February 20th, 2008
09:53 PM ET

Hillary, Humor and a Hollywood “Election”

Elections are well known for being great fodder for comedic material and the current presidential race is no exception.While "Saturday Night Live" has long been the reliable gold standard for political humor risqué enough to elicit a wince from a candidate who is the butt of the joke, but clever enough to elicit chuckles from a mainstream audience, the YouTube revolution has taken political satire to a new level.Countless videos now attempt to use humor to tell a story about the campaign. Who can forget the now infamous "I feel pretty" video in which John Edwards, caught on camera combing his hair before a television appearance, found himself on the receiving end of satire. A jokester turned the tape into a music video for the ultra-girly anthem "I feel pretty" with the ultra-feminine lyrics "I feel pretty.. Oh so pretty.. I feel pretty and witty and bright.." blaring in the background:


But one of YouTube’s other extremely popular political videos and one that now seems particularly prescient is titled "Hillary’s Inner Tracy Flick":

The video, which first surfaced last month, uses split screen and editing to portray candidate Clinton and imaginary candidate Tracy Flick from the film "Election," as alter egos.

"Election" is one of the funniest satires ever of high school life, and of politics —- a rare combination. It follows the adventures of Tracy Flick, the seemingly perfect high school student during her campaign for Senior Class President. The only problem for Tracy is that it turns out that there are a few people she’s rubbed the wrong way over the years, one of them an embittered high school teacher who encourages a popular, likeable, male student-athlete to run against her.

Aside from the blonde hair and brains, the YouTube video highlights candidates’ Clinton and Flick’s other striking similarities - namely blind ambition and a whatever-it-takes-to-win attitude.

In one particularly eerie moment Tracy rants, "They think they can just all of a sudden one day out of the blue waltz right in with no qualifications whatsoever and try to take away what other people have worked for very, very hard their entire lives…" She also dismisses her competition early on as not being any real competition for her.

Of course that turns out not to be the case.

I don’t want to be a spoiler and give the film’s ending away for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but I will say this: Last month this video might have simply seemed mildly amusing - even to the Clinton campaign - but now, as the campaign that was supposed to be the ultimate front-runner teeters on the brink of disaster, we’re all left scratching our heads trying to figure out just how it all went so wrong and the "Flick Effect" doesn’t seem so far off the mark.

Sen. Clinton has some of the most gifted strategists and operatives working for her and she and her husband are two of the most brilliant political minds in modern politics. She also started this campaign with enough cash to subsidize a small country, and yet here we are.

Like Flick, the Clinton campaign underestimated the strength of an opponent who, while likable and popular, simply wasn’t perceived as formidable against her (at least by her campaign). And after all, like Tracy, she really deserved it. After all, she had more qualifications and experience. But if the movies teach us anything, it’s that Hollywood loves a good comeback story. So maybe like the determined and undeterred Tracy Flick, we haven’t heard the last of candidate Clinton.

Keli Goff, Political Analyst

Keli Goff is the author of Party Crashing: How the Hip-Hop Generation Declared Political Independence. http://www.keligoff.com

Filed under: Raw Politics
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