Saturday, 9 October 2010

Some of the best US midterm election adverts

It's midterm season in the United States, and since it's America, that also means lots of cheesy TV adverts for us to enjoy.  And enjoy them we shall. When I say "some of the best" it's a mixture of some of the worst, some of the most amusing, and some of the best. Given that I'm talking about political adverts, I thought it would be fitting if I misled you in the title.

Christine O'Donnell (Republican): I'm You:

You've likely already seen this one, because it's so... strange that it's found its way into various media outlets. Yet it's enchanting and simple and it's likely play well with potential voters. At a time of disquiet about big government, too much interference, and out-of-touch politicians, O'Donnell's- Palin-style adverts will likely feel like a breath of fresh air to many. There's something appealing about an ordinary person seeking to represent her constituents in Congress, since it makes a change from the career politicians. Her stance of lower taxes, less Government, and the other general tea-party views could either increase or lower her support, but her chances of defeating the incumbent Democrat with a big majority are slim anyway.

She's not lying: she's not a witch. She's some kind of super-Christian-anti-witch. O'Donnel  is against abortion even in the case of rape or incest and tells us that premarital sex is immoral. So Government interference is awful unless it involves telling people what they can and can't do in their bedroom, apparently.

Also "evolution is a myth." She should not be allowed to open her mouth.

Roxanne Conlin (Democrat): Grandma

She took on corporations! And big banks! And big oil! So say her grandchildren anyway. I don't know whether this kind of thing plays well across the pond, but if someone running over here to be elected as an MP used their grandchildren like that, I think they'd be roundly hounded in the press. Cringe, shudder, cringe.

Bill Halter (Democrat): Some Scary Football Thing

My eyes automatically went wide as I watched this one because I was scared. There are random jumps between a terrifyingly loud coach and a smarmy suited businessmen, whilst Halter - being that ordinary average Joe that he is - holds an American football. Look how ordinary he is - he's holding a ball! Even the music in the background sounded like something from a children's programme, and the coach keeps shouting at me. Maybe it's just me, but I thought it made him look like a twazzock.

Peter Schiff (Republican) - I'll change the world and look dramatic whilst doing it (it doesn't have an official title)

It seems odd for him to do an advert like that before he got the Republican nomination, and get the Republican nomination he did not. Perhaps that's not surprising given this egotistical nonsense of an advert. "Washington will never be the same" the film declares, which is quite a strong claim to make. And just listen to that World of Warcraft-style music in the background - it's like he's about to singlehandedly march off and raid Congress armed with only the US flag as his weapon and the constitution as his shield - which is probably the effect Schiff was after. Nevertheless, his message had the potential to be popular in this period of American politics, which I like to call back to basics. Many seem to be looking for a return to a smaller Government, less taxation, a freer market, more personal liberty, and no more programmes like the recent healthcare reforms. Even his decision to run was due to grassroots support, with Connecticut citizens starting a website encouraging him to run and donating money before he'd even announced his candidacy. Unfortunately we'll have to wait until 2012 to see more of his dramatic adverts because he failed this time.

Tom White (Republican) - Debt

Debt's getting a bit boring now; it's all that anyone ever seems to hear about on both sides of the Atlantic, but something I thought was particularly clever about this advert was the running totals of debt that White alleges the Government has been running up, leaving it for future generations to pay off. Aside from being a nicer way of showing it than simply typing out a big number, it personalises it, appealing to parents and grandparents, causing them to ask themselves whether they want their (grand)children to be saddled with paying off Federal debt throughout their lives. Again, it taps into the anti-spending vibe in the USA, combining it with that universally appealing notion of family and children.

But those children are bloody scary.

Barbara Boxer (Democrat) - Precisely

An effective advert because it plays upon the fears of voters, as well as creating anger at her opponent. The advert is effective on the first level of attacking her opponent of outsourcing jobs at HP when she worked for the company, which isn't going to go down well due to the high unemployment and economic slump the USA is currently suffering from. Slightly more subtly, the advert as a whole strikes me as an attack on an opponent who is wealthy - most explicitly pointed out with the reference to her salary. This could be an effective technique for implying she doesn't care about ordinary people: the allegation being that she caused Californians to lose jobs whilst taking a large salary for herself. The contrast between locations abroad and those in California.  I'm more interested in finding out what the tune playing in the background is.

Scott McAdams (Democrat) - Tie Rack

Clever on a few levels, and I found it a wee bit amusing. Whilst you'd usually expect such a homely "I'm an ordinary guy - just like you" type of advert from Republican candidates, McAdams pulls it off well because of his... figure, which gives an impression of him being a normal bloke that isn't image-obsessed. Interwoven with this are references to things he says he's going to fight again, like the outsourcing of jobs.


I'm bored now, and have too many different American accents stuck in my head to continue.

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