Clint_Eastwood“We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way then we’ll make one. All that matters now is what’s ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together?”

 -Clint Eastwood in Chrysler’s 2012 Super Bowl ad

All eyes may have been on the Red Carpet this past weekend, but the star that everyone is still talking about is Clint Eastwood and his role in Chrysler’s recent Super Bowl commercial. It’s already garnered more than 10 million views and the chatter’s not quieting down. While this wasn’t an ad specifically for unions, the American auto industry often stands as a marker of how well unions are getting along these days.

Clint Eastwood’s gravelly voice guides us through the spot, summarizing the economic discord that has come to this country and how it reflects challenges of the past, but ultimately that America has and always will find a way through it all. The shots are simple reminders of everyday life and we don’t even get a frame with a vehicle until about two-thirds of the way through the commercial, and even then there is no emblem to indicate a brand. It doesn’t get in your face, it sort of looks you in the eye and embraces you like an old friend. Like I said, classy. 

The close-up of Eastwood’s face gave me flashbacks to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Eastwood’s character staring down Tuco and Angel Eyes in that famous three-way duel. It gives me shivers just thinking about it. Chrysler knew exactly what they were doing when they put Eastwood in there. He’s an unmistakable icon that virtually everyone loves. He is America at its toughest.

The commercial took some flak from some Republican detractors, calling it a blatant ad in support of President Obama. In an email to The New York Times, Eastwood wrote, “The ad doesn’t have a political message. It is about American spirit, pride and job growth.” Eastwood quickly denied the accusation on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor, and even Bill O’Reilly himself defended the actor. Unfortunately, these types of attacks have become par for the course and, as it is an election year, it’s only going to get worse.

In the spot, Eastwood talks of “the fog of division, discord and blame” and America has become shrouded in this fog over the past decade or so. Who or what will be the horn guiding us through the mist? Unions? “It’s halftime America, and our second half’s about to begin,” he says. When will the acknowledgment come that unions are as essential as they always have been in helping America stand strong? Something tells me we will know very soon.

-Michael Messina

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