Clint Eastwood’s halftime Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler, entitled “It’s Halftime in America,” was Good, Bad, and Ugly.
The Good? It would be churlish to suggest that the script and production values were anything other than stellar, and Eastwood’s gravelly delivery is always a treat. The Bad? One might fairly ask whether Chrysler, which was bailed out, should be funding a commercial that will have cost almost $15 million just to air in the first year in seven in which it has made a profit. (The total costs of the commercial must be approaching 10 percent of the $183 million in profit that Chrysler made in 2011.) However you look at it, this is not a company that is out of the woods, and one that is ill-advised to turn up cap in hand wearing an Armani suit.
And the Ugly? The commercial’s theme was more closely informed by Barack Obama’s recent SOTU call for the country to put aside its differences and march to the president’s tune than by the rugged individualism that one usually associates with the star who played Dirty Harry and The Man with No Name. It was full of injunctions to “all pull together” and calls to “rally around what [is] right and act as one,” which are fine if one wishes to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima, but are the death knell of a healthy democratic culture.
The script aside, it’s odd that Eastwood should even have agreed to make such a commercial. He was the Republican mayor of Carmel, California, describes himself as a “libertarian,” and was against the auto bailouts. In a November 2011 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Eastwood said:
“I’m a big hawk on cutting the deficit. I was against the stimulus thing too. We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies. If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO.”
In the same interview, Eastwood claimed to be a fan of Herman Cain, largely because, “he’s a guy who came from nowhere and did well, obviously against heavy odds. He’s a doer and a straight-talker.”
Once upon a time, so was Clint Eastwood.