Unconventional Wisdom: Aesthetics of the DNC/RNC

Sept. 24, 2012, 3:00 a.m.

With celebrity sightings in the dozens, street fashion bloggers toting cameras-a-clickin’ and that weird thespian display from Clint Eastwood, pundits and tweeters have had good reason to call the national conventions $18 million circuses. But who are we to judge the political hooplah? Intermission is concerned only with the cultural hooplah, and here we give it points in a nonpartisan bi-columnal breakdown. May the best party party!



+6 points for bringing in Mary J. Blige, who’s responsible for teaching all of us the word “percolating” through her 2001 hit “Family Affair.” (Throwback music video worth watching, by the way.)


-4 for the lack of a “THIS IS SPARTA” joke from (or about) Cory Booker. Mayor of Newark (and Stanford alum) Cory Booker delivered a rousing speech on the opening night of the DNC, which concluded with the catchy refrain: “THIS IS our platform! THIS IS our American mission…THIS IS the demand from the next generation…”


+15 for the Obama family background music choices. We saw that passive-aggressive move. Playing (Obama supporter, mind you!) Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” before the president’s speech was on point, and big ups to whoever made the call to play Beyonce at the end of Michelle’s speech. Beyonce isn’t the only power-wife telling those independents “to the left / to the left.”


+20 to whoever chose to include the “Carolina Raptor Center” in the official DNC guide to activities around Charlotte. Full disclosure though: It’s a preserve for large birds of prey. No velociraptors to be found here (except James Carville, if you’re lucky).


-3 for the not-so-subtle subliminal messaging in the choice to blast Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” between prime-time speeches on opening night.


Unconventional Wisdom: Aesthetics of the DNC/RNC+5 for the Bill-Barack hug that would make Ari Gold proud. (Incidentally, and for those of you who are “Entourage” ignorant, Ari Gold’s character is based on Rahm Emanuel’s brother, Ari Emanuel.) Intermission can always get behind a little former-on-current PDA: Presidential Displays of Affection.


+3 to the Democratic up-and-comers for keeping the focus on Obama and this election. The one major exception to this trend was for Karina Castro’s adorable hair flipping during her dad’s keynote address. Castro 2016? More like Karina Castro 2052!





 +30 points for the CNN Grill, the RNC’s hottest and exclusively A-list hangout. This pop-up bar and grill hosted the Gingrich, Santorum and Romney families (one wonders what they order at the bar), Rudy Giuliani and NBC legend Tom Brokaw, among others. The Grill is notorious for its open bar, strict bouncer, and lively scene from 5 p.m. until the bar’s 1 a.m. last call (just like Stanfy!). We’ve heard reports that University of South Florida’s KA chapter stepped up to host the post-closing time party scene at their similarly isolated house. Intermission expects no less frat-tastic than that!


-8 points for including 3 Doors Down in the RNC organized entertainment. Is this the early 2000s!? Not that surprising after a commissioned 3DD National Guard music video ad, but still. We were tempted to subtract an extra four points for the RNC’s advertising blurb: “From that first explosive burst of Kryptonite which ignited their storied career at the top of last decade, to subsequent multi-platinum albums and a nonstop touring regimen that finds them still notching shows around the world at a record pace, 3 Doors Down has earned a hard-fought pedigree as one of rock’s most exciting and authentic radio icons.” #LOL. SCN, sounds like you should book these guys for Frost, no? Their schedule is probably wide open…


+6 for hosting Lynyrd Skynyrd, because who doesn’t love “Sweet Home Alabama”? Intermission would actually be a-okay with Lynyrd Skynyrd at Frost, for the record.

+1 sympathy/pity point because “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo!” was on at the same time as the RNC. Its ratings topped the RNC’s by a pretty substantial margin; the “Toddlers and Tiaras” star drew 2.9 million viewers, while only 1.2 million watched the opening night of the RNC. We know that’s a programming blunder, but can’t Rupert Murdoch do something about it?


-10 for the Eastwood Adventure through time, space and invisibility. Point breakdown for this one is as follows:


  • -5 for creating the opportunity for Barack Obama’s response via Twitter: “This seat’s taken,” complete with a fitting photo, which became the most retweeted tweet of the RNC. (Really, we should +10 to the Dems for the sly “Forrest Gump” allusion, but making Mitt Forrest cancels that out). Meanwhile, #smh and #facepalm were trending topics among Republican strategists.


  • -5 for distracting from the Republican candidate in a big way: 20 percent of viewers polled cited Eastwood’s speech as the convention highlight, while only 17 percent remembered Romney’s speech as the highlight of the convention. Even Scarlett Johannsen didn’t upstage Barack at the DNC! Ouch.



  • +9 for hosting the RNC in the (almost) strip club capital of the world. Little known fact (to me, anyway): Tampa, Fla., has the third-most strip clubs per capita of any city in the world! It’s close behind Las Vegas, which takes the top spot, and the Cincinnati metro area, which is No. 2. Who knew?


  • +3 for whoever came up with the “GOParty Card,” which, sadly, is just a discount pamphlet for a variety of restaurants, bars, and trinket stores around Tampa. Now that the RNC’s over, any chance we can we co-opt that name for something better at Stanford?

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