Monday, March 19, 2007


Somebody took Apple Computer's original "1984" ad, gave iPod earphones to the hammer thrower,* and replaced the Big Brother figure on the (ultimately demolished) telescreen with Hillary Clinton. The resulting mashup, known as "Vote Different" or "Hillary 1984," impressed the bejeezus out of a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and many of her interviewees:

It may be the most stunning and creative attack ad yet for a 2008 presidential candidate -- one experts say could represent a watershed moment in 21st century media and political advertising....

The ad is proof that "anybody can do powerful emotional ads ... and the campaigns are no longer in control," [Simon] Rosenberg [of the New Democrat Network] said. "It will no longer be a top-down candidate message; that's a 20th century broadcast model."

[Veteran San Francisco ad man Bob] Gardner said the success of "Hillary 1984" means that now "every candidate will have to worry about some guy with a video camera and a Mac being able to do whatever he or she wants."...

OK -- deep breath, everyone.

First of all, this wasn't created by some kid on a laptop. It's quite slick. Compare it to a copycat version that puts Obama on the telescreen -- in that version, the Obama footage just hangs in midair in place of the original telescreen, whereas the Hillary footage is tinted gray-white and projected on a telescreen of its own with subtitles and supertitles, in a deft mimicking of the original ad. Also, the addition of iPod headphones to the hammer thrower is done too well to be the work of some bedroom wannabe. [On that point, see UPDATE below.] It's lonelygirl15 all over again -- if you pay any attention at all, you can see the craft; you can recognize the work of people who know what they're doing.

But who's responsible for the ad? The Obama campaign says it isn't.

I believe that. What's more, I don't believe it's even the work of an Obama supporter.

I'm getting the same feeling I got when that Moonie Web site told us Obama went to a madrassa and Hillary's campaign was the source of the story -- I think this is an effort to attack one of the two Democratic frontrunners and increase the two campaigns' mutual mistrust. If I'm right, somebody in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy thinks a Clinton-Obama ticket could be the Dream Team -- and therefore must be prevented by any means necessary.

I just don't see Obama's campaign doing this -- he's so close to her in the polls already that he has no reason to go negative now. Also, a tossed hammer smashing Hillary's head to smithereens is an image likely to appeal to right-wingers much more than Democrats -- to a Democrat (this one, at least) it suggests violence toward women, but to a rightie it would be the Slaying of the Hildabeast.

It may be a new kind of campaign ad, but I think it's still an old-fashioned dirty trick.


* UPDATE: I'm informed in comments that the iPod headphones came from an earlier tweaking of the original "1984" ad (which was the work of Apple.) But I'll stand by my theory, based on the care with which Telescreen Hillary is worked into the ad.


MORE: In a follow-up in the San Francisco Chronicle, the author of the original article, Carla Marinucci, points to a post at by Micah Sifry; Sifry got in touch with the person who posted the video, but didn't get much information about him/her. Marinucci now seems to have come to the same conclusions I have -- that the creator was a pro, and probably not an Obama fan.

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