We just got off a conference call with Camp McCain, defending their new ad comparing Barack Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. They said they thought the ad was legitimate because Obama is a big celebrity..., and Britney and Paris were Number 2 and 3. The problem: Anyone with even a vague sense of pop culture knows that Britney and Paris are yesterday's news. Here's a link to Forbes' Celebrity 100. Paris and Britney don't even make the list any more. Instead, the top 10, in order: Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Angelina Jolie, Beyonce Knowles, David Beckham, Johnny Depp, Jay-Z, The Police, JK Rowling, Brad Pitt. So, they didn't pick other big celebrities, who were either men, or black, or married. What they picked was two sexually available white women.
Except that those other big celebrities are all famous for actually accomplishing something - they're celebrities whom people admire, or at the very least approve of. For many people, comparing Obama to Tiger Woods or David Beckham or J.K. Rowling would be a compliment. Whereas the whole point of picking Britney and especially Paris Hilton is that they're figures of ridicule, famous primarily for being famous and widely derided as embarrassing airheads who only exist to feed the paparazzi machine. In other words, if you're going to attack Obama's celebrity by comparing him to frivolous Hollywood types - which is a silly and juvenile thing to to do, to my mind (though see Rich Lowry for the defense) - Paris and Britney are exactly the figures you'd choose for the ad. In fact, it's hard to think of a white male equivalent who's actually famous-for-being-famous enough for an ad like this to work. (No, Brandon Davis doesn't cut it.)
Meanwhile, I'm trying to imagine what Josh Marshall would have said if the McCain campaign had run the ad with Tiger Woods, Beyonce and Jay-Z in it instead ...
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