Rick Perry’s Big Gay Ad

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Republican candidate for President Rick Perry released a new ad recently, titled “Strong”, and it’s getting tons of attention.

The key line is this: “there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

Contrasting military service by openly homosexual individuals with the (false) statement that, essentially, kids can’t openly be Christian (at least in school, which is what he’s implying), certainly indicates that he thinks there’s something wrong with being homosexual.

Once you’re done being outraged, we take a deeper look at what’s going on here.

If politics were swimming, Rick Perry would be the guy thrashing about at the deep end of the pool, desperate for someone to toss him a life preserver. As political propaganda, this ad is very effective, but mostly for a reason you haven’t considered.

These ads as released get almost no publicity. Politicians, especially, when they’re losing, are desperate to get their name in the media. The video is getting a lot of criticism, and that’s normally not the kind of attention that politicians want.

But this is an ad for a primary campaign. And the target audience isn’t Christians. The target audience is exactly those people who are now expressing their outrage over this ad.

Here’s how it works: The vast majority of Republican primary voters would probably never see this ad. However, there is a large group of people who are seeing it: center-left internet junkies. People who spend more time on the internet tend to be more polarized and partisan. It’s not moderates complaining; it’s people on the far left. This ad gets the “right” people to criticize Rick Perry. The Republican primary voter is going to hear her boyfriend’s hippie stepsister complaining virulently about this ad, and she’s going to remember that since they disagree about everything politically, this must mean that Rick Perry is doing something good. Because the people who are criticizing the ad are already, in the minds of Republican primary voters, associated with “bad” things (socialism, secularism, etc.), the criticism is translated into praise for the ad, in the same way that an endorsement from someone you dislike makes you like the endorsed less.

Critics of the ad are doing Rick Perry’s work for him, just like he planned.

And the ad is just vague enough to allow someone so inclined to rationalize it as not being an attack on homosexuals, but a defense of Christianity.

If you’re watching it, it’s for you, one way or another. 

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  2. Ron Paul Forgot that America is a Blue Pill Nation
  3. This Is Where We’re Headed

About JohnJ

Law student, currently studying for the Illinois bar exam. Iraq vet.

8 Responses to Rick Perry’s Big Gay Ad

  1. DataShade says:

    However, there is a large group of people who are seeing it: center-left internet junkies. People who spend more time on the internet tend to be more polarized and partisan. It’s not moderates complaining; it’s people on the far left.

    What does the phrase “center-left” mean to you?

  2. DataShade says:

    Critics of the ad are doing Rick Perry’s work for him, just like he planned.

    How do you know he planned your interpretation of events? I mean no disrespect, but he failed to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, which seems like it would be more straightforward that dogwhistling hipsters related to Republicans and Republican-leaning moderates.

    • DataShade says:

      “that dogwhistling” should’ve been “than dogwhistling,” my apologies.

    • donk says:

      Well it’s pretty obvious that Rick Perry’s campaign didn’t envision and count on the precise scenario outlined here (“get at the aggressive college republicans through their internet left pals”). although I think JohnJ described the ad’s effect pretty well, at least the extent to which it benefited Perry—and I hope nobody’s assuming that the ad had a net beneficial effect, considering the straits the Perry camp is in now.

      Rick Perry’s marketing guys needed only to know this: the ad would rally a few queer-bashing stalwarts while making a ton of other people angry. Maybe they thought they could seriously leverage that anger, but they couldn’t make it happen. They weren’t necessarily stupid (though probably they were), it’s just that deconstruction isn’t their job, that’s for those media forensics blogs.

  3. DataShade says:

    If you’re watching it, it’s for you, one way or another.

    I’d not watched it until you posted it here, so I’m not sure whether that means it’s for me or not.
    If you go to the page, you’ll see something interesting:
    7,708,715 views, 25,327 likes, 739,725 dislikes. Aside from the errant and highly flippant thought “that’s a lot of stepsisters and not a lot of voters” it struck me that just under 10% of the views resulted in votes. Then there was this, also on the video page:

    All Comments
    Adding comments has been disabled for this video.

    It seems to me as though we don’t really know anything about the reactions this video may have caused.

  4. Guy Fox says:

    You’re absolutely right about the ad being designed to provoke (indeed, that’s the whole gag with populism in general), but it’s not necessarily so decentralized and non-hierarchical. There’s a media eco-system, and this ad is like brisket for the MSM piranhas. The Washington Post is painting him as an inconsistent fundamentalist, Time has us all ‘angry and laughing’, and the LA Times insightfully deconstructs it as an attempt to court religious conservatives’ votes. Shiver me timbers. Fox would have no interest in showing a candidate’s ad for free, if it weren’t for the buzz generated by Perry’s ideological opponents. They provide the alibi. I’m sure that there are plenty of battle lines drawn on kitchen tables between the pierced and pure members of many families based on this ad, but the broadcast version of the same process is more disconcerting for its scale.

    • JohnJ says:

      Yes, but Perry is going for Republican primary voters, who are far more likely to have a knee-jerk reaction against whatever the Washington Post, LA Times, etc, say. It’s a matter of targeting a specific segment of the population, and Perry is (was, I guess) hoping that provoking the “enemies” of that segment into attacking him will make him more sympathetic to that segment.

      “Hey, the people you hate (I mean, the people who hate you; they’re the haters, not you, of course) are attacking me; they must know I’m one of you. Vote for me!”

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