In the last week, people called North Dakota “too edgy.”
In the history of language and culture, no one has ever referenced North Dakota by its edginess. I haven’t checked the depths of the internet, but unless there is a fan-fiction of Jesus Camp exploring edgy secularism in North Dakota, “edgy” and “North Dakota” rarely find themselves defining each other. North Dakota’s now-removed ad campaign decided to ignore several geographic features and natural beauty of the state, instead focusing on hot, easy dickings with the locals.
The text accompanying the flirtatious waves to the one buzzed man emoting “Non-white people in North Dakota?!” sells North Dakota not just by sex, but by sex with great proficiency and variety. You will leave North Dakota a living legend to all locals. You will receive keys to several cities. A diner will name a platter after you. The old tomes are already chattering about your return. The problem lies in the entirety of North Dakota grabbing men by the collar and yelling “Get some!” when we’ve only really liked North Dakota as a friend. A distant friend, but still reliable. Unsurprising. North Dakota has needs and urges like the rest of us, but no reinvention can reconcile North Dakota’s untamed-yet-boring wilderness with getting some.
This same week, Newt Gingrich’s campaign encounters a similar problem in that it’s the exact opposite: how does one convince a country that a history of getting some has no bearing on a political-and-boring image?
Gingrich is a sexual man who resembles a sack of potatoes. His second wife revealed last Thursday his propositioning for an open marriage between her and his then-mistress, all during his attempts to impeach Clinton. He was able to avoid bad publicity in the last debate by saying all the slander is neither true nor relevant in politics. He’s a contender for the primary, after being kicked out of office due to an ethics violation. His reinvention should be a complex Rube Goldberg machine of sympathy and dirty politics, yet he simply brushed off every piece of slander with a “haters gonna hate/liars gonna lie” attitude. Unlike North Dakota, the public doesn’t need to reconcile the personal side and political side of Gingrich. We recognize that he’s a person. Some argue a terrible person, but a person no matter all that he stands for.
People will make fun of North Dakota’s ad campaign for its bluntness, but I will never call it far-fetched. If you were to strip Gingrich of his name and political power, he would have been the demographic for North Dakota’s campaign. In another life, he’d be a small town’s bachelor alderman working for the North Dakota weekends. His expenditures in North Dakota would singularly make the entire campaign break even. He would be happy there, amongst the scared middle-aged men and women counting down to their last hurrahs, in the first time “sad” has ever been confused for edgy.