Thursday, September 27, 2012

Political SILLY SEASON II: Obama, Romney, and Samuel L. the "F" word

In a previous post, I decried the condition of political discourse and voter decision-making, mostly based on the 30-second TV and radio spot.  About our tendency to elect leaders based on focus-group-approved catch-phrases and carefully-honed slogans.

Now I have been exposed to yet another way the politicos are using media--that most powerful medium of all, the Internet--to carry on the same sort of lowest-common-denominator marketing to attempt to persuade me to vote for a particular candidate.

Take a look at THIS SHORT VIDEO and come on back.

So what's your take?  This is my blog so I'll give you mine.

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.  I think Samuel L. Jackson is a fine actor, and probably a decent guy who believes very strongly in some basic things.  He has every right to support any candidate he wishes and to encourage others to follow his suggestions about where votes should go.

Look, I know this video was produced by Jackson and the son of George Soros with the explicit hope that it would go viral.  I suppose I am doing my part to help it do just that.  When I saw it first, it had just over 300 views on YouTube.  What is it up to now?  It must be working in that regard.  And that, of course, is the beauty of the web.  Whether you agree with the message or not, you may forward it to others and eventually it will have more views than those expensive TV commercials do.

Maybe you forward it because you DO believe in the message.  Maybe because you DO NOT.  Maybe because you think it's clever and well-produced.  Because you like Samuel L. Jackson.  Maybe because you get some kind of sick kick out of seeing the screamed word "bulls**t" part the hair of those gals.  Or hearing an obvious pre-teen girl yell "f**k" out the window at the neighborhood.

All in all, though, this little three-minute mini-movie exhibits precisely what I was saying in my previous blog post.  This stuff must work.  People must actually be making up their minds about who they will vote for based on clever video, the same simplistic charges, and the shock value of the production instead of actually taking the time and effort to research who the candidates really are, what they have done or promise to do, and what traits or beliefs make them the best for the job.

I've made up my mind already.  Unless there is something in the debates or that I learn about my man, I know which lever I'll pull in November.  Tripe like the Samuel L. Jackson video won't change that, so it was wasted on me.  But how many others will say, "Geez, if Jackson is for Obama, I guess I am, too.  He did pretty well with that airplane full of snakes."  Or even worse: "Wow!  How cool.  They said f**k and bulls**t right there in an ad for Obama.  If they are that cool...and the prez has been on 'The View' and 'Letterman'...then he is my guy!"

(Disclaimer: I am about as independent a voter as you will meet.  Politically, I am practically a left-wing radical when it comes to social justice, human rights, and individual freedom.  On the other hand, I'm way, way libertarian when it comes to government assuming too much power, meddling in our lives, and building a bureaucracy to solve real or perceived problems that end up making the problems worse at an unsustainable cost to taxpayers [War on Poverty?  50 years and trillions of dollars later, I maintain poverty is still winning that war!].

But I have kept an open mind and I have researched the presidential candidates...way beyond watching commercials and viral videos and reading op-ed pieces by writers who always come down on the same side of any issue.  I can show you real things that have been done in the past 3.5 years that scare the heck out of me.  Not a slogan in an ad or a rhyme in a silly video.  Real actions that threaten the very fabric of our country.  I'll mention a few and close this thing out.

How many "czars" have been appointed by our current president with unknown authority or agenda, with no oversight to speak of from the other two branches of government or the American voter?

How many "executive orders" have been issued and signed by the current president that create reams and reams of new, cumbersome and questionable regulation and policy and happily do so with little research, no legal action, very little oversight, and practically no consideration of their outcome or effect on us, our country, or the economy?

How many new federal agencies, committees, and other bureaucracies have been created to solve what someone considered to be problems without apparent consideration for whether they were actually necessary, whether or not another agency or body was already charged with doing that job, and how in the world we were going to be able to pay for all those new people, buildings, computers, and paperwork?)

Okay, I think I'll go lie down for a while.

Don Keith N4KC

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Political silly season

I keep seeing the news articles about whether or not media are reaping a bountiful harvest from the political ad spend in this presidential election year.  Truth is, yes, they are.  Maybe not as much as they had hoped, what with all that spending on shadowy stuff like social media, tweeting, texting, and other ways of avoiding actually having to give answers to questions that voters need to hear.

But every four years, traditional media get a nice infusion of dollars for those pithy 30-second commercials that are so carefully crafted, focus-grouped, honed and targeted so you, the voter, don't even have to think.  All you have to do is react to the stimuli.

If I sound jaded, I am.  Why, at a time when we have literally unlimited pipelines of communication, do people still rely so much on the TV and radio spot to inform them about a candidate's fit for the most important job on the planet?  Little wonder we hear responses like the ones I heard the other day, when a typical TV reporter asked typical people on the street who they intended to vote for and why.

"President Obama, because I just don't think Romney looks honest to me."

"Obama.  He really cares about people like me and Romney doesn't."

"Romney is just for the rich.  He'll take care of his rich buddies and we middle class and poor people will get hosed."

Lord help us all.  What a disgusting waste of highly-evolved media.

I would hope anyone--whether he is voting for President Obama or Mr. Romney--would have better reasons for doing so than what they glean from a television spot.  Or a line of rhetoric in a campaign speech, for that matter.

Are we really too busy to read opinion pieces, visit the candidates' web sites, research the many reliable, unbiased sources for the truth when so much is riding on how this election goes?  Could we take just a few moments from watching the Kardashians or Honey Boo-Boo to look up the records and experience of the two men running for president?

I'm afraid we are all too lazy or disinterested to go to the trouble.  Let the marketers define these men for us, then pick the one whose campaign team does the best job of selling the can of beans, not the one who would be more likely to do the best thing for our country.  Let them cull it all down to 30 seconds, then get me back to "American Idol."  Or even worse, vote the white candidate or the black one.  Or the one in the party you have always voted for.  Or the one your union, your minister, your parent, or someone else told you to.

Hey, with Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey both on that panel, the sparks will fly, I betcha!  And THAT is what's important!

Who was it who said, "People deserve the government they elect?"  I don't know, and I don't have time to research it.  They're about to vote somebody off the island and I don't want to miss that!"

Don Keith N4KC
(Author of the new book RIDING THE SHORTWAVES: