Thursday, October 23, 2008

Republicans. Terrorists.*

I once worked for a political advertising company doing campaigns for Democrats across the nation. We had this one East Coast Senator running on a platform promoting The Ten Commandments being posted in public schools within their state. I have pretty strong feelings about the separation of Church and State and was quite relieved nobody asked me to do any graphic design on her campaign because it might have gotten me fired. We all have lines in the sand and that's mine.

Advertising is about using images to evoke feelings, and those feelings can sway elections. If you crop a photo with enough space around a person's portrait, that person appears friendly, but if you crop the photo with no space at all, that same photo appears claustrophobic and makes the person appear threatening.

Given how powerful a single image can be, you can even cram a political mailer with dummy text and know that even a single unflattering image of your opponent can be enough to leave a lasting impression on undecided voters. Consider this last RNC mailer doing the rounds. Here's the front cover:

The use of the large word "TERRORISTS" in collage cut-out letters subconsciously paints a picture of kidnappers ransoming our children, and the image of planes in the background reminds us of 9/11. But who is this mailer for or against? Here's the inside:

Ah, well this mailer isn't calling Obama a terrorist, not really. But if you looked at this mailer across the room, you can't help but see a connection between Obama's picture and the word "TERRORIST". To understand the full context of the mailer, you have to read the mailer's finer print (the truth and accuracy of its statements are fodder for someone else's blog, I'm sure), but its tacit intent is self-evident: Obama is a terrorist. Governor Palin's speeches of late call Obama "palling around with terrorists". Her statements also do not explicitly claim Obama is a terrorist, but if you say "Obama" and "terrorist" enough times in the same sentence, the two ideas merge into an informal epithet: Obama the terrorist. Does that phrase sound like any other terrorist you know?

Obama's image in this mailer is also strikingly similar to another infamous black man hailed as a terrorist. And he was muslim. What a coincidence.

* The two are completely unrelated.

1 comment:

Seba said...

what is particularly ironic is that a definition of "terrorist" is someone that aims to destabilize a current system and gain power and control by spreading fear (terror).

Does sounds pretty fit to this tactic, doesn't it ?