Movie Trailers and Campaign Ads

What do these things have in common?

Probably not that much and I’m sure I’m reading into things and just formulating my opinions based on sheer annoyance. But I’m annoyed. So that annoyance is giving birth to this blog post.

Next Tuesday is an election day in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It’s not a huge election, but it’s all leading up to this November’s race for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. June is when the Democratic primaries are taking place.

I don’t know about the Republican primaries… I assume the Republicans want to have a candidate for those big three state offices. Do they have primaries later in the year? Did I already miss it? Or do they just know who they want to run and so there’s no need for the competition?

As you can see, I pay very close attention to politics.

In all honesty, I hate politics. I know I’ve said it before, but I truly believe that our political system is all but broken and I have a difficult time believing that there is a single elected official who actually gives a damn about the American people who voted them into office. Sure, they can say nice things and make real pretty speeches. But actions, or lack thereof, speak way louder than the soundbites we get on the news.

Anyway, for weeks months Virginians have been bombarded by advertisements shouting about how awesome each of the Democratic candidates for each office are. And it’s not enough that their commercials show up on live TV. No, they have to hit us on YouTube, too. And they’re on all the time. And they’re repetitive. And they’re redundant. And they say the same things over and over again.

Why do I compare these political ads to movie trailers?

One particular movie trailer came to mind while I was sitting through the same 15-second ad I’d already seen twice during a 9-minute YouTube video. That was the trailer for 2014’s I Frankenstein.

I never saw that movie. But that’s because each time I saw the trailer for it, I was more and more convinced that it didn’t look like a very good movie. And those were the days before MoviePass or Regal Unlimited… so you actually had to be careful how you spent money on movie tickets. Once a year, around the time that I Frankenstein was released in theaters, my Timehop app will remind me of something I posted to either Facebook or Twitter at the time. I said something along the lines of, “Just because you show me a trailer over and over again doesn’t mean I’m going to think the movie is good.”

I made that statement because I thought it was ridiculous how often I was seeing the I Frankenstein trailer. It was there before every movie I paid to see. It was on TV every time there was a commercial break. It was everywhere all the time. Again, I never saw it, so I don’t actually know if the movie was bad. I can only assume it was. And based on that assumption, I decided that if a studio decides that they need to advertise a movie that much, there must be some kind of correlation related to how bad the movie is.

From there I basically decided, the more you see a trailer for a movie, the worse the movie is likely to turn out.

Can that assumed correlation be used when considering political ads?

The more I see an ad for a particular candidate, the less likely he or she is to do a good job in office.

Maybe… maybe not. I don’t think there’s really any way to test that theory. Mostly, the more ads you see from a particular candidate, it just means they have more money to spend on their campaign. Which, again, really doesn’t tell me how good they’ll be in office. It just tells me they have more funding than the other guys.

Is that fair? Absolutely not. There’s no such thing as a fair election in this country. I’d be all for campaign spending limits if someone wanted to make that a law… Wait, is that a law already? Like I said, I don’t really pay attention to politics if I can help it because it just makes me angry. But if there aren’t spending limits, there should be.

Let’s say you’re running for governor. Now let’s say that, legally, you’re only allowed to spend $500,000 on advertisements. That includes signs, billboards, radio ads, TV commercials, internet ads, mass mailings, etc. Once you run out, you run out. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got some massive corporation funding your campaign and you have millions more in your pocket. If you already spent $500,000 on ads, you’re done. That other money needs to be spent elsewhere.

I don’t know how campaign laws work. I wish I weren’t so ignorant on the subject. It’d probably make this a more interesting and informative blog post. I just think it would be nice if political candidates could find themselves on more equal footing. They let money do all their talking instead of their experience or record or integrity.

Anyway, I’ve about decided I’m gonna start voting for the person whose ads I’ve seen the least of. That may mean I’m voting for people whose names I don’t recognize on Election Day. Maybe I’ll just flip a coin.

Feature Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

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