Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Politics of Hypocrits

Since I don't watch television, I have been sequestered from the venomous attack ads that have been plaguing the Canadian airwaves this season, and I usually consider myself fortunate for that. But given the controversy that is coming in hot on the ads' heels, I find myself at a bit of a loss for information regarding the content and nature of the ads. (Good luck trying to find them on YouTube - without a solid idea of what I am looking for I am bogged down with ridiculous home-made attack ads that have all the sense of a bowl of noodles) I understand that they are largely ridiculous (here meaning 'focusing on ridicule'), and the few I have seen focus on taking quotes out of context and portraying decisions in the worst possible light which, since some decisions can be mighty unpopular despite being necessary, is sort of like stapling fish to the bottom of a barrel before shooting them.

Luckily the Green party has offered us Canadians a breath of fresh air; they have introduced their own attack ads.

Feels pretty good, doesn't it? I am tired of the mudslinging! By Golly, I am a little disgusted with the state of Canadian politics! Holy smokes, what can I do? Save me, Green party!

Right there, right at that second, is where they lose me. They imply the Green party is not part of Canadian politics ("What,us? No, we just got here....honest...") and so they are some new, different, party that will bring back the "good-ole days" of politics (Catch the retro 50's T.V sets?). The essential irony, and I hate this, is that they are using an attack ad to promote themselves. They inform the viewer about a contentious problem in Canadian politics today that the public have voiced distaste for, display (through the familiar attack ads) the parties they feel are responsible which is every party except for themselves, then offer only one possibly solution - vote for their party, which they imply will not indulge in the same behavior as the previous parties, despite the fact that they are doing so right at that very moment. They offer no solution like, "Demand reforms for the limitations on acceptable campaign commercials" or "Become properly informed about the issues that matter through reliable sources (Hi there!)"; the only recourse we Canadians have is to vote for a new party. That's not a solution, that's just business as usual on the hill. The main difference, and what we should demand from further party ads is their focus. If we wish to uphold the higher image of Canadian politics, we should demand that ads be focused on what the party will do, focusing inwards, rather than focusing on what other parties are doing/not doing. But these make less of an impact, and so are less cost effective. The system is the essential problem breeding these ads - they work, and that's why parties use them. The best solution we have as Canadian citizens, is to become educated about the real issues and why they matter, so when we vote, we won't vote for whatever party flashed their pearly whites at us last.

Incidentally, this whole dynamic is reminiscent of the fact that whenever someone writes - on a forum, in a letter to the editor, anywhere in a public space - to criticize a previous writer's spelling or grammar,  99% of the time someone else will write in to point out the "irony" of the writer's bad spelling/grammar, even if it was better than the original writers, until things spiral downwards in some sort of infinite regression. These issues make butt-heads of all of us.


Anonymous said...

Actually, I think I disagree. Showing clips of the attack ads isn't the same as making your own attack ad, and saying that you disagree with someone's opinions or actions isn't the same as a smear campaign (thank goodness, otherwise what would I be doing right now?). I can't argue with your statement that we all need to educate ourselves on the issues and vote accordingly though. I'd love for politics to change, and while fewer attack ads would be nice (how about knowledgeable questions instead of vitriol?), things won't change until people start voting with their brains and not their programming.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I have to agree with C= on her comment and with your blog on everything else.
Personally, I think part of the solution is to take away some of the tax dollars we throw at the parties for advertising. I understand that some tax money is warranted but I think the pot is way too rich.
lol, mapa

Miss Ernst said...

I would be interested in seeing if there is a change in voter turnout if the only advertisement allowed was simply to inform people that there was an election - none about the candidates themselves.

I think C is right, the green party is not quite smearing, but I can't help balking at the "holier than thou" tone of the ad they made; like they have different tactics or standards. If a party was really different, we wouldn't need to be told. Or maybe I'm just too cynical about parties?