As of this morning, Joe the Plumber is a brand as well as a household name. The McCain-Palin campaign has sent the word via email to supporters and undecideds that they will be accepting 30-second video ads from all the disgruntled Joe Plumbers out there through Friday the 24th at 5 p.m.The prize will be a featured spot in a McCain TV ad.
It seems that since McCain has not been nearly as successful as Obama at commodifying his own brand, he is now taking the tack of commodifying his supporters. He may well be on to something. The only thing Americans love more than buying stuff is selling themselves, seems to be McCain's way of thinking, and he has years of American Idol and YouTube to back him up.
His call to the masses to don the Joe mantle plumbs (sorry) new depths in his particular brand of cynical populism. By fetishizing working class signifiers ("Joe," generic t-shirt style retro graphics, the appeal to self-projecting couch potatoes), McCain is continuing his galling disingenuousness, stringing along and bribing Main Street to vote back in a structure that will benefit the Wall Streeters and the gated-in denizens of Vista Drive at Main Street's expense.
It will be interesting, in any case, to see the outcome. But this may be too little too late as McCain's major foray into Internet interactivity; the whole enterprise has the stodgy reek of the old "Can you draw?" ads printed in the back of comic books:
At least let's hope this doesn't usher in a national shaved-head craze. The Palin look-alikes are crowding YouTube as it is.