Discover

Politics

Best & Worst: Political Ads of the 2012 Cycle

With just hours before we ring in four more years of Barack O’Drama (SPOILER ALERT: he probably wins), what better time than now to look at what made us laugh and cry in the wonderful world of political badvertising in the 2012 election season.

Quick facts: The Obama campaign alone raised over $1 billion this cycle. The Romney campaign and associated Super PACs shredded over 500 million pages of tax records in just the past two weeks. And all cross the country, there have been over 6,600 unique political advertisements for various office this year. After watching all 6,600 of them, I’ve compiled a list of the best and the worst that our nation’s best ad guys (and gals!) have to offer.

THE BEST:

“Firms” – Barack Obama (D-Pres)

Early buzz says this is a lock for the Palme d’Or in May. Barry’s team nailed it on pushing Mittens as a corporate vampire, without having to play the tried and true “scary music.” The genius was using Romney’s own boner-killling rendition of “American the Beautiful,” capitalizing on the Romney-is-awkward narrative that was just beginning to crest when this ad premiered in July. Survey says? Shade we can believe in!


“Debbie Spend it Now” – Pete Hoekstra (R-MI, Senate)

Typically, Republicans cloak a racist TV spot with “dog whistle” words like “welfare” and “lazy.” But protectionism has a new bitch in Pete “Spend It Not” Hoekstra, who takes China bashing to a whole new rice paddy. “Debbie Spend-It-Now” was the Hoekstra campaign’s genius moniker for their commie librul opponent Debbie Stabenow, a woman who clearly only uses chopsticks to shovel hard-earned American McDollars into the tiny, beaded change purses of the Chinese government.

Amazingly, despite the ad not even containing the phrase “ching chong Chinamen,” the general viewing public found it to be offensive, forcing the campaign to take it down. We beg to differ. Don’t hide your racism, Republicans! Wear it proud. Subtely is over. Great Wall puns are in!

Bonus points: The campaign also actually had an accompanying website (screenshot below) complete with Mulan font. GONG!!!!

^ To be a Senator, you must be swift as the coursing river!


“People” – Elizabeth Warren (D-MA, Senate)

If you’ve seen any of the ads from either side in the Taxachusetts Senate race, then you know that every swing voter in the Bay State either was the inspiration for The Fighter, or is directly related to an extra in The Fighter. Why else would each candidate desperately cram as many cartoonish Boston accents into each frame as possible? We whole-heartedly approve of this Wahlberg-baiting. Bonus points: Scott Brown, Warren’s Republican opponent and undoubtedly the sexiest man in the U.S. Senate right now or ever, got nude before Marky Mark ever posed in his Calvins (see image below). Advantage: the American people!

^ If this is what the GOP means by having a “big tent” party, count me in!


“The Donkey Whisperer” – Roger Williams (R-TX, Congress)

The donkeys are Democrats, get it? As the GOP’s main argument goes, these 47%-ers are so used to suckling at the teat of government, they’d happily refuse a paid internship at Bain Capital’s suicide factory in Guangzhou just so they can sit around voting all day and being lazy. And the argument that “We don’t live in the United States of France” is pretty much irrefutable.

What it lacks in subtlety, this ad makes up for in clever production. A serif font for a Republican? Very feminine and unexpected. Also note the reference to “big ears,” a subtle jab at Obama’s simian protrusions. Dog whistle politics or donkey whistle patriotism? You decide!



THE WORST:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jQaJiN2vW6I

“Republicans Are For Black Americans” – Empower Citizens Network (SuperPAC)

“Show don’t tell” is a concept is lost on the makers of most cheaply produced SuperPAC ads. This spot is running in a few urban markets in Ohio as we speak, in an attempt to convince absoluetly no one to vote for Mitt Romney. The stock images of black people are a subtle nod to internet art, but the rest leaves me baffled: “Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, therefore… vote Republican?” This argument only makes sense if it is 1864, which in fairness, many Republicans believe is the case. Reparations, anyone?

Fun fact: Super PACs have to pay a lot more to run ads than traditional campaigns, so it’s possible the makers of this ad spent the entirety of the rest of their budget on an iStockphoto membership.


“Mute Button” – Mitt Romney (R-Pres)

This ad makes absolutely no sense. So because Mama Pelosi put the speakphone on mute while ‘Bam was droning on—so that her boss wouldn’t hear them making farting noises, playing Hungry Hungry Hippos, vajazzling Harry Reid’s yoga mat, etc.—that means Obama isn’t “fit to lead?” That just mean Pelosi doesn’t wanna get fired. Who wouldn’t put the speakerphone on mute during a conference call?

We do, however, like the Errol Morris black-and-white dramatic reenactment via fair-use photo montage. I would like to see a sequel to this ad in which Barack Obama comes and knocks on Nancy Pelosi’s office door only to find she’s pulled a “Ferris Bueller,” leaving an elaborately staged crash dummy in her desk chair that can answer phone calls and even sign legislation.


“Decide” – Allen West (R-FL, Congress)

Finally, we come to Allen West, by all accounts the most insane person in Congress. As you may know, Republicans LOVE 24-esque graphical flourishes, because it reminds them of their constitutional right to waterboard their wives. Still riding that wave, the Florida Congressman makes a high-budget attempt to stick it to his Democratic challenger with the old “he was getting arrested for being drunk the same night I was deploying to Iraq” line. Heard it before, Congressman!

Fun fact: Allen West was basically kicked out of the army for abusing an Iraqi prisoner, so touting his military record is a potentially awkward choice. He also once referred to himself as the “modern day Harriet Tubman,” presumably because he likes her trademark modest dress with a statement piece Elizabethan collar. My biggest problem with this isn’t the slick GPS-porn but the main argument: why would you not wanna vote for someone who got kicked out of Mynt Lounge on South Beach for being too wasted? And then he was rude to a police officer? Be still, my beating Ketel One+Red Bull.

Recent Posts

How to Sleep Faster #5 | Arcadia Missa

How to Sleep Faster is an interdisciplinary journal published by the research project and South London gallery space Arcadia Missa, led by founding director and curator Rozsa Farkas. The fifth volume in the series continues the thematic exploration of precarity developed in the former editions, but moves in to the realm of nihilism and fantasy as a refusal of the current socioeconomic climate. Moving across mediums of critical writing, poetry, net.art, interviews, performance documentation and… [read more »]

XPO Gallery presents ‘Les Oracles’

XPO Gallery Paris opens a new group exhibition entitled ‘Les Oracles’, fully dedicated to the potent, historically problematic conjunction of science fiction and women- curated by hyperactive artist and curator Marisa Olson, with new works featured from artists such as Julieta Aranda, Juliette Bonneviot, Kristin Lucas, and Alexandra Domanović. Here, Olson discusses the particularities of the exhibition with Jeppe Ugelvig. Jeppe Ugelvig: In which way do the chosen artists incorporate science fiction, or how are… [read more »]

C R A S H | New Scenario

C R A S H Flashing lights of the metropolis. Stretched coaches cruise the steaming asphalt. Never sure what they carry. Hidden behind tinted glass. Like whales they glide through crowded streets, stolid and majestic. for a future IV: but what if we are not alive? Somewhere there among the remnants of the great pacific island, the blooming vortex of the world, roughly between 135°W to 155° Wand 35°N and 42°N in the accelerated rage… [read more »]

Girth Proof | Wickerham & Lomax at Dem Passwords

“I don’t know you, I use you.” — overheard last week at a club in Baltimore, MD Dem Passwords Gallery is pleased to present GIRTH PROOF, an exhibition by Wickerham & Lomax. Wickerham & Lomax have previously looked at collaboration through the lens of best friends, fashion designers, and show runners as surrogates for themselves. Most recently they have identified as gay dads who “gave birth” to a character named BOY’D, the primary figure of… [read more »]

Nissan Yogurty | Kate Sansom

Today, Chrystal Gallery returns after a five year hiatus with its second virtual exhibition, Nissan Yogurty by Kate Sansom. Chrystal’s previous computer rendered show, in October 2010, was curated by Timur Si-Qin and featured Kari Altmann, Charles Broskoski, Lindsay Lawson, Billy Rennekamp, Maxwell Simmer, and Harm Van Den Dorpel. She said “food is the oldest.” Maybe she figured it out that day in Costco? Looking for slivered almonds, and a puffy frame. And also “it’s… [read more »]

Here On Earth | Nick DeMarco

Nick DeMarco’s Here on Earth is currently on view at Interstate Projects in Brooklyn, NY through February 1st. The show is part feature film, part sculptural installation, creating an enjoyably convergent experience. DeMarco casts cut-outs of celebrities including main characters Jennifer Lopez, Paul Newman, and baby Drake into a narrative that is equal parts science fiction, government conspiracy, and family drama. The plot is enforced by a soundtrack full with foley, music, and hired voice… [read more »]

Ask Natasha | How do you art?

Q: How do you art? —Stephanie, 22 A: Other #AskNatasha Natashas include @natashacalis—“I play Claire in the TV series The Firm and Emily in The Possession”—, @natashabure (daughter of Candace Cameron Bure, or Full House’s DJ Tanner)—“…CALIFORNIA. 16. JOY”—, @inatashamarie—“HWIC of Natasha’s Nook™ | Militant WOMANIST | Being Colored is a metaphysical dilemma I have yet to conquer. I KNOW YOU CARE!™”—, and @natashafarani—“Maaf, ada yang bisa dimantu?” I am not jealous of these other… [read more »]

Pier 54 | High Line

In 1971 Willoughby Sharp curated now legendary exhibition Pier 18: for one day, 27 artists were invited to create original works to be exhibited at an abandoned Pier in the Financial District, NYC. Artists Harry Shunk and János Kender photographed the various events, which were not open to the public; the black and white photographs were then exhibited at MoMA. Gordon Matta-Clark suspended himself from a ceiling rafter, Vito Acconci wore a blindfold and had… [read more »]

Pakui Hardware | Shapeshifter, Heartbreaker

With their installation Shapeshifter, Heartbreaker at Jenifer Nails in Frankfurt, the collaborative duo Pakui Hardware (Neringa Černiauskaitė and Ugnius Gelguda) closed out a big year that included the solo exhibition, The Metaphysics of the Runner, at 321 Gallery, in Brooklyn, New York, and the Iaspis residency, in Malmö, Sweden. Last month Černiauskaitė, a graduate from Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies, and artist Ugnius Gelguda delivered a performance lecture at the Moderna Museet where topics ranged… [read more »]

ALLGOLD at MoMA PS1

This weekend, don’t miss the last Saturday and Sunday of ALLGOLD‘s re-launch of the electronic music label GENERATIONS UNLIMITED at the MoMA PS1 Print Shop. Featuring concerts, installations and screenings. Saturday December 20 Naval Cassidy 12-6pm If, Bwana 7pm Keiko Uenishi (o.blaat) 8pm Daren Ho 9pm Sunday December 21 Michael Evans 7pm Barry Weisblat 8pm Lary 7-9pm MoMA PS1 Print Shop 22-01 Jackson Ave Long Island City, NY 11101 ALLGOLD is comprised of artists, designers,… [read more »]