October 29, 2008

The HIllary Clinton DNC Tribute: A Belated Reflection...

Is this video problematic? It's not new. It's Chelsea Clinton's tribute to her mother from this year's DNC. We discussed it yesterday in one of my graduate seminars. It has some obvious flaws. First off, there is comparatively little speaking time given to people of colour, despite the fact that Senator Clinton first got into politics as a Civil Rights activist and claims to remain committed to issues of racial equality today.

The tone is also perhaps too idealistic and optimistic. Are there really 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling? There was just so much sexism in the media towards her throughout the campaign. If I were a woman politician in The US, I'd be frightened of running for president now because of Clinton's campaign. Asking questions about whether or not her gender disqualified her from being a good president was not at all taboo on CNN or The View, and they're supposedly bastions of media liberalism in the States; however, despite the flaws in this video, there is something about it which touches me, and I cannot even explain what that is.

Am I touched by the fact that this woman's daughter is proud of her, even though her father actually managed to become president where her mother failed? Am I touched by Chelsea Clinton's ability to remain optimistic, or at least feign optimism, about the future of women in politics, even though the media ripped her mother to shreds in a supremely sexist, chauvinistic fashion? Do I just really like the soundtrack?

My best guess for why I find this video so compulsively watchable is not the soothing nature of Chelsea Clinton's voice-over voice, it's that I want it to be true. I want there to be 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. I want to believe Clinton's logic that if we can send women astronauts into space, we can one day "launch a woman into the white house." I want to believe all that, but I don't know if it's true. The US doesn't seem very accepting of women in politics. And even the fact that Obama is totally going to win the presidency doesn't really inspire me, because sure, he is a visible minority, but, like Clinton, he's still an Ivy-Leaguer, and he was born to a white mother and raised by white relatives. It's not like Obama proves anyone can be anything. And despite the fact that the Clinton video claims a woman can be anything, that wasn't true either. A privileged white upper-middle-class girl with loads of political experience couldn't even become president. I don't exactly find that an inspiration to all little girls everywhere. Still, I wish this video could inspire me in an uncomplicated way. I WISH it could make me happy.

While I have watched this video a dozen times, I have to say that what I hate most about videos like this, is how they imply Hillary Clinton coming sort of close to being president, and the fact that Obama will be president, means sexism and racism are not longer issues in the state. All the US election will change is that one single man who is visibly black will have a really cool new job as of November 5th. Maybe he'll do things to end violence against women, the wage gap that affects both women and all people of colour, and maybe he'll get funding to inner-city schools and schools in isolated rural areas, so all American kids can have a basic education and truly have the skills necessary to try and "be anything they want to be." Maybe there will be change, but nothing's really changed yet....

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