The Spectacle Blog

Who’s In The Bushes At 3 AM?

By on 3.12.08 | 1:42AM

As a recovering English major, it is actually refreshing to come across such a brilliant satire as what Harvard professor Orlando Patterson offers in the Times:

In my reading, the ad, in the insidious language of symbolism, says that Mr. Obama is himself the danger, the outsider within.

The trouble is, Patterson isn't being satirical. That 3 a.m. ad? It was reminiscent of The Birth of Nations, another historical document that would have been funny if it hadn't been so earnest.

Let me introduce to you Professor Orlando Patterson, insomniac internet user:

I was left with an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right - something that went beyond my disappointment that she had decided to go negative.

At 3 a.m., Professor Patterson is stirred by the feeling of dread that goes beyond his usual disdain for negative campaign tactics.
Repeated watching of the ad on YouTube increased my unease.
Indeed, Patterson arrives at the same conclusion as the rest of us who've all suffered from too much YouTube.
I realized that I had only too often in my study of America's racial history seen images much like these, and the sentiments to which they allude.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:
To be sure, it states that something is "happening in the world" - although it never says what this is...

It could be anything! It could be Washington Irving, or a bomb, or the final season of The Wire!
But every ad-maker, like every social linguist, knows that words are often the least important aspect of a message and are easily muted by powerful images.

So goodbye Orlando Patterson, PhD. Ahoy Detective 'Lando, Image Investigator!
The danger implicit in the phone ad - as I see it - is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

Obviously, when the phone rings at 3 a.m., we're most worried about
...black men lurking in the bushes around white society...
Which is why people felt compelled to vote for Hillary because, once they saw her in her grey business suit at 3 a.m., they knew...
...our loved ones are in grave danger and only Mrs. Clinton can save them.
In other words: Orlando Patterson has endorsed the only person capable of saving us at 3 a.m.: Jack Bauer.

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