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Jackson video stutters its pro-Obama message

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Usually, when I think of movie star Samuel L. Jackson, I don’t think of his political activism. But recently, Jackson appeared in an advertisement targeted at those who voted for President Barack Obama in the 2008 election but have since grown apathetic. I worry about the kind of reaction it will elicit.

There are numerous sections of the video that may make people cringe. Worst of all is a little girl spouting off the theme of the video to her family to “Wake the f*ck up!”

Now, I’m no prude — I enjoy Jackson’s films, and such language is used frequently in them. However, they’re using a child to push a political agenda, and on top of that, they made her last line so vulgar. No doubt it will add fuel to the fire of social conservatives across the country; it fits quite well into their preconceived narrative of Hollywood and liberalism as corruptors of the youth.

It seems to me that the makers of this video, including scriptwriter Adam Mansbach — the author of parody children’s book Go the F*ck to Sleep, the audio version of which Jackson narrated — didn’t consider its potential negative effects.

Clearly the intended purpose of the video was to energize the liberal base, because unless there is a very large cross-section of undecided voters and fans of Jackson, it’s very easy to predict the reactions to this video. To complicate matters further, there is a record of Jackson saying, in an interview with Ebony magazine, that he “voted for Barack because he was black.”

To state so plainly a sole motivation for choosing a particular candidate, then suddenly having plenty of reasons not to vote for the other guy, comes off as dubious and disingenuous.

If Jackson had expressed his dissatisfaction with John McCain back in 2008, it would be perfectly reasonable to assume he prefers the policies of the current president to the Republican candidate, whomever that may be.

Now, however, it is all too easy for conservatives to accuse Jackson of not supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney because he’s white. This advertisement is dangerous if only for the fact that it further erodes the level of discussion acceptable in politics.

It comes as no surprise to me that a super PAC funded this video and it was thus technically created without the approval of any candidate, because I sincerely doubt Obama would have thought this was a prudent choice. Jackson’s attempt to be a part of the solution is really only making matters worse.

Sure it was pretty funny, in a bizarre sort of way, but at what cost? The minimal laughter comes at a heavy price, another nail in the coffin of civil political discourse. That’s where we really need the wake-up call.