Political campaign ads. They’re tiresome, disingenuous and give us some of the best laughs of the year. The truth is, most of those running don’t believe they can afford to be perceived as having fun, i.e. taking their campaign lightly. The result is a race toward over-seriousness and coached mannerisms, mixed with awkward attempts at still seeming human and approachable. This creates a lot of opportunity for unintended humor.
The worst Tweet so far goes to Donald Trump, who declared, “We need real leadership. We need results. Let’s put the U.S. back into business.” In this Tweet, there were four images laid over the image of an American flag floating in the wind: Trump’s face, a pile of $100 bills, the White House, aaaaand Nazi Waffen-SS soldiers marching. The way the images line up, it looks like the SS is marching on the White House. Yep. “Let’s put the U.S. back in business” indeed. Is there such a thing as a Freudian Tweet?
Like any good billionaire, Trump immediately blamed the snafu on an intern, fired him, and deleted the Tweet.
The cycle in campaign ads was kind enough to start hilariously, with Bobby Jindal’s announcement video hiding him behind a tree as he informs the least excited children in the world (his own) that he’s running for President. Perhaps there’s a reason hidden cameras are used primarily by comedy shows and not presidential campaigns. The result is nonsensical, with muffled voices and the presidential candidate himself virtually unseen throughout his own announcement. It’s no surprise then that Jindal has since dropped out of the race.
Ted Cruz’s “Invasion” depicts a Mexican invasion of lawyers, business-people and journalists. The message, largely lost in the ad’s war drum musical score, is that if professionals were coming across the border, Democrats might be more alarmed. It once more reinforces the idea the only people immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico are degenerates and unskilled laborers. This isn’t true, and study after study has shown immigration usually lifts economies. Not only that, Cruz and the Republican Party would air a commercial like this and then ask you to believe they value blue collar workers.
By far the highlight of this election’s campaign ads is Ted Cruz’s “Family Outtakes.” Because Super-PACs can’t legally communicate directly with a candidate, no candidate can film footage directly for a Super-PAC’s commercial. One way around this is to film hours upon hours of raw commercial footage and leave it up on YouTube as free to use. This is exactly what the Cruz campaign did. Since they can’t dictate usable and non-usable footage, the result includes a horrendous catalog of awkward Cruz family outtakes, including Cruz being coached by an off-camera director how to hug his parents and Cruz looking downright lost when sitting next to his own daughters. Gawker cut this down from the full 16 hour-long video. That is not a journalistic assignment I envy.
Of course, none of it compares to Carly Fiorina’s notorious Demon Sheep ad from her failed California Senate run four years ago, but the clincher this cycle may go to the Foundation for American Security and Freedom, which dropped this 30-second bomb aimed at embarrassing Rand Paul.
There are a few problems with this. First off, Rand Paul doesn’t need any help embarrassing himself. Secondly, the jingly music communicates a sitcom you would turn off more quickly than this ad takes. Thirdly, how many times does the Matt Lauer lookalike ask everybody, “How was your day?” The script has one line, and he just says it over and over again. I can only assume the message of this ad is that Iran has developed automatons who look like a white suburban family, but malfunction at the slightest hint of dialogue. Thus, Iran melts them down for parts in a large explosion? I…I think I’ve got that right. So the message is that we don’t need to be scared of Iran having a nuclear bomb, we need to be scared of their burgeoning android program.
But let’s not just leave this to the United States.
Wyatt Scott ran as an independent candidate for Canada’s parliament, putting together one of the best so-bad-it’s-good campaign commercials ever made.
It has dragons, cross-dressing damsels falling from the sky, giant robots, a…Canadian goose griffin, I….
Canada, seriously, how did this guy not win?
Though, personally, the Daleks have my vote if they ever come to the U.S.
Actually, wait, this is just the Trump plan with a cuter face.