Now that Hillary Clinton’s campaign-launching video has run its one-day course of novelty and interest, maybe we can start to assess it with some perspective.
As media, it was a solid piece of feel-good political filmmaking. But it was nothing new or special despite Vox calling it “fascinating, bold filmmaking” in the headline for one of the sillier pieces of media analysis I have seen this year.
If you think “sillier” is too strong a word, check out the discussion in the piece about certain images being positioned slightly off center in the frame of Clinton’s video and the interpretation the reviewer offers for that.
The basic template for the message, tone and sensibility of Clinton’s “political campaign trailer,” to use Vox’s term, can be seen in 2009 ads done for American Express. Titled “Small Business Anthem,” the ads celebrate small business owners starting new shops and businesses in their communities.
The ads were intended as an antidote to the economic meltdown of 2008 that still held the nation in its chilling grip.
After acknowledging the tough economic times, the ads quickly pivoted to their key message, with a narrator saying: "But there is a light beginning to shine again. The spark began where it always begins. At a restaurant downtown. In a shop on Main Street. ..."
The front of a small bakery fills the screen. And then, powerful images of bakers at work merge with those of other small-business owners and workers plying their trades and smiling for the camera, as the voice-over says, "This is just the beginning of the reinvention of business."
New beginnings, just like Clinton’s video.
I wrote about the ads in 2009, and one of the executives I interviewed correctly explained how much they owed to the late Hal Riney’s “Morning in America” political ads for Ronald Reagan in 1984.
A bold and daring approach that “could change how these sorts of announcements are approached for the foreseeable future,” according to Vox?
How about derivative?
The only real difference: The folks in Clinton’s “Getting Started” ad are talking about new families, new relationships, new identities, new homes and new careers instead of new businesses. But there are some new businesses in her ad, too.
A new beginning is a new beginning whether it is a small business on Main Street or new home for your family. And re-invention is re-invention whether it a retiree saying she’s going to re-invent herself or Clinton trying to convince viewers that she is going to drop the Regina Hillary posture she’s demonstrated on everything from Benghazi to emails lately and now she’s “hitting the road” to “earn” our votes.
I am intrigued by the fact that Clinton’s first move as a presidential candidate is an act of media in which she’s trying to sell us a new Hillary.
Candidates with strong, solid records of public service don’t have to sell a “new” version of themselves. They can sell the person they have always been.
Unless they have a career of being shifty and shady like Richard Nixon. He sold America a “new Nixon” in 1968, and look how that turned out.