The 58th Street Manifesto

The 58th Street Manifesto: Thoughts, articles, crafted words and miscellaneous expressions. Exploring the symbolism of the eight-pointed star, and recontextualising cultural appreciation.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sarah Palin and the New Coke


An independent's view on the next major political chess move of the 21st Century

From today's perspective, 1985 was a primordial soup that flowed across the face of the earth, carving caves and cliffs out of the volcanic rock mountains of Chernobyl, the upcoming Challenger disaster, the Iran-Contra affair. Swimming slowly through this ancient ocean, the bloated Plesiosaur America turned on its side, lifting one gigantic flipper and making way for the gas bubble formed in the depths to rupture forth upon the face of the seas; that eruption was New Coke. Upon tasting this sweet, attractive alternative to "regular" brands of cola, the masses poured new coke down the drain. Children began screaming. Consumers became engulfed in utter rejection of New Coke, the Coca-Cola company, and faith in the cola industry had all but fizzled out. One of the largest apparent blunders in the American gastrocultural record had just taken place. And then a pull-out reminiscent of the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975 happened when Coke rolled out Coca-Cola Classic, and the rest is history. Victory, snatched from the jaws of defeat.

And now in 2008, an election year, we have been given a new taste challenge. On August 29, mere days after Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama gave his rousing address, evoking the wordsmith's magic of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech exactly 45 years hence, and bringing his recently chosen VP nominee Joe Biden to the front lines to be adored by the leftist masses, opposing candidate John McCain did what some Democrats (and many Republicans, for that matter) may have called a "New Coke Blunder": he announced that Sarah Palin, a politician with about 20 months of gubernatorial experience of the arguably remote state of Alaska was to be his running mate. She was initially scrutinized for her lack of foreign policy experience, right wing politics, and the claim that her being a mother of 5 is insufficient experience to assist with, and be a heartbeat away from, the presidency.



And now, in the early weeks of September 2008 we hydroplane toward the reaping time. The harvest is nigh upon us, election day is near. And who do we see every time we turn on the news? Obama? Not anymore. The great multiracial hope has gained a great deal of momentum, but he's definitely going to have to use some saved up popularity capital now, because he is not hot topic of conversation like he used to be. George W. Bush? Nope. He's gotten his. He thrust himself upon the political scene, flexed his hegemony, ignited innumerable phallic locomotors, and is now done. He's sitting at the bedside smoking a Marlboro light waiting for us to leave. We know the deal. We won't make a fuss. It really wasn't all that good. At all. We are in a complex relationship now. Sarah Palin. The New Coke. She is all we think about, despite how we may disapprove of how she runs her house. She is being investigated, speculated, and gossip rumors instigated, both by the left and the right. She also has supporters; those who bring up that she has the most executive experience of all the candidates in this game. She's very clear on her views, even the unpopular ones. We can banter around the word "change" until the horsemen come, but Sarah Palin, the seemingly idiotic choice made by a supposedly dottering old fool of a candidate, may have locked the minds of America on her arguably attractive face. Obama's speech fades in the background. We are raising an index finger to the echoes of his promises and are saying "hold on a moment" "I'll get right back to you" and we are entering into a relationship, with Sarah. We call her "Sarah" now. We may hate everything she stands for, but we are watching. We may think she's the best thing to happen to the Republican ticket and may be looking to her with the same fervor for a changed future as the Democrats did for Obama. We all know: any publicity is good publicity. On April 23, 1985, ten years after the surrender of Saigon to the Vietnamese People's Army, Coca-Cola told the world about New Coke. Every man, woman, and child, be they kings, paupers, aristocracy or lower class, everyone would be tasting the new, sweeter formula of New Coke. The world would unite as one under a new taste. Perhaps the taste of a new generation. To look into the opening of a can of coke was to look into a future that would bring on the fall of communism, two Gulf Wars, 9-11. The resolution to the New Coke Blunder united the world under the same old formula. Sarah Palin is eclipsing even her presidential nominee running mate. Sarah Palin is becoming an Icon. Whether it's Coke, or the former beauty pageant contestant who got injected into our political bloodstream without our knowledge or consent, the situation remains the same: with Icons we don't care if it's good for us or bad. And those that do care, can often do little to change it.

So, relax. Let the culture take it's course. Have a cool beverage.

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