In “What Hillary Wants”, posted by adelakolnovic,” Bill Clinton is described in archetypal terms:
Bill Clinton is the puer aeternus, suggests one of their older, wiser friends—the eternal boy, a Jungian archetype, who remains stuck in an adolescent orientation toward life, often prompted by an exaggerated dependence on his mother….” “But the “winged youth” often falls, psychologically, and in crisis turns to strong female figures to raise him up again.
Bill Clinton has also been called the “Everyman” as well as George W. Bush, those down-to-earth boys you could hang with or knock back a few beers. Barack Obama was the “Underdog” who represented not only historical change, but Hope, a platform and political battle cry that fired up and inspired his constituents. The Obama Hope poster below, by artist Shepard Fairey, is considered one of the most powerful pieces of political visual rhetoric ever created.
Image by artist Shepard Fairey
Who, then, is Hillary Clinton in this world of archetypes, gender, American politics, myth folklore and rhetoric? In this unique and often skewed world of social media, the Khan and Blair piece states:
In addition, the media plays a significant role in how society discursively con-structs relations of power, especially in the realm of presidential politics.
How important a role does the imprint of a particular archetype influence our folklore of women, especially a woman named Hillary Clinton, if she were to become our first female president?
Throughout we’ve discussed at length this notion of double standards for women, especially in politics. One only has to refer to Rebecca Traister’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” book excerpt, posted by Professor Hayden, to recall anti-Hillary sentiment in the form of political paraphernalia:
This brand of misogynist aggression was bracing, yet, but it also felt like the death rattle of a patriarchal culture, the last gasps from critics who had been spewing anti-Hillary bile for decades yet had failed to impede her rise to political power.
The Queen Archetype
Hillary haters and Hillary hating, as discussed in Karlyn Kohrs Campbell’s “The Discursive Performance of Feminitiy: Hating Hillary“, outlines the multi-faceted perceptions of the first woman to be nominated for the highest office in the land, and these haters would surely affirm Hillary to be the archetypal “Evil Queen”, a powerful female ruler who wields her authority with ruthless cunning, iciness, and arrogance much like the Queen in the Brother Grimms’ fairy tale, “Snow White”.
Image via Getty Images
Learn more here on Wikipedia.
Campbell writes about characterizations of her early years as Arkansas first lady, when she was working as a lawyer and colleagues described her as follows:
[She was] pushy, arrogant, and domineering.” “combative,” “disciplined,” “tough,” “cold and calculating,” “cold and rigid,” “self-absorbed and cold.
And does the Queen become even more wicked when she suspects her authority is being thwarted by plots within the court? The answer, depending on which side of the fence you’re on, can be found in many of our readings. Simply defer to the scandals surrounding The Real Clinton Foundation, NY Times op-ed piece by Richard W. Painter posted by sarahparente, and ciaobellou’s summary of the Benghazi hearings:
Although they define, identify, and analyze instances of femininity/competency and womb/brain binds in media coverage of Clinton’s testimony, our authors emphasize the pervasiveness of what they call the “new bind,” or the competence/authenticity bind. They posit that the media tends to paint Clinton as either competent or authentic, but rarely both.
Not to mention her controversial email debacle, news of recent Wiki leaks, or even her past defense of Bill during his notorious womanizing phase, which all essentially parallel her to that of a modern day Lady Macbeth- intent to crush and annihilate her opponents, political or personal.
The Warrior & Pioneer Archetype
On the other hand, one could make a case for the opposite- that the crisis for women in our current politics and the double standards that impede progress for women in the political sphere are just inevitable dragons waiting to be slayed.
Image via Reddit.com
Is Hillary the American heroine we’ve elected to slay these dragons or will she be slain? Her supporters would argue that she is, archetypally speaking, a “Warrior” or even an “American Pioneer”, and her passion to explore the political terrain and advocate for the American people at the highest level is legendary, in much the same way Amelia Earhart (albeit, tragically) explored the sky, by creating what has not yet been done and forging new ground for women.
Image via Getty Images
Will Hillary Clinton fly high, and survive, or will she fall, her waxy wings melting as she flys too close to the sun?
Image via Getty Images
Archetypes matter in our world of social media- and in order to be more “relatable” Hillary Clinton will need to figure out how to use social media in ways that work for her as they, too, are relational and represent condensed narratives that connect to deep wellsprings of emotion- that of our worst fears and basest instincts. Donald Trump has tapped into that primordial well and oozes in visceral and audible ways that knows no limits, bounds, or moral high grounds. Whether Hillary be a Queen, Warrior, or Pioneer is debatable, but what the heck be Trump in this narrative?
Bully? Populist? Dragon?
Image from drawception.com
Given our American folklore as it relates to politics, with so few women to turn to, one has to wonder, does Hillary Clinton possess the capacity to lead in a way that can light up the path for the people she and future generations of women she hopes to lead?
And furthermore, if folklore is a preservation and reflection of our shared culture and humanity, is Hillary Clinton a faithful reflection of all the “folks” that embody the differences in character and spirit, given her ‘east coast ways’ as depicted in the PBS Frontline clip “The Choice” posted by melmmelrh?
More Questions To Explore…
Given the divisive and toxic climate of this current election, will Clinton need, or be able to alter her (sometimes) alienating rhetoric, and speak the language of the common people in order for these groups that hate her- with the white hot rage of the sun- to receive the vision and message she hopes to bring? Do the leader and the led engage in a tacit arrangement of reciprocity through interpersonal communication, reliant on each other for the highest form of dialogue and expression of a civilized society?
Although it is doubtful that any of her political opponents (or their supporters) will run to see her vision or hear her message, this excerpt from her 1969 Wellesley speech and transcript is historic now, downright idealistic, and I might add, worth a listen. She was indeed a pioneer back then as the first student to give a speech at a commencement, elected by her peers. Ruth M. Adams introduces the young Hillary Rodam’s character in the loveliest of terms:
She is also cheerful, good humored, good company, and a good friend to all of us and it is a great pleasure to present to all Hillary Rodham.
Bob Dylan, a man often surrounded by myth and controversy himself, was just awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. In no particular order, he has been described as a folk singer-songwriter, poet, recluse, rebel, and visionary and has said of his art-making in a 2015 Musicares speech:
[My songs] divided people. I never knew why. Some got angered, others loved them. Didn’t know why my songs had detractors and supporters. A strange environment to have to throw your songs into, but I did it anyway.
One wonders if Hillary Clinton, just a few years Dylan’s junior having grown up in the same political era of Vietnam and civil rights, has abandoned her true self, politically speaking, and what prize, if any, awaits her?
I mention Bob Dylan, not as a tangential distraction, but as a foray into my final thoughts about archetypes, myth, folklore and social media- can a piece of pop culture, say, a poem, a song, a tweet, or a slice of satirical parody, like Hillary’s cameo on Broad City posted by Csandy54 and seen here
change the words and behaviors exhibited or reflected in the reality of events, as they unfold, in this bizarre and sometimes inspiring, sometimes exhausting, election? Given this context, can it be argued that the expression of the folk spirit is more sacred than profane rather than the other way around?
Whether or not Hillary Rodham or Hillary Clinton was/is a Dylan fan doesn’t matter if she becomes the first female president because this election cycle makes clear that even in 2016:
The Times They Are A Changin’- 1964.
Featured image by Freakingnews.com