Friday Night Lights Creator Accuses Mitt Romney of Plagiarism – Plus: A Few New Slogan Ideas

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t… use this slogan anymore?

Friday Night Lights writer-director Peter Berg apparently isn’t enamored with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s frequent use of the Dillon Panthers’ battle cry.

He’s so unhappy, he penned a letter asking the campaign to cease making references to “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose,” which pops up in Romney’s stump speech and on his Facebook page.

Recent history has seen several instances of musicians taking umbrage at a campaign’s unauthorized use of their songs. (Bruce Springsteen vs. Ronald Reagan’s love for “Born in the U.S.A.” is perhaps the best known.) But we’re pretty sure this is the first time a TV show catchphrase joined the mix.

In Berg’s letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, he writes that he was “not thrilled” when he learned the campaign had “plagiarized” the phrase he created. “Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series.” The only parallel between FNL and Romney’s platform, Berg adds, “is in the character of Buddy Garrity – who turned his back on American car manufacturers selling imported cars from Japan.”

Berg finishes by thanking Romney for his support but reiterating that there is no link between the show and Romney/Ryan ’12. “Please come up with your own campaign slogan,” he writes.

So now that Romney might have to give up “Clear Eyes,” we’ve taken it upon ourselves to generate a few TV-based replacements – including some that he could use in Tuesday’s debate.

Click through the gallery below and then hit the comments with your thoughts, including any suggestions of your own!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Aims says:

    Dear Romney: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Use.

  2. Court says:

    A bit of an exaggeration….like calm down
    I don’t understand why people need to be such jerks when it comes to politics – like it just makes you look really bad and rude and honestly, arrogant. And besides, I think all the characters on FNL would have votes for Romney – if we’re being honest.

    • Josh says:

      If we’re being honest, the creator of the show knows more about them than you do. But if we’re really being honest-they are fictitious characters. So it doesn’t matter. He’s allowed to be like this with his show. He created it, and now someone is using what he wrote for his campaign. And if you think it wasn’t chosen by a group of campaign workers who are tasked with having Mitt look like a ‘regular’ citizen, you aren’t being honest with yourself.

    • Diana says:

      I agree.

    • Being Texas, a lot of the minor characters would vote for Romney. But if Romney was put in charge of Dillon, he’d cut the football program, reduce the amount of teachers and staff and slash school budgets. All in the name of giving a tax break to the rich. If you actually watched the show, you would see that the importance of what an educator is capable of doing is monumental in terms of shaping futures and lives.

      • Court says:

        Again, I do not understand why it’s necessary to have an attitude when discussing politics – there is simply no reason to. I am a huge fan of the show and believe me – I understand the messages the show gives to its audience. I personally believe education should be a major priority. There are actually several teachers in my family. You do not know me, you do not know who I am voting for – and I’ll tell you now, I’m voting for Obama. I was just stating that people do not need to be so condescending when discusses politics – we can be civil. But clearly, you and the poster Josh don’t feel this way.

  3. Renee says:

    Romney with FNL slogan, Obama with Big Bird. Why don’t politicians get approval before using things?

    • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

      Fair use. They don’t need permission. Peter Berg can get as made as he wants, like a typical liberal, but unless he trademarked that slogan it won’t matter. He doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on and is just being a petty little child.

      • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:


        • Ebsun says:

          Fair use relates to 501(3)c and educational institutions. Not political campaigns. The fair use doctrine doesn’t protect as much as you seem to think it does, in fact it states explicitly that an entity can still be sued if the creator doesn’t approve. Peter Berg is definitely the creator as the quote isn’t even in the book. So he does in fact have a legal leg to stand on. But forget about the legal angle. When did we become so rude as a citizenry that it became appropriate to just take without asking. Did kindergarten teach us nothing.

          • nyangel22 says:

            Republicans seem to think that they have the right to use anything that they want. They’ve gotten into a lot of trouble by using songs like Small Town by John Mellencamp and Born in the USA by Springsteen (not seeing the irony in that one). Fox News recently got called out on using Maroon 5 songs in its commercials.

            We as a society don’t put much stock in intellectual property, which is why so many authors end up being plagiarized. There aren’t any real penalties.

          • Maddy says:

            So wait, it’s okay for Obama to use, which he did earlier in the year, but suddenly it’s plagiarism when Romney does.

          • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

            Obama had no problem using Big Bird in an ad without permission, although it has yet to air. And when Sesame Street politely asked that he not use the m in their ad, his campaign responded with “we’ll think about it”. Like was said above, it’s completely ok for liberals to take and use as they please, just not Republicans. I sometimes wonder if liberals ever stop and notice how stupid the things that come out of their mouths really are?

          • Coop says:


            They’re allowed to use those songs since they pay for licenses/permission. Musicians often take issue with it even though they have ZERO legal standing. Most of the time they complain about politicians using their songs for attention. Sure, it’s their way to make a political statement, but most of it is about getting their name back in the news.

            Politicians then stop using the songs in question because it just isnt worth the trouble when you can find something else.

  4. Drew says:

    Okay, so ask him to stop using it in a way that doesn’t make you sound like a d-bag and alienate a good chunk of your audience.

    • Diana says:

      Yes, this! I love FNL and was surprised to see Romney using it but no need to be a jerk about it.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      I thought Peter Berg sounded very respectful in his comments to Romney. He could have been a lot more litigious. And he has every right to be mad about it, as he’s the one who wrote it. Try to imagine how you would feel if you created something, and then someone you vehemently disagreed with starting using your creation in a public way for their own personal gain in life.

  5. Jo says:

    I heart Berg. That is all.

  6. Rebecca says:

    I love this man! Romney was my gov. for too long. No need for him to be my prez too.

  7. bobbie says:

    Oh this is easy! Gilligan’s Island:

    Thurston Howell III: Gilligan, you dunce, you’ve done it again!

  8. lara says:

    I love me some FNL, but I actually think that most/all of the people in a football-obsessed, segregated town that fired freaking TAMI TAYLOR because of how pro-life they were….would probably vote Republican.

    Having said that, I dont’ think that you allowed to steal a show’s slogan without asking for permission for a political campaign! Unless, you are Leslie Knope, of course :)

  9. Loni says:

    This is ironic because the man who wrote the book Friday Night Lights that the tv show is based on wrote an article saying he’s voting for Romney even though he’s a democrat.

    • JR says:

      Buzz Bissinger (the author) and Peter Berg are cousins. Berg adapted the book into a film and TV show and is the one to come up with the phrase that’s Romney’s using.

  10. Jessi says:

    Yikes. I love FNL and I’m not planning to vote for Romney, but I’m slightly taken aback by the tone of that letter. From those snippets, it seems like an incredibly disrespectful response.

    Not to mention the irony others have mentioned about who the characters would be voting for. But really, it seems that if he’s that offended, he could have asked without being so rude to someone who is apparently a fan of his show.

    • nyangel22 says:

      Don’t you think it was disrespectful of Romney to steal the show’s catch phrase? Personally, I think it is appropriate to respond to disrespect in kind. why treat them any way other than how they treat you?

      • Ana says:

        Not when there is a double standard. If the song had been used by a democrat he would have had no problem with it. So then, it has nothing to do with the fact that the song is being used, but the fact that the song is being used by a republican. Intolerance goes both ways. Why haven’t people figured that out by now?

        • Britta Unfiltered says:

          I don’t really understand what you’re saying here. If someone you supported politically was using your creation and you had no problem with it, then that’s the same thing as you giving them permission to use it, and no plagiarism issues exist. It all comes down to permission. I don’t really get why you think it’s a double standard. That doesn’t make sense.

        • Liz says:

          There is a difference. If someone who you don’t particularly like is using your material without your consent, then it makes sense that you would get upset. I’m sure you wouldn’t want Team Obama using your intellectual property for the sole reason that you don’t agree with them. On the other hand, if you created something that the Romney campaign decided to use, you would probably be honored. I would be horrified, but that’s me.

  11. Chuckashay says:

    Clear peepers, full aortas, we can win. Now don’t anybody steal this because I just created it. People “liberals” are so full of themselves. I’ll bet someone has said Mr. Bergs words before long before Mr. Berg fills it was created by him. Btw the original story was about Odessa, Texas and I can assure you most of those people would vote Romney. You really need to know your audience Mr. Berg.

  12. BrianR says:

    I don’t recall having ever heard him say it at all.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      So if you never heard him say it, he must have never done it? Wow, you’re omniscient!

      • BrianR says:

        Based on Berg’s rant it sounds like he says it all the time, what “clear eyes, full hearts” in what context. I’m sorry but saying you need clear eyes to see the writing on the wall or something like that isn’t quoting his show. Its a saying that goes back years.

        • BrianR says:

          Okay I looked at the Facebook link and he does use it so I guess only NObama can use hollywooder stuff at his leisure.

  13. nyangel22 says:

    Clear Lies, Black Hearts. Will Lose. Romney/Ryan 2012.

  14. Dee says:

    Typical leftist Hollywood reaction. FNL was set in Texas which is much more likely to be for Romney than the ultra-leftists in Hollywood. Big deal over nothing.

  15. Lili An-noln says:

    Mitt should be sued simply by the fact that he is implying that he is like Eric Taylor.

  16. Maddy says:

    I think Joe Biden needs to eplain to Peter Berg what plagiarism really is.

  17. cghhetmñjkgjet says:

    go su ck a di ck, berg. go mitt :)

  18. Ana says:

    This is why I think that mixing entertainment and politics is a bad idea. You get people who just parrot the talking points from the media about things they know nothing about. It makes them sound like idiots. If the song is not copyright protected, Romney can use it. He’s not stealing a script, he’s playing a song that has its own message independently from the show. People need to grow the heck up. If you don’t want your song to be used, then protect it under the law and that’s it. Personally, I wouldn’t use the song, but whatever. I find it hilarious to see celebrities with their ‘no h8’ stickers on but when it comes to people of different opinions they are only too eager to show their own bias and hate. Politics makes people stupid sometimes…

  19. dryedmangoez says:

    First of all, it isn’t plagarism since the Romney campaign isn’t taking credit for it. They are fans of FNL and are simply inspired by a line millions have people been inspired by for the last 6 years.

    And I’m disheartened to read Berg imply FNL had themes that only spoke to one side of the political spectrum. I always thought one of the biggest appeals of FNL was that it was so universal and relatable to a wide audience.

    • Liz says:

      By that logic, it would be okay for me to take a show’s script and novelize it without permission from the creator and the studio if I don’t stick my name on it. Sure, there will be people that think that my picture on the back of book means that I came up with it, but since my name won’t be there I didn’t do anything unethical.

      If Romney himself didn’t know the phrase was from the show (I really can’t see him doing something so human as watching television), he should apologize and explain the difference between paying homage and stealing ideas to his campaign managers–apparently, they don’t understand it–and then stop using the phrase. If he did know, this demonstrates his lack of moral integrity, but since most of us already knew about that, it doesn’t really change things because his sheeple will just believe in him no matter what logic dictates.

  20. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Hasn’t Romney also had problems with using people’s music without permission? His staff sounds quite incompetent if they’re not clearing these kinds of things beforehand. I hope he does the right thing and apologizes to Peter Berg and stops using it. And lest anyone say I’m just some dumb Democrat and I wouldn’t care if it was the other way around, I actually do think it was pretty uncool of Obama when he used Big Bird’s image in his campaign without the permission of Sesame Street. He should have checked with them first too. It’s all a matter of respect for the artists who create these works. They have every right to be upset.
    And btw, those fake slogans you guys at TVLine created are quite clever. I had a good laugh over them.

  21. Scott Brecht says:

    His values and interests match up much more closely with Obama/Biden, as we can see by his latest film “Battleship.” Financial disasters and sinking ships.

  22. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    Romney is only committing plagiarism if he fails to credit the source of the quote when asked, which he hasn’t done. Clearly the source is known.

  23. malarson2 says:

    Not only does Romney say that phrase all the time, he also has a sign posted above whatever door he has to walk through to get onstage to whichever venue at which he’s speaking and/or fundraising on any given day. And then he reaches up and does the tap of the sign as he walks out. I saw pics of this on the news several days ago and thought at that time that somebody was going to take issue with it.

    And I don’t blame Berg one bit for doing so.

    People who think that Berg’s ‘tone’ was too accusatory obviously have never written anything that has been published, and, especially, successful. Think about someone using your words for their gain, and in a national, public manner.

    Then think about if that person was someone whom you did not agree with or see eye-to-eye with in any way. Like, for example, you had written a song that you’d had copyrighted and then your absolutely least-favorite pop star performed that very song, without your permission, on the Grammy’s. How would this not be irritating to you?

    Politics aside, those who can’t see Berg’s point on this are not thinking it through properly.

    • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

      As long as they credit you then they can use your words all they want for their own gain provided they aren’t using a trademarked slogan of yours. Ever read a textbook? They aren’t paying every person they quote for use of their words. They simply give credit with a citation. The Romney campaign has made no secret of where the slogan came from, and if Berg was so worried about it he should have trademarked it. There is absolutely nothing Berg can do to make him stop. I would laugh my butt off if the Romney campaign turned around and trademarked it and told Berg to shove it. It is first come first serve after all.

      • malarson2 says:

        Oh, AJ. You are trying so hard here. Why don’t you head on over to and leave these messages for a group of people who will actually believe and respond to them in the way you are so obviously hoping for. Not really sure this is the place for it…

        • Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

          So to sum up your post, nothing you have said has refuted my post. I’ll add the the Obama campaign featured Big Bird in an ad that they have yet to run, without the consent of the creators of Sesame Street, who wish to not be involved in politics on either side.

  24. Keren says:

    LOL! @ “XOXO …”

  25. Whatever says:

    Romney / Ryan 2012 …..Lying today because we don’t care what happens to you tomorrow.

  26. BonnieW says:

    I love love love Friday Night Lights and had the utmost respect for Mr. Berg until his letter. He could have requested that the Mitt people refrain from using the phrase without the negative insulting comparision to Buddy. For all we know, it was a campaign staffer and FNL fan who borrowed the phrase and not Romney himself.

  27. Maya says:

    Romney ain’t no Coach Taylor. If he was, I might vote for him

  28. mousie says:

    As far as I can tell, SOMEONE from the Liberal media/some actor/actress will want to SUE Romney because….
    just, ENOUGH.

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