The Evolution of the Political Spot

A while back, I blogged about the art of the political ad and several people pointed out the fact that ads had shortened greatly from 1964 to 1984. With the advent of YouTube, it seems that at least some political spots are getting longer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re getting more substance. What, for example, is it exactly that this is trying to say about Obama? I’ve watched it a couple of times now, and I am still at a loss as to what it tells me about his candidacy, other than the dubious information conveyed by an implicit endorsement from Cindy Lauper and George Costanza, et al. We get visual references to gas prices, war, and immigration, but not much more. Of course, “Daisy” was hardly a policy seminar, but the message was clear enough: A vote for Goldwater will lead to nuclear holocaust.

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4 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    I feel like you’re confusing political ads with artists who feel compelled to endorse political movements through verse.

    Short, direct, effective ads are still around. YouTube is just giving the rest of the world the opportunity to broadcast, albeit unprofessionally and less succinctly.

  2. Ali says:

    I agree with Nate that this five and a half minute song tells us nothing about Obama. If we replaced Obama’s face with McCain, or a homeless man, it would have the same effect on people.

    I find ads as such hilarious because all I can imagine the thought process of a young voter who watched this video, “I like Seinfeld. Jason Alexander was in Seinfeld. Jason likes Obama, therefore I like Obama. I’m voting for Obama.”

    By the way, isn’t Joss Stone English? I don’t think she gets to vote for the US Elections…but then I guess she can still endorse…

  3. anon says:

    Does this kind of thing ever backfire? What if one really likes Obama, but one absolutely despises the song (or the ad, etc.)? Or is the thought that wherever the political leads, the aesthetic must follow (“Why don’t I like the song? Hmmm…maybe I *should* like the song — after all, it supports Obama, whom I like.”). I don’t know if other people feel this way, but I find myself liking Obama, but really disliking the way that other people seem to like him.

  4. A.J. Sutter says:

    Seeing Jason Alexander and others mouthing the words of Martin Luther King, sorry, that was a bit over the top (or too far beneath it). As for possible non-citizens, not only Joss Stone but what about Dave Stewart (the Eurythmics guy who does most of the, ahem, singing; no wonder he left the vocals to Annie Lennox …). Sergio Mendes: naturalized? awake? Joan Baez: isn’t she a Soviet or something? (JUST joking).

    I agree that this ad tells nothing about Obama, while telling a lot about how entertainment biz types take themselves way too seriously. The “Obama Girl” approach was better; too bad Karl Rove and crew have figured out how to turn Obama’s celeb appeal (for some) against him.

    Watching the convention today, though, I was struck by how easily we accept songs by English and Irish bands (Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” and U2’s “Beautiful Day”) as American campaign songs. But why stop with those island nations? How about Japan, the US’s loyal ally in the war on terror? A band like, say, Puffy, a/k/a/ in the US as Puffy Ami Yumi, has melodic lines that are so limited and dance moves that are so low-energy that no one of any age, physical condition or musical ability could feel excluded (see, e.g., ). Plus, their image is so green that a current ad for vegetable juice features them with leaves sprouting out of their heads ( ). At least they might be better than most at helping with the self-seriousness problem.