Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Sarah Palin Christmas

By Stuart Schwartz

When you think about it, Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does the mere mention of her name send the cream of the political and media elites into spittle-flecked rage, but a cottage industry has arisen in the collectibles consumer category with Sarah Palin dolls and mementos.

From the Sarah Palin bobblehead doll ("all gussied up in her familiar red jacket and blue jeans") to the four versions of the Sarah Palin action figure and beyond, the collectible world has found a political figure that a significant segment of the nation loves...or loves to hate. Either way, it's a boon to the industry and an opportunity for those with blanks to fill on Christmas giving lists.

Love her, hate her... ‘tis the season. Palin writ small, a symbolic gift for those who respect liberty and love God. The merchandisers of one version point out that Palin fans will "love to display this one-of-a-kind limited edition" at work or at home. The "Sarah Palin: Going Vogue Magnetic Dress Up Doll" offers hours of fashion fun with a "mix and match magnetic wardrobe." Meanwhile, Amazon provides a glimpse of the larger-than-life world of miniature Palin.

But this is also the Obama United States, and Christmas is not all about love. It is also a season for anger, a time to lash out against the ignorant masses that throw lights on evergreens and sing songs of love and peace and God. For out elites, the plethora of dolls and figurines offer a unique and joyful gift opportunity: a Palin unable to talk back.

And therein lies so much of the dolls' value. You'll love being able to offer both friend and foe the opportunity to discover an inanimate, Barbie-sized version of Palin under the Christmas tree. The Palin doll, like the original, is ideal in that it can teach and entertain at the same time. The sheer terror on the face of a progressive doll recipient, for example, can be both entertaining and instructive, letting us know that even in the digital age dread at the sight of an old-fashioned doll -- a la the Chucky doll in the Child's Play horror movies -- is still possible. "Hi, I'm Sarah. Wanna play?" Eyeeeeeeeeeee!

They make wonde rful gifts. Give them to educators, for example, and watch them gasp as their very own Palin doll "display(s) her signature wave proudly while beaming her bespectacled smile." For most educators, the Palin doll smile will provide vivid contrast to the usual bored expressions of students, family and friends. Imagine the hours of fun you'd have watching, say, the typical Ivy League faculty feminist try to wipe the perpetual smile off the face of the ""You Betcha" bobblehead. Sarah Palin frozen in plastic at her most bubbly, a body that even a transgender Ken doll would recognize as attractive. Enough to make even the most stoic feminist barf in her Birkenstocks!

Her body -- as well-proportioned and plastic as that of any action figure or bobblehead -- is what holds the most gift-giving promise for members of our media elite. The "Sarah Palin Schoolgirl" action figure,for example, would be the ideal Christmas present for Keith Olbermann, the television commentator that even the left acknowledges is one of its most "sexist" and "misogynist."

This Palin action figure wears a plaid skirt, knee socks, and a suggestive blouse -- the  stuff of sick fantasy. In other words, standard Olbermann treatment of attractive women (left and right agree that attractive women bring out the worst in Olbermann, who uses his NBC platform to "embarrass and humiliate" selected female targets). This lifelong bachelor is notorious for his inability to cultivate intimate relationships with women, and for his periodic fits of anger at talented and attractive colleagues of the female persuasion. A Palin action figure, with its short legs and limited range, would be perfect for a man whose dates usually bolt somewhere between the appetizer and entrée.

Palin dolls are perfect gifts for both the macho wannabee's and the sensitive moderns of the mainstream media. They can easily become the "must-have" dolls and figurines for the New York media male who is unafraid to play with dolls. We're talking New York Times here, home of men who can look at another man's "perfectly creased" pants (as did Times columnist David Brooks at those covering the legs of Barack Obama) and know, just know that he is destined for greatness. Brooks considers Sarah Palin a "joke," but her doll -- that may be another matter.

Hate the woman, love the doll. A Sarah Palin dress-up doll is the perfect gift for the newspaper of record's version of a man's man, a Clint Eastwood-in-a-tutu who admits to sometimes feeling a "frisson of pleasure" when, mouse in hand, he sallies forth to do battle with misguided Americans who are intent on defying the "toffs" of the media and political elites. Yes, he really used the word "toff" to describe the Tea Party perception of insiders like himself. He has been quite forceful in showing his disdain for those not part of the "educated class" and admiration for those who possess "several graduate degrees."

He is, in fact, one of the tough toffs of the Times. He is part of a media elite for whom nothing says Christmas more than, perhaps, the joy of accessorizing. All over Georgetown and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in the Times and Washington Post newsrooms, at PBS and CNN, our educated classes will croon with delight at the prospects opened by the raft of Sarah Palin playthings. Imagine the boys of mainstream media settling down for a Christmas day marathon of mixing and matching outfits, of "Going Vogue" with Sarah. Think of the joy of cable host Chris Matthews, who might enjoy a day of play with the gift of a "Governor Sarah Palin Kit," complete with authentic life-sized wig and glasses. President Obama merely gave him a "thrill going up his leg" by speaking; imagine the intensity and location of the thrill that dressing up as Palin would give him. More, perhaps, than the "frisson of pleasure" experienced by David Brooks from, say, a Sarah Palin Cabbage Patch Kids doll with "hand-tailored outfits" and stunning jewelry.

For the boys of the elite left, Christmas -- with its trappings of religion and reminder of a tacky citizenry -- can be a, tough time of year. But when the going gets toff, the toff get going -- right to the Christmas tree to unwrap their Sarah Palin dolls.

Stuart Schwartz, formerly a media and retail executive, is Professor of Communication at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.


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