Seminal Performance: Ann Coulter’s Role in ‘Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No’


At Flavorwire, we often pay attention to the new, but we make sure to do so not at the expense of what’s come before it. In “Seminal,” a bi-weekly column, we examine earlier, under-acknowledged exemplars of dramatic and conceptual mastery from revered performers’ careers — moments that should be described as, dare I say, seminal. This week, we’re looking into Ann Coulter’s #fierce performance as U.S. Vice President in the Golden Globe Best Picture: Drama AND Best Picture: Musical or Comedy winner Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No.

In Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No, Ann Coulter gives the type of performance that only auteurs like Anthony C. Ferrante (Sharknado, Sharknado 2: The Second One, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens) can elicit. Her acting tour de force has provoked comparisons to non-actor Björk’s performance in Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark — but, notably, with a pinch of Kate Winslet’s poignant Nazi character in The Reader. The unfettered honesty of raw talent, the surprising timing, and mostly, in the latter case, the Nazi-ism.

Coulter’s anti-technical prowess reaches its pinnacle in her delivery of the line, “You can’t do that!” uttered in the heat (or wind, if you will) of the moment. It occurs before she surfs down a stairwell on a painting of George Washington. Beyond the nuances of the performance that Cannes couldn’t ignore if it tried, Coulter’s very presence in Sharknado 3 also underscores one key area in which America is desperately lacking.

Today, what America clearly needs is more of a conflation between pop culture and politics. Following the recent election we’ve learned that although pop culture’s infiltration of politics can fuck the country by cutesifying people who spew hateful rhetoric like Sharknados spew…sharks — there’s always more that can be done to fuck it harder. Coulter bravely contributes with the small but important gesture of her appearance in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! and her more recent participation in the roasting of Rob Lowe, in which she gave a devastatingly real performance of someone who enjoys thinking they are funny.

When Ann Coulter appeared in Sharknado 3, it was a clear call to action for all her fellow pundits, expressing that if they truly wanted to be taken seriously as political voices, it was crucial to show the American people how they might spear sharks being flung from a tornado. How, pray tell, would the people have appreciated Ann Coulter’s deeply “populist “claim that there “should be a literacy test and a poll tax for people to vote,” without Coulter showing them she can stop a Sharknado? Politics obviously needs to be more like television, and hypocritical, terrifyingly racist and authoritarian ideology needs to be even better buried by appealing to people’s desires to see political(ish) figures battle flying sharks.

Only just on November 9 did America realize how crucial it is to have a government with the fun, craaazy hijinks of some of television’s most revered content. Donald Trump may not have appeared in the sequel to the sequel of a film about sharks catapulting from gusty funnels, but the Celebrity Apprentice was certainly a start, and thank God, it’s really pervading the way the President Elect is treating the serious issue of who’ll be governing us for the next 4 years.

We can only hope that come 2024, whatever cockroach-esque white people remain in the country following mild nuclear disaster and mass deportations, those survivors will unite Make America Great Again under Phil Robertson.

Beyond outdoing Der Füreality Show Host Whose Hair Jimmy Fallon Ruffled, Coulter’s cameo outdid even one of the greatest political minds of our day — Sarah Palin. Perhaps taking a cue from Coulter, Palin excelled simultaneously in nature-oriented reality television and climate change denial, but her attempts were feeble: while Coulter fought sharks, in Palin’s Alaska, the former Vice Presidential candidate merely went salmon fishing, then halibut fishing, then more salmon fishing, ultimately leading viewers to wonder why she wasn’t battling more dangerous fish. Did she not want to make a difference? (Pollsters, ever trustworthy, have likewise suggested that Clinton may have won the electoral college if her appearance on Broad City had actually been stupider. Why did it lack dizzy sharks or the catchphrase “You’re fired?”)

And, since the election showed that a pop cultural figure’s world-threatening hypocrisies don’t matter because he’s just so damn entertaining, it’s been rumored that Mike Pence will co-star in the reboot of The Vanilla Ice Project as well as a yet-untitled reality series wherein he plays a literal game of tug-of-war with LGBT people’s rights. It promises to be shocking.