Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Get down, America!

This Presidential election is boring.

Yes it's easy to say that from afar. But despite all the coverage and all I hear from friends and family in the States, I'm left with my strongest feeling being "So What?" about the contest and both the candidates. If only there was something truly out of the ordinary out there.

It wasn't always this way.

Back in 1976 the US was faced with an exciting choice of either four more years of Chevy Chase doing the same joke all the time or a fresh faced outsider who some thought would make everything better again. Or there was another campaign in fiction that actually garnered thousands of votes in real life.

For many people if they've heard of "Howard the Duck" at all it's just as the name of a movie they've heard whispers of as one of the worst films of all time. Some may have heard of the intellectual property battles over the character, both the attempt by creator Steve Gerber to secure the ownership of the character and Disney's complaints about his similar look to Donald, forcing him into trousers. (Of course now that Disney own Marvel and thus ultimately Howard this should not be an issue. Has the duck finally dropped his trousers?)

But beyond the worlds of rubbish movies and IP battles, Howard the Duck was so much more. In 1975 he received his own comic book series that rapidly became a strong cult favourite. The key to understanding the series is that it's an existentialist satire in which the difference between seriousness and silliness is just a point of view. In it a foul tempered talking duck from another dimension wanders through our world, exposing and commenting on the absurdities around him.

Whilst travelling from Cleveland to New York, Howard and his human friend Beverley Switzler take jobs at the All-Night Party convention. Soon Howard finds himself as the party nominee on a platform of straightforward, honest offensive talking. He rapidly attracts the assassins and smear merchants.

With the slogan "Get Down, America!" and a managed campaign that tries to avoid saying anything, Howard could have swept to victory. But then on polling day the papers fall for a hoax and print an appallingly composited picture that purports to show Howard and Beverley in the bath together. These were the days before widespread early voting and the Clintons so Howard's chances evaporated. Nevertheless in the real world thousands of voters found a fowl talker from another dimension a better prospect than Ford or Carter (I can't imagine why...) and wrote-in votes for the Duck. Imagine if so many had done so and he'd actually won electoral votes...

But now in 2012 we have a boredomfest inflicted upon the entire world. If the media could leave the election to the States it would be okay, but when it fills the news everywhere one can't but express a rather loud yawn.

Is it too late to suggest people write-in Howard the Duck once more?

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