Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mixed messages

Being in media, I'm always interested by controversies over messages, and today there are a couple of these controversies in the news.

Controversy 1:
A Florida man is using billboards with an image of the burning World Trade Center to encourage votes for a Republican presidential candidate, drawing criticism for politicizing the 9/11 attacks.
"Please Don't Vote for a Democrat" reads the type over the picture of the twin towers after hijacked airliners hit them on September, 11, 2001.
Mike Meehan, a St. Cloud, Florida, businessman who paid to post the billboards in the Orlando area, said former President Clinton should have put a stop to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda before 9/11. He said a Republican president would have done so.
"I believe 9/11 could have been prevented if we'd had a Republican president at the time," Meehan said Wednesday on CNN's "American Morning." . . .
The local Republican Party called the billboard "inappropriate," according to WFTV.
Now, hold on there a minute! Am I the only one who's seen The Path to 9/11? Is it a point of controversy among Republicans whether the head-in-the-sand policies of the Clinton administration were a key cause of U.S. vulnerability to al-Qaeda? And please tell me what, exactly, is the difference between the direct message of Mr. Meehan's billboards and the indirect message of the Bush re-election campaign in 2004?

What the local GOP objects to in Mr. Meehan's billboards is that he's saying clearly and openly what Republicans routinely say in coded terms. Frankly, I prefer the refreshing honesty of Mr. Meehan's message to poll-tested and focus-grouped gobbledygook of the official GOP, and what really bothers me is why any Republican Party official felt the need to pass judgment on Mr. Meehan's billboards.

If I was a GOP spokesman, and I got a call from a reporter asking about those billboards, I'd just say, "Look, it's a free country, pal. It's his money and if that's what he wants to say, it's not the place of the Republican Party to tell him not to say it. So stop trying to bug me about somebody else's billboard. We're running a political party, not a billboard-approval service."

Controversy 2:
A state employee has resigned and officials have disavowed an international advertising campaign that led to calls for an investigation of tourism posters proclaiming "South Carolina is so gay."
The campaign, which plastered the London subway with posters advertising the charms of South Carolina and five major U.S. cities to gay European tourists, landed with a resounding thud in South Carolina, where the issue of gay rights has long been a political flashpoint.
The advertisements were timed for London’s Gay Pride Week, which ended Saturday. The posters touted the attractions of the state to gay tourists, including its "gay beaches" and its Civil War-era plantations.
What this involves is a cultural conflict between the "anointed" experts who dreamed up this ad campaign and the "benighted" taxpayers of South Carolina. (I adopt these terms from Thomas Sowell's excellent book, The Vision of the Anointed.)

To the anointed, there is no cause so just and righteous as "tolerance" toward gays, an attitude that often manifests itself in what can fairly be called gay supremacy: The belief that homosexuals are not merely equal to everyone else, but that their status as a persecuted victim group endows gay people with superior status as moral symbols -- "mascots," to borrow another term from Sowell.

Gay supremacy is everywhere nowadays. The ironic "camp" sensibility of gay culture -- catty and mocking, a sort of satirical travesty of bourgeois values -- permeates everything from fashion magazines to primetime sitcoms. There is scarcely a college campus in America where the billboards in dorm lobbies aren't festooned with fliers advertising various "GLBT" activities. A concern for gays as a crucial element of "diversity" now oozes from the human-resources offices of major corporations.

Given all this, one is hardly surprised that a tourism ad agency would think it a clever thing to plaster the slogan "South Carolina is so gay" all over London during a gay pride festival. The clever, sophisticated agency people who dreamed up this slogan are probably puzzled that their ad campaign has provoked controversy. The agency people are scratching their heads and telling themselves:
After all, the portfolio we showed the state tourism officials included such past successes as, "Lesbians Love Lubbock," "Hoboken [Hearts] Homos," and "Tulsa: America's Transvestite Paradise." Why, we just signed a big new contract to run that campaign, "Cleveland: As Queer As It Gets." So what's up with this homophobic crap all of a sudden? Never mind, we'll still have plenty of business once we get that "Welcome to Brokeback Country" deal in Montana.
The ad people, in other words, have been inside the bubble of elite culture -- and its gay supremacist values -- so long that they'd forgotten that there was a whole 'nother country out there, filled with ordinary Americans who've never set foot inside a "diversity workshop" or a Gender Theory classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment