LilaTovCocktail: Ingredients: one part NE Ohio; two parts politics; two parts media, and one part each: culture, family & the Jewish community. Directions: Shake well.

Here's why we still need feminism:
Sarah Palin's bizarre cultural cache


Palin most-searched[cue Twilight Zone music]

Consider if you will, a place outside our normal time and space... a land of both shadow and substance. You've just entered the post-feminist election zone ...

I just can't get my mind around the bizarre role gender politics is playing in the 2008 presidential election and the many faces of Sarah Palin. Here's what I mean:

In a Google Trends search I just ran, Sarah Palin turned up 3 times in the top 100 searches -- in three radically different guises: porn star, demagogue & wife.

Porn star

1. Her first appearance in the Google top 100 search terms is #42 nailin palin video, which references a report from the online entertainment industry rag Ann as Nailin' Paylin

Hustler Video is shooting a porn with a look-alike titled "Nailin' Paylin." The spelling is sic and so is Hustler. You betcha!

The faux Sarah is Lisa Ann, who "will be nailing the Russians who come knocking on her back-door." In another scene -- a flashback -- "young Paylin's creationist college professor will explain a 'big bang' theory even she can't deny!"

There's also a threeway with Hillary and Condoleezza look-alikes.

The video is in pre-production, but is being fast tracked for release before the election.
The problem isn't the porn; it's the fact that her public persona lends itself so easily to porn and other forms of parody. Where's the dignity in that? (I don't remember any porn films about Bella Abzug or Shirley Chisholm, do you?)

Seriously, I think we all learned from Bill Clinton that sexualizing your political image is ill-advised.

"Demagogue in a skirt"

Sarah Palin action doll2. In her second appearance on the top 100 search term is in reference to search term #80, demagogue, which is studded with links to stories like Sarah Palin -- A Demagogue in a Skirt and Palin the Ignorant Demagogue?. Looking at video of her rallies, it's easy to see her as a one-woman fascist movement, whose vague seemingly on-the-spot phrases ("in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America" ...

"all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation") are in fact calculated, especially since she can't seem to really apologize for them.


3. Palin next turns up in search term #83, palin cnn interview, which links to her interview today with CNN's Drew Griffin.

There's a lot to criticize in the interview, but let's focus for a second on her portrait of the Governor as "cherished wife." Asked if her husband's interference in Troopergate was an ethical violation, she purrs, "My husband did exactly, I think, what any sensible, reasonable father, husband would do who was concerned about their family's safety."

Figure o' fun

Two days ago, the Googleverse was rife with searches related to Palin's appearance on Saturday Night Live.

What boggles my mind is how Palin can possess acute social savvy while totally lacking self-awareness.

First, she's parodied on Saturday Night Live by Tina Fey -- who was able to make fun of her simply by repeating her word-for-word replies to Katie Couric.

Then, in the spirit of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, she makes a guest appearance on the show, treated like a VIP to restore her dignity. The scripted jokes about her are good, but not great.

They're hardly needed, however, since Palin's own inadvertent self-parody in interactions with Amy Poehler, Lorne Michaels & Alec Baldwin is so effective.

Remind me, which Sarah Palin is the one that's supposed to appeal to women voters?

P.S. If you want to see the McCain-Palin's "feminism" depicted with stark candor, you must watch Women for McCain:

(h/t: Write Like She Talks)

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David H. October 22, 2008 at 9:55 PM  

Great post, Lila. Hopefully after Nov. 4 our worries that Sarah Palin will be voted into high office will be over. For now, I'm stumped by my own reaction to her. I'm certainly appalled by her politics. And yet I find her attractive and telegenic -- or perhaps attractive because she is telegenic. On TV, she seemingly brings a vitality to the sour old world of politics. Maybe in this sense she's a Gen-X Ronald Reagan. The camera loves her.

What struck me about her appearance on SNL was 1) that she appeared in the first place, and 2) how tepid, how gentle SNL's critique of her was.

I suppose the answer is that Sarah Palin is being treated like a rock star, like a celebrity, like a contestant on "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars." She's a toy for viewers, a diversion. In that sense she is not being taken seriously as a candidate for high office. But those who do not take her seriously do so at the peril that she could wind up a heart attack away from the presidency. Or closer.

(There must be something in this mess that represents a coherent idea. Maybe you can find it, Lila. Hey, thanks for doing the research.)

Book Blabber October 22, 2008 at 10:17 PM  

Awesome video, but it's not just rape or incest victims who need CHOICE. it's not just teenage girls. What if you're a married woman and you have a child and there's something very wrong with the pregnancy? Very wrong. Should you have to carry a stillborn baby to term and have people come up and pat your belly and say arent' you excited? What if you and your doctor know the baby has no brain, but Sarah Palin's minister decided you can't have an abortion? What if your life isn't in danger but you won't be able to have another child? Maybe that's OK with Sarah Palin, but it's choice because a CHOICE.

LilaTovCocktail October 23, 2008 at 12:26 AM  

Book Blabber,
You're absolutely right.

When did "abortion without apology" and even "my body, my choice" become suspect, marginalized phrases no ambitious politician dare utter?

What you point out reminds me that the terms in which this country debates abortion are already compromised, foreclosing the possibility of real choice for women.

If pro-choice advocates will only go so far as to defend choice based on worst case scenarios -- rape, incest, threatens the life of the mother -- there's no one left to defend the principle of women's self-determination, whether it's physical, economic or educational.

Thanks so much for adding your thoughts to the discussion!

LilaTovCocktail October 23, 2008 at 12:39 AM  

Thanks David!
It's interesting, isn't it, how compelling Sarah Palin has turned out to be. Although I'm even more compelled by the spectacle of Tina Fey doing Palin. Fey does a better Palin than Palin does -- truer to the persona Palin attempt to construct.

I agree that SNL was weirdly soft on her and that what seems to matter to SNL milking her entertainment value, not opposing her politics.
And you're completely right that it's dangerous to get so caught up in the amusement she provides that we forget
she could pose a real peril is she does "wind up a heart attack away from the presidency."

I mean she is, by her own standards, an "intellectual, even if she did tell People magazine she "always wanted a son named Zamboni."

David H. October 25, 2008 at 1:00 AM  


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