Connolly and Fimian: The art of ads hominem
Two weeks to go before the election, and both contenders in the 11th Congressional District have demonstrated their ability to twist each other's statements into darts.
In his first radio ad, Keith Fimian quoted Rep. Gerry Connolly as saying in reference to earmarks: "I want to be there with all four paws and snout in the trough." Contextually, Connolly was speaking as though he was Eric Cantor when he made that statement.
A few weeks ago, Connolly unleashed his own low blow. He took literally a statement Fimian made about wanting a $250,000 bonus, when Fimian was just making a point about balancing the federal budget.
The lies are blatant, the depictions false. That's why it's a lot more fun to ignore the content of TV ads and instead, critique their style. So before you throw up your hands in utter frustration and decide to hide in your closet until the election is over, here's a rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly in Fimian's and Connolly's TV grenades.
"Mess" was the first ad Fimian aired last April and has now resurrected. Nothing like using doe-eyed children to evoke feelings of wrath against those hardened establishment politicians. An adorable but clearly sad little boy peeks out from his mother's embrace, followed by a fairly typical shot of a shirt-sleeved Fimian reassuring us he'll fix the economy (and probably make that kid, and every other kid in the world, smile.).
"Create," aired by Connolly's campaign in mid-September, is really a yawner. We learn that he says important things to people gathered at conference tables and in parks. And is it really too difficult to find background music with a chord change? At least one? Or that doesn't repeat the same two measures for the entire 30 seconds?
But Fimian really abused sound effects in his retaliatory ad. In "Gerry Connolly's First TV Ad," you can't ignore five buzzers that blare when the truth-o-meter decides Connolly's pants are on fire. But relax, because the ad ends with a sort of ethereal, euphoric postlude, making one feel as though Fimian will be descending on Fairfax on clouds and wearing a halo.
In the "Fimian's Bonus" ad, aired earlier this month, Connolly comes in with a bang and goes out with...reused footage from "Create." At the beginning, dark, soap opera-like music plays over a somewhat blurry image of Fimian as he supposedly announces he wants a big fat bonus in Congress.
Until Fimian's most recent ad, neither side's techniques have been too unique. But it looks as if the graphic designers got a little more creative with "Pattern" and introduced retro-style lettering with black and white clips of Connolly, some showing him exhaling a puff of smoke. What's interesting is that you only see short clips of Connolly through most of the ad -- making him seem impersonal -- so when his image is finally shown larger and replicated several times at the end, his probably normal smile seems like a creepy leer.
So who wins? I say Fimian's are more interesting, although it's probably because his underdog status forces him to come up with creative attacks. But what do you think?
Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local
Paige Winfield Cunningham
| October 19, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Categories: Fairfax County, HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, taxes
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