Mitt Romney tapped the television show Friday Night Lights' slogan "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose" on his way to the presidential debate last week, then used it in a fundraising letter, but the show's creator does not approve. "Please come up with your own campaign slogan," Peter Berg asked in a letter to the candidate where he explained that he came up with the phrase.
I was not thrilled when I saw that you have plagiarized this expression to support your campaign by using it on posters, you Facebook page and as part of your stump speeches. Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series.
Berg's letter comes only a few days after Buzz Bissinger, author of the nonfiction book Friday Night Lights that inspired the show and a movie written and directed by Berg, endorsed Mitt Romney. Romney's use of the slogan, Berg says, "falsely and inappropriately" ties it to the campaign.
When Romney began using the slogan, there was some outcry that the show's politics were not as simple as "red" or "blue." At Salon, Willa Paskin wrote "Friday Night Lights is the most genuinely bipartisan piece of art American mass culture has produced in the last decade." At Vulture, Jesse David Fox surmised which candidate the various characters would vote for.
This is not the first time a member of the arts community has told a campaign to stop appropriating their material. Most recently the Sesame Workshop disapproved of an Obama ad using Big Bird, and an April CNN article outlined some of the trouble Republican campaigns have run into for using various musicians' songs.
Update: Bissinger reacted to Berg's letter in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter saying he thinks Berg is being "childish and petulant." He added: "He should be flattered that Romney is honoring his show. Obama tried to use the slogan as well but unsurprisingly was ineffective in getting the message across." Matthew Belloni at the Hollywood Reporter points out that the two are cousins.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.