March 22, 2007

Vote Different


“Guerilla politics.”  “Citizen ads.”  If anything, it make the vision of 1984 something of a fallacy.

From a strictly political standpoint, however, I’m interested in the frame ad man Phil De Vellis hung around Hillary Clinton.  If the fear regarding Hillary (or, “Clinton Inc.,” as she is sometimes derogatorily referred to) is that she’s a corporate shill and a hopeless “triangulator,” this indie/pro-Obama “Vote Different” ad hits some powerful buttons.


The code on the screen reduces each of us to a number. The “big brother” analogy levels out any unique impact of Hillary’s gender.  (Not lost, of course, is the fact a woman destroys the icon.) While being invited to engage in a conversation, our casting — as lobotomized campaign drones — puts a bitter twist on the subliminal exhortation to “be part of the team.”

And then, the logo at the end cues all kinds of distinctions evoking innovative versus the routine, the vibrant versus the colorless, and tomorrow versus yesterday.

If the early days of the campaign involve the shaping and counter-programming of personal images, I’d say Phil did Clinton and her media team a favor.  Unless they are so myopic and fixed in their ways that they just (either technologically or thematically) ignore this (which would prove this “one man” guerilla ad not just clever, but prophetic), they need to seriously channel the meme of their candidate (including themselves, too) as a “machine.”


(click all pics for full sizes)

It’s curious how, in responding to the video, Obama told last-generation media relic Larry King:

“Frankly, given what it looks like, we don’t have the technical capacity to create something like this… “It’s pretty extraordinary.”

Of course, that’s a lot of b.s. — at least from a financial and technical standpoint.  If what he’s talking about, however, is the ability to think, act, and conduct oneself in a more freely creative way, that projects almost as much about his own mechanistic tendencies.

View the video here.

(video frames:  Apple iPod ad/Phil De Vellis via YouTube)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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