As it turned out, that video forever changed the way music videos were produced, financed and created. It was the first video on MTV featuring a Black artist. In case you were wondering, the year was 1983. It still is the longest music video in duration ever to air on the network, now infamous for many things among others not playing much music. The fact that music videos now have taken on, artistically, a life all on their own is related directly to the bigness of Thriller – the scope, the budget and choreography of it was beyond what had been done before.
Fast forward twenty-six years and the Thrilla from Wasilla entered the room of the country’s collective conscience. It was a seminal moment in American politics and pop culture. Her announcement as Sen. McCain’s running mate generated a lot of skepticism and curiosity. Who was she and why did he pick her seemed to be the $25,000 questions on everyone’s minds. And then she gave the speech at the RNC that ignited the campaign and the imaginations of so many people, me included.
I felt myself transfixed to the screen as she spoke; much like that night so many years ago that Thriller debuted. I was too young then to fully appreciate what it was I was watching at the time. Thankfully watching Gov. Palin that night, I was old enough to realize that I was party to another piece of history, watching her star being born as she spoke with clarity, conviction and contagious passion. As I took in her speech, it made me think about what it was that made me the conservative I had become. There wasn’t a moment that stands out to me but rather resembled more of an evolution over time.
It all started in high school. I went to a small private school on the Southeast side of Houston that taught Biblical principles and for me I had to start with the fundamental question of life and its origins. I had come to believe as a young person that Christ was above and over all and that He was the Creator of all living things. If that was the case, then I imagined that it must move Him to sadness to see our treatment of the millions and millions of unborn babies who were never given a chance at life. What about them and what did it say about us that our policy towards abortion was a signal of the kind of progressive, secular society we had become?
Perhaps it was too simplistic but I noticed that many who belonged to the Democratic Party supported women having abortions and I didn’t agree with that stance. On the flip side, it seemed that many who believed that abortion was wrong associated themselves with the Republican Party. Something else I had to consider was that Dr. King quoted Abraham Lincoln – the Emancipation President - in his “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Those factors were plenty enough for me to fall on the side of the pachyderms. Then as time went on and I learned more about conservative principles – limited government, low taxes, free markets, fiscal discipline, strong defense, and individual responsibility – it seemed sensible to me. It. Just. Made. Sense.
Back to Gov. Palin – it was her plainspokenness that stood out to me beyond her striking looks and exuberance. She didn’t speak like a normal politician much like another unconventional political figure who came before her and revolutionized the Republican Party with his aura and substance. Like him, she didn’t talk around you. She talked TO you. She made sense. There are a lot of things that have happened to her and her family since that night that haven’t made sense…the attacks, the cruelty, the threats. But with EVERYTHING she’s endured, here she stands on the ready to inject herself into the 2012 Presidential race and make it as compelling as any monumental long-form genre-bending music video.
Speaking again of the King of Pop, there was another song he penned in the mid ‘80s. It was a song he and his brothers performed during the infamous Victory Tour of 1984 called “Can You Feel It”. It’s actually my seven-year old daughter’s favorite song. She’s got good musical taste, what can I say?
Should Gov. Palin throw her 50-gallon hat in the ring, November 2012 won’t begin an ill-fated victory tour. It will mark another revolution in the Republican Party, fitting of her luminary GOP predecessors. She will usher in a new era that will bring back America’s vitality, restore our hope in the future of our country and unleash the greatness of the people she’s been called to serve.
THAT will be something to see.