Hillary Clinton Doesn't Need 'Broad City' To Solve Her "Cool" Problem
In her latest quest to be not like a regular mom, but a cool mom, Hillary Clinton appeared on Wednesday's episode of Broad City. In the episode, Ilana and Abbi visit Clinton’s Brooklyn campaign headquarters and are overcome when they meet the woman herself, screaming and clutching each other. When Ilana tells Clinton she plans to tweet “Vote for Hillary, yas, yas, yas” at least once a week, Clinton replies graciously, “That would be great. We need to drum up some excitement for the campaign.” Have truer words been spoken about Clinton's campaign?
Though Jacobson said at SXSW this week that Clinton’s appearance was “not a political statement,” it’s clear her cameo belongs to a long string of shaky tries by Clinton to appeal to younger voters via pop culture — or, to put it plainly, be cool. But scoring a role on Broad City, a solidly millennial and feminist show, reveals keen insight into her voters' demographic that was missing in past attempts.
Clinton has struggled to endear herself to young Americans since the start of her campaign. She's been cast as stiff and calculating, as if her every move were scripted. Her representation of the establishment — the name Clinton is nearly synonymous with the Democratic party — when nearly half of millennials identify as Independents doesn't help — and it shows in surveys. A USA Today/RockThe Vote poll shows young women supporting Bernie Sanders over Clinton in a 2:1 ratio.
And oh, Clinton's tried every possible way to be cool, hip, and with-it, such as dancing the Whip and Nae Nae with Ellen DeGeneres while wearing a face of vague panic:
Then, there are her campaign's incredibly in-touch tweets, like this one:
Clinton's Sisyphean attempts to appeal to America's youth are highlighted by the fact that her rival Sanders seems to be coasting along effortlessly as the cool grandpa. He's older than she is, his hair sucks, and he wears a perpetual frown as opposed to Clinton's grin. And yet, he draws in the majority of millennial voters, in part because of one thing she appears to lack: authenticity.
When Clinton's campaign wrote up the faux-Buzzfeed listicle "8 Ways Hillary Is Just Like Your Abuela," it was criticized for pandering to Hispanics. Clinton's attempts to be cool seem to treat millennials as wildlife critters that will come to her doorstep as long as she puts out a certain food or imitates a certain call. But there are no tricks to charming millennials — and I say that as one of them.
While many argue that sexism plays a role in the disparity in Sanders' and Clinton's reputations as cool and not cool, respectively, it should be noted that Michelle Obama was accepted by young people from the start of her tenure as First Lady. Obama nailed her SXSW keynote on Wednesday and released a female empowerment anthem "This Is For My Girls" featuring Missy Elliott and Kelly Clarkson the same day. And let's not forget her "Turnip for what?" Vine, which has been played over 49 million times.
So what's her secret? In an interview with The Verge, Kyle Lierman, the White House's associate director of public engagement, said the key to Obama's appeal is that she is "uniquely able to be authentic." Authenticity strikes again. Obama herself told The Verge that younger Americans like her because she's "got two Gen Zers living under my roof. They don’t think we’re cool at all. But I know what they’re watching on Vine, and I know what they’re giggling about."
The times when Clinton has earned cool points, she wasn't trying, and no contrived schemes were involved. Her expressions during her Benghazi hearing in October, for example, were so genuine and kind of hilarious. They fast became a viral meme, perhaps the ultimate proof that you've done something millennials think is cool.
Just like that, Clinton won over millennials — something she's since been desperately trying to do — without any strategy or deliberate plan. This moment was organic. When she appeared to not care what others thought of her, she actually appeared cool.
To her credit, Clinton did well on her Broad City appearance last night, though more by making some clever quips about real issues, like achieving gender equality. In one scene, Clinton blows up one of those inflatable tube dancers and says to Ilana and Abbi, "Isn't she great?"
Ilana face-palms and replies, "Of course, we assumed it was a he."
If Clinton wants to snag those young female voters from Sanders, then luring them with emojis and awkward dancing isn't the solution. She'll find her authenticity angle if she talks about issues that are not only real to millennials, but also real to her.