I have absolutely no desire to get into a political discussion on this blog, but Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican National Convention just needs to be commented on. Not only was it a funny and an interesting speech, but we also witnessed the creation of a meme on a very large scale in a very short amount of time. Clint Eastwood’s imaginary discussion with Barack Obama became an instant sensation. Social media instantly embraced the occurrence and it made for some very interesting talking points and parodies.
For those who have not seen the Clint Eastwood speech, here it is
The internet immediately started referring to Eastwood’s discussion partner as “invisible Obama” and the jokes ensued. According to social impact media tool Topsy, social media mentions of Clint Eastwood spiked from approximately 15,000 mentions on Aug 29 to 276,000 on August 30th… the day of his speech. The term “Invisible Obama” had 0 mentions on Aug 29 and spiked up to 20,000 on August 30.
Along with the instantaneous public feedback, the image of Eastwood talking to the chair began floating around the internet in altered states. Some were political statements either for or against either party, but many were light hearted takes on the 82 year old actor’s imaginary conversation.
Parodies from the usual suspects like The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report soon followed. The president even responded from Twitter with a picture of him sitting in his chair and the words “This seat’s Taken” as his Tweet. Soon after, the phenomenon moved outside of the political sphere and took on a life of its own with Eastwooding. Eastwooding is the act of taking a picture of your empty chair in a scenario where an imaginary person may be performing normal actions. Some have wine with their imaginary partner while others have their imaginary partners reading a book.
Eastwooding may never reach the immense popularity that planking has (please note sarcasm), but it certainly does deserve a mention in the annals of internet culture. In the matter of just a few days, we have seen a meme created and morph into something that has been satire and something that we all can participate in. In the past five days, many have shared in this cultural phenomenon that simply did not exist prior to Clint Eastwood’s speech. Watching the transformation from RNC speech to internet phenomenon has been fascinating. It will be interesting to see if it continues to morph and how long, or if, the momentum will keep up.