Posts Tagged ‘Pawlenty’

Does interesting = Good?

June 15, 2012

I was just lamenting to a friend that it’s sometimes hard for me to blog because I feel like I’m saying the same things again, and again, and again. That’s because for the most part you see the same ads, again and again, and again. In my more down moments, I wonder if I have anything to add to what I’ve already said, and worry that it’s not enough to beat the drum, if you’re beating out the same rhythm (rhythm is a ridiculously hard word to spell by the way, I never get it right).

I cam across this ad in the Daily Kos’ election roundup, a pretty useful daily guide to election goings on, and a great way to see new ads. They have a pretty good sense of the subtext of ads, and said about this one:

“This ad from 25-year-old Republican Weston Wamp (notable only because his father, Zach Wamp, held this seat until a cycle ago) is just deeply… weird. I can’t summarize it at all—it’s a series of different images (John Wayne! moonshot! Bill Gates!) accompanied by a strange meditation on the meaning of freedom. I will say, though, that I was sure Wamp had hired some ridiculously deep-voiced announcer to narrate the ad. Instead, it turns out that the ridiculous deep voice is Wamp’s own. (He doesn’t sound that way when he’s not trying.) Overcompensating much?…:

It’s a little weird, and not really your standard political ad, and yet, there’s something about it I like. It puts a premium on emotion and theme over pure message and facts. I just finished reading Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failures, by Tim Harford. Harford talks about the need to experiment away from the harsh glare of success and failure, in fact he says explicitly that being able to experience in places where you can fail is critical to future successes. He calls these outposts Galapagos Islands — places outside the scrutiny of everyday business or the mainstream focus of action.

I thought a lot about the idea of Galapagos Islands in politics — the stakes are so high (win or go home) and so much money is spent, there’s not much room to experiment because the costs of failure are higher than almost any other industry save ones where life and death are actually on the line (Nuclear plants, airline pilots and the like). Shit, Coke can role out a whole new formula, turn on it’s heels and call it a mistake with little or no fallout, other than a cautionary tale. A politician can’t even change their opinion on an issue opening themselves up to a negative attack.

I’m getting a little off topic here, but the point is it’s hard to try out new things especially in political campaigns. Every candidate wants different, or so they say.  The various occasions they’re presented with different, the reaction is almost always the same, wow, that’s so different, can’t we do something you know more… (I wrote a post about this very fact some time back).

Back to this spot, it’s different, and sometimes that seems weird.  What I don’t know is if it’s authentic? Is the spot just spitting on the table (if I stood up and spit on the table in a meeting, you’d certainly remember it, but would it be the message I want to convey)? Look at those Pawlenty for President spots if you want to see spitting on the table in action. I don’t know if this spot fits people’s image of Wamp, is he seen as a daddy’s boy, and this spot seems strangely like he’s overcompensating (as Nir implies)? Why did they make his voice sound… so oddly deep? My guess after listening to him speak normally is that they put some kind of effect on it in post.  What will people think of that? Is he trying too hard (like Pawlenty) to be something he’s not?

I don’t know the answers to those questions.  But here’s the thing I do know, I actually find the spot kind of interesting, and think in this case the usually astute David Nir misses the mark.  There is something bigger going on here.  “We went to the moon and played Sinatra ’cause no one told us not to…” that line is odd, but also strangely compelling and memorable. Which is what I’d say about the spot.  I’m not willing to say it’s good, but it is interesting, and in a world filled with safe and normal, that’s a step in the right direction. Is it a failure? Well, if it is, then it’s a failure that moves us closer to a success, and in my book that’s something to be admired.

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The best bad movie ever made

January 25, 2011

I have a confession to make… I love the movie “Armageddon” In my humble opinion, I believe it is the best bad movie ever made period. It is great and horrible in it’s over the topness.

Some reviews of the film:

“A real movie about courage in space is Apollo 13, in which fear and sacrifice have meaning. This jingoistic, overblown spectacle is about whistling in the dark.”

“…full of sound and fury but without a single new idea to add to the conversation.”

“…why couldn’t the film have tapped into a more noble and stylish tradition? Why couldn’t these men have been interesting instead of cartoons?”

Somebody also called it an “ugly mess” but I think it’s a beautiful mess of excess that takes itself so seriously even as it becomes more and more over the top.

Now we have this video from Tim Pawlenty to promote his new book.

Wow, now that’s a video. I love the production values, wow, how much did they spent on this thing? So much for fiscal restraint. And I’ll say this for the video, it makes Pawlenty, a guy who has never really impressed me much seem Presidential, so it deserves some credit for that.

But here’s the rub, it seems so over the top, so lacking in anything authentic, I get that the guy is running for President, but he’s not giving the Gettysburgh address or saving the world from Astroids. The video while beautifully executed seems so out of proportion, it’s full of sound & fury, but there’s no there there. I guess if the only take away is that this guy can appear presidential, then it serves it’s purpose. But I’d worry that it also could make him appear smaller ironically. It is so excessive that it makes me wonder why? Why does he need so much propping up?

Over the top works for Armegeddon (in my opinion). Sure it sucks, but it doesn’t seem to care, it’s so earnest and so overindulgent that it wins me over despite it’s paper thin characters, plot and excess. But this video isn’t a movie, so that same earnestness feels manipulative to me in this context. Like big dramatic music, fast editing, extreme close ups and iconic shots can compensate for a boring candidate.

Still, it must have been fun to film this one.

Now, I’m going back to a real american hero Bruce Willis.

What is it about history?

July 29, 2010

Tim Pawlenty is out with a video for his Freedom First PAC, “History is on Our Side,” which is really a way of introducing him to Republican voters.

There are things that I like about this video, there’s a stylized use of color that’s interesting especially for politics.  I like the use of old photos, they add to a sense of Americana, there’s a nice overall iconic feel to the video.

My problem is Pawlenty, I guess I can’t tell if he’s being authentic or if he’s full of it.  I kind of like him, but something about his delivery, I don’t know I’m just not buying it.  Could it be the video is just trying a little too hard?


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