Thursday, 7 November 2013

American Studies Week 7 Blog

American Studies Week 7 Blog

Find and embed any video advertisement for a candidate in an American election – local or state. The advertisement does not have to be current. Analyse the message given in the advertisement and relate it to the ideals and recurrent themes of political life in the American republic

            The video advertisement selected, was made for Democratic candidate Nate Shinagawa, who was running for Congress in 2012. The candidate’s target audience is the country’s mainstream citizens and the message is very clear: he will help to rebuild the middle class and thus improve the economy. The video very cleverly portrays the plight of people since the recent financial crisis, using black and white shots and focusing on their lives and somewhat poignant expressions. It concludes with a colour shot of the candidate who endorses the message and states that “I choose the middle class” representing himself as someone who can deliver on their hope to escape their current situation.
But for this to happen the candidate has to be elected, so the video also appeals to audience by emphasizing the importance of their choice. For example the first 10-15 seconds of the video focuses purely on the importance of the choices of their votes by claiming that the “future of our country depends on a series of choices” and that “the next representative will help choose if we are going to rebuild a middle class”. It then asks those watching if they are going to choose to allow “Tom Reed cut taxes for the wealthiest” and “reward companies that ship American jobs overseas”, re-emphasizing the importance of their choice and in the process also attacking his opponent, the Republican candidate Tom Reed.
In general the video highlights the importance of the people/community, a view representative of the Democrats. However we can also see that by focusing on the topic of “choices” the video is also indirectly referring to, and emphasizing the nature and importance of individual rights. This is interesting because the Republicans value such rights as much as the Democrats, though they interpret them differently. The right of the people to choose its representatives was a key feature of the struggle for American Independence and has been a recurrent theme in U.S. history, as in Lincoln’s definition of democracy in his Gettysburg Address as ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
The problem of taxes is also mentioned in the video, and this is another recurrent theme in American politics from the time of the American Revolution. By exploring this topic, the video links the candidate to his country’s past. The statement “Tom Reed cut taxes for the wealthiest” clearly implies that the rich will have it easy whilst the working/middle class people will be forced to take upon another unfair burden, that is eerily similar to situation of those poor Americans before 1776 who were forced to pay exorbitant taxes to the crown in comparison to those who lived in Britain. So the video actually manages to portray his Republican opponent in the same light as the Revolutionists viewed King George III and England. Finally, by focusing on the American flag, the video appeals to the country’s patriotism, seen most strongly in time of war, against enemies like the British or Japanese. It accuses Tom Reed of rewarding companies that ship American jobs overseas, which is a kind of treason, helping America’s economic enemies, just like Benedict Arnold helped the British during the War of Independence.

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