Monday, August 04, 2008

McCains ad

In my previous post, I suggested the McCain ad with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton was subtle, and probably I really should not have. When you think about how the ad was made, the people making the ad asking themselves, "if we want to describe Barack Obama as a celebrity, whose image should we use?". Are there bigger celebrities than Spears and Hilton? Yes, Pitt and Jolie, Tom Cruise, Oprah, Tom Hanks all leap instantly to mind. What Hilton and Spears share, besides some celebrity, is a reputation for loose morals.

Now for decades African American men (and now teenage girls) have also had a reputation for loose morals. This is true particularly in southern states, but thanks to the magic of television, African-Americans have played the villain in numberless cop shows. We would naturally assume that a Britney or Paris would want to experiment with a black man, an Obama's natural impulse would be to indulge himself. That is a lot to read into one ad, but I think it is justified. Obama himself is the product of a failed interracial marriage, raising that specter with his mere presence.

Obama should push back soon against these ads, although I'm not sure how. He needs to include us (all Americans, but particularly white America) and tell us we are better than these ads. Racial overtones, even if meant humorously, are never acceptable.


Richmond K. Turner said...

Not exactly, Ed. What Hilton and Spears really share -- at this point in history -- is that they are "famous" simply for being famous, and not as a result of any work, talent, or laudable efforts of their own. Spears certainly had a string of pop hits about 8 years ago, and her original fame resulted from some noteworthy musicianship on her part. But these days, her music is completely beside the point and her fame continues without her needing to do any work at all.

McCain's ad, on it's face, is merely trying to say that -- just like Spears and Hilton -- Obama's fame is largely undeserved, and that Obama hasn't had to really do anything substantial to reach the heights that he currently occupies.

That part I can actually agree with, to a certain degree.

The less-obvious message -- especially given the frequent visuals of that uber-phallic column from the Berlin park that the McCain ad shows over and over -- is that Obama wants to have (non-consensual) sex with white women.

That imagery was most certainly not accidental. The McCain people knew full well what they were doing, and (although we can be disgusted) they did their jobs very well this time.

Bram Reichbaum said...

I gotta say -- as goofy as that ad is in so many ways, I personally don't see the slightest racial overtones. I'm afraid that if Obama cries racism-wolf over stuff like showing a building (that I think was supposed to represent the supposedly presumptuous grandeur of his speech), then he'll be able to respond less effectively when real racism arises. Which it probably will.

EdHeath said...

Well, Admiral, so we are saying essentially the same thing, although I don't know if I agree with the column thing (sometimes a cigar is just a yada). And I personally think that the reason McCain has pulled even in the polls is because he has raised the race issue (as you say, they knew what they were doing). But I am still insulted, and annoyed that everyone else is not also insulted by the ads. And I know this is politics in the real world, but just once I would like to see an issue get some real discussion, instead of this smear stuff.

I won't try to debate the points about Obama's experience and/or intelligemce justifying his fame/celebrity, because I am typing on a dodgy laptop and couldn't stand it.

Bram, I don't know what to say. I certainly agree about the risk to Obama of overplaying the race thing, which is why he didn't. But, umm you may have to just take my word for this. A lot of the people who voted for Hillary in Pennsylvaina got the message McCain wanted them to get.

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