Full disclosure: I love Clint Eastwood. I was probably the only high school girl to have his poster in my locker, which is a little creepy when you consider he was probably 45 to my 14. I love his spaghetti westerns, his Dirty Harry cop movies, his directing, and I will drop everything to watch (again!) his 2008 movie Gran Torino, in which he plays a retired Ford autoworker in Detroit.
And so when the gravely voice narrating an advertisement during Sunday’s Super Bowl sounded familiar, I started listening. In a commercial (scroll down to watch the ad) that aired right before the teams returned from halftime, Eastwood talked while scenes of American families and workers flashed on the screen.
“It’s halftime in America too. People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback.”
“And we’re all scared because this isn’t a game.”
Eastwood’s message was an ad for Chrysler even though it never mentions the car company or spotlights a shiny new fender, and flashes the carmaker’s brand logos only at the very end. The language draws parallels between Detroit’s (Chrysler’s) comeback after its bankruptcy with the comeback of individual Americans who have weathered tough times ever since the Mayflower landed.
“‘Cause that’s what we do. We find a way through tough times. If we can’t find a way through tough times, then we’ll make one.”
“All that matters now is what’s ahead… how do we come from behind, how do we come together, and how do we win.”
I like that. It reminds us that we — Americans — are gritty and resilient. We’re the wet-behind-the-ears upstarts still writing our young country’s first chapters.
It also reminds us of what’s so great about this country: the freedom to fail and the freedom to reinvent and the freedom to change. I felt like Clint was speaking to each of us personally, reminding us of our heritage, our values and our character. Our potential.
The Monday morning quarterbacks didn’t wait until Monday morning to quickly put a political spin on the commercial. (Some claimed the reference to a “second half” was a plug for a second term for President Barack Obama. Karl Rove, senior adviser to former President George W. Bush said he was “offended” by the veiled Democratic endorsement.)
They don’t get it, which proves, again, the people running this country, the power elite, are isolated from working class issues.
“It was meant to be a message about just about job growth and the spirit of America,” Eastwood told Fox News on Monday. There was no subliminal Democrat or Republican overtone intended.
With his reference to “halftime,” maybe Eastwood was channeling Winston Churchill. A few years into WWII, Churchill tried to pump up the British people in much the same way, saying, “Now, this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end, but perhaps it is the end of the beginning.”
We’ve seen discontent with the status quo through the Occupy protests; we’ve seen the disruptions to our economy. But out of discontent and disruptions, come new ideas. I’m convinced that what the world covets most from Americans is our passion and determination. Our guts.
Do we have a lot to improve? Yes — seemingly insurmountable problems, like poverty and drugs and inequality. We’ve grown lazy and complacent. Soft. It’s easier to accept “this is just how things are” than to advocate change. We warehouse our problems rather than finding solutions. The “American way of life” has unraveled.
That’s why we needed to hear Eastwood’s halftime speech. We need to get pumped up, to see the possibilities, to hope, to believe that we can “win.”
We need to find national consensus on issues and get the whole team moving in the same direction — a team where each of us as players is accountable and responsible. So whether you agree or disagree with the 2008 bail-outs, agree or disagree with a certain political party, or agree or disagree with Clint Eastwood, you’re still invested in this country, and you have to agree that it will take each of us to get the country back on track.
“This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again, and when we do, the world will hear the roar of our engines.”
Yeah, it’s halftime America, and our second half is about to begin.”
By Susan Crowell