Have you ever been arguing with someone and been frustrated that they choose one small minute part of what you said and constantly keep picking at that instead of seeing the bigger picture? It's stupid and doesn't get you anywhere.
The actors in the commercial are, well, actors. *gasp*
Instead of focusing on the ad's obvious messaging - the important part that will possibly affect public opinion - the "OMG they're actors!" shock-and-awe brigade has come out in force over one of the stupidest nuggets available. HRC quickly released the actor's audition tapes and bloggers were off and running.
The videos and why this is one of the stupidest mistakes possible after the jump.
First the vile commercial:
Iowa activists asked that bloggers please use the version of the commercial that they posted to their own YouTube account to keep the number of viewers lower on NOM's YouTube channel. Perfectly reasonable and I can definitely live with that decision; it makes sense strategically. But since the video above is a second-generation copy of the ad, you can't really read the words that run along the bottom of the screen. I went to the original ad and took a still to make sure you can read it.
Need it a little bigger?
Yup. The commercial says right on it that the people shown are actors. What's next? A shocking expose that people in drug company commercials don't really have the disease some pharmaceutical company claims to cure within minutes?
As I'm writing this post, CNN is on in the background. Randi Kaye is doing a report on the NOM ad and friend of the blog Evan Wolfson just gave a succinct summation of the entire ad that should become Talking Points 101 for this PR opportunity. He said:
"Everything in this ad is phony from the scary zombie special effects, to the actors reading the lines, to the arguments they're making to try to scare people into thinking that allowing gay people to marry is somehow a threat to everyone else."
Notice that Evan isn't screaming from the rafters that the actors in the advertisement were paid to read lines. He does mention it, but it is an addition in the middle of a list of the untruths put forth in this insidious commercial. That little nugget can be an effective tool in our PR skirmish, but it is not headline worthy. More important are the first thing he mentions (scary zombie special effects) and the last (the arguments).
The special effects were carefully chosen. They're meant to conjure up images of the Great Depression in younger viewers and for the older generations (the most anti-gay!), the commercial evokes Winton Churchill's famous "The Gathering Storm" about the build up to World War II. The lightening flashing on the actors' faces and flickering ominously in the background puts me in mind of the movie "Something Wicked This Way Comes."
The "real incidents" the organization claims are also patently false. In today's soundbite driven newsoid culture, NOM's version of the truth is what will be beamed into millions of living rooms around the country. HRC's rebuttal of the blatant lies is a fantastic resource for both the average person and journalists (citizen or professional), but the focus needs to be on getting the truth in front of eyes and ears; the facts need to reach the general public.
The examples cited by the wingnut group are easily shredded and when combined with the other two strikes against them - special effects and paid actors - there's an easy spin to the bigoted commercial that automatically makes anything they say suspect. The ad has more holes than swiss cheese and bigotry leaves a bitter taste most people don't want to swallow on their own.
It's the entire essence of the advertising campaign that needs to be addressed thoroughly. Concentrating on one minute section of the laundry list of offenses is a sure way to miss an opportunity to advance LGBT rights. After all, that's the big picture.
In case you're curious, here's the audition reel videos: