Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shakespeare at Large

The Ayla Effect: Or, what King Lear tells us about fathers and daughters

At this point, we all know the numerous reasons why Martha Coakley lost the Massachusetts Senate race. We also know that Scott Brown’s daughter Ayla was a semi-finalist on American Idol Season Five. What’s the connection?

Here in Massachusetts, we’ve seen Ayla take control of her father’s destiny. We’ve been robo-called by her. We saw her make the official announcement of her dad’s victory at the Park Plaza. We heard her belt out what God forbid will not be her father’s theme song, “Dancing in the Streets.”

Daughters stump for their political dads all the time. Remember Karenna Gore? Remember Alexandra Kerry’s cute story about the hamster? The Bush twins? But the Ayla effect is weird. She made the Brown campaign’s public “sad face” in response to Coakley’s biting commercial spots. She parlayed American Idol into campaign gold on Facebook. Meanwhile, Scott Brown was totally psyched and just focused on driving his truck around town.

King Lear’s daughters destroy their father because they think he’s a big wuss. Ayla ensured her father’s triumph because she looks up to him. He’s still an enigma to the public (moderate? conservative?), but we know for sure that Ayla once thought he was Elvis. Or at least that’s what she told Ryan Seacrest.

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