“Halftime in America” is an advertisement commissioned by Chrysler that aired during the Super Bowl in 2012. Over a gently swelling orchestral soundtrack, Clint Eastwood performs a monologue comparing the economic recession to a football game. Many audience members would recognize the voice of Clint Eastwood in this ad — the famous actor is known for portraying tough, masculine characters. The text of the speech, and Eastwood’s performance, reflects the kind of “pump up” speech that a football coach or a captain might give in the locker room to inspire a losing team before returning to the field to play the second half of a game. The ad describes the Chrysler corporation, the auto industry in general, Detroit (the “Motor City”), and the United States as a fighter that has been knocked down and must rally to get back up. As Eastwood puts it near the conclusion, “This country can’t be knocked out by one punch.” Visually, the ad is made up a montage of industrial laborers intercut with people of various ages and races driving, working, and spending time with families.
Who is the audience for this ad? Is it significant that this ad aired during the Super Bowl? Why? What kind of emotions is the ad stirring in its audience?
This ad draws a direct connection between the automotive industry and American identity. For example, “What’s true about [Detroit], is true about all of us” and “the world’s gonna hear the roar of our engines.” How do cars, as technologies and commodities, symbolize a uniquely American set of values?
“Halftime in America” focuses on a unified America and uses the first person plural “we” in framing a series of questions: “How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And how do we win?” What are some of the ways that Americans can be unified? Does this use of “we” imply that all Americans are the same? How does buying an American car fit into the message of the ad?