget. And I believe Johnny Cash did a version of “Danny Boy” on his last of the American label albums.

  27. The very beginning of the song, the part with the solo violin, sounds like an improvisation on the old spiritual “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”.

    With those flashing images, the song makes me think of Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American”.

    On a related topic, Grobin’s often on KCET during pledge week; I assume he also shows up on a PBS station near you. Why does PBS always seem to preempt all the programming I would want to support, and put on the drivel during pledge drives?

    (Begin Announcer?s Voice) During our pledge week, KCET will now present you with?a week in hell; featuring The Waltz Guy, Josh Grobin, Yanni, The Blonde Frankenstein, Sarah Brightman and, for some unknown reason, ?Dr. Wayne Dyer. (End announcer?s voice)

    I?m obviously not the target demographic for their pitch, but then I have to ask myself, who is the target demographic and should those who find this stuff entertaining be allowed to vote?

    I guess so, but I think it?s a real testament to my magnanimity.

  28. “It was then, my child, that I carried you.”
    “Gee, thanks, Mister President.”

  29. I found it excessively creepy! Reminded me in tone of the Pyongyang Times we used to read around the shop in South Korea (I worked at an intel unit, so we got all the funny stuff too).

  30. Actually, you will hear Walser on the radio… in Austin. Try KGSR.com. Certainly more worthwhile than watching this clumsy beatification.

  31. BTW, you can hear lots of Don Walser (the Pavaratti of the plains) on KHYI 95.3 in Dallas.

    And no, I don’t work for them…

  32. OK. You can’t hear Walser on the radio in Baltimore, except perhaps on a couple of public radio shows that only air on the weekend. Texas is a different story.

  33. I made it to the end by using my mute button. It’s someone’s personal and independent contribution to the campaign season. Might play big in certain sections of the country, but for most of us the point about propaganda being brief applies (someone tell Michael Moore!).

  34. Anyone else notice the Towers/Saddam/Towers/Saddam bit?

    The BIG LIE lives.

  35. I concur with most of the sentiments in this thread. It was an act of leader-worship. Whatever Bush’s merits may be, he’s clearly not worthy of that kind of adulation. I’d be hard-pressed to think of the last President really deserving of that adulation.

  36. Who is this guy, I think it would be fun to send him a link to this H&R section…

  37. After seeing that I don’t know how anyone other than some drugged out hippie who wanders into a voting both thinking it?s a porta-john could possibly VOTE AGAINST BUSH this November.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go admire my Ronald Regan commemorative plates while I masturbate with such violence that the crotch of my slacks will be bloodied by the effort.

  38. This is for real. It is classic corporate uplift, found at annual meetings and in identity ads. Keep the song, change the images to oil company researchers saving the whales, and you get the picture.

  39. “The Bush as Jesus theme is really scaring me, though.”

    I like Bush. I agree with you.

    If you are a semi-athiest like I am you can see how maybe from time to time these processes function. Part of human nature. There may be no man/Gods. Just human expectations.

    There was a famous (in some circles) Jewish rabbi in America who died some years back who was declared a God and not dead by some of his followers. (history repeating?)

  40. “They’re clearly being serious. Nobody would use those 9/11 images for satire in that way.”

    Never been to Something Awful, have you?

  41. Will,

    If you make a video of it I think it is saleable. Especially the bloody part. Kind of a self semi-Bobbit. Cute.

    Ranks right up there with blowing rats.

  42. Jamie S., if you managed to sit through to the end — heaven help you — the guy is Chris Byrne from the University of Delaware (cbyrne@udel.edu).

    Good heavens — I was assuming he was probably a student . . . what if he’s faculty?!

  43. My input’s a little late, here. I watched the thing BEFORE reading any comments to keep my opinion from being colored by the blog readers… My assessment:

    Overall: It’s meant to be supportive of George Bush- by the end (last third) this is pretty clear.

    Initially: You’re not sure, because the flash text is subtle and vague- all of which allows for great interpretation depending on ones opinion of Bush. Ie, he promised to protect the nation ‘at any cost’ and he ‘fulfilled his promise’. Well, depending on your perspective then yes, oh yes he has protected the nation ‘at any cost’.

    Imagry: Initially not particularly flattering photos of Mr. Bush. This was (as the flash stated) clearly created independently. And as the Howard Dean campaign learned the hard way, independently created ‘advertising’ for your campaign can backfire. Old rules still apply: the campaign MUST control the message, even if the (independent) messenger means extremely well. Dean campaigners discovered quickly that dope smoking, goateed post Gen-Xers saying “whoa… dude” did NOT help his campaign- but they meant well.

    In final: If one puts aside any biases against Bush and watches the flash completely objectively, it actually does a decent job- and one not so differently done for other Presidents/Campaigns in the past: The President/Candidate seen sharing moments with ‘regular folks’, raising a barn– you know, the usual, with uplifting (in this case, a little too syrupy) music. All this has been seen with every major figure in the past: Carter, Reagan, Clinton – both Hillary and Bill ( in spades with knobs on).

    But again, an independently produced video, even in support of a candidate can backfire. The first half is too ambiguous and uses way unflattering imagry of the Pres.

    Now I’ll read the comments.

    Paul

  44. the guy is Chris Byrne from the University of Delaware

    …who seems to have a website. Which is, ah, interesting as well.

  45. Ah, the forces of copyright protection are swift and terrible. Anyone for an argument on Fair Use?

  46. I don’t get it. I kept waiting for the punchline and it never came. I feel so used.

    Whom exactly do I see about getting the five minutes I wasted on this tacked back onto the end of my life?

  47. I thought it was very well produced, Chris.

  48. Is satire determined by content or intent? The best statire is that closest to reality, so in a case close to reality the difference between ignorable sap and a jewel to be held up for generations of undergraduates is a Mona Lisa smile on the face of the creator.

  49. Not that I’d listen to any of the Baltimore stations that would play any country songs anyway. Personally, I’m partial to The King’s Singers’ version. 🙂

  50. In the picture with the pope, what is on Laura Bush’s head? Is there some rule about females having to wear certain garments in the presence of his alleged holiness?

  51. Phil, thanks, and no, I didn’t make it to the end. And I’m not playing over either. Not gonna do it.

  52. I created this slideshow for a class to show to my friends and family. It was taken from my web site and put on various sites around the Internet. It’s not a joke, it’s how I feel. I respect President Bush and his leadership of this country. You can disagree with that if you’d like.

    Warner Brothers has already contacted me and asked me to remove it from my web site because I did not receive permission to use Josh Groban’s song in the slideshow. Please remove it from your web sites and stop sending it out. I did this as a personal project, not to be seen by thousands, but apparently word spreads quick on the Internet.

    Thanks.

    Chris Byrne

  53. Can anyone point me to a site, IRC channel or Freenet node where I can see this file?

    With all due respect to Warner Bros., I believe users have a right to view political commentary videos, even if they contain a copyrighted music soundtrack. (JibJab, anyone?)

    I’m an author who’s writing a book about this very subject. Please email me here: jd@well.com.

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