Presidential race: Campaign ads aim to shock voters with insane imagery

By
April 3, 2012

With Pokemon songs being sung at rallies and candidates boosting the sales of Etch-A-Sketches, this year’s GOP nominee race is sure to go down in history as one of the most bizarre. Things only get stranger once candidates themselves make the ad.

On March 23 Rick Santorum released the most unconventional ad by far in order to show voters why Obama shouldn’t be re-elected. For those of you who haven’t watched the video yet, here is a quick run down:

The ad begins with an opening shot of crows taking flight. Then it cuts to a small town named Obamaville two years in the future that has fallen on hard times.

The streets are void of life; the only sounds are wind and creaking metal. Completing the eerie ghost town effect is a single child’s shoe left in the grass at the park.

Suddenly, the shot is bombarded with several images in quick succession before hearing: “Shhh.” These images include a family standing on their porch, an elderly couple sitting at a table, an eye, and a baby.

“Small businesses are struggling, and families are worried about their jobs and their future,” the narrator proclaims.

What is most disturbing here isn’t the closing down sign in front of a struggling business or the couple staring solemnly at the camera. It’s a disheveled little girl sitting on a bench, dressed in a gray outfit. Behind the girl, a white washed wall and a photograph of another little girl from the early 1900s. Never once does the little girl look at the camera. She simply stares at her feet in despair.

Next we are told how long the wait is to see the doctor despite the fact that we are shown an empty hospital bed, and an empty hospital for that matter.

When turning to the issue of gas prices, viewers see a man with a gas nozzle pressed up against his head. Although logic says this man will not die if he pulls the trigger, the message is clear. Gas prices are so high that consumers consider death rather than take public transit.

In 2014, when this film takes place, the freedom of religion is under attack. This terrible religious war that Obama is waging is symbolized by someone blowing out a candle. Apparently, religion is so fragile it can be snuffed out with one breath.

As if things weren’t bad enough for this town, citizens in Obamaville are also forced to come to terms with the fact that a world nation and sworn enemy to America is now a nuclear threat. This great American enemy isn’t named in the ad, but the images displayed point directly to Iran.

At the end of the ad viewers are once again hit with a barrage of images. The ominous narrator leaves with these parting words:

“Welcome to Obamaville. More than a town, a cautionary tale. Coming soon to RickSantorum.com”

He might as well have said “Coming to a theater near you.” This over the top ad has more in common with a trailer for a Hollywood horror film than your typical “vote for me because the other guy is an idiot” commercial.

Of course, playing on viewers emotions is Santorum’s point. If we vote Obama back into office, America will become one giant ghost town.

Watching the ad certainly put me on edge. Yet, it hasn’t changed the way that I feel about Santorum, because instead of spending money to make this artistically terrifying portrayal of the future, Santorum could have gone to an Obamaville that currently exists.

Since roughly 2009 actual Obamaville’s have been popping up all over the country. Here, in the real world, Obamavilles are tent cities created by middle class citizens who have lost both their job’s and their homes.

There are Obamaville’s across the country, and one of  the largest is in Sacramento which boasted over 1,500 people in January 2011. Homeless shelters are filled to capacity across the country. Middle class Americans literally have no were else to go, and that is a chilling fact. Santorum could have even sent people to film one of the many ghost towns that the troubled economy has created.

But many candidates would not go out of their way to meet real Americans in trouble when they can hire actors. Especially in today’s world where the shock value is more important than the truth. We have all become so passive that the only way to grab our attention is to create fictional towns in fictional danger.

With Santorum getting feedback, both positive and negative, concerning his latest political move, it is only a matter of time before Romney and Gingrich join the fray.

Who knows, maybe the Democrats will try this new artistic scare tactic as well. And that is a big problem.

It’s bad enough that voters have to navigate their way through current campaign ads and decipher truth from fiction. Adding a whole new layer of frightening imagery will only make things worse when it is time to cast the last ballot this election season because, in a world filled with uncertainty, people react emotionally, not logically.

And Santorum isn’t the only one exploiting this weakness. Former GOP nominee Herman Cain is making commercials that are designed to shock people into siding with him on economic issues. First by torturing a poor, innocent goldfish, and then by flinging a shrieking digital rabbit into the air before blasting it with a rifle.

This year, as future leaders, we need to be responsible citizens and research each politician carefully before we enter that voting booth. We need to be accountable for who we select to represent us. Everyone is tired of the political shenanigans, and there is only one way to set government right.

We need to listen to each and every single word that comes out of a candidates mouth. We cannot be swayed by the images we see on TV. Will it be a lot of work? Yes. But we cannot blindly vote people into office anymore.

As candidates change how they win us over, we need to change the way we vote. Otherwise we really are in trouble.


Presidential race: Campaign ads aim to shock voters with insane imagery was published on April 3, 2012 in Column, Opinions

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