The political ad generally comes in two forms. There’s the “smiling leader” ones where the candidate is happily slapping backs, hugging kids and relating to us “reg’lur folk” while the other is a basic “raw meat attack” ad. These attack ads almost always feature a photo of the target in question with mussed hair, an open mouth twisted at odd angles and packaged in an overall facial expression that alternates between slightly crazed or densely dull, depending on the ad’s particular accusation du jour.

Anyone claiming never to have been affected by this type of advertising is dreaming. Negative ads play expertly to our fears, and why wouldn’t they? Fear is a heck of a motivator. Remember the “evil Stephen Harper” ads?  As presented they made it crystal clear that by electing a Harper government the voter would be putting army tanks on the streets, guns in children’s hands and women in shackles. As it turned out the only ones horrified by Harper these days are the actual conservatives that voted for him. They could have sworn he was one of them………

Which brings us to our friends down South. We are seeing remarkable things happen before our eyes. You see, these days their presidential elections seem to start the day after the previous one ends. Honestly, do you remember a time when Hilary wasn’t running? And now that John Kerry has been dissuaded from embarrassing himself yet again we’ve seen the emergence of one Barack Obama. He has been termed, if you can believe it, “the magic negro” by the LA Times due to his seeming ability to transcend race and bring all people (read voters) together with his good looks and rousing words. Democrats, and many others, are hot for this guy.

Now, whether or not this is all true remains to be seen but my interest comes due to an ad running on the internet that is shear brilliance. Do you remember the old Apple Computer “1984” ad? It was a Ridley Scott directed ad depicting faceless drones, marching in lockstep all the while being lectured by a massive “big brother” type figure on a huge TV screen. In this world of grey madness a lone runner enters and swings a hammer, tossing it through the screen, instantly opening minds and freeing the masses from the tyranny of, in this case, the PC. This was how the world was introduced to Apple Computer and it remains a top commercial to this day.

Well just recently an “anonymous person” re-jigged this commercial and replaced the droning big brother head with Hillary Clinton delivering a surprisingly lively yet weirdly disembodied speech that plays like a zombified self-help tape.  It manages to demonize every word out of her mouth without saying anything at all about her actual words or positions. When the hammer thrower shows up and smashes the screen we are then treated to a brand new logo – the Apple icon made to look like an O, with text helpfully directing us to the Barack Obama website.  Wow! I couldn’t believe it. Talk about a shot in the mouth. And so early too. Millions of people saw this ad, and many more will too. The Obama camp immediately denied any knowledge of it, taking the opportunity to remind everyone they didn’t play the politics of personal destruction and would rather discuss their candidate’s ideas. The disingenuousness of this was revealed only days later when the “anonymous person” was identified as someone working for the marketing firm employed by Obama and Co, meaning Mr. Clean’s hands may have been a little dirtier than he was letting on. As usually happens the offending individual has either quit or been fired, depending on who you talk to.

That being said, no matter what you may think of either candidate the race is on in a whole new way. When average folks have the ability to play Michael Moore with anything they want the boundaries are limitless. The internet has become a game changer for politics. People can be slanderous, or not. People can be truthful, or not. They have the power to be heard like never before. And in embracing anonymity they are not even obligated to hold to any standard other than to win. How are we ever going to find our way through this new arena of comment which seems designed only to advance personal views irrespective of truth or reality? I’d say it’s a whole new world out there when advertising that was once aimed and shot at the masses starts being picked up, repackaged and handed around by the very masses it once intended to reach.

Don’t these people realize we need professionals to do this sort of thing?

Not any more.

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