Bill Maher and US Election’s Image Battle

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Real Time With Bill Maher

The Presidential contenders are still sparring with the election four months away. But political satirists aren’t on vacation and a video on the Bill Maher program shows how political races are shaped by images

While politicians’ words and speeches often appeal to a vision of the nation united as one, they often appeal in images to much narrower slice of demographics – to tax-band/geography/ethnicity/age groupings.

Real Time with Bill Maher, has some fun with an spoof pitch by Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to “Seniors”, who, the promo suggests, don’t like change and would identify with a candidate who is ‘ok with a VCR’ as opposed to a DVD.

The video uses a selection of footage from the Image Source website, highlighting the fact that along with policy debate, the charisma and personality of the candidates, elections are also about crisply delivered visual symbols.

“Seniors”

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“Suburban Utopia”

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The soaring, inspiring rhetoric of a Presidential candidate may move hearts and minds, but elections are often about effectively edited images that emotionally underscore the strengths of the candidate and the soft spots of the opponent. But there’s also something else beAnd while Maher’s video is a bit of fun, it also ticks-off familiar visual concepts that will be played out in the real campaign, showcased in of the most famous campaign videos in US elections, It’s Morning Again In America, which ticked off core visual ideas – Community, Tradition, Patriotism – in an emotionally soaring narrative that imitated the soothing optimism of the President they called “The Great Communicator.”

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In a campaign images rarely shift opinion, they can firmly embed pre-existing predispositions and attitudes. The images of It’s Morning Again In America would have looked daft if the American public hadn’t already bought into Ronald Reagan’s vision. Likewise the “Daisy” ad run by the Democrats against candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964, and only shown once, would not have been effective if the public hadn’t already been concerned about Goldwater’s attitudes. Created by DDB it is regarded as one of the most controversial and effective campaign videos in political history.

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Political-Image junkies among us await to see how visual concepts will be played in campaigns out come the Fall election.

Image Source also offers a huge selection of art directed stock footage.

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