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July 6, 2007
Dadaism, Parody, or Just a Political Ad?
Crispin Sartwell has an interesting piece in the LA Times analyzing the unusual political ads put on YouTube by Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel. For those that watch mainstream TV, Gravel is probably best known for his blunt assault on the posturing and politics of the front-running Democratic candidates. For those that watch YouTube, though, Gravel is becoming known for the political ads he has put there.
The ads certainly have a tinge of surrealism (or as Sartwell would put it, dadaism) in that they don't contain the usual political speecifying or promotion of the candidate. In fact, they contain no dialog at all. The candidate's Web site is superimposed on the image, which is how you know it's a political ad of some kind, but the video consists of... well, Mike Gravel staring at the camera wordlessly for a minute, then walking off and chucking a rock into a lake.
Yes, really. Go watch it for yourself. There's another one called "Fire" that mostly consists of a camera steadily pointed at a campfire for seven or eight minutes.
Sartwell waxes rhapsodic about Gravel's avante garde approach to political advertising. I was most strongly reminded of John Cage's 4'33" which was avant garde for its time. I don't think this art form is likely to catch on with other candidates but it sure would be fun if it did. If nothing else, it'd be nice to see them shutting the heck up for once when a camera is pointed at them.
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