Is The "Life Of Julia" Ad Really That Bad?
I was getting ready to tape a show yesterday with Sean Yoes, host of WEAA’s Afro First Edition political show, when I first heard about the “Life of Julia” ad the Obama campaign released. Sean was incensed at the Obama strategy people for putting together such a horrible ad. I finally had a chance to look at it last night. I didn’t think it was as bad as Sean or much of the press suggests, but it does seem to indicate a distinct change from the practically omniscient bunch who ran the 2008 Obama campaign.
It crossed my mind as I was trying evaluate this effort that from an advertising perspective, their target market for this ad built around the life of an anonymous, faceless "Julia" was the same hip, trendy, twentythirtyfortysomethings who read local alternative magazines like Skirt. The colors, the tonal palette, the shape and proportions of the graphics, and the tone of the prose all suggested a blatant appeal to the fairly well informed reader who simply needs to be reminded of things they already know. The most important thing I noticed, something that TV pundits who think people still take their news straight with no chaser from the boob tube have totally ignored, was how good this ad looked on a IPhone, a place where the women in my household get much of their information.
Sean Yoes was not alone in his extreme displeasure – there is criticism everywhere about this ad. Most of the rhetoric swirling around cable news shows and the internet loudly condemn the creator of the “The Life of Julia” web advertorial for the Obama campaign. The scenarios in each frame of the ad feature an anonymous Julie at each stage in her life, with a helpful text box that points out the positive aspects President Obama’s policies provide and the corresponding negative aspects of Mitt Romney’s policies for the same scenario. Most of the criticism from the right is focused on the blasphemy of having the government lend a hand at every stage of a person’s life, as if the dreaded “nanny state” doesn’t already exist in every GOP political stronghold in the country.
If you take a ride through Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi, some of the most Republican states in the country, you will see state economies which are heavily dependent on the federal government’s largesse. Without Medicaid and Social Security spending, military spending, education spending, federal highway spending, and the enormous grants and subsidies for everything from corn to tobacco farming, these states would look like they belonged south of the border. Republican pundits may talk a good game on TV, but the reality for a substantial number of their rapidly aging political base is this - a government check and government healthcare are the only lifelines they’ve got. Take away the government dole, and the Republican Party might as well close up shop.
The hullabaloo over this kind of reminds me of the Obama suggestion, back in 2008 when Barack Obama had become the presumptive Democratic nominee, to keep our tires properly inflated to increase gas mileage and cut down on the amount of fuel we use. A suggestion that was simple, practical, inexpensive and actually worked was widely derided by the press and Republicans as a ridiculous idea.
Most political pundits on TV are full of shit. We have never been a he-man nation full of rugged individualists. Most of our advances as a country have come through collectivism. Most of the commercial and corporate successes of the twentieth century owe their success to government regulations that removed much of the fraud, uncertainty and lawlessness and brutal disregard for human life that typified nineteenth century commerce.
How can Democrats tell when one of their campaign strategies is winning? When there is an outcry from all sectors of the Republican political establishment and its subsidiaries at the same time.If this “Life of Julia” ad is the worst thing happening in the Obama re-election campaign, then Mitt Romney needs to go ahead and start installing that car elevator thingy in his new Malibu home today so Ann Romney will have somewhere to park her consolation Cadillac after the election.
Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.