I watched Rick Perry’s new advertisement after a friend sent it to me. The text is something like:
I’m a Christian and Obama is destroying the world with an officially declared War on Christmas, which means whatever you want it to mean. So if you too believe in the Apocolypse and putting gay people in jail, vote for me.
He looked so smug in his coat, and I wondered how many takes are necessary to produce these kinds of carefully controlled images. How many Perry ’12 script writers and image-creators worked out the wording and the look to get it just right (a pinch of inflammatory here to get ratings; a pinch of western apparel; mention church and pew and christian; a tad of Obama-smear; and yes gaze into the camera just like that; and hold up your fist to symbolize your strength, integrity, and to show your wedding ring).
I was also thinking about how one-sided these are. I mean, Perry get’s to present a sculpted, carefully crafted, fully artificial version of Candidate Perry. And we are stuck at home powerless to anything more than consume the image or not. When we vote, that one act is supposed to be felt as a powerful moment of citizen speech; but I feel it more like a complicity in the farce of a corrupt democracy.
But I was consoled when I noticed the “like” “dislike” bar at the bottom: at least in this setting one can proffer an opinion that will forever ride along with the message. Perhaps not meaningful, but satisfying nonetheless, like a preemptive vote against both Perry and the campaign artifice that has become sadly normal.