'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 TARGET TRUSTING GENERATION
Last week we discussed the many manipulative and deceptive political campaign commercials on TV nowadays. (If you didn’t read that column, please check the bottom of your bird cage.)
Most campaign ads show the candidate in bright, color video with soothing piano music playing. Then an unflattering black-and-white photo of the opponent is shown, and the music turns ominous. An announcer solemnly tells us this sinister opponent voted six times in the past to murder puppies. Finally, the candidate returns, surrounded by friends, loved ones, and an entire labor union, and cheerfully says, “I approved this message!”
People my age and younger—that is, Baby Boomers and Generations X, Y, and whatever other labels have been assigned to America’s youth—view these campaign commercials and laugh. Everyone age 60 or younger has been raised in the Age of Political Cynicism. We have witnessed assassinations, Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, deficit spending, Ted Kennedy’s driving skills, Bill Clinton’s boxer shorts, and George Bush’s syntax. We believe deep in our hearts that all politicians are egocentric hypocrites, and we don’t believe a word they say.
We’re also fairly savvy regarding media. We know that video producers have the ability to portray Charles Manson as Mother Teresa, and vice versa. So when we watch campaign commercials, we instantly know they are manipulative and deceptive, to the point that we can envision the team of pollsters, script writers, spin doctors, computer technicians, graphic artists, musical arrangers, and video editors working late into the night carefully crafting a slick, sophisticated 30-second masterpiece of pure propaganda.
Upon viewing these manipulative campaign ads, many people my age and younger immediately say, “I would NEVER vote for a guy who says he approved a message that is so obviously dishonest and distorted.”
So you would think these commercials would backfire and actually hurt the candidate airing them. Well, that’s not the case. These deceptive campaign ads are indeed effective. The more they appear on TV the more votes the candidate will receive on Election Day. This is because of a certain demographic in our society.
I hesitate to identify, and thus offend, this certain segment of the population. In recent weeks I’ve offended, among others: pet owners, women, celebrities, car buffs, Ted Turner, people with tattoos, people without tattoos, the British, conspiracy theorists, and Native Americans. Oh, what the heck. At this point I can’t dig the hole any deeper. The segment of our society that is influenced by these deceptive campaign commercials is: senior citizens.
Now, I’m not saying senior citizens are gullible. (Although if you do an Internet search for the phrase “gullible senior citizens,” you’ll get an avalanche of news stories about seniors who handed over their car keys, credit cards, and life savings to smiling con men who said nothing more than, “You can trust me.”)
The thing is, senior citizens were raised in a non-cynical era. When Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman said something, people trusted them. It was the age when a man’s word was his bond. Also, most seniors don’t realize how easily film and video images can be manipulated.
Most importantly, senior citizens vote. Unlike people my age or younger, who will go to the polls on Election Day—unless we forget, or unless it’s raining, or unless the drive-thru line at Dunkin’ Donuts is too long—senior citizens always cast their vote. That’s why most campaign ads are targeted toward seniors.
In conclusion, to show that there’s no hard feelings, I want to offer this final thought to all senior citizen readers: please send me your life savings. You can trust me.
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