Saturday, September 21, 2013


Fox Nation called the ad posted below "jaw-dropping." RedState promoted it with a headline that sounds like a repurposed metal lyric: "The Left feasts upon the blood of youth." Just about everyone else -- The Atlantic, Time, Mashable, The Washington Times, Think Progress -- uses the word "creepy." The ad, from a Koch-funded right-wing group called Generation Opportunity, is aimed at young people.

All of which led m to expect something in the vein of Seven, the Saw films, the Nine Inch Nails "Closer" video, or at least Paranormal Activity and Insidious -- y'know, jolty scares, unsettlingly grainy visuals, a genuinely gruesome concept, scratchy/warped music that harks back to industrial.

Um, no:

What century is this? The music is pure 1967 public service ad. The acting ranges from mediocre to awful. The Uncle Sam scare isn't unsettling even by pre-George Romero standards. (It certainly won't make you squirm the way scenes in David Cronenberg's nasty-gynecologists thriller Dead Ringers makes you squirm.) And it's not funny, either.

There's a companion ad, involving a young man and a rectal exam, that's no better:

As The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta says of that ad:
What is with the obsession with anal penetration?

Rush Limbaugh is famous for his talk of "anal poisoning" and as long ago as January 2009 said of the new administration: "We are being told that we have to hope [Obama] succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles." It's something you hear all too often in the political arena as the ultimate description of political submission. There's even a "Bend Over" anti-Obama bumper sticker.
Yup, and there's wingnut governor Paul LePage of Maine, who invoked forced anal sex in reference to a Democratic foe a few months ago:
Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday said a Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Troy Jackson of Aroostook County, "claims to be for the people but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline."
My response to both ads is: what is with the obsession with penetration of all kinds? Maybe I'm naive, but I think this message works only if you're already a right-winger: the government is evil and sadistic and wants to harm you -- violate you -- for the sheer joy of it. I think lot of people, including the young, think the government is inept, or cumbersome, or uncaring, but that view of the government as gleefully malign is pretty much limited to the right (and the drone-obsessed parts of the left).

But really, it's the style of these ads that's all wrong. They're in a style that was contemporary before their target audience was even born. They're not grim, they're not snarky, they're not even dated in a way that seems "ironic" and referential. Not impressed.


Buford said...

Anything connected to the Kochs is tainted with corruption...these guys are the domestic version of the Taliban...and they have quite a few supporters and they have quite a few puppets in our government doing their best to hurt the poor and downtrodden...It is long past time to run these guys out of our country...

aimai said...

Well, sure, they are dated and start out in an anodyne, PSA kind of way, but they are extremely creepy in the same way being invited to see your neighbor's surprise snuff fetishist porn stash is creepy and frightening.

I'm not impressed and I think these ads obviously backfire, but they are still quite horrifying. The one about the woman is especially horrifying to, well, women because its so rapey. Maybe guys have a little more distance from the penetration thing or are more well defended emotionally but I don't think any women are able to look at that ad with the woman and see it as other than disgusting and violent.

Like much GOP humor it is frat boy humor--I doubt very much that the makers or the guys viewing it see it as other than a little clunky good fun that will make young women think "I don't want Obamacare." But to women its so much more grotesque than that I just don't see anyone laughing at it.

I don't think they won't work because "they are dated" or shopworn or dull. I think they won't work on women and if they don't work on women they won't work on young men because young men date young women and have mothers who will not be influenced by this kind of blanket denial of reality.

The idea that they can influence enough of the young male invincibles not to sign up to affect the program is just stunningly naieve. The country is full of young people who are REMAINING ON THEIR PARENT'S INSURANCE until they are 26. Rather than assuming that being uninsured is a natural phase of life they, and their parents, are increasingly graduating into a world in which being insured is the default category. There aren't going to be very many young invincibles who choose to go naked very much longer. Even if you could convince 20 or 30 percent of this population of males right now they will rapidly age out of the population of idiots as they get married or injured and they will be replaced with a cohort that expects to be covered.

The entire ad campaign just goes to show that billionaires are unable to determine the value of the money they waste and are the biggest fools of all.

Victor said...

I'm just surprised that they didn't have Uncle Sam in blackface - or have Chris Brown in an Uncle Sam costume, put on an Obama mask, and then snap on that rubber glove.

I see aimai's point, but to me, a 55 year-old guy, I thing they're stupid, funny, and I doubt if they'll be very effective.

The Conservatives and their Republican politicians think that today's young people are as stupid and afraid as they and their base are.

Ten Bears said...

They're closet queers. Obsession with food, drugs and alcohol is is a clinical marker in diagnosis of obesity, alcoholism and drug addiction. Hence... they want it. Can't effectively copulate with a women.

Sorry cund, but it isn't Victoria's Secret;/)

No fear.

Uncle Mike said...

I thought Republicans were all for the Government sticking things up your hoo-ha, whether your doctor and you want it or not.

Oh, wait, that's only if you're a slut looking to kill her 8-week-old precious snowflake fetus.

Steve M. said...

Maybe guys have a little more distance from the penetration thing

There are a lot of guys -- including (especially?) guys who think of themselves as real tough guys -- who recoil in horror at the thought of a prostate finger probe that takes about five seconds. I don't get it -- it's mildly unpleasant, but no worse than that.

Steve M. said...

(I mean, obviously I get it, but I still don't get it. It's a quick medical procedure unless you build it up in your head until it becomes a violent, forcible act of sexual violence.)

Victor said...

Steve M,
What those uber-manly-macho-men fear about the prostrate finger probe, is that one day, they may actually enjoy it!

And then what?

Anonymous said...

These just seem amateurish and silly to me. I'm not aware if my kids have seen them but I can't imagine them thinking they should not get health insurance as a result.

They also continue the stupid meme that this is some kind of "socialized medicine" when it's really just subsidized health insurance. The doctor wouldn't have the slightest idea if you bought the policy on the exchange nor would he or she care. Why would they? Patients with insurance will not be bad debt write offs.

Glennis said...

The whole thing is messed up, but one thing that's weird about the ad is that it implies that somehow the young woman has never experienced a doctor's exam before, and that it will be frightening.

In trying to depict the horrifying specter of Obama care, the ad is inadvertently saying that medical care itself is scary.

Glennis said...

The country is full of young people who are REMAINING ON THEIR PARENT'S INSURANCE until they are 26.

Right, and just as naturally as kids who become adults transition from their parents' car insurance to their own policies, they will find it natural to do so about health insurance.

If car insurance were as inaccessible as health insurance has been previously, then we'd have had a lot of young uninsured drivers on the road.

Examinator said...

Aunt Snow.
For a different take on the issue
Australia (which has both universal health insurance AND Private cover).
ALL THE PRIVATE INSURERS *OFFER* coverage for up to 26 yo children who are still studding full time including their professional year.
However, at 30 they are *encouraged* to take private insurance OR THEIR MEDICARE (universal) LEVY (2% added to everyone's tax) goes up. Also any premium they enter after that time also increases.
The only exception is if you are earning below a threshold.
Recently POPULAR (by a very large majority generally estimated as over 80% of the public) agreed to an increase in the Tax levy to cover DISABLED COVERAGE.
Interestingly enough the Liberal party (read conservatives) supported the move at pain of an electoral wipeout.

Aust has it's numb nuts and curmudgeonly self indulgent but the national political dynamics are different in that big corporates or uber rich just wouldn't get away with Koch Bros actions.

Mind you their equivalent (Gina Rienhart)has tried but is considered to be more of a joke... She is in a messy court battle with her children over their share of Their grandfather's will. i.e. their share of his corporation which she has run as a guardian. they are now in their late 30's. She is trying to get cheap foreign labor into her mines … so she can make more profit.
Out side of her Corporate dictatorial skills she embodies every trait of a sociopath (NB several studies that Corporate/Political 'leaders' (?) tend to have several times more sociopathic traits ( megalomania, narcissism, lack of empathy, et al.) than the public.. Like I said a close equivalent of the Koch brothers (both of them).
The short point is that Americans allow the Right wing to dictate the nature of discussion by deliberately over simplifying all topics as though they are OR white (which they never are), detraction and redefinitioning (sic) language.

In reality Liberalism is Conservative lite so in order to eliminating compromise loaded words... simply over simplify it to me left wing, socialist, communism none of which is factually even remotely so.

Joey Blau said...

If the ads are directed at 20 somethings... why are they getting a prostate exam? that's for 55+..

did they ask for it?

Panurge said...

I gotta say: The PSA from 1967 would've had much better music. The people writing music these days simply don't know how to COMPOSE that well anymore--it's all so relentlessly simple and plain-spoken. Back then a lot of commercial composers were still cribbing from, say, Arthur Honegger.

Panurge said...

Anyway, I think the "obsession" is just a matter of the same usage we make of it: Anal penetration is literally "getting screwed over". They want people to think "Obamacare" will screw people over--that it won't do right by them. It's as simple as that. It's not necessarily a matter of why the government would be screwing people over, just that they're supposedly doing so, no matter the reason. I guess they figure that in an America where you're not supposed to trust the government, it's a good bet. The idea that we might be able to institute a government we can trust gets quietly swept under the rug. I've said things like that and people have looked at me funny.