Clint Eastwood is a man of many roles: he’s a movie star, American badass, producer, director, and even politician. Most recently, he can also add empty chair talker to the list. Eastwood attended the Republican National Convention this past Thursday, August 30th. He was attending the convention to give an endorsement speech prior to Republican candidate Mitt Romney taking the microphone, and things got a little wacky. Eastwood began talking and asking rhetorical questions directed towards Barack Obama to an empty chair on stage. Almost immediately after the speech aired on television, Clint’s stint at the convention became a huge buzz on social media networks, such as Twitter, where #invisibleobama was trending. Not only were people talking about Eastwood’s strange chair conversation, but people also began posting pictures of themselves reprimanding empty seats as well, giving rise to the internet’s newest sensation, #Eastwooding.
Romney may not have known what the outcome of bringing Eastwood to the convention would be, but it was certainly a strategic move on his part. It is safe to say that even if no one was expecting such a social media buzz about the speech, Romney was definitely looking to add star power to his campaign. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have become celebrities in their own right over the last four years. Obama has even taken to trying to downplay his celebrity in this election. This article from the Washington Times discusses Obama’s relationship with George Clooney. Obama is quoted as saying, “Clooney keeps his distance so that [the President] won’t be criticized for hanging out with Hollywood celebrities.” So it makes sense for Romney to try to bring in some celebrity credit, since after all, he is competing with the President who hangs out with George Clooney and was nominated by Oprah Winfrey. Who could be better to compete with those two celebrities than Clint Eastwood? Both candidates are trying to walk the fine line of celebrity endorsement. Obama has a little too much, and Romney has a bit too little. Why does celebrity endorsement even matter though? Celebrities are able to make campaign’s multidimensional and bring in more funds.
Mitt Romney knew what he was doing when he brought in Clint Eastwood. He knew that Eastwood is a celebrated and respected actor that everyone can easily recognize. What the Romney campaign did not realize was the unintentional social media phenomenon that #Eastwooding would become. This trending topic got people from all over the country posting pictures of themselves speaking to empty chairs. Not only did it spark a riot via social media outlets, it also turned a national holiday, Labor Day, into National Empty Chair Day where people were encouraged to continue to post more pictures of empty chairs. Coincidence? We will let you decide that one. As for the Republican Party, their intentions of bringing in Mr. ‘Dirty Harry’ himself were well thought out and calculated in hopes that he would be able to rally the voters who are currently undecided to choose their candidate. Instead, the Republican National Convention of 2012 will forever be known for Clint Eastwood yelling at an empty chair as opposed to what issues the party stands for in this election. These unintentional acts can make or break a campaign. Will #Eastwooding have a lasting impact on the campaign? Will the President soon become #invisibleobama? Only time will tell.