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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Campaign ads need to step it up a notch

    Election season is my favorite time of year. Not just because of the cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels ð- but because of the slew of really terrible commercials.

    Campaign commercials have been faulted for misinformation since the beginning of time, and sometimes have become so notorious as to garner their own news articles in lieu of real issues (most recently, The Arizona Daily Star wrote an editorial criticizing an anti-Tim Bee ad that linked him to a corrupt bus company owned by his brother). But there’s a standard misconception about the political commercial, something just about everyone overlooks: they’re just plain bad! It’s not that many of them claim Obama is like Paris Hilton, or that they slightly bend or overstate information from Factcheck.org. They all look like they were made in 1992, like a freshman media arts student who just discovered Windows Movie Maker and decided to dick around while he was on the phone with his mom. Why is there not a single decent commercial on the airwaves today? After all, their entire purpose is to catch people’s attention by competing with a series of quality broadcasts like the nightly news and “”Gossip Girl.”” You’d think the creators would realize the extent of their negligence just by comparison.

    But perhaps instead of this condemnation, let us indulge in hypotheticals and dare to be positive about their motives. Perhaps the creators of these commercials hope to be innovative, or at least interesting, but they just don’t know how. They’re like Neanderthals with iPhones ð- they’re stupid.

    Maybe, for their sake and ours, we can think of a few suggestions that might relieve them of their creator’s block and nudge them toward greatness.

    First off, an easy solution would be better pictures of the candidates. It doesn’t take a Fellini to realize that in a commercial, you can’t make the person you’re trying to sell look like a beleaguered hospital patient on the verge of an anxiety attack. This is most true with local commercials. I admit, it’s probably pretty difficult to get an attractive shot of Tim Bee, but Gabrielle Giffords is a different story. Her campaign commercial does nothing to highlight her image. It has stupid shots of her gazing at papers in an office building, and a contrived scene of her alone with a child at a playground (everyone knows that part of being a congressman is connecting with voters at the playgrounds of your constituency). But Giffords is an attractive woman, and all we get at the end is a scene of her walking ahead in a droopy pantsuit.

    This may seem sexist, but c’mon: looking good applies to everyone. That’s what commercials are all about! If you want to know what the candidates’ positions are in 30 seconds, go to the presidential debate, for god’s sake. Commercials are for shiny shots of foreheads and silly little jokes about how quirky that guy is with people smiling and shrugging all around him. That’s what commercials are about, and we need to see more of that in these campaigns.

    Second off, these things need better editing techniques. I don’t know about you, but I am so dang tired of decapitated heads floating above campaign slogans. “”The decapitated head of John McCain voted twice to give middle income Americans less stem cell research.”” “”The floating apparition of Barack Obama voted six times to associate himself with William Ayers, the terrorist.”” It’s ridiculous.

    But even more annoying is when the commercial’s creators think they can do innovative things with graphic programs, and fail miserably. This is the case with the aforementioned William Ayers commercial. Here, the editor thought it would be badass if they superimposed a bunch of clips onto a fake film reel, but took it two steps too far by making the thing obnoxiously spin and zoom around, then adding a haughty narrator who mocks real quotes by making baby voices. The creators wanted to cast doubt on Obama’s character, but what they really did was insult the viewers by showering them with pretension.

    Too often, these campaign commercials bungle the message they’re trying to convey by being overconfident. Whether that comes through with ugly photos compiled together at the last minute, or fancy techniques from seven years ago, the result is the same: ambivalence. Well, that’s not entirely correct. The result is ambivalence for most, but if you’re slightly masochistic and enjoy making fun of rotten television like me, you might have just as much interest in putting off November as John McCain himself.


    – Andi Berlin is a journalism senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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