Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chinaphobia Enters the Political Lexicon

First, there was homophobia.  When news got out that grown men were not only engaging in unsanctioned bouts of Tummy-sticks but they also wanted to get married, every Republican south of the Mason/Dixon Line went running for their prayer groups.

Then, there was xenophobia.  The democratic nominee for president was half Kenyan and half…Hawaiian!?  Was he a Muslim?  A socialist?  A surfer?  A Zulu spearchucker?  Whatever he was, he was unfamiliar and there was much to fear.

And now, brace yourself for the latest fad in fear-pandering-for-votes strategery.  Break out the chopsticks and cadmium-based toys because Chinaphobia has arrived.  And guess what kids, it ain’t the GOP that’s peddling it.

In the hotly contested electoral battleground of Ohio, Democratic House congressional incumbent Zack Space launched an ad attacking his Republican opponent Bob Gibbs.  Watch the video below very closely; analysis to follow.

Okay, where to start.  So for a campaign ad to succeed, it must, in a span of thirty seconds, instill hate, fear or anger in the viewer to be directed at the desired target; in this case the target being Bob Gibbs.

Now, what are Americans most angry about these days?  Lost jobs.  What are Americans most afraid of?  Losing their jobs. 

That…and dragons.

Did you catch the dragon in that ad?  The image flickered across the screen so fast that your fear may have only subliminally registered at a subconscious level.  So if you missed it, here is the image freeze-framed.

Chinese Republican Dragon Incinerates 91,000 American Jobs

I don’t know about you but I thought I hated the Chinese when they were merely manipulating global trade by refusing to allow their renminbi to appreciate in value.  But now their dragons are steeling our jobs?  Fuck!  If you’re not outraged and petrified, then try screaming it.  THEIR DRAGONS ARE STEALING OUR JOBS!

Sorry, I get a little reactionary from time to time.  But as it turns out, I completely misinterpreted the mythological imagery utilized in this ad.  And after a comprehensive Googling of the word 'dragon,' I learned that they are fictional cratures and do not even exist outside of Hogwarts and Middle Earth.  So dragons are not stealing Americans’ jobs.  In fact, as the ad so eloquently points out, Bob Gibbs is “killing” them. 

Now here is where Zack Space should have really swung for the fences.  Why accuse Mr. Gibbs of merely “killing” jobs?  If your goal is terror-inducing imagery, don’t hold back.  Here’s a little something off the top of my head.  Let’s throw it out on the stoop and see if the cat licks it up.  “Free-trading Bob Gibbs killed 91,000 jobs, disemboweled them, raped their entrails, set them on fire and urinated on the ashes while reading exerts from the Koran.”  Mmmmm, doesn’t that just sing!

What's worse is that Space’s ad was not an isolated incident.  Spike Maynard, a Republican challenger from West Virginia utilized ominous Chinese music in his ad while accusing his opponent of creating wind-turbine jobs in China.   Gadzooks!  Wind turbines!  And our own Majority Leader Harry Reid ran an ad that showed images of Chinese factory workers and accused his opponent Sharron Angle of being a “foreign workers best friend” for supporting corporate tax breaks that encouraged outsourcing to China.  Fortunately, no dragons were employed or injured in any of these spots.  Thank Buddha because the last thing a highly contested senatorial campaign needs is negative press from PETA.   

Politics is sport.  Campaigns, especially at the regional level, are less about policy differences and more about which mudslinging, muckraking street fighter can deliver the  low-blow TKO.  Usually, this is the GOP’s turf.  And shame on Zack Space for treading all too efficiently on their territory.

This country has a rash of teen suicides, two wars, escalating debt, rampant unemployment and countless other problems to contend with.  The last things we need to worry about are dragons. 

Article first published as Chinaphobia Enters the Political Lexicon on Technorati.