'Sharknado's Amazing Political Power

Photograph courtesy Syfy/NBCUniversal

These days, Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on immigration, deficits, student loans, the farm bill, or just about anything else. So last night’s sudden breakout of bipartisanship was entirely unexpected. The catalyst wasn’t any piece of legislation, alas, but the cultural phenomenon of Sharknado, the Syfy channel’s terrible/awesome B-movie about a gigantic tornado that sucks up millions of ferocious sharks from the Pacific Ocean and rains them down on a terrified Los Angeles. (For anyone who missed it, here’s the trailer.)

Even before the movie started, at 9 p.m. Eastern time, it was generating unusual Twitter buzz. That traffic exploded as the Sharknado got going, oddly finding its most passionate audience among political types of both parties, who had a weird kind of moment as the movie progressed. Call it “B-movie bipartisanship.”

Turns out this may be no accident. Afterward, I asked a Republican ad buyer—Will Feltus, the senior vice president of research at National Media—if he had any demographic information on Syfy’s audience. He did. As the chart below illustrates, that audience is almost perfectly bipartisan, the movie appealing in equal measure to Republicans and Democrats:

Click to enlarge

So the good news is that it turns out Washington *is* still capable of coming together and agreeing on something. The bad news is that that “something” (spoiler alert) is a crappy movie filled with CGI sharks whose pivotal moment involves former Beverly Hills 90210 star Ian Ziering chain-sawing himself out of a Great White that has gobbled him up. :(

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