Chad Barefoot for State Senate – “Crazy Ideas”
Analysis by Rachel Lanier, Sarah Lunenfeld, Margot Pien and Jenna Stout appeared on http://whichwaync.com
On the surface Barefoot’s claims are legitimate, but upon closer speculation Barefoot elects to focus only on aspects of Berger’s record he deems foolish. One piece of legislation that Barefoot criticizes is SB 1018: Ban Certain Single-Use Bags, a bill co-sponsored by Berger that aims to reduce the amount of plastic bags consumed on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. There are many legitimate environmental reasons behind the bill, such as an attempt to reduce landfills, protect wildlife and marine life, and maintain North Carolina’s coastal landscape.
Another piece of Berger’s legislation that comes under fire is SB 25: Only Barbers to Use Barber Pole/Advertisement. The bill, primarily sponsored by Berger, states that one cannot practice barbering in the state of North Carolina without first obtaining a license. Furthermore, the bill prohibits the use of a barber pole without first having obtained this license.
Barefoot dismisses these bills as worthless pieces of legislation and uses Berger’s participation as evidence that he is not spending his time in office wisely. In reality, Berger has focused on issues such as state health plans, attempts to ban cellphone use while driving and obtaining compensation for workers. Berger is contemporary in his participation in the Women’s Right to Choose Act which faces not only North Carolina but the entire country.
Barefoot clearly attempts to portray Berger as a politician who fights for only the most foolish issues and at the end of the ad communicate his own “sincere” intentions. As he furrows his brow and expresses a look of concern, Barefoot says, “Let’s get serious. We have real problems that demand attention and common sense.” While Barefoot appears honestly concerned, it is difficult to tell if Barefoot honestly has the public’s best interest in mind — just seconds before the ad included graphics such as shooting Berger out of a cannon.
To Barefoot’s credit, he does not try to obscure who is funding the ad. At the bottom of the screen the text states “Paid for by Committee to Elect Chad Barefoot,” and he adds “I paid for this ad” at the end of the video.
Barefoot displays a lack of respect for his audience by using distracting and over-the-top graphics to communicate his criticism of Berger. Barefoot provides his audience with colorful, circus-related graphics instead of providing rational and simply stated information to back up his claims. He “dumbs down” Berger’s previous body of work and fails to offer well supported reasoning for why he would be the better suited candidate for office. Fundamentally, it seems that Barefoot is not trying to fool the audience but to point out faults in his fellow candidate in order to elevate himself as the better choice.
Barefoot might be taking advantage of the fact that the audience for his ad is probably not going to investigate his claims and may not have access to the same information he is privy to. For example, he cites his sources for the barber pole and plastic bag bills, but neglects to cite his source for the unemployment rate and specify the area to which the unemployment rate refers. It was unusually difficult to find the article used in the barber pole bill citation and the average citizen will likely not take the effort to question and investigate the information Barefoot presents.
To his credit, he is limited by a 30 second television spot in which he must quickly communicate his message and capture the audience’s attention. Barefoot provides citations for most of his claims, which could point his audience in the direction to confirm or deny his assertions.
Barefoot’s ad has implications that reach farther than his campaign for North Carolina Senate. For example, Barefoot refers to an entire political group as “silly liberals.” This simple statement perpetuates partisan divide and exploits the current contentious political climate in America.
The mudslinging nature of Barefoot’s “Crazy Ideas” video has become the acceptable norm for political ads. Ads such as this could decrease the average person’s trust in persuasive messages. As a result viewers might conclude that all political messages are made up of merely name-calling and fluff. Barefoot’s ad is filled with distracting circus music, graphics and animations, making it difficult to take the ad itself seriously. After viewing this type of ad, in the context of the rest of the mudslinging political ads splattered on TV, people may grow skeptical of persuasive messages in general.