Yesterday, I saw a very effective political campaign ad. I’m usually not swayed by campaign ads, and I was’nt by this one either, but I WAS moved. It had a deeply emotional effect on me that lasted for hours. Achieving an emotional effect is what makes an ad effective. This one triggered a myriad of strong emotions. This ad used a number of special effects. The term “special effects” probably makes you think of animation or the melting cop in Terminator 2. But special effects don’t have to be computer-generated. They can be people-generated, too. Their purpose remains the same—to create an artificial, yet believable, reality by enhancing some aspects of reality while reducing or eliminating others. In the case of the melting cop in Terminator 2, the element removed from reality for his character was his mortality, and the enhanced aspect was his ability to assume different forms. The ability to shape-shift is highly developed in politicians, who change personas according to what audience they’re performing for. That’s why “read the room” is one of the most popular Twitter phrases at the moment. But I digress. Back to the effective campaign ad.
The first human emotion this ad appeals to is sex. The candidate is zipped into a sexy-hot designer red dress, just tight enough to display every feminine curve, yet long enough to avoid the impression that she’s working the street she’s being filmed on. The kind of dress that rape apologists would point to as evidence that she was asking for it. We know she’s zipped in, rather than buttoned, because she is filmed from behind as she’s walking, so we can see the zipper, and her body, from another attractive angle. Her dress is accessorized with red high heels, the kind with saucy ankle straps. Watching her walk down a dilapidated street in a poverty-riddled neighborhood alone, I, and likely most women watching, re-experienced my own terror remembering being in a similar situation and felt afraid for her. Most straight men watching are likely torn between two basic human instincts triggered by a beautiful, rich, sexy woman walking alone on the street—the instinct to wolf-whistle — and the instinct to protect her. That’s one of the things that make this the perfect ad to make people believe they need the police.
Poverty-riddled is only one step away from bullet-riddled. Everywhere we look, we see evidence of economic violence—broken windows nobody could afford to replace, crumbling buildings, boarded-up businesses. We are hammered with the stark reality of the abuse and neglect of poverty. That economic violence, we are told, is being perpetrated by the Democrats running the city. Three residents of the city, all black men, are filmed pleading with America not to defund the police in their neighborhoods. They want to feel safe, and they succeed in making us want them to feel safe, too. Along with their pleas, we are given the horrendous murder and crime statistics of their anything but fair city, to demonstrate that if anything, the city needs MORE police.
One of the special effects in this ad is that the film crew removed all the people from every street she was walking on. They did this to create an atmosphere of complete desolation, a post-Armaggedon Democrat dystopia. Once I regained control of my emotions and used logic to deconstruct this ad, a few things became apparent. The first thing I realized was that had the streets NOT been cleared, she would likely have actually been filmed being assaulted, if not physically, verbally, with no police there to help her. Or maybe she would have been filmed having police unfamiliar with designer brands arrest her for prostitution, then throw her in an unmarked van and rape her themselves while she was in custody. They are allowed to do that in 35 states, (down from 44 since I last checked, YAY!) and all they have to do is say she consented.
By the end of the ad, when she says that black people don’t have to vote Democrat, I was cheering. I always cheer for the truth, no matter who is telling it, or why. However, I’ve learned that just one aspect of the whole truth being presented can be the same as a lie. It’s true that the Democratic party is corrupt and partially responsible for the economic violence being perpetrated against people of color. But it’s also truth that both parties are owned by the same banks that refuse them loans or charge them exorbitant interest. Both parties are owned by the same health insurance extortionists responsible for the low quality health care that has resulted in the disproportionate number of COVID deaths in communities of color. Both parties are responsible for corrupt police having no consequences for their actions. Right after watching this ad, I tweeted that it was hella effective! This morning, I regret that positive reaction, and once again, have relearned the value of a considered response, rather than an emotional reaction. These people are MASTERS of manipulating our emotions. We can’t let them succeed in manipulating them to the extent that they make us vote for our own oppression.
Here’s a link to the video. What do you think?