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Museum of the Moving Image, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 952

Essay

The Yes We Can ad(Museum of the Moving Image) by showbiz artists in support of the then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was revolutionary in a sense that it aired in a song format. Right from the beginning, the ad attempts to appeal to our emotional senses through mentions of important American historical episodes such as immigrants’ struggles, civil rights movement,feminist struggles, and labor rights movement etc. In doing so, the ad inaccurately attempts to attach the same historical significance to this presidential contest as the other events that radically transformed America. The ad implies that Obama’s opponents are skeptical of America and the potential of Americans and have forgotten history’s lessons.

As far as propaganda forms mentioned by Phil Taylor are concerned (Taylor), the ad utilizes Name Calling, Transfer, Testimonial, Plain Folks, and Bandwagon. The ad is emotionally quite appealing because it illustrates proud moments in our nation’s history but a careful analysis of the different propaganda forms employed by the ad reveals that the events mentioned in the ad have no apparent relation with the upcoming election. The ad‘s primary motive in doing so is to convince the viewers that the next great things in America will only happen with Obama’s victory. The opponents do not want any of this to happen but in doing so they are underestimating the great American spirit and they will only be proven wrong once again. The ad makes it seem that Obama’s opponents are not merely Americans with different views but instead have anti-American views.

In terms of Name Calling, the ad portrays opponents as enemies trying to prevent the next great chapter in America’s history. The ad tries to convince the viewers that the opponents are trying to preserve the status quo and do not care about the ordinary Americans.The ad goes a step further by calling the opponents cynics who are underestimating the American spirit. The ad does raise the spirits of supporters but someone who is aware of the facts as well as his/her personal bias, will immediately recognize the inaccuracies in the message. Contrary to the ad’s message, Obama’s opponents claimed a similar belief in America’s potential and the main difference between the two candidates was in terms of policies to be followed in order to restore America’s standing. Transfer is another propaganda form obvious in the ad which uses music, civil rights movement (to emphasize Obama’s ethnic background), and showbiz artists from diverse ethnic backgrounds to indicate that Obama is the undisputed choice of all major races in America. The ad obviously tries to cash on the popularity of the artists portrayed, oblivious to the fact that celebrities have become powerful marketing tools who can influence their fans’ opinions.

The third propaganda form in the ad is Testimonial which is being used in two ways. First of all, the ad shows artists who are making claims that America can rise again and under Obama’s leadership the nation will once again prosper and rebuild its reputation in the world. On the other hand, the artists are claiming that Obama’s opponents have given up on high goals because they don’t have the determination to make the impossible, possible. The artists are indirectly implying that opponents are pessimistic and should be proven wrong and the only way to do that is to defeat them and bring Obama in power. By applying the plain folks method, the artists are trying to convince the viewers that opponents are cynics who don’t believe Americans are capable of selfless service to each other. They are also claiming that Obama relates to the common folks because he believes in a selfless love for the country and in addition, Obama also believes in a service to the nation like the other great American leaders before him such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. The ad mentions the little girl in Dillon and the boy on the streets of LA to imply that Obama often thinks about the common folks who are trying to achieve their American dreams. The last propaganda form apparent in the ad is Bandwagon. The ad shows artists from diverse ethnic backgrounds to imply that all the major races in America are united in their belief and trust in Obama’s leadership, thus, the viewers should also follow the suit as well.

The ad is well created but it lacks the potential to appeal to those beyond the supporters such as independents. The ad doesn’t encourage discussions and has taken a ‘feel-good’ approach rather than ‘think-about-it’ approach. A better approach would have been to include people from all walks of life such as thinkers, businessmen, military personnel, and ordinary workers instead of just celebrities who have relatively glamorous lifestyles and have little in common with the common folks. In addition, the ad could have discussed Obama’s specific positions as well as his opponent’s to give a better idea of both candidates’ thinking styles.

The ad promotes change but change was also the position adopted by McCain so the ad could have given specific examples such as Obama’s opposition to Iraq war in contrast with McCain to demonstrate the real difference of opinions. Those taking a critical look at the ad may actually be turned off by it because they may feel that the race issue is a dominant subject of the ad. The ad may also be a turnoff to some people because of grand portrayal of Obama like other American leaders even though Obama has yet to prove himself. The ad seems more like a personality promotion rather than an objective message aimed at the viewers.

References

Museum of the Moving Image. The Living Room Candidate. 6 October 2011 <http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/2008>.

Taylor, Phil. The Fine Art of Propoganda. 1939. 6 October 2011 <http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.cfm?outfit=pmt&folder=715&paper=1145>.

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