An Open Letter to Mr. Peter Berg

Dear Mr. Berg,

I have been a huge fan of Friday Night Lights. From the first time I watched the pilot episode and was amazed by what I had just stumbled upon up to the final moment when Coach and Mrs. Coach walked off the football field in Philadelphia and the lights turned off for the last time.

Every time I’ve written about Friday Night Lights , I’ve noted the many aspects of the show that I believed resonated with so many viewers including myself; the sincerity, the realism, the humility and maybe most importantly, the universality of the show’s characters, stories and themes.

Friday Night Lights never sought to divide, I thought, instead looking to find commonalities between different people. That a drama series about a small town in Texas was as relatable to someone watching California as it was to someone watching in the Midwest. That stories about high school, friendship, family and community would resonate with every corner of the country, regardless of cultural or political background.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how I thought the show’s signature “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” was the very epitome of how universal the show’s themes were. That a simple, yet meaningful grouping of six words would inspire two presidential campaigns who couldn’t be any more different from each other. That those words didn’t belong to either red or blue nor left or right.

“Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” is a perfect example of how anyone and everyone can draw inspiration from the same thing, regardless of personal differences.

Which is why I was disheartened to read your letter.

I am not afraid, nor embarrassed to say that I am a registered Republican with many, but certainly not all of my personal stances on issues aligning more with the Republican Party or a more conservative point of view.

But never did I see Friday Night Lights as a series that furthered, promoted nor criticized any one political party or way of thinking.

In your letter to Gov. Romney, you say “Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series.” I would like to believe you do not mean the converse of your statement, that the politics and campaign of Gov. Romney’s opponent, President Obama are aligned with the themes portrayed on the series.

Because not once did I ever see Friday Night Lights as anything other than an excellent example of how no matter how diverse American can be, everyone shares many of the same beliefs, triumphs and struggles.

You add in the letter, ” Your use of the expression falsely and inappropriately associates “Friday Night Lights” with the Romney/Ryan campaign.” I know you, like many of the show’s fans like myself, know that Friday Night Lights may not have gotten the level of attention it rightly deserved. “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” is so iconically associated with the series, but admittedly, most of America would not immediately know it was first the inspirational rallying cry of two fictional Texas high school football teams.

Which again speaks to the universal message inherent in the phrase.

I don’t feel the use of “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts” “falsely and inappropriately associates “Friday Night Lights” with the Romney/Ryan campaign.” Instead, I believe it is a testament to the power and meaning behind the words you created.

I respect your feelings and understand why you would not want something you created being used by a candidate you do not personally support. But I would also hope that I am misunderstanding the words in your letter. Friday Night Lights inspired so many people, Republicans and Democrats and many in between.

You have every right to ask the Romney campaign to stop using the phrase. But I would hope that you aren’t begrudging someone like me, who doesn’t necessarily share your political viewpoint from using and continuing to be inspired by those six words as well as Friday Night Lights itself.

I know I can speak for the millions of Friday Night Lights fans when I say Thank You for creating 76 episodes of incredible television. Five seasons of something more than just entertainment. A drama series that painted a picture of all Americans; relatable, sincere, humble, and for me, incredibly universal.


Lester Banatao

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