Racism

And If You Freeze the Frame at Just the Right Moment, You Can See a White Robe and Pointy Hood Hanging on the Back of the Door

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Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson has watched Hillary Clinton's "something is happening in the world" ad so many times that he has lost his mind. Spurred by "an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right," he found that "repeated watching of the ad on YouTube increased my unease." Eventually Patterson realized what was bothering him:

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad's central image—innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger—it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn't help but think of D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad—as I see it—is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

Patterson concedes that the Clinton campaign might not have had a racist intent, but he's pretty sure that the candidate benefited from the support of voters spooked by the idea of a black man answering that red phone. And if that was not the plan all along, why on earth would the ad's creators have put a blond child in it? True, "two other sleeping children, presumably in another bed, are not blond, but they are dimly lighted, leaving them ambiguous. Still it is obvious that they are not black—both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino." Just like the children menaced by lurking black men in Birth of a Nation?

I hate Hillary Clinton more than the next guy, and I thought the red phone ad was moronic and demagogic. But Patterson's take on it is even stupider.

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  1. Is it wrong to be entertained by the fact that someone has obsessed about race so much that it has driven them nuts?

    Or would that make me a racist?

  2. Glad to see Harvard is still pumping out first-rate scholarship.

  3. So much for the Undifferentiated Left. Shit, between him and Paglia, it’s amazing Hillary has any supporters at all.

  4. What about the pajamas that say “Nig”? Seriously. The N-I and a rounded letter are clearly there. Although they don’t show the full “G”, the only other visible letter is a “G” above it.

    Do you think this is accidental? I’m ambivalent. But every frame is scrutinized so closely that I can’t believe they would have missed it.

  5. Episiarch:
    I’m most entertained by white hipster types who roll their eyes and use the term “white people” as a derisive term. Like I used to always be amused by the punk rockers who would sport their “Anti-Racist Action” patches. They think that their bravery and cachet in expressing those sentiments puts them on par with the tank guy in Tienanmen Square.

  6. Patterson is seeing things.

  7. Or would that make me a racist?

    Probably, but someone more experienced in deconstructionist pomo bullshit will have to answer definitively.

  8. 3amCheckin,

    1. It was stock footage, not something they shot themselves.

    2. The jammies read “Good NIGht.”

    The only connection to racism I see in that ad is the “scary burglar” implied in the home-security-system-type footage at the beginning. Every “There’s a bad guy in the house!” movie I’ve ever seen had murky, sleeping-kids footage like that. Maybe there was some attempt to play on the fear of home invasion to set the viewer on edge, but the message of the ad totally didn’t go in that direction.

    The incompetant black babysitter answering the phone? There’s no “incompetant black baby-sitter” archetype.

  9. So if McCain ran this ad against Hillary, he’d be sexist?

  10. Saruman supports HRC? I find that unsurprising.

  11. Of course this reminds everyeone of “Birth of a Nation.” Who amongst us hasn’t watched the old DW Griffit flick every time it’s played on Turner Classic Movies?

    Oh, everyone.

  12. Anybody but me find the line “voters spooked by the idea of a black man” funny?

  13. I don’t remember any Latino children in “Birth of a Nation”?

  14. i think he’s reaching in this one, but orlando patterson’s “slavery and social death” is highly recommended.

  15. Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson has watched Hillary Clinton’s “something is happening in the world” ad so many times that he has lost his mind. Spurred by “an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right,” he found that “repeated watching of the ad on YouTube increased my unease.” Eventually Patterson realized what was bothering him:

    The thought that anybody would voluntarily watch a political add more than once bothers me.

  16. It’s fun watching the left cannibalize itself over a black man vs white woman contest. The boogey man is everywhere. Just when I was almost convinced that all of the racists and sexists were GOPers, I now find that all of the Dems are one or the other.

    I really meant the “It’s fun” part.

  17. The jammies do indeed say “Good Night”.

    So why are the only distinguishable letters the “nig” from ‘night’; supplemented by the “g” from good to compensate for the fact that you can’t completely see the “g” from ‘night’?

    And why are you so sold by the fact they say “good night”? You don’t think they picked the pajamas carefully? If they were ad-makers worth their salt, they chose them very carefully indeed. Teddy bear pjs can’t be carefully folded to say ‘nig’.

    Ok. I’ll admit up front, I really want it to be true. But I think the case that it is there is sufficiently strong that it’s worth serious discussion.

  18. I can only (vainly) hope that if Hillary does reach the White House she may have at least a small appreciation of what it’s like to be on the other end of the race card scenario.

    I mean this is just absurd.

  19. I don’t know if the “good night” pajamas were intentional or not, but Hillary’s pretty glad she nixed the Don Imus pajamas at the last minute.

  20. 2. The jammies read “Good NIGht.”

    Ah-ha! The book GoodNIGht Moon is clearly a racist tract.

    I’m still wondering…what does the mouse represent…hmmm….

  21. So, what secret message do you get if you play the commercial backwards?

  22. B
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  23. “I hate Hillary Clinton more than the next guy, and I thought the red phone ad was moronic and demagogic. But Patterson’s take on it is even stupider.”

    Harvard gets federal funding for all sorts of things so that means all us taxpayers are paying Patterson to dream this stuff up.

  24. I’m still wondering…what does the mouse represent…hmmm….

    hillary is the old woman who says, “hush!”

  25. Pro: Win.

    That is all.

  26. Pro —

    Did you read Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories?

  27. Like I used to always be amused by the punk rockers who would sport their “Anti-Racist Action” patches. They think that their bravery and cachet in expressing those sentiments puts them on par with the tank guy in Tienanmen Square.

    You’re lucky there’s some guy on the RP thread who thinks RP “shaped the debate” by bringing up monetary policy on Jay Leno, cuz otherwise you’d be up for dumb comment of the day.

  28. I think putting the kid in Farakhan pjs would have been more effective but it still does the job.

  29. No, the only book of his that I’ve read is In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.

  30. I’ve never seen “Birth of a Nation”, but supposedly it depicts a lot of D.W. Griffith’s racial paranoia.

    And oddly, this guy projects his own racial paranoia onto the clip and compares it to febrile nightmares that were actually overtly depicted?

    The word of the week is “paranoia” (and let’s not forget paranoia’s step-sister, “hysteria”.

  31. voters spooked by the idea of a black man answering that red phone.

    I recognize that I am filled with hate and have some racial issues of my own to work through.

    Because, I have to confess, I just now myself had a nightmarish vision of the nuclear hotline beeping, and then Obama raising the receiver to his face and saying:

    “Yeaahh … this Barack.”

    I hate it when people leave out that the “is” between “this” and their name. Hate it, hate it, hate it!

    I know Obama doesn’t talk like that, but lately he’s been spending a lot of time with people who in their childhood were educated in American schools, and they’re bound to be a bad influence.

  32. It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone when the aliens call, demanding the Doritos you promised?

  33. It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone when the aliens call, demanding the Doritos you promised?

    Awesome. I love thread crossover. :0

  34. I have no idea who Orlando Patterson is.

    I think this whole thing would have been more entertaining if it was Cornell West who made these accusations. There is nothing quite so mind altering as listening to West’s pompous and utterly incomprehensible gibberish.

    I also admit that it is great fun to see the Dems spear each other with the hurtful smears they have been using against others for years now.

  35. It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone when the aliens call, demanding the Doritos you promised?

    Uh, the doritos distributor? “we also have other delicious orange snackies, like fritos and cheetos”

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