Clear Eyes, Full Hearts – How Friday Night Lights and Works of Fiction Can and Should Inspire Anyone

It’s been over a year now that Coach and Mrs. Taylor walked off the field on NBC’s Friday Night Lights. But for fans, the show continues to live on with fond memories of five seasons (well, maybe half-fond for season 2) of exemplary television.

Surprisingly enough, the series has popped up in the last week in the most unlikely of places… the presidential campaign.

Turns out, Mitt Romney’s campaign has officially taken on Friday Night Lights‘ iconic “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” and made it their own rallying cry heading into the final weeks before Election Day.

No matter your political leaning, you can’t begrudge a guy for getting inspiration from a little ol’ show about a small Texas town who loves football.

Or maybe you can, as evidenced by non-Romney supporting Friday Night Lights fans who are expressing how this officially ruins, defiles and degrades the show they love. (Because I’m sure Landry and Tyra burying the jerk they just killed and a certain live-in nurse named Carlota were just wonderful for the show.)

But that kind of reaction is certainly expected. Just last week, excitement and nostalgia over seeing Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash together for a Clueless reunion photo turned into virtriolic and racist social media posts against Dash after she tweeted her support for Romney on Sunday.

Not only that, some are pointing out that President Obama (or more accurately, Obama campaign interns) Tumbld and tweeted a photo of him in a very football-like pose on the field with the caption “Clear eyes, full hearts.” back in May. So Ann Romney’s letter to supporters over the weekend and son Josh Romney’s tweet before last week’s debate is apparently too late.

But why does it have to be? And why can’t both candidates be equally inspired by the sincerely inspiring motto.

Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said this: “It doesn’t surprise me that [Romney’s] drawn inspiration from fiction because almost everything he’s doing right now is a fiction.”

Now for any Friday Night Lights fan, I think it’s that quote we should be taking issue with. Now, regardless of whether Axelrod was merely taking a swipe at Romney, what he said is actually not an uncommon sentiment. And no I’m not referring to either of the presidential candidates.

I’m talking about how in the world could people draw inspiration from fiction? That’s just absurd. Right?

For me, having watched plenty of scripted television, I can honestly say that it is entirely possible to draw inspiration from works of fiction. Whether it is a realistic, down to earth television drama like Friday Night Lights or an engaging adventure novel, it is these creative works that not only inspire people every day, but also encourage, cheer up and entertain.

Just like I was inspired and touched by the stories and characters of Friday Night Lights, I’m sure there were lots of others who felt the same.

Is Mitt Romney and his campaign pandering to fans of Friday Night Lights? I doubt it. Because admittedly, the FNL fandom, while faithful, isn’t all that large and not really some huge voting bloc that could decide the election.

Instead, it seems someone in the campaign or even someone in the Romney family itself remembered the all-inspiring quote and thought it perfect. Just like someone in the Obama campaign did a few months ago.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.

It’s that sentiment that applies to any aspect of life. A rallying cry to never give up. Whose place is it to begrudge someone else from using what inspires them?

So this isn’t so much politicizing an iconic, memorable and inspiring motto as it is an example of how a show like Friday Night Lights or any creative work of fiction that transcends the medium and can inspire us, drive us and affect our lives long after the final scene or page.

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