Friday, August 08, 2008

Is this deconstruction absurd?

Over in the Corner, Mark Hemingway links to a report from a "Democratic consulting group" on McCain's advertising. After finding subtle racism in the "Celebrity" ad, the next thing that they accuse McCain of is calling Obama the anti-Christ.
The makers of the ad chose all of Obama's quotes very carefully and the ad is rife with image after image equating Senator Obama to the anti-Christ, and especially to Nicolae Carpathia, the anti-Christ in the popular Left Behind series...From the title of the ad (that immediately reminds anyone familiar with the Left Behind series of the name of the false church set up by the anti-Christ) to the quotes (with no respect to context) and images that the McCain camp chose to use, which basically allude to every symbol of the anti-Christ possible short of flashing 666 on the screen, this ad is an attempt to stir up already circulating falsehoods about Obama and add more fuel to the fire.

Hemingway finds that analysis preposterous.
Obama's defenders are now accusing McCain of using his campaign ads to call Obama the anti-Christ. Marvel for a second at the absurdity of that.

I loved the ad, and said so when I first saw it. And I don't think that there is anything inappropriate in the ad, anything out of bounds or unfair. I think that it is a perfect response to the campaign that Senator Anointed Obama is running. I have no problem with it. None whatsoever.

But I showed it to my wife, who has read the "Left Behind" series, and her very first response was that everything about it made Obama look like the anti-Christ from the books.

I don't know the books, and I cannot say whether that is intentional or not. I do not know the levels of iconography in play. It would not surprise me, not even a little bit, to find that the parallels are intentional. And if they are, that does, in fact, make it an ad that works on two levels - the text, which legitimately mocks Senator Obama for the campaign he's running and the pomposity of his various proclamations, and the subtext, which is visible only to those who know the "Left Behind" series, and equates Obama to the anti-Christ.

Again, I have no problem with the ad. I think that every second of it is absolutely legitimate, and the Obama campaign has been run in such a way as to make such an ad inevitable for a competitor who wants to win. But I think that the Obama campaign can legitimately complain about the subtext. I think that it is silly to do so, of course, because it comes across as whining, and actually strengthens the ad by increasing the number of people who thing "anti-Christ" when they see it. But based on my experience, the charge is not nearly as absurd as one would like it to be...

For those who haven't seen them, here are the ads in question. (I think that they are both fantastic ads, and none of this changes my opinion of them at all.)


The One

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