Universal Translator

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Unsolicited Campaign Advice for Democrats – No. 2

You know, I was thinking about the Americans United for Change video in that last post, and why I think it fails badly at what it attempts to do; I think it doesn’t really work because it makes the life of the 1% -- who are impoverishing the rest of the nation – look too nice.

People respond to nice looking things, to nice looking people.  Hell, I’m about the most sympathetic audience possible for that video’s message, and even my first thoughts while I was watching it were ‘nice house,’ and ‘nice plane.’  I understand that the video is intended to be a parody of an actual campaign ad run by Romney and Gekko, but looking at the image of that handsome, trim, rich couple on their private jet – well, I can tell you that I certainly would not mind living that why.

Don’t get me wrong, I think ads focusing on America’s growing income and wealth disparity should be fundamental to the 2012 campaign.  (Although I think it’ll probably be more effective for outside groups like unions and labor PACs – as opposed to President Obama or the Democratic Party – to produce and broadcast such ads.)  But in order for them to truly work they can’t make the wealthy look attractive.

Fortunately, they don’t need to.  Sure, I suppose you can present an ad that shows the 1% happy and attractive and laughing it up while the rest of us suffer, but for a lot of viewers that’s just going to make them resent their situation and wish they were playing for the other team.  Another, better way to get the point across is to present the 1% as unhappy, greedy, grasping little people consumed by their addiction to grabbing more, More, MORE for themselves, and never able to get enough . . . while everybody else suffers because of them.

Ultimately, the same point is being made, but now the wealthy don’t look happy, or glamorous, or enviable.  They only look sad, and stupid, and venal – and people don’t easily sympathize with the sad, the stupid and the venal.

At least, that’s how I would do it.

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