Conspiracy Theories

Three Comments On the "Is McCain Filling His Ads With Subliminal Racist Imagery?" Controversy

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1. Even if someone intends to insert hidden messages into an ad, that doesn't mean any viewers will actually assimilate them. History is filled with political propaganda and marketing campaigns that fell flat.

2. Even if someone doesn't intend to insert hidden messages into an ad, that doesn't mean viewers won't absorb them anyway. History is filled with inattentive audiences, unexpected effects, and pop-culture images that escaped their creators to take on a life of their own.

3. If you want to see what impacts the ads are having—intended and otherwise—watch how they're received, reused, and discussed outside the pundit class. You can be sure that's what the people who actually made the clips will be doing.

Bonus fourth comment: Could we retire the phrase "the race card" already? It rivals only "throw [X] under the bus" as the most annoying cliché of the year.

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  1. Perhaps we could throw the race card under the bus?

  2. You flip-flopper!!

    (rounding out the top 3 dicky cliches)

  3. Never attribute to malice what can be explained by ad agency incompetence.

    As Exhibit A, I’d like to enter into evidence McDonald’s online “I’d hit it!” ad campaign.

  4. I once had a race card flush, but I got beat by a full house with three race cards and a pair of jacks.

  5. I’m sorry, but “think outside the box” beats the crap out of all cliches, both in terms of annoyability and overuse.

    If we’re saying political context only, I agree that “race card” wins. The only more annoying one than that is “soccer moms,” but we seem to have stopped using that one so much. My question this political season is what the next family member/interest pairing will be.

    1996/2000 gave us “soccer moms”, 2000/2004 gave us “NASCAR dads”. 2008: “dancing with the stars cousins” or “online porn uncles”?

  6. I once had a race card flush, but I got beat by a full house with three race cards and a pair of jacks.

    Screw you and your racist jokes, you anti-Jackite!

  7. Lemmy plays the race card all the time. It rocks! It rocks! Heh heh heh heh heh heh

  8. Speaking of subliminal messages, what is reason’s reason for the pic of McCain and Obama about to engage in a sloppy man-kiss?

  9. I’m sorry, but “think outside the box” beats the crap out of all cliches, both in terms of annoyability and overuse.

    The Extispicator wins. Err are we still calling thread winners?

    Yeah “outside the box” is the worst cliche ever because it is used exclusively, in unintended irony, by people trapped inside the box. Very inside.

  10. Yeah I’ve never been willing to drink the kool-aid on saying throw x under the bus. Oh no I said kool-aid. Didn’t mean to play the race card.

  11. “Under the bus” wins the Irritating Prize for me. At least the others make sense – you’re trying to win a metaphorical card / board game, so you “play the race card”; “thinking outside the box” is pretty overused, but its at least a pat visual approximation of the idea behind it.

    But what the fuck is the bus? Why a bus? Why not a truck, or “the wheels of public opinion” or some such thing? Is there some famous controversial story about a bus that I’m not aware of?

  12. I would also like to stop hearing everything mildly scandalous or even blandly inflammatory thing that comes from a politician’s mouth and/or campaign as (X)gate. Watergate was very nearly a constitutional crisis (not to mention the actual name of the damn hotel) … “Bittergate” was a fucking disrespectful soundbite.

    Oh, and by the way, if anyone in polite society still insists on using the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy” while not donning a tinfoil hat, I’d strongly urge him or her (Bill, Arianna) to replace said phrase with the less syllabically fraught but equally hyperbolic, “Illuminati”.

    P.S. Miss Huffington is not far off from the ridiculous assertions of David Icke, famous chronicler of the conspiracy of shape-shifting, baby-eating reptiles who masquerade as our most powerful leaders and corporate moguls, when she concluded that voters who choose Republican are motivated by a vestigial reptilian brain that resides deep within the cockles of our far more genteel and developed mammalian and decidedly left-leaning cerebella.

  13. I hate it when people complain about stuff.

  14. Throw under the bus is overused, but I kinda like it. There are worse cliches out there:

    Firestorm of controversy.
    Closure.
    “If just one life is saved by (such and such), then it will be worth it).”
    Anything related to Brett Favre.

  15. People see what they want to see. Democrats want to see Republicans as racists. Condaleeza Rice could be running against Teddy Kennedy, and the Dems would still be calling every Chappaquidick joke a “crypto-racist” slur.

  16. In terms of cliches…

  17. If you want to see what impacts the ads are having-intended and otherwise-watch how they’re received, reused, and discussed outside the pundit class.

    The potential exception to that is if subliminal triggers are being pulled. As in, maybe the ad subliminally reminds white folks of fears they have of blacks that they’re not aware of, or at least wouldn’t talk about. How likely that is, I don’t know, and actually I’d be fairly skeptical. But for devil’s advocay’s sake….

  18. Yes, the “under the bus” bit needs to go.

    In addition, sprinkling around the clever understatement “not so much” is getting old.

  19. Every schoolboy should read Orwell’s Politics and the English Language.

  20. …anytime soon.

  21. …much?

  22. “Throw them under the bus” according to Newsweek in re: Obama and Wright:
    http://www.newsweek.com/id/124292

    Are they playing the race card in addition to paying too much attention to the clich

  23. I’ve spent most of my life trying to get inside “the box”.

  24. “Bonus fourth comment: Could we retire the phrase “the race card” already?”

    OK Mr. Walker, but I have to ask . . . what term or phrase would you use to describe a person who tries to win advantage or get out of a tight spot by using his or her race?

  25. Pigmental opportunist?

  26. I love “under the bus” unless we can replace it with a demonstration of Obama loyalty. As far as the race card goes I don’t think the Dalibama has ever played the white card. Why do you think that is? Maybe its the rules he learned at the madrassahe attended in Malaysia?

  27. If current trends continue, in four decades everything anyone says will be cliche.

  28. You can say that again.

  29. Is McCain irish or an actual human? I heard he might be Scottish, but that might just be a story so he can pass.

  30. Perhaps we could throw the race card under the bus?

    If we throw the race card under the bus, the terrorists win.

  31. When Hillary throws Obama under the bus at the convention, will he go directly under the back wheels?

  32. The worst cliche is “…at the end of the day”

    whenever anyone says that I want to throw him/her under a bus

  33. Yes, anything anyone says about me is racism.
    I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL O!!!

  34. “I’m sorry, but “think outside the box””

    There’s a box? Who knew?

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