Let’s Talk about Negative Advertising, Celebrity, Race and Politics

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T
his week, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on the potent swirl of values entangled in a new crop of negative political ads as the summer campaign season heats up. We’re going to start today by asking you about the hotly contested ad, “Celeb.”
   “Celeb” has been out there long enough to rack up nearly 2 million views on YouTube. (You can view it below, if you’ve missed it until now.) It’s clear at this point that its debut represents a significant and complex new wave of negative campaigning — and I’d really like you to help me sort out how you regard such ads.
   If you haven’t seen it yet, the ad shows Obama before cheering crowds at his Berlin speech and likens him to celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
   The association of Obama with Spears and Hilton lit a barrage of speculations
about the ad’s message. Was it meant to highlight shallowness? Or, was it somehow racial, juxtaposing the image of a black man with the images of young, blond, white women? Experts on subliminal ads weighed in, some of them concluding that it wasn’t racial. But the race question was now in the air, with the ad debated again and again on radio, TV, and the Internet.

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   Obama
said that “Celeb” was meant to make him seem too different from
the mainstream to be president. In a Missouri speech, he said, “What they’re trying to do is make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You
know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar
bills.”
   (Even before the airing of “Celeb,” Obama had made similar remarks about
his appearance. About 30 seconds into his Berlin speech, for example,
he said, “I know that I don’t look like the Americans who have previously
spoken in this great city.”)
   The
McCain camp counterattacked immediately, saying that Obama had played
the race card in Missouri. But McCain bashers said he started
it by using “Celeb” to inject race into the campaign.
   What’s
your reaction now that you’ve had time to consider the arguments from both sides?
   Who played the race card?
   What’s really going on in “Celeb” and the debate still swirling around the ad?
   If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it below. We’ll be exploring these issues all week and we’ll show you another ad later this week. Stay tuned and tell us what you think.

 

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