The 6 Most Baffling Political Ads Ever Aired
Not every politician has celebrities and CEOs supporting them. While Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spend nearly a billion dollars to bombard us with endless big budget commercials, other people have to figure out how to fund their campaigns with no money, or celebrity spokespersons, or sanity.
Instead of just standing in front of a camera and plainly stating their ideas, some politicians have decided to find "creative" ways to get attention in their ads -- with results that range from hilarious ineptitude to terrifying madness. Like ...
"Give Us Your Cash, Bitch"
Take a good, long look at the below screenshot of an ad that ran during the 2010 campaign for Los Angeles City Council. LOOK AT IT:
No, there wasn't a mistake in the upload -- that's the ad.
The premise of this ad is that Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn was involved with an anti-gang initiative that employed former gang members, who were supposedly paid with taxpayer money. As you can see, this sensitive issue is addressed in the subtlest way Councilwoman Hahn's opponents at Right Turn USA could think of: with a video of two gun-wielding black guys rapping and getting up close and personal with a pole dancer's ass.
The ad defies all logic, but we'll do our best to describe it, because one day this video will be deleted from YouTube, and humanity must know that it once existed. The entire ad consists of the aforementioned black guys, presumably murderous gang members, holding guns and rapping, as photos of Al Capone, John Dillinger, Charles Manson and just random fucking people fly across the background.
Bearing right on the interstate is for gangsters.
The tasteful lyrics go: "Give us your cash, bitch, so we can shoot up the street / Give us your cash, bitch, so we can buy some more heat." A great deal of the video consists of closeups of the pole dancer's jiggling posterior, which is stuffed with dollar bills and plastered with communist iconography. As they recite their jingle, the gangsters help themselves to the money on the dancer's butt.
That's not how strip clubs work, people.
At random points in the ad, we are treated to brief, almost subliminal shots of the dancer's mugshot-stamped ass with even more inexplicable shit on the sides. The sideways writing on the wall is the only thing marginally related to the message of the ad here, but it's shown far too quickly for anyone to read it.
Most people will be too baffled by dancing girl C-3PO to notice it, anyway.
The video ends with one of the gangsters poking the jiggling butt with the barrel of his gun, at which point the dancer turns around and we see that she's ... holy shit, Councilwoman Hahn?
But ... why would she agree to act in this video? What sorcery is this?
Sexy Hahn's eyes then turn red and her face jumps toward us, accompanied by the words "JANICE HAHN: BAD FOR LOS ANGELES, BAD FOR AMERICA" in bloody letters.
"GREAT FOR BONERS."
The ad is like a 90-year-old's idea of what a rap video must be like, hence all the early 20th century gangsters and references to communism. However, it was actually created by Ladd Ehlinger Jr., an experienced ad maker responsible for some of the most talked about commercials of the 2010 midterm election, who said about it, "I think it's only offensive to people who don't have a sense of humor."
Vote for Me, I'm a Jedi
It's hard to get people interested in a County Board of Education election, so we don't blame candidate Christopher Knight for trying to bring a little excitement to the issue. He may have gone a little overboard with this ad, though, in staging his own zero-budget Star Wars ripoff to make some kind of point about education funding:
The ad opens with a bunch of knockoff Star Wars toys (supplied by one C. Knight) wobbling blurrily through space in the single worst green screen effect created this century. A voice then says, "When it comes to education, government bureaucracy is like a cosmic bully."
Yes, Christopher. That's exactly what it's like.
The somber narration continues: "Legislation like No Child Left Behind is targeting and destroying our ability to best teach our children." To hammer the point home, this is followed by images of the Death Star literally exploding the crap out of a school.
Wait, did Congress really approve that? It seems counterproductive to education.
Just when you think all is lost, we see a hand dramatically picking up a light saber from a table -- it's Christopher Knight, stepping in to save the day. Also we're in a desert now, for some reason.
"Come on, if you put me anywhere else, I'll look completely ridiculous!"
"I believe in more local control over our own schools," Knight's voice tells us, about a second after his mouth enunciates the same words, "'cause I have more than enough faith in the parents and teachers of Rockingham County. I'm also a fiscal conservative, and a supporter of athletics and the arts." Then, perhaps to stress how athletic and artistic he himself can be, he delights us with a carefully choreographed spin worthy of The Phantom Menace ...
Such elegance. Such power.
... and, gripping the light saber firmly in both hands, he continues his speech from a new pose:
"And rest assured, I've never been convicted of any sex-related crimes, despite what you're currently thinking."
"Let's work together to defend our bright and shiny future, for the children of Rockingham County."
We should mention, at this point, that throughout the ad we can hear the hum of the light saber in the background, which, yeah, is a little distracting, especially because the audio sounds like it was recorded in the middle of someone's garage, but we believe that Knight was right in sacrificing the intelligibility of his message to bring more realism to his sweet Jedi moves. For the children of Rockingham County.
He extends his arm to the side because he was supposed to be hugging Slave Leia, but they ran out of money.
Sadly, Knight did not win a seat on the Board of Education, and as predicted, all of the county's schools are now just smoking craters in the ground.
Jedrzej Wijas Is METAL AS FUCK
Insane ads aren't limited to America. Polish politician Jedrzej Wijas, looking to get his message out in the face-shreddingest way possible, rustled up a metal band to give himself some credibility with the crucial metalhead vote.
The beginning of the ad seems designed to trick you into thinking that this might be a normal music video. It opens with shots of a metal band rocking the fuck out -- the only thing that seems slightly out of place is that there appears to be a man in a suit standing in front of them. But then, the man in the suit (Wijas) opens his mouth and lets loose a hellish, primal growl that lasts a good seven seconds, while standing perfectly still.
From the sound of the guy's voice, you'd assume that he was threatening to murder anyone who didn't vote for him, but the lyrics actually translate to "End of the useless talking, enough of the stupid wars. Secular government, dignified life, freedom is my goal. Vote wisely."
"Together we can build a better tomorrow. SAAAAATAAAAAAN!!!"
Honestly, we're not sure who exactly he was hoping to impress here: Metal fans will be turned off by the hippie lyrics, and everyone else will be turned off by the, well, all of it.
Also, we hate to disappoint you, but, as awesome as it would be for an elected official to deliver his speeches in guttural growls, we don't think this is Wijas' actual voice here: The lyrics were most likely dubbed in by someone who wasn't wearing a suit and a tie. In fact, we like to imagine that Wijas didn't know he would be screeching death metal until he saw the ad.
"Yeah, we'll green screen in some white columns and a flag behind you, just speak normally."
Nightmarish Animals for Four
Amendment 4 was a Florida conservation initiative, so its supporters decided to advertise the issue with commercials featuring animals singing a catchy tune. What could possibly go wron- OH JESUS CHRIST, WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?
That rabbit's mouth has devoured worlds.
That is not how mouths work. And we're not just picking out one unfortunate frame here; the entire video is full of those gaping maws.
By animating the heads of the animals but not the bodies, they look less like adorable anthropomorphic critters and more like the failed experiments of an insane taxidermist. The fact that they got lazy with the rest of the commercial doesn't help, either. That lone, non-singing owl floating in the background is a testament to both their laziness and the nonexistence of a loving God.
We don't even hear lyrics anymore. Just the shallow, waning breath of dying hope.
The cheery, childish-sounding song makes it even worse. It's like they're being forced to sing a happy tune, when all they want is to be put out of their suffering.
"But nothing can save me. Please make it stop."
The amendment did pass with over 68 percent of the vote, so we guess the end justifies the means. Although how many people only voted yes to appease the nightmarish animals haunting their dreams wasn't calculated.
"Major Oily Tom"
By now, we're all pretty used to seeing political ads that try to smear shit all over the other candidate -- that's just the way democracy works, right? Would-be Minnesota governor Rob Hahn, however, took this strategy a little too literally in this excruciatingly crappy (in more than one sense) CGI music video attacking his opponent Tom Horner.
Since the ad was made in 2010, not long after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hahn decided it would be a brilliant idea to compare Horner to a greedy company like BP by showing oil dripping over the guy. The animators did a poor job conveying the idea, though, so it looks like Horner just got shat on by a pterodactyl.
Would you vote for a man covered in dinosaur poop?
Hahn's most scathing arguments against Horner's policies consist of calling him "a big tool" and making fun of his glasses. Hahn must have told the animators how important it was to convey these ideas ("He's a tool, and he has glasses"), because they went all-out in this section.
"Don't worry," said the animators to Hahn. "We got this."
"OOH, DAMN! Fucking nailed him!"
This is all set to a terrible parody of Peter Schilling's 1983 hit "Major Tom," by the way. "Horner" remains static and unblinking for most of the ad -- but when we get to the chorus (the "Earth below us" part in the original), all hell breaks loose, and he starts spinning on his axis.
Oh, shit! Did he just sing that? I believe he did! Suck it, buddy!
"Is that a pocket protector? I can't vote for a NERRRRRD!"
The only other character is a completely motionless child holding a sign that also spins, for no reason. Everything these guys know about animation, they learned from GeoCities.
"Nice job, guys. We should have no problem securing the pedophile vote."
Let's examine the logic behind this ad: Hahn's opponent is named Tom Horner (only identified in the video as "rhymes with corner"), and being governor is kind of like being mayor, and "mayor" sounds like "major," and there was a song called "Major Tom" in 1983, so clearly, "Major Oily Tom" is a thing that makes sense. By the way, this is Tom Horner:
Glasses: check. Middle-aged male: check. Close enough.
Rob Hahn lost by a landslide.
Mike Gravel Stares. He. Just. Stares.
Unlike every other politician mentioned in this list, you may actually recognize Mike Gravel -- he served two terms as a senator from Alaska, helped make the Pentagon Papers famous and unsuccessfully ran for the 2008 presidential nomination for both the Democratic and Libertarian parties. He's also mastered the disappointed grandfather look, so while running his presidential campaign in 2007, he capitalized on that talent (and that talent only) with the following ad.
Just him. Silently judging you with his stare. For a full minute.
We dare you to watch more than 20 seconds without breaking down and confessing something.
That's the whole ad: just him looking at the camera for one glorious, awkward minute. For a second, his lips begin to open and it almost looks like he's gonna say something ...
... but nope, never mind, he closes them again. Back to staring.
"My disappointment in you has swallowed my words, like a black hole of disgust."
But wait, what's happening now? Shortly after the minute mark, a momentous event unfolds: Gravel turns around ...
... picks up a big rock by the side of the road ...
... and chucks it into the lake. OK, seriously now, how is this man not president of the United States?
"Mike Gravel '08: Fuck Rocks."
After that, he brushes off his hands and calmly strolls down the path for another full minute and a half, until he's no longer visible. Nothing else happens.
"Vote for whoever you like, I'm going home."
The Web address is the only indication that this is part of a political campaign. Gravel says he was approached by some art teachers with the idea to do this avant-garde ad and another one called "Fire" (spoilers: it's fire, for seven minutes), but he was happy to do it and didn't hesitate to slap his campaign website over the end. In case you're wondering, according to Gravel himself, he throws the rock into the lake and walks away because "he's trying to make a change in society and then he's going on with his life, or to death, who knows."
So there you have it. That's what happened after he disappeared into the woods. He died.
They should do a sequel where a man builds a baseball field in his corn, and Gravel walks out. And just stares.
You can read more from Mark at Zug and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Or check out his personal website.
For more terribly shitty ads, check out 8 Hilariously Failed Attempts to Use CGI in Political Ads. Or learn about 6 Ad Campaigns That Prove Humanity Is Doomed.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 5 Horrific Injuries People Didn't Realize They Had.
Or stop by LinkSTORM because outside? Meh.