Friday, September 28, 2012

Creepy Smiling People May Have Opinions, But They Don't Tell Me Much About the ID Law

A few weeks ago, when looking up information for someone on alternative ballots on the PA voter information website, I noticed on the sidebar that the PA state government had made an instructional video about the photo ID law.  Earlier this week, during one of the rare moments in which I was watching television, I saw the commercial for the first time, and its uselessness prompted both a laugh and a sigh and made me decide that it was time for me to write a take-down of all of how trite the commercial is.

Let us begin, and let us do a play-by-play of the commercial.


WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE SMILING AT ME?  One can tell that the director told these two people, "Now, I want you to smile warmly.  Do you get that?  I WANT WARMTH."  However, already, I want to change the channel because I think that this is going to tell me about how I can lower my cholesterol.  Considering that I am a vegetarian, my cholesterol is very fine, thank you very much, smiling people.


Now, the warmth is gone from the smiles, and these people are looking at me with "serious" faces and asking me if I "care about this election."  O MY GOSH, I DO.  I MUST BE THEIR TARGET AUDIENCE.

Also, the background music to the commercial has such a pseudo-dramatic quality to it.  I'm waiting for it to reach a crescendo in which some wonderful act of patriotism, citizenship, etc., takes place and everyone erupts into applause.


Another silent person smiling "warmly" at me.  Your smile conveys warmth, my friend, but it conveys no information other than "I am not a threat to you."  And I was not worried about that.


If you have an opinion....
If you want a voice...
If you want a voice...

I want all of these. Are they selling me a voice?  Can I buy some new handy-dandy mechanism that can better vocalize my opinions because these people seem so articulate at it?  Is it cheap, though?  My vocalization of my opinions is important to me, but I don't know how much I'm willing to spend at the moment.

The repetition of "If you want a voice" continues the pseudo-dramatic quality of this commercial.  You can tell that the ad creators thought that this would "resonate" with the viewer.  But they were wrong.


"Sir, I want you to smile confidently now.  We don't need warmth; we need confidence.  Straighten your posture sir, shut up, and you're good to go."


If you want to make a difference...
If you want to vote...

Again, I feel as though they are reading my mind right now.  THEY ARE JUST TOO CLEVER.  I do want to vote, and I do want to make a difference.  Will your opinion vocalization device help me to vote, too?  THAT'S MAGIC.

Now, the smiling people are telling me to "Show it."  This sounds a bit too much like "Shove it" to me.  Why are these smiling people cursing at me?  I thought we were friends!

You may be smiling again, girl, but you already rudely told me to "show it."  We need some time to rekindle this friendship.  Maybe the bland narrator voice will help.


My AP English teacher in senior year in high school often used "Show, don't tell" as a succinct recommendation for good writing.  However, although that works in writing, it does not hold as much weight in a commercial.  Showing me a photo of a driver's license or a passport does not have as much of an effect as telling me because I may not be watching the screen at all points, and the telling in the ad is necessary for reinforcement.

Also, this commercial has shown a driver's license and a passport.  What about a nursing home-issued ID?  Or a municipal ID?  What about the fact that my expired driver's license can still count as long as it did not expire more than a year ago?  Where's the list of all of the ID's, either spoken or written?  Maybe they forgot as Governor Corbett himself did.


Why is the cameraman zooming in on the illustration of the Statute of Liberty on that passport?  Um...PATRIOTISM?

Also, when a commercial tells people to call this number or go online for more information, how many people actually do so?  Moreover, how many of them actually have computers on which they could look up that information about which you are speaking?



If you care about this country....



It's time to show it.

I love how none of these people demonstrated the act of showing their photo IDs at a polling booth. They are just showing their IDs to a television viewer.  Can I just videotape myself waving my ID around and smiling warmly and then have the ability to vote in November in PA?  My guess is no.

Also, whenever I watch this commercial, I think of Michael Jackson's "Black or White"--namely, the "talking heads" part of it, in which an array of people reflecting 90s "diversity" talk bob their heads to Michael Jackson's song.  I was very disappointed that the PA photo ID ad did not have any head morphing.  I think that was a big mistake on the director's part. 

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