Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Vote Different

Everybody else is talking about this ad, so I thought I'd add my two cents. I think the ad is as interesting as a cultural signifier as it is a political comment. Many of the typing class and the talking heads seem most interested in who created it, what it says about Hillary, whether or not it's violent, whether it was made by a Republican. These are classic old world political analyses.

This is a political statement, obviously. But it's also a way of individuals interacting with politics in a way we haven't seen before. Someone (or several someones) spent a tremendous amount of their personal time to put this together. They had an idea - a new way of looking at the Clinton/Obama paradigm - and painstakingly crafted this ad together. This is much more than just a prank or throwing spitballs at a poster of a candidate. Someone worked hard to get this exactly right.

The original 1984 ad was based on Orwell's dystopian book, of course. The symbols in both ads are stark and horrifying: faceless crowds, blankly staring at their Big Brother in blind obedience. The original ad's comment was on the world of computers: things are boring and predictable, and we're going to shake things up. We're going to change the way the world of computers works.

The new 1984 ad suggests a similar paradigm shift. The message is that we (the "rebels" signified by the woman) are not going to mindlessly follow someone anymore. Is she Big Brother or Big Sister? No. Does she deserve to be crushed by sledge hammers? Of course not. The focus of the new ad, in my opinion, is the runner, not the face on the screen. The message is that we - the rebels - are not going to act like automatons for the leader we've been told to follow. I've been hearing for over a year that Hillary Clinton was the inevitable nominee for the Dems. She has more money than anyone, she has deeper connections, she has big Bill in her corner. She is the establishment candidate, if you will.

The message of the ad is anti-establishment. That's why the slogan "vote different" seems an appropriate one for this spot. It's about thinking for yourself and not following the conventional wisdom. Don't just support the frontrunner because they are the frontrunner.

And there is the basic statement. It's about old, establishment politics - the old way - vs. the new generation's politics. So it's about more than just Clinton and Obama. The spot is not called "The Obama 1984 ad" or "the Clinton 1984 ad." It's called "vote different." Don't just do things because it's the way things have always been done. It seems an entirely typical statement by this generation - the generation that includes both myself and Barack Obama.

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