This video was surprisingly not as difficult to make as I thought it would be, although in preparation I had to watch political campaign ads from three different countries — the most bring twelve minutes of my life (I couldn’t bring myself to do any more).
I was fretting about the images to use for the American ad (the good old “attack ad”) — I don’t have a video editor capable of magnificent swirly graphics and stuff — but then I remembered that I had all that footage from California that I could use. Turn down the colour saturation, make it slow motion, and bingo. I had considered accompanying the mountain with an arrow pointing to the “secret base” and cartoon graphics of a missile and a cat popping up, but that would have been a step too far. It’s supposed to look like a genuine, but failed, attempt at an attack ad, not a caricature.
Incidentally, if, like me, you have ever wondered why American politicians always say, “I’m Dwight Hackenbacker III, and I approve this message,” the answer is that it’s a legal requirement designed to discourage negative advertising campaigns. The thinking is that while you can’t stop candidates from rubbishing the opposition (First Amendment and all that), you can force them to personally identify themselves with their own campaign ads. Overdo the negativity, and in theory voters will punish you.
I was originally going to go for a more polished, professional look for the British ad, but then I saw a party political broadcast featuring Dave in his pre-Prime Minister state (and shirtsleeves) with his back to the Thames wittering on about the National Health Service with all the panache and charisma of a bored goat. The corresponding Labour broadcast was a bit classier, showing scenes of Gordon Brown visiting some factory somewhere, while his disembodied voice said something about how the only way to save money was to spend money. But who could forget that famous video when Gordon was pushed in front of a camera and unwisely told to smile? So obviously, that had to go in, too.
The lion’s share of the tedium I experienced researching this was occasioned by watching German campaign ads, and the thing that struck me was that they all had pretty pictures, but revealed absolutely nothing about the parties or their manifestos. I shouldn’t have been surprised, really: the agendas of all the main political parties are so similar, you simply cannot tell them apart, and besides the German economy is actually doing quite well, so there’s not a great deal to campaign on, except who has the best pictures.
So there it is. In America, you bash your opponent, In Britain, you bore your voters into submission. And in Germany, you hypnotise them.