Electoral Ad Nauseam: The Carbon Tax Turns Three, But If Tony Abbott Wins, You Lose
We review the latest ads from Labor and the Liberals. The gloves have come off.
We’re all thoroughly sick of the candidates, News Limited is running news stories about Tony Abbott’s fitness and Kevin Rudd’s fatness, and Antony Green is being slowly thawed in the ABC’s underground laboratory. It’s time to get negative.
Today we’re looking at the newest material from the last week of the election campaign, including the Labor Government’s first two negative ads not to be used against their own people, and the Liberal Party’s newest ad saying the same damn thing as all their other ads.
This was the first Labor ad of this election to really make waves, but certainly for the wrong reasons. It was revealed to the horrified gasps of the Australian audience that the lead in this commercial on television was actually an actor. You’d think we’d have expected it because that is the job description of an actor, but no, we were blindsided. It’s a deep rabbit hole, too; when I think about it, it is strange that the same lovely friendly bald man seems to work at every bank and insurance company at once.
The discovery caused the Daily Telegraph to shit their collective dacks at the thought that an actor, who isn’t even really a person come to think of it, would be expressing an opinion that would usually be reserved for real people. If you’re anything like the media analysis team at the Tele, you would naturally have assumed that this is an everyday woman cutting fruit in her perfectly-lit home who decided, apropos of nothing, to stop paying attention to her children and instead look intently into a void of space and ask that void some questions as if it were Tony Abbott himself standing at the end of her kitchen patiently waiting for his mango. Lucky that it got on film, really.
The strangest part of this whole thing might be that if the Telegraph hadn’t kicked up a storm, no one would have noticed this ad. Lacking actual directions for their attack, they’re attempting to turn Abbott into a Lovecraftian villain. Those following election spending closely will know that obviously cuts are coming somewhere, but unless they’re announced they don’t seem very threatening. Labor is trying to add an ominous tone to the piece: perhaps Abbott will find it as easy to cut funding to education as the lead actor finds it to cut a delicious piece of fruit.
The dialogue is bizarre. She seems to be longing for the long forgotten whimsical days of an aggressive Tony Abbott who was “angry about everything”. If Labor is trying to bait Abbott into a fight, this isn’t the way to go about it. He’s not watching this video at home in his monogrammed bathrobe shaking his fist at the screen. If you want to make Abbott panic and react, you need to first make his assured pathway to victory a little less certain.
Highlight: There’s no highlight, really. Nothing really jumps out as innovative, or even a particularly strong hit. Perhaps when the first mango is finally finished and is placed successfully on the plate? That’s the kind of thing that wins elections.
Lowlight: I’ll have to give an honorary mention to the Tele here for making specific reference to the lead actor’s “stylish stainless steel dishwasher” as means by which to invalidate what she’s saying. Why, public policy is only for people who wash their dishes by hand!
Cringe When: You realise this is so boring that not even the children paid to be in the advertisement are paying attention.
LABOR: IF TONY ABBOTT WINS, YOU LOSE
The ALP’s next negative ad demonstrates the difficult-to-follow thesis that if Tony Abbott were to win the election, you would lose other things.
The scene opens on a group of vulnerable people from varying backgrounds who have been herded into a warehouse and made to stand under big lights. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those times where someone asks you to stand with your family in silence under a giant spotlight and everything goes well. Things are instead going to go very badly indeed.
We’re treated to a series of shots of these groups while being told how Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will cut resources to each of their sectors. Fortunately, the sector that controls light switch operations is going from strength to strength as each group is plunged one by one into darkness.
The camera lingers on a small school child who just wants to have a good future like your kids probably want. He’s remembered his hat and everything. Surely awful Mr. Abbott will let the lights stay up on this one child?
But no. Much like a sketch The Chaser shouldn’t have done but totally did, the lights go out on this vulnerable child.
We are then greeted with a photo of Tony Abbott looking as if he’s trying to win back his soul in a game of chess. Between strikes of the Law and Order gavel we’re told “If he wins, you lose”. This feels like a misquotation of the Alien Vs. Predator tagline “Whoever wins, we lose”, which is coincidentally a much more accurate depiction of this campaign.
Will this piece save the Rudd Government? Let’s ask the first seven seconds of his previous advertisement:
“Our nation faces many new challenges, and I know for sure the old politics of negativity just won’t work.”
Right. It seems like someone should have told the PM’s brain what his mouth was saying.
As far as attack ads go, this is pretty underwhelming. The ALP must know that this opens the floodgates for attack ads; everything from questions of incompetence to that weird earwax-eating video. More than anything, this is disappointing for the people relying on Labor to keep Abbott out of government. The left wing base is expecting punches to be thrown. This is a candidate with a huge number of contentious quotes who already has a high disapproval rating. This isn’t the Hail Mary pass that Labor thinks it will be; I’ve seen more chilling advertisements about the dangers of choosing the wrong fabric softener.
This advertisement has all of the hypocrisy, with none of the benefit; if you want to go negative then go negative. The obvious argument will be that Labor is saving its big guns for later in the campaign. The obvious retort will be this: Why? Why are you doing that? It’s like a football team keeping their star players on the sideline until they’re absolutely certain the game is beyond doubt. Labor is leaking support when it needs to be fighting back, and this isn’t the rallying cry the base demands.
Highlight: Sad fireman. Oh boy, I could look at the expression on that sad fireman’s face all day.
Lowlight: Everything else. This is shit.
Cringe When: You notice that the man in the wheelchair is so forgotten by Tony Abbott that he doesn’t even get airtime in an advertisement attacking Tony Abbott.
LIBERAL: LABOR’S CARBON TAX LIE THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Just when you had thought you’d heard a Gillard carbon tax soundbite for the last time comes this little doozy from the Liberal Party.
Released online for the three year anniversary of the passing of the Carbon Tax, this badboy relies on the universally hated standards of cake, candles and third birthdays to remind the voting public that the Carbon Tax still exists and the Liberal Party is still mad as hell about it. So fierce is the Liberal hatred for the Carbon Tax that they felt obliged to light a candle and release even more carbon as an act of defiance.
This video marks one of the first times (but certainly not the last) that Gillard has reappeared in Opposition campaign material. It was almost soothing to hear her voice again, particularly with that particular snippet. It’s like hearing a classic song on the radio, if a major portion of the voting public still believed Guns N Roses’ ‘November Rain’ wasn’t caused by humans.
This is very much a preach to the choir. There’s no way anyone on the fence will be won over by this piece since, as the advert points out, we’ve been hearing the same thing for three long years.
Perhaps the simplicity of this ad is its strength. There’s really nothing here. It’s a par score and we all move on with our lives (which, as we know, is almost impossible thanks to the CARBON TAX!)
Highlight: The musical score. This is music perfectly suited to play as The Hulk walks down a long and lonely highway.
Lowlight: The photograph of Rudd kissing Gillard’s cheek. The person who chose that photo knew exactly what they were doing and I hope I’m never stuck at a party making smalltalk with them.
Cringe When: You realise the person at the cake store probably thought that cake and its decorations were meant for some beloved child.