The Basement Files: “Ad-ing” up the 2012 political silly season
It’s almost over. I don’t know if I can stand it much longer, but the end is in sight. I see a shining beacon at the end of the tunnel, the tape across the finish line, the checkered flag. It’s Election Day.
Every two years we are inundated with idiocy, advocacy, punditry and a slew of commercials progressively more insulting, and more importantly, annoying. The visceral attacks are coming at me faster than I can count as my attempts to escape reality for a half-hour or two have reached a point that, until the day after the elections, I am boycotting live TV.
I know, part of me died saying that, but I just can’t handle the asinine commercials anymore. I’m glad I have a DVR. I might have turned off the tube completely if I didn’t. That thought scares me more than anything.
Now, I’m not an unreasonable person (unless I don’t get my morning coffee) but I’m going to be honest here. I’ve known who I was voting for in local, state and national elections for weeks. I’ve done my homework, checked records, researched candidates and made my decision as an informed member of society who happens to have a ton of free time because I stay up all night. So these commercials are not for me.
In fact, the candidates probably care less about what I think, since they aren’t going to sway me (although there is one set of commercials that are so intrusive and excessive that they spike my blood pressure). So all this pandering is just annoying.
I know it’s cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. Everyone hates political ads. And it’s not the pandering for votes that’s annoying, although that’s part of it. It’s the fact that every single one of them is the same. Republican, Democrat, third party, it doesn’t matter. Every single commercial is the same. Don’t believe me? Let me break them down.
Look at a candidate’s commercial. It doesn’t matter the party, as I’ve said, because they’re all the same. They can be broken down into two categories: pro-self and anti-other-guy. “Pro-self” ads go something like this: “I’m blah blah blah, I know numbers, and my opponent’s numbers don’t add up. I help people, love babies and puppies and I want to grow the middle class.” Pretty close?
How about the “anti-other-guy” ads? They are a bit more entertaining. “’Blah blah blah’ says he/she/it likes babies and puppies, but that isn’t the case. He/She/It thinks babies are gross, and puppies are evil. They also hate the middle class and are using you for their own personal gain. I’m ‘the other person.’ I actually love puppies and babies and think the middle class needs help, and I approved this message.” Again, am I pretty close?
Now, take those two ads, multiply them by about 30, then play them until the collective stress level of Americans is above “highly irritable.”
So what would I do differently? Well, I would never seek political office because I’ve written too many fart jokes to be taken seriously. But that’s OK, I honestly don’t know why anyone in their right mind would want those jobs anyway.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must take my blood pressure pills. The debate recap is on.
Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.