What did they call the union of corporations, a political party and the state in the 1930s? Does Bruce Springsteen understand what it means for an artist to use their art in service of such a bundling together of corporate, political and state power in the aftermath of a contested election that has seen a transfer of power backed up by thousands of armed troops deployed on the streets of the nation’s capital and the deposed leader being put on trial by his triumphant enemies? Springsteen probably does know the answers to those questions and is gladly playing his part as did so many in Italy and Germany in the 1930s.
Springsteen is starring in a Super Bowl ad airing on Sunday for Jeep in which the millionaire New Jersey rocker passes himself off as a church-going, cowboy hat wearing working man driving the mid-west plains preaching unity after he spent the past four years as a leader of the anti-Trump “New American Resistance”.
The ad, mostly filmed at the U.S. Center Chapel in Lebanon, Kansas, is heavy on images of Christianity to the exclusion of Judaism and Islam or even Native American faiths. Springsteen, the Democrats and corporations usually mock Christians, but with the “devout” pro-abortion Catholic Joe Biden in office an effort is being made to peel off Christians–especially white evangelical Christians–from the Republican base. (Other locations seen in the sparsely populated ad are Oronoque, KS; Golden, CO; Denver, CO; and Hastings, NE.)
Jeep ad promo photos by Ron DeMartin.
The two-minute long ad, produced in the first weeks of the Biden administration, invites Americans to meet in the middle of a “ReUnited States of America.” The middle is marked by a red star, make of that what you will.
Springsteen, who has campaigned for every Democratic Party presidential nominee since 2004 (Kerry, Obama, Obama, Clinton and Biden) did not make any such appeal to ‘meet in the middle’ during the four years of the Trump presidency, instead becoming a leader of the Resistance. But now, with Biden in office, Springsteen and Jeep are calling on Trump supporters to submit to their “ReUnited States of America” as if they are victors of a civil war. A week before the 2020 election Springsteen called for an exorcism by voters (via the NY Daily News):
“It is time for an exorcism in our nation’s capital,” Springsteen told his SiriusXM audience. “Welcome to our Halloween/Election Day monster mash. This is Vol. 14 of ‘From My Home to Yours’ titled ‘Farewell to the Thief.’ In just a few days, we’ll be throwing the bums out. I thought it was a f—— nightmare but it was so true.”
Two days after Trump was inaugurated in January 2017 Springsteen told an audience at a concert in Australia:
“The E Street Band is glad to be here in Western Australia. But we’re a long way from home, and our hearts and spirits are with the hundreds of thousands of women and men that marched yesterday in every city in America and in Melbourne who rallied against hate and division and in support of tolerance, inclusion, reproductive rights, civil rights, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, the environment, wage equality, gender equality, healthcare, and immigrant rights. We stand with you. We are the new American resistance.”
Now, with his party in power, Springsteen is singing a different tune in the Jeep ad:
“There’s a chapel in Kansas. Standing on the exact center of the lower forty-eight. It never closes. All are more than welcome. To come meet here, in the middle.
It’s no secret…the middle has been a hard place to get to lately. Between red and blue. Between servant and citizen. Between our freedom and our fear. Now, fear has never been the best of who we are. And as for freedom, it’s not the property of just the fortunate few; it belongs to us all. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from. It’s what connects us.
And we need that connection. We need the middle. We just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground. So we can get there. We can make it to the mountaintop, through the desert…and we will cross this divide. Our light has always found its way through the darkness. And there’s hope on the road… up ahead.”
Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer of Stellantis which owns Jeep, told Variety about the ad:
Springsteen “was 100% sincere, and honest and authentic. This is an attempt to contribute, to heal. This is not an attempt to pick a side,” says Francois. Springsteen “felt it was time for him to be this guy in the middle of America, talking to America from this little chapel in the epicenter of America, and stand for the middle and nothing else. I hope, really hope, that this will be understood,” he says, adding: “We acted in good faith, and as good people, and trying to do this thing for the greater good. Now, it will be in the public domain and we will see what happens, but I have no regrets.”