Friday, October 22, 2004

Bears and Wolves and Eagles oh my!

Mark Schmitt (The Decembrist), compares the Reagan "Bear" ad with the latest Bush "Wolves" ad. The contrast is remarkable:

  • "Bear" uses metaphor both visually and in its text. "Wolves" uses metaphor only in its images while the voice-over continues the same direct lie and distortion technique against Kerry and the Democrats.
  • "Bear" is almost lyrical and dreamy in its presentation. "Wolves" is ham-handed and its appeal to fear almost trite.
  • "Bear" plays to fear, but it balances it with a sense that there is a way to be safe without being afraid. "Wolves" is nothing but "be afraid".

The last point is the most interesting to me because it tells us something about the difference between Reagan and Bush: Reagan could at least argue that he had a plan for dealing with the dangers that threatened America. All Bush has is the argument that Kerry would do an even worse job than he has.

Several months back MoveOn put out a remake of the classic "Daisy" to limited effect. It just wasn't that good an ad. Now Bush is trying, once again, to harken back to the glories of the Reagan years. Like most sequels, both of these efforts fail to live up to the originals.

On the other hand, the DNC has an ad out in response to "Wolves" called "Eagle". It does a much better job of using metaphorical imagery. It never once makes reference to Bush or the Republicans, but the point of the ad is obvious to anyone who has been paying any attention to this campaign. It is weakened only by the fact that it is a "response" ad. It stands up well even if you have never seen or even heard of "Wolves".


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