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September 17, 2006

Gut Check


The holes?  They represents the gut of an American soldier killed in Iraq through the negligence of Senator George Allen.

With the mid-term free-for-all in full swing, this is one of the better attack ads so far.  Forget the fact Jim Webb still has an uphill battle, that the Virginia Senate race is turning into a visual fire fight, or that — according to right wing bloggers — the flak jackets in this ad are not Vietnam era issue, as the ad states, but “80s era kevlar.”  (Via Blogometer.)

…But even if they are 20ish years old, instead of 40ish, isn’t the point that Allen voted against the bill that would have provided the National Guard and Reserves more up-to-date protection?

The larger illustration here, however, is how vividly the Dems are using the war to fire back across the aisle.  Besides the punctures themselves, this spot is noteworthy for the violence, the visceral power of the shots, the resultant vaporous puffs.  If the Administration has been successful, so far, in abstracting the war, it makes the aggression here that much more felt.

(As a side note, I’m a little bit sorry to see most blogs now posting full commercials rather than highlighting frames.  That image can be a composite, but the most effective spot should leave one picture in your mind.)

View ad here.

(hat tip: VR)


  • ummabdulla

    I couldn’t view the ad, but I don’t know how these politicians live with themselves, sending the military over there to die or be maimed for nothing – and then not even giving them equipment that could keep them safer. With all the billions they spend on “defense”… but most of that goes to high-tech bondoggles and not to basic, boring stuff like vests or armor plating. “Support the troops” indeed…
    This article is about British soldiers, but it’s worth reading:
    ‘Our boys are so shattered’ … families plead for more Afghanistan troops
    Defence Secretary to call for reinforcements from Nato amid claims that British soldiers are just too tired to fight

  • Anup

    How about this picture of the senate race in Virginia?

  • readytoblowagasket

    Thanks for the link, Anup. GREAT photo and article!
    To me, the sound of the AK-47 firing and the sight of the dummy torsos jerking backward on impact from the bullets are extremely affecting in this ad. Simple and visceral.
    VoteVets is a political action committee, like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, so they aren’t affiliated with the Dem Party, they are independent. In fact, the ad doesn’t endorse Webb, it just urges a vote against Allen.
    If you donate to VoteVets, you get to *vote on* where the ad should run next and against whom.
    The org’s chairman maintains the Vietnam-era claim:
    ” ‘This was a life-or-death vote, and he voted death,’ said [Jon] Soltz, an Army Reserves captain who served with the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad.
    He said in a telephone interview that many in his unit were issued the Vietnam-era jackets, while others were given the vests for the modern system, but not the armor plates to insert in the vest to make it bulletproof.
    ‘In fact, we put Iraqi plates in our vests after we got there because we found a bunch of them abandoned at the Baghdad airport,’ Soltz said.”–allen-vetsad0913sep13,0,1738754,print.story?coll=dp-headlines-virginia
    Vietnam-era or Reagan-era, it will be interesting to see if a PAC will have the same effect on George Allen’s career that Swift Boat did on John Kerry’s.

  • PTate in MN

    It is a powerful ad. The spokesperson is very credible–he isn’t talking down to anyone, just telling the honest truth. He projects the kind of authentic no-nonsense manliness that conservatives thought they found in GWB, heh-heh, master of deception.
    As ummabdulla points out, how could anyone vote against effective body armor? In what twisted universe is that justified or responsible?
    The ad is deeply disturbing as well, meant to make the viewer paranoid. It threatens violence against the powers that be: Change or else…Bam!Pow!

  • MonsieurGonzo

    imho this advertisement is destined to become a classic of political propaganda. it’s visceral power is unquestionable; it’s conceit implicit a right:wrong Base Instinct. So potent, i daresay we will view this kind of image right up there with… the daisy petal-picking girl with nuclear count-down voiceover; and, the ‘un-punished’ convicts coming out of the un-governed implicit revolving-door prison gate; etc.
    Schwarzenegger’s negative ad in California (his opponent in the race for Governor is Angelides) is noteworthy for its elegant simplicity: his message shows a video clip of his opponent simply walking; ie., he isn’t doing anything, he’s just walking ~ but the video is running backwards. Quite effective, but as Michael notes: this effect is meaningless as a still image.
    otoh, this Classic Greek Torso-like image just freeze-frame : freeze-brain STOPs all other processes and goes directly to your memory jail, don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200 dollars {grin}
    We could probably trace the origins of this visual advertising genre on back to two ladies on early TeeVee, one holding her cleaned wash produced by “DoesIt,” the other dame disappointed that her not DoesIt, didn’t: believe it or don’t, folks!
    with the super-imposition of two candidates’ icon-images over their respective shot-up (or not) torsos, no text context or otherwise audio narration is required, indeed ~ The Message would be made all the more powerful by their absence, searing the visual-visceral base instinct experience forever into the viewers’ brains, thus.
    brilliant! scary-smart… but, brilliant.

  • gmoke

    At the beginning of the war, I asked
    Do we need bake sales for body armor?
    It was a good question then. It is a good question now.
    I donated some money for this ad because it is the most effective message I’ve seen on the war yet. Yes, it will be a classic on the order of the daisy and Willie Horton ads.
    The distinction is that the vest ad is straight, level, and plumb, true. It demonstrates its argument in a clear and incontrovertable way. The bullets penetrated one vest and did not penetrate the other. The politician in question voted one way and didn’t vote another.
    The war itself is not being debated although it is all the subtext. The violence of the ad cuts through the platitudinous “straight talk” of the hysterical machos who have sent others to fight and die. This ad brings the war home. It displays real bullets, real guns, and real consequences. The message of the ad is “Deal with it.”

  • Rafael

    Well, the term “Vietnam-Era” is not entirely incorrect. The Army and Marines started their massive turn over of WW2-Vietnam war equipment in the early to mid 80s (the Navy and the USAF where a bit quicker, but not by much). Although this is not the kind of heavy flak vest worn during the Korean and Vietnam wars (those looked like they had huge pillows stuck inside the lining and barely covered the torso), still it is clear that these vests could not stand up to a good old fashion 7.62mm round and that what really matters.

  • Frank T

    The left side of the photo looks like a man sniffing a vulva.

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