Politics & Policy

Annoyed in 30 Seconds

Moveon's Obama ad project is underwhelming.

When MoveOn.org announced their “Obama in 30 Seconds” contest it was hard to know what to think. Both MoveOn and Obama are endorsed by passionate supporters, so the idea that the liberal netroots might churn out quality 30-second political ads didn’t seem particularly outlandish.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

With the submission deadline passed, and the first round of voting underway, I hunkered down and watched a few hundred of the homegrown political ads. Wow! Is the MoveOn crowd ever out of ideas! Sure, there are a few — and I stress a few — expertly produced or clever ads. But they are buried beneath hundreds of mostly repetitive and terrible videos which is a curse I wouldn’t — wait, actually I would — wish on the panel of celebrity judges MoveOn assembled for the contest.

Among others, the celebrity judges include Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Oliver Stone, Jesse Jackson, and Moby. I mean, Moby? The bald, squirrelly, hyperbaric-chamber-bound dude who sits around his Manhattan loft making techno music, is deciding on messaging for the Democratic presidential candidate? And Oliver Stone? Jane Hamsher of the liberal blog Firedoglake practically wrote an entire book about his fabled pharmaceutical habits, so I think I already know that he’s voting for this ad:

Moreover, has appointing the task of crafting political ads aimed at gaining the sympathy of unemployed factory workers in southern Ohio to celebrities of all people, given Moveon even a moment’s pause? (Nota Bene: I know there are a lot of mainstream Democrats who would like to stay as far away from MoveOn as possible — and ridiculing this contest is not a blanket condemnation of all Democrats.)

Of course, it is not merely a question of whether the panel will choose a bad ad, but, given the wealth of depravity, which abysmal option they will go for. After hours of watching these spots, I’ve seen interpretive dance, Obama as the light at the end of the tunnel of pestilence and death, something approximating a David Lynch dream sequence, the underrepresented demographic of stoner drum circle participants for Obama, voting suggestions from citizens of Benin, rapping in Pidgin, children badly in need of Ritalin, and so on.

That said, all of the ads referred to above, bad as they may be, are at least unique. Remarkably, on the whole, most entries into the “Obama in 30 Seconds” contest settled on the same utterly uninspired, insipid idea. It is as though the rules were fixed as follows:

Step 1: Get a group of people together that represent a perfectly distributed mix of age, race, and gender. Never mind that such groups never happen to assemble in real life, we’re so used to them smiling down on us from HMO billboards and college admissions brochures you can just go ahead and “celebrate diversity.”

Step 2: Shoot a video in which you splice them all together such that the people of various backgrounds all repeat a common theme, or each speaks a small part of one coherent message that’s been edited together. It’s a trip down memory lane that makes my bile duct twitchy, but remember MTV’s pioneering reality TV show, The Real World? Well, this is the true story… of seven strangers… picked to live in a house…work together and have their lives taped… to find out what happens when people stop being polite… and start voting for Obama.

The end result should look something like this:

But in case you didn’t get enough of that “We Are Obama” ad, here’s an ad called “I am Barack Obama”:

Okay, got that? Now here’s an ad called “My Name is Barack Obama”:

Starting to see a pattern here? In case you don’t, why don’t you watch this ad? (Warning: video contains Matthew Lesko, and is therefore not suitable for consumption by any living thing.) Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one. Or this one.

There’s even more, but if you were enough of a masochist to watch all those videos you probably came to two realizations. First, the ancient Incan practice of trepanation may have a place in the modern world. And second, all of these ads are the same!

Could we really expect anything more sophisticated from the people who brought us “Will General Petraeus Betray Us”?

– Mark Hemingway is an NRO staff reporter.

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