Political ads are like soft drink ads. They don’t have anything to do with facts or the inherent quality of a product, they’re really just designed to make you feel an emotion that probably isn’t deserved about a can of water that’s had some sugar dumped into it.
Which is why I find myself loving Buffyverse-creator and Avengers’ director Joss Whedon’s new anti-Romney ad, a ditty that is less of a political statement than it is a satirical commentary on political advertising itself.
In fact, to get a good handle on what Whedon is satirizing it’s helpful to first watch another celebrity-endorsed political ad, in this case one by the great Clint Eastwood:
Eastwood’s ad starts out well enough, citing statistics about the sluggish economy and suggesting that voters should hold Obama accountable for those statistics – which is a perfectly reasonable and compelling argument. After that, however, it quickly veers off into silly hyperbola. Eastwood claims that if we don’t vote for Mitt Romney, America itself will not survive. “There’s not much time left,” he says with that same kind of emoted breathless concern that Chuck Norris used to warn us that a country that didn’t elect Mitt Romney would face the thousand years of darkness that the gypsy woman warned us about.
What makes these kinds of ads both funny on their own and ripe for satire is the uncertainty about why we should mock them. Do Eastwood and Norris really believe a Mormon ex-Governor challenger with a policy record that matches the incumbent almost exactly is all that separates us from Armageddon, or are they simply willing to make ridiculous, hyperbolic statements if a SUPER-PAC is willing to shell out a big enough paycheck for a half hour’s work? In either case, Whedon’s
arrow wooden stake strikes true:
As an actual case for voting for Obama, of course, it stinks. But as an entertaining commentary of celebrity-endorsed political ads it’s quite wonderful; I’d rate it far above any political satire I’ve seen SNL do this season.