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The Napoleon Dynamite guide to winning an election

2009-04-23 11:01
The Napoleon Dynamite guide to winning an election

With our own general elections upon us there has been no end of mud slinging, accusations, and of course bending the law, as various parties attempt to tarnish their opposition’s names and get those extra few votes for themselves. The usual array of posters have been plastered up around the country, treating us all to the dead eyed smiles of power hungry crooks and their meaningless slogans. It all seems pointless, as most people will have decided who they were going to vote for ages ago, and no amount of scandal or outrage is going to change any minds.

If only our own underdog opposition parties had a decent strategy for taking on the ANC instead of their usual constant ankle biting and whining in the press, they might just get a pleasant surprise on Election Day. Lucky for them, I’ve painstakingly put together the Napoleon Dynamite guide to successfully winning an election with notes I made watching our hero (played by Jon Heder) taking his shy friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) from being nobody to president of the student body in seven easy steps.

1. You must have sweet skills

After Pedro is inspired to run for class president, he is plagued by doubt over his quality as a candidate, and his best friend Napoleon is right there to reassure him that he indeed has the sweet skills to succeed. Those skills are 1) having a sweet bike, 2) hooking up with chicks, and finally 3) being the only guy in the school with a moustache. If you’re judging our next president by the fact that he has only demonstrated skill number two, just remember that Helen Zille has never even attempted to show any of them.

2. You must have a good image

When Pedro encounters a pre-election disaster by way of a panic attack brought on by the magnitude of the challenge ahead, he shaves off his hair in an attempt to cool down. Only realising his awful mistake after it is too late, it is up to Napoleon and Deb (Tina Majorino) to find a solution. They manage to turn the crisis into an opportunity with a sweet thrift store wig that totally makes Pedro look like a medieval warrior. Now if only someone was there to give the same help to Carl Niehaus…

3. You need awesome advertising

As the man behind Pedro’s rise to power, Napoleon also helmed his successful many pronged advertising campaign. His simple white “Vote for Pedro” T-shirt is an understated masterpiece amidst the usual vulgar fairground style promotions, yet he displays flair where necessary, using his own drawing of a man astride a dragon for Pedro’s flier, combined with the catchy slogan “Reach for the stars with Pedro!” Contrast that to bland, meaningless statements like “Vote to win” and “Working together we can do more” and it is no wonder that people have the urge to decorate these posters themselves.

4. The personal touch

A lot of politicians in SA try very hard to connect with their voters, often going so far as to have their heavily guarded limousines take them for generous thirty minute sojourns into revoltingly poor constituencies where people moan about poor service delivery, rampant drug abuse and record murder rates. No matter how many hands you shake, how many babies you hold aloft, and how hard you lie, these deluded folk always want more. Pedro’s efforts made the aforementioned showboating look like a weak squirt of urine in a hurricane, as he and Napoleon stood at the entrance to their school, personally greeting every potential voter with a “Vote for Pedro!” from Napoleon, and “Vote for me!” from Pedro, while handing out attractive wrist bands.

5. Keeping election promises

Once again our own politicians can learn a lot from Pedro when it comes to following up promises with action. When Napoleon approaches a recently bullied voter with a brightly coloured wristband and a pledge of Pedro’s protection, he makes sure that pledge is honoured by Pedro’s tough cousins who prevent the same boy’s bike from being stolen. As much as I’d love to believe our various parties’ insistence that they will sort out crime and corruption in SA, the fact that they are either useless, criminals themselves, or both, make that pill rather hard to swallow. Seriously, how can anyone trust a man whose best reason for not taking the blame for a crime is that other people are also guilty of crime? At least he’s not running for public office. Oh wait. Now I’m crying.

6. Vilifying the opposition

This is an area that SA politicians really excel in, trading loud mouthed insults via the press, and mostly succeeding in looking like ignorant pricks themselves. It takes wit and good humour to pull off a successful character assignation, as Pedro demonstrates when he hoists a piñata shaped like his biggest rival so that his supporters can literally smash her to pieces. His laid back demeanour leaves him looking as though he is merely catering to the will of the public, baring absolutely no malice himself. Hand up who wants a leader like that rather than some grudge bearing thug who promises to use his own (soft, work-shy) hands to kill to achieve his agenda in a democratic election.

7. A rousing speech and a sweet skit

Pedro’s rival, the popular and pretty Summer Wheatley (Haylie Duff), pulls out all the stops to impress, with her dazzling dance routine and her clever speech that mixes the odd racial slur with a delicious pun on her name (“With me it will be Summer all year long”), leaving his confidence badly shaken. It’s up to Napoleon to save the day – not only does his contribution to Pedro’s speech (“Tell them their wildest dreams will come true if they vote for you”) capture the voter’s imagination, his skillful dance routine (to the funky sounds of “Canned Heat by Jamiroquai) dazzles the school and propels Pedro to victory. Laugh if you will, but I see only one SA candidate dancing in public, and he also happens to be the next president. Coincidence? I think not.
A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.

Jess 2009-04-19 12:04 PM
vote Zuma then? kudos on the article =)
ash 2009-04-19 01:15 PM
i'm voting for whoever has the best skills, nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills... or maybe magic skills like a liger...
Rock The Vote 2009-04-19 03:31 PM
This makes me really want to watch the movie again... "Oh wait, now I'm crying" -Hilarious! Remember: Helen Zille dances in public too, y'know - Oh wait, now I'm laughing.
YTAH 2009-04-20 12:23 PM
My wildest dreams involve a metric tonne of oats, duct tape and a can of Orley Whip. Not sure I'd like JZ to make that reality, frankly...
JO 2009-04-21 01:33 PM
Sevendust 2009-04-23 02:04 PM
VOTE FOR PEDRO!!! - I've actually got this t-shirt... This movie is a classic!
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