In a Camarillo strip mall, where a toasty Quiznos breeze mingles with the funk of Jamba Juice, a nameless cowboy strums a guitar. He’s thinking of a woman he knew years ago, way back in aught-twelve. She was a good woman, a loyal wife and a patriot, but her country let her down with negativity and gender-based attacks. But now it’s 2016 (?) and the time has come to stand at her side. In a gently Auto-Tuned country twang, the cowboy begins his lonesome song.
This poignant country ballad has been bouncing around both wings of the political snarkosphere all day; this morning, it had a couple hundred views and zero comments; this evening, it has nearly 50,000 views and comments have been turned off (and probably not due to an embarrassment of praise).
It’s already a minor viral phenomenon, but is this video important? Is it an intriguing preview of the 2016 election or a meaningless piece of cultural jetsam? I decided to find out.
Done. It’s the second one. But let’s laugh at it anyway.
“Stand With Hillary” is brought to you by the Stand With Hillary PAC, one of those authentically American grassroots organizations that enhances our democracy with mysterious smash-hit viral music videos. Its registered address is a strip mall in Southern California’s Oxnard Plain:
So far, the video seems to be the PAC’s only output, other than a press release about the video. It’s a one-issue PAC, and the issue is earnest heartland blue-collar pandering.
Songwriting and production are credited to Miguel Orozco, who’s not new at this: He’s allegedly “creator of viral hits ‘Viva Obama’ and ‘Obama Reggaeton.’ ” I have not personally verified the existence and popularity of these viral hits, but I would be quite a strange music writer indeed if I didn’t take a press release at its word.
Nowhere does the video, PAC website, or press release mention the identity of the default honky-tonk hunk in the video; he’s a smoothed average of every pop-country singer in the last decade, plus Kyle Mooney’s haircut.
I’m not sure if our hero is Orozco himself or just a rugged, sensitive country boy from the Oxnard branch of Central Casting. Or maybe — and I’ll admit to being a little out of touch with the scene — he’s the most famous country singer in the world. In any case, for the sake of simplicity, let’s just call him Townes Van Bland.
I wouldn’t say Van Bland is bursting with outlaw charisma, but he delivers what’s required of him: He genuinely seems like a guy pretending to be a country singer. If I saw him on a soap opera, playing a country singer, I would immediately register that he was a man portraying a country singer. It may seem a bit charitable to award points just for not being overtly grotesque and uncanny, but let me remind you of any political rap parody video ever made.
(Note: I emailed the PAC a couple of times to ask who the guy was, but they failed to respond within the generous 25-minute window I set aside for giving a shit.)
Lyrically, it’s bursting with nonspecific praise for Hillary’s integrity, accomplishments, and most of all her inbuilt lady-ness: She’s a “great lady, like the women in my life.” “There’s something about her, this great lady/Caring, hardworking, once a First Lady.”
Hillary is primarily defined not by her political accomplishments but by her family relationships: “a mother, a daughter and” [enter ye now the groan zone] “through it all, a loving wife.”
As if this weren’t all impressively feminist enough already, there’s also some well-handled glass ceiling imagery peppered in. “2016” is frequently seen spray-painted on a big pane of glass, and Townes has this progressive message for all the fellas in the audience: “Guys, put your boots on and let’s smash this ceiling!” Because, y’know, a man’s gotta smash something with his boots before a woman is allowed to be president.
It’s all paid off in the final shot, when Van Bland literally smashes a glass ceiling with a sledgehammer:
Actually, it’s more of a glass wall, or maybe a freestanding pane, but it definitely represents something. I think — and I have a bachelor’s degree in English, so bear with me here — it represents a metaphor.
It’s a great touch. Those familiar with the history and visual language of music videos will recognize a nod to the famous closing shot of H-Town’s 1993 “Knockin’ da Boots” video, in which a boot full of water is hit with a baseball bat to represent a metaphor for Knockin’ da Boots.
In the end, I don’t think this will be the tipping point that decides 2016 for any voters on the fence, but at least it gives our troubled nation a rare bipartisan consensus: This thing sucks.