'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CAMPAIGN ADS ARE DECEPTIVE – AND EFFECTIVE
We are now getting close to Election Day, which means when you turn on the television at any hour of the day or night you will see a steady stream of political campaign ads occasionally interrupted by brief snippets of the regularly scheduled programs.
Regardless of who the candidate is, regardless of which political party he or she represents, and regardless of which office he or she is running for, most political campaign commercials follow a similar 3-part format.
First, we see bright color video of the candidate doing what he or she supposedly does during a typical day: frolicking and laughing with his or her family; holding the hands of senior citizens while intently listening to their concerns (primary concern today: “I can’t find my teeth”); and performing routine acts of public service, such as raising puppies from the dead. All the while cheerful and soothing piano music plays in the background, sending the subliminal message that this candidate has already been nominated for sainthood.
Next, the scene shifts abruptly. We now see a grainy black and white photograph of the candidate’s opponent, which was snapped at the worst possible moment, such as when the person was about to sneeze, or via a hidden camera, the instant after his proctologist said, “This may be a bit uncomfortable.”
The background music also shifts abruptly. We now hear ominous music with lots of cellos, the kind of music you hear on the soundtrack of horror movies just before an innocent teenage girl is butchered by a chainsaw-wielding werewolf. This music sends the subliminal message that the opponent is most likely a werewolf and if he wins the election he surely will butcher innocent teenage girls with a chainsaw. And just to be sure, as we’re gazing at this horrific black and white photo of pure evil, a somber deep-voiced announcer tells us that this opponent is hiding some deep, dark secrets (undoubtedly the werewolf and chainsaw thing) and that six times in the past, while serving in the state legislature, this opponent voted to murder puppies (undoubtedly the same puppies the saintly candidate has been raising from the dead).
The final part of the commercial returns to color video and soothing music. The saintly candidate addresses the camera directly and says as sincerely as possible, “I want to continue raising puppies and our senior citizens from the dead. But I can’t do it without your support. Please vote for me on November 7th. I’m Vernon Dweebler, and I approved this message.”
As soon as this commercial ends, a different campaign ad comes on the television, this time for the opponent. The roles are completely reversed. The opponent, now the saintly candidate, gets the color video and soothing piano music, and is shown performing routine acts of public service, such as raising kittens from the dead. While the candidate, now the sinister opponent, is shown in an ugly black and white photo, taken no doubt via a hidden camera at a different proctologist’s office, and the somber deep-voiced announcer (often the same guy) tells us how awful life will be if this evil man gets elected.
Campaign commercials are so blatantly deceptive and manipulative, you’d think they would have the opposite effect. You’d think people would get disgusted and say, “I’m NOT voting for a guy who says he approved such a dishonest and distorted message.” But no, these ridiculous ads really work.
In next week’s column we’ll examine WHY such ridiculous ads are so effective. (Hint: it has to do with the “I can’t find my teeth” folks.)
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