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Archive for March 11th, 2008

of course, terrorists don’t strike at 3 am

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Orlando Patterson in the NY Times:

Not so this Clinton ad. To be sure, it states that something is “happening in the world” — although it never says what this is — and that Mrs. Clinton is better able to handle such danger because of her experience with foreign leaders. But every ad-maker, like every social linguist, knows that words are often the least important aspect of a message and are easily muted by powerful images.

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

The ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father — or by stating that the danger was external terrorism. Instead, the child on whom the camera first focuses is blond. Two other sleeping children, presumably in another bed, are not blond, but they are dimly lighted, leaving them ambiguous. Still it is obvious that they are not black — both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino.

Finally, Hillary Clinton appears, wearing a business suit at 3 a.m., answering the phone. The message: our loved ones are in grave danger and only Mrs. Clinton can save them. An Obama presidency would be dangerous — and not just because of his lack of experience. In my reading, the ad, in the insidious language of symbolism, says that Mr. Obama is himself the danger, the outsider within.

(You can see the ad in question here… It doesn’t seem to want to embed…)

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 11, 2008 at 11:13 am

Posted in ads, distraction

how things naturally were, right now, in the primitive present

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From an article entitled “Celebrate huge salaries, minister tells Labour” in The Guardian:

In a speech to the Labour organisation Progress, [business and enterprise secretary John Hutton] will say: “Aspiration and ambition were natural human emotions – not the perverted side effect of primitive capitalism.”

How to parse this curious quotation, if it is in fact accurate? Aspiration and ambition were natural human emotions, that is to say, presumably, present from the start, but… aren’t now? On the other hand, the  scapegoated capitalism is [would be] scapegoated as “primitive,” and we should abandon this line of critique in favor of… the endorsement of the effects as even more primitive (natural) than primitive capitalism? So is he saying that, sure, capitalism is primitive, just not primitive enough for his taste? Or primitive things get perverted when they encounter primitive periods of…

…you know what, forget it.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 11, 2008 at 12:15 am

Posted in distraction