APRIL 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 4
CRIS COHEN is a staff humor columnist for Renaissance Magazine. His work is also published weekly in three California newspapers and four online humor magazines.
Navigating the Political Wilderness
During this election year, there have already been numerous political ads on television. Most of these feature one of the candidates talking in front of trees. Because when one of the candidates wants to show that he is a man of the people, nothing illustrates this better than film of him getting intimate with shrubbery.
He will talk on and on about what a people person he is. Meanwhile you will begin to notice that there isn't another person anywhere near him. There aren't any animals either. In fact, with the exception of the trees, there isn't a living thing within 75 miles of the candidate. After a while you begin to even doubt that there is a live human being holding the camera that's filming him. You get the feeling that he just mounted it on a tripod or nailed it to a nearby oak.
As a result, you begin to think of him less as a candidate and more as something scientists released into the wild. Maybe they sewed a homing device into his sport coat so they could track his movements and compare them with, say, the migratory habits of elk.
Besides demonstrating that he is a man of the people, the other reason a candidate films a campaign ad near trees is to show that he is for the environment. This is to distance himself from the many, many candidates who come out against the environment, filming their campaign ads in front of the run-off area of a chemical plant. You can tell if the commercial is going to be about the environment because the candidate will have traded in his sport jacket for large quantities of flannel. Nothing shows a commitment to the environment better than flannel, especially flannel decorated in a plaid pattern. The wearing of plaid flannel says that the candidate is in touch with nature, one with the elements, and is experienced at shopping from a popular clothing catalog.
The other kind of political ads you come across nowadays are ones on the radio meant to sway your decision about a particular proposition. These often involve dialogue between what you are supposed to believe are members of the typical American family, despite the fact that they don't sound like anyone you have ever met in your entire life. This is because these commercials are written by experienced script writers who, after extensive research, have come to the conclusion that you, the listener, are an idiot. As a result, they create political ads that are quick, simple and feature characters who are brain damaged.
These characters engage in lively, family banter: the kind heard in shows like "The Brady Bunch," a program that even in its heyday was considered about as stimulating as asphalt. However these ads are a good study in what campaign advertisers think the average American is like. For instance, according to them, the average American regularly laughs out of context. Although this trait might seem endearing in a commercial, in reality it's the kind of thing that will eventually force you to testify to your own sanity before a judge.
The average American, according to campaign ads, also has about as much depth as a soup spoon. The commercials have one family member giving in on an issue to another family member in roughly sixty seconds. This suggests that these people don't have the strongest convictions in the world and, if faced with even a mediocre argument, could probably be talked into exchanging one of their vital organs for a good-sized rump roast. It is for this reason that many people pray that no such people exist in real life and, if they do, that none of them ever become hostage negotiators.
Thus, political ads give a good peak into the minds of the people who wrote them. As a result, it might be a good idea to have scientists capture these people and then release them into the wild with the candidates. We'll be nice though and give them plenty of flannel ahead of time.
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