Hillary Clinton As Norma Desmond

I’m a little late to the party on this, and I’m reticent to go too political in this blog, but this piece of overthinking is too good and right up our alley to go unremarked. By the way, this isn’t … Continued

I’m a little late to the party on this, and I’m reticent to go too political in this blog, but this piece of overthinking is too good and right up our alley to go unremarked.

By the way, this isn’t the last time I’ll discuss LisaNova, who I think is a very interesting cultural figure about which you can say quite a bit. But without further ado:


The amazing original clip and a bit more analysis after the jump . . .

The first thing to do with this is to actually watch the comparable scene from the original movie, because it is such a remarkable scene — despite being a deeply, deeply ingrained cliche, it’s still has an undiscovered quality that is, I think, weird as Hell, and brilliant —


So, what are the similarities?

Well, first, there is a certain sexism to this, because there is a Freudian idea of “hysteria” here — that women are emotionally fragile and capable of just plain snapping, losing their connection with reality, often in connection with something sexual — in this case, dealing with being less desired as you age, which runs parallel both to the end of the silent film era in Sunset Boulevard and to the decline of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in February-April 2008.

But, more interestingly, I think the important thing here is someone in both cases “enfolded” in their own imagined reality — and I think that’s definitely true of the public idea of Hillary, or really of most established national political figures. They are so enfolded in their ideas of themselves from the public perspective that when they step outside of it (usually in the form of a Macaca moment or a wide stance in a Minnesota bathroom), we find it jarring, not the other way around.

Are these people as enfolded in their own realities from their own perspectives as they are from the vantage point of the public? I think that varies, and I think it’s difficult to tell, precisely since there is such a huge disconnect between discourse that aspires to truth and discourse in politics.

But the comparisons these pieces draw — between political and silver-screen stardom, between losing an election and losing your sexual attractiveness, between the different reliefs one can find in total failure (life as it can be “strangely merciful) and even between the beginning of the talkies and the beginning of Internet-driven U.S. political culture (which is really what did Hillary in more than anything else — she was not effective enough at online fundraising and had too wonky, centralized and heirarchical a campaign staff).

So, yes, big ups to the LisaNova crew for this excellent, excellent piece of work. I think it definitely rises above being a bit of political noise and does some interesting cultural and artistic things.

Talk about it in the comments, and I’ll join the fray!

2 Comments on “Hillary Clinton As Norma Desmond”

  1. Matt #

    Pete, I think you assume that everyone has seen Sunset Boulevard, and you leave something critical unsaid. (SPOILER ALERT) At the end of the film, Dorma Desmond shoots and kills Joe, a screenwriter who had become her lover. This is what drives her off the edge. The whole reason she needs to be coaxed down that staircase is so she can be arrested.

    So what’s going on in the Sunset Boulevard clip is that Norma has become a criminal, but she’s too far gone to understand what she’s done. It’s a juxtaposition of the horrifying reality and her own fantasies that make it chilling.

    Is this relevent to the LisaNova parody clip? Eh… probably not. I don’t think LisaNova wants us to take the analogy that far, and wonder what crime Hillary has just committed. The point here is the character’s stubborn delusion. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to note.


  2. PapaBear #

    As someone who loves movies, and who has acted in a few off the wall indie projects, this was a great piece of work. The spookiness and hilarity (get it, Hillary-hilarity) really sell it for me, and I have forwarded it to my intelligent friends, who understand that parody is not about getting the all the stars to align but in having the work make you laugh or cringe. This little gem has the added bonus of doing both. Kudos and good day.


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