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Oprah and Demi Say You Must Serve the Leader

In a video which could have come straight out of Leni Riefenstahl's cutting room, Oprah (producer) and Demi (director) have brought us a bit of propaganda in support of their pal, President Obama, which raises a lot of troubling questions in the process of laying out a generally positive message encouraging volunteerism. In a montage of statements from minor, but politically committed celebrities, the video runs through a litany of progressive causes which we can now safely volunteer our time to support, now that president Obama is here to lead us. Some of the messages are peculiar, a few are humorous, but the repeated message of pledging ourselves to service builds until at the culminating moment one of the celebrities urges us to pledge ourselves to Obama — not to a cause, but personally to the leader, the essence of the cult of personality which drives totalitarianism.

You know the propaganda is coming when the video starts out with a variation of the disturbing Shepard Fairey "Change" poster, which is so eerily reminiscent of soviet-era propaganda posters. From there the celebrities quickly run through more than a dozen causes, some laudable and some questionable, ending with the command to pledge our loyalty to their leader.

For me, a couple of things stood out as interesting. The first was the overall message. I find it surprising that the left has finally awakened to the idea of volunteerism, something which conservatives have been committed to for decades. But it makes me wonder, based on studies which show that most volunteerism comes from people in the middle class and in conservative parts of the country, whether these celebrities are planning to take time out of their heavy schedules to volunteer, or if they just want us to volunteer. Do they plan to serve Obama with their time and money, or do they just want to make sure that we pledge our much more limited resources? Volunteerism is great, but I find being preached to by these recent converts to be a bit patronizing.

One of the more amusing pledges was when Cameron Diaz announced her plan to meet her neighbors and greet them with a smile. This might require considerable exercise and a certain amount of risk given the size of the estates in the area of the Hollywood Hills where she currently lives, as well as all the security which her neighbors have. Or maybe she already met them and wasn't pleased with the experience — maybe they didn't smile back at her — since she is currently planning to move to a remote estate in the English countryside, about as far away from her current neighbors as she can get.

Even more intriguing is the pledge made by a series of celebrities to "work to make good the 200 year old promise to end slavery…to the abolition of 21st century slavery…to free one million people from slavery in the next 5 years." This comes near the culminating point of the video and includes its most significant participants, like Ashton and Demi. What's interesting about this is that the people who pledged to end slavery 200 years ago hold almost no political beliefs (besides ending slavery) in common with the participants in this video, and were ultimately the founders of a political party which these Hollywood leftists have campaigned relentlessly to smear, defame and destroy. More importantly, it raises the question of exactly how they plan to free these slaves. I'm all for it, but I realize that it is likely to require massive use of the military and what might amount to a full-on war with the primary institution supporting the continued existence of slavery, Islam. I don't think they get this. Their understanding seems to be at the level of "slavery is baaaaad" with no greater knowledge of the realities of the issue. Do they realize that only weeks after their last protest against the Iraq war they are now advocating all-out holy war against Islam?

While viewing the video you have to make sure to check out Anthony Kiedis (thanks to teen daughter for identifying him) kissing his biceps (which he seems to have named Barack and Obama) while pledging his eternal loyalty to Obama at around 3:19. That message is then echoed in a less bizarre way when Demi says, "I pledge to be a servant to our president…" at the culmination of the video, suggesting that the real goal here is not to encourage volunteerism, but to encourage loyalty to the leader, a message which I find very disturbing, coming from a video presented in such a blatantly propagandistic style.

About Dave Nalle

  • zingzing

    i have no idea… i can’t see anything in there that should be banned… but i dunno.

  • Cindy D

    i take out a sentence/paragraph at a time until i find it

    gotta be something that people spam with

  • zingzing

    the cure was probably my first musical love. well, that’s not true. achtung baby by u2 was… but it was disintegration that i remember absolutely killing during a 2 week trek around minnesota when i was 13 or 14.

    but it was probably brian eno (who i got into through u2) that really set me off on my musical path. his early solo albums (73-77) were so strange and wonderful, then he went off down his am-bient (here’s the banned word) road and that led me into a bunch of different avant guard stuff.

    but then in high school, the late-of-blogcritics michael j. west showed me the black album by prince and i was floored. that was about 15 years ago at this point and now i’m a voracious music consumer with my fingers (well, ears,) in nearly every musical genre.

    music is the greatest form of art, i say, and the stranger, the better. although there is a place for pop music in all of that. kanye west’s new album is driving me crazy right now, but then again, so is animal collective.

  • zingzing

    thanks for the advice. got it. it’s that sleep drug in the second paragraph.

  • zingzing

    ooer. if you do click on that animal collective link, click on the hd youtube link at the bottom. much better quality.

  • Cindy D

    zing, i LOVE that! i looked up the lyrics (in case i might not have liked it :-) great lyrics. i’ll keep that band. thanks.

    but, oh, i almost forgot my favorite band-very weird! you know them?

    they might be giants –
    we want a rock
    birdhouse in your soul
    dead (sorry dumb garfield video, but the rest are live and suck)

    course i like all the weird stuff from the old dr demento show (thanks to my demented uncle)

  • Dave Nalle

    I agree with Bliffle. Any video with Yoko in it ought to have been directed by Leni Reifenstahl.

    BTW, They Might Be Giants are very popular with my 6-year-old.


  • zingzing

    cindy: “zing, i LOVE that! i looked up the lyrics (in case i might not have liked it :-) great lyrics. i’ll keep that band. thanks.”

    definitely go check them out. my girls is from their latest, merriweather post pavilion, and you can work back from there. they’ve grown into the band they are now… working back, you’ll find “sung tongs,” which is a folky album, but very screwed up in the process.

    if you keep on going, you’ll run into their murky beginnings… they started out as a nearly improvisational noise band. (their first, “spirit they’re gone” is a bit of an anomaly… it’s noisy, but piano-based, and extremely beautiful.) their career trajectory is just about the most fucked up thing possible. and they are probably the most awe-inspiring band currently working in rock music. magicians, they are.

    i’ve heard tmbg. they do interesting things within pop music forms. there’s a layer to them that’s not immediately apparent, and, dave, if you’re letting your 6 year old kid listen to them, you might want to more closely inspect just what it is you’re up to.

    also, dave, you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to yoko, obviously. and to anyone who can’t get past yoko’s vocal style and doesn’t get to the substance of her ideas, well, you’re just missing out. it’s like not liking oysters because they’re ugly. grow up and take it like a man.

  • Cindy D

    yeah they do a lotta kid’s stuff now

    (i like that too, especially this one)

    dr worm

    the original TMBG video was better.

  • Cindy D

    tmbg turned into a kid’s band zing (partly)

  • Dave Nalle

    To go back a bit to another of Pablo’s lunatic fallacies, let’s look at the 80% population reduction plan of the New World Order.

    This myth is very similar to the North American Union fantasy, where someone in a think tank wrote an article discussing the idea and the conspiracy nuts immediately concluded it was a plan of the NWO.

    In the case of the 80% population reduction myth, it was an idea discussed by a handful of radical environmental fanatics, and even they didn’t suggest killing people to achieve the goal. The idea was to implement forced birth control to stabilize population at about 2 billion people. But read some of the quotes from these people. They’re clearly insane. And they certainly aren’t setting policy for any international organization.

    But as with other conspiracies, the loonies latch onto the idea and build up a big fantasy that it’s policy rather than the belief of a powerless, cultlike fringe. So silly.


  • zingzing

    tmbg are a kids’ band now? ish. what next?

  • Cindy D

    there’s a layer to them that’s not immediately apparent

    yes, exactly

  • Brunelleschi

    Maybe the $700B the banks got will be dismissed the same way.

    “We spent it on our rich friends, so it never existed..”

  • Cindy D

    I want to know what Paul/Pablo proposes we do? It seems to me that he proposes the same system minus the elite. How can that work? The whole thing is based on a wealthy class and slavery.


  • Cindy D


    Look what They Might Be Giants is teaching Dave’s daughter. LOL

    Never Go To Work

    No wonder they decided to do kids songs. They probably gave up on adults. Dave I have hope for your daughter. lol