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Sarah Palin reminds me of the mothers I knew growing up. My classmates' moms had the same big-but-not-too-big hair, the gaudy necklaces with religious or patriotic themes depending on the day, and the self-satisfied look when they'd tell you just how little you knew about what you were talking about. If I'd seen Sarah Palin at a bake sale, a church potluck, or a PTA meeting in my youth, the only thing that would have identified her as “not from around here” would have been the accent. She could fit into any sideline of any soccer field in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania — or anywhere else in middle America. Like Yankee Candles, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and motivational quotes framed and rendered in cross-stitch, seeing Palin reminds me of home.
Palin's everywoman pose has kept her in the national spotlight well past her political expiration date. Palin has grown into a media empire spanning the bookshelf to the television set. Through the most embarrassing Vice-Presidential debate in history, ethics inquiries, a gubernatorial resignation, being forced out of FOX News, and enough reality show appearances to make J.Wow envious, there's no denying that Palin has endured.
She's nothing if not a survivor, and she's looking to pivot yet again. The reality show star/Tea Party kingmaker-era of her career seems to be coming to a close, and she's building a TV channel on YouTube called The Sarah Palin Channel. Instead of tweens vlogging about how many scarves they have in their closet, we get a Palin-sized dose of folksy vitriol. Most of the content is offered at $9.99 a month (that's more money than Netflix streaming) and includes Palin talking into a webcam. Sounds terrible, right? Don’t worry, last weekend, I became a member so you don't have to.
I opted to go for the monthly membership rather than the yearly subscription of $99.99.
The channel currently offers roughly eight hours of content, so I think I made the right choice. To put things in perspective, the channel currently has a shorter run time than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For what it's worth, LOTR offers more realistic characters.
After a day of binge-watching, I've consumed every piece of content on The Sarah Palin Channel. Palin's message is more of the same of what you've heard in media sound bites. You have all the old talking points:
- Anti-immigration screeds (It's Time To Fly Them Home)
- Obama Impeachment Drum-banging (We Can't Be Afraid of the I Word)
- Evidence of Rugged Folksiness (Moose Meat: It's What's For Dinner)
You have the standard fodder for the Sarah Palin Drinking Game:
- Use of the phrase “Liberal Media:" 14
- Sinister stock photos of Obama: 9
- American flags worn: 6
You have some pretty folksy pull quotes:
“Yeah, we got Al-Qaeda on the run. Runnin’ right towards us!”
“Anything’s better than the corruption we’ve got. Fix it. Fix it more than just a smidgen.”
“It amazes me that political economists are claiming there’s no inflation. They must not go to the grocery store. And they must not fuel up their own truck. Those of us who do, we see the inflation.”
“You got to ask yourself what’s the President going to do while the boys are out of town? You know, like that old saying ‘The cat’s away, the mice will play.’ The cat being Congress.”
“In our economy, there are more pie eaters than pie makers.”
And of course, you have the former governor taking the Ice Bucket Challenge.
There's an absurd beauty in watching her stretch a few ideas to the absolute breaking point. Because she has so little to say, we are treated to banal anecdotes, uncomfortable footage of her puttering around the house, and irrelevant fan mail questions about her genealogy, salmon fishing, and Van Halen.
It's the small moments of my day with Sarah that stick with me. It's one thing to watch her perform a one-woman show for five minutes, and another to watch her attempt to keep the act going for over eight hours (with more to come!). It's in these lovely moments that we see the woman behind the curtain, the limits of a constructed identity pushed past its breaking point. Here is what I learned from watching The Sarah Palin Chanel for an entire day. Please take a look, if only so that the sacrifice of a Saturday and $9.99 won't have been in vain.