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Eastwood’s Speech Inspires New Trend: #eastwooding

UT student #eastwooding, a trend that has become popular online in response to Eastwood's speech. Photo by Victoria DeLone/The Minaret

With the closing of the Republican National Convention, it would be predicted that Mitt Romney’s speech would be on the minds of the viewers, but a different speech seemed to stand out much more: Clint Eastwood’s.

Clint Eastwood, who has won multiple awards for his acting and directing, was the surprise speaker at the RNC, and he made one of the most bizarre speeches of the entire convention. I always enjoy a slice of satire, but the word satire flew right over Eastwood’s head. The 82-year-old rambled for 12 minutes while chatting with an apparently very sassy “Invisible Obama,” who was in the chair to which he was talking. Eastwood would be constantly interrupted by the invisible figure, and after a while I couldn’t tell if Eastwood was being humorous or if he actually thought Obama was sitting in the chair. Sure, the Republicans laughed and got a kick out of the ordeal, but I was laughing for different reasons.

Eastwood commented, “I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there are 23 million unemployed people in this country.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this past August there were 12.5 million people unemployed and the rate dropped from 8.3 to 8.1 percent. Eastwood either made a huge mistake (which happens in politics more than it should) or simply got his facts wrong. I’m thinking he just didn’t know his facts.

This of course, isn’t the first time that Clint Eastwood has been involved with politics. In fact, in 1986 he was elected to be mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, a wealthy community on the Monterey Peninsula. He also endorsed Eisenhower and Nixon, pre-Watergate, so politics isn’t a new area for him. Though, during an interview with The Guardian in 2008, he stated that during his time as mayor, he never had to make speeches. It really showed.

It didn’t take long before  Eastwood’s speech was mocked on the Internet.

"This seat's taken," Obama responds to Eastwood's speech with humor. Photo courtesy of mariopiperni/Flickr.com

According to topsy.com, mentions of Eastwood on Twitter spiked to over 233,000 Tweets on Aug. 30, causing him to become a worldwide trending topic. From this, #eastwooding merged. “Eastwooding” is the act of taking a picture of yourself pointing and scolding an empty chair. Soon there were thousands of images floating around of people doing this, and eventually an account for the chair was made, @InvisibleObama, which has over 69,000 followers. On Aug. 31, the official Barack Obama Twitter account Tweeted a picture of Obama in the president’s chair with the caption, “This seat’s taken.” Maybe we do have a sassy president after all.

According to the Huffington Post, Obama was not offended in any way by Eastwood’s speech, and actually is a huge fan of him. Obama stated, “If you’re easily offended, you should probably choose another profession,” referring to the presidency.

Actors have the right, just like any other American citizen, to voice their opinion on political issues. Eva Longoria and Scarlett Johansson spoke at the Democratic National Convention this past week. Simply because their faces were seen in a movie before a debate does not mean that politics is an out-of-bounds zone. Ronald Reagan, before his presidency, was an actor. What I take issue with is when a celebrity is making a speech that was clearly not given much thought, just as Eastwood did.

Eastwood, make my day in movies, not politics.
Sarah Garrity can be reached at sarah.garrity@spartans.ut.edu

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