Rats infest the GOP

By Alicia Montgomery



Salon Staff
September 15, 2000 11:06PM (UTC)

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The placing of the word "rats" into the Republican commercial attacking Al Gore's prescription drug policies has much greater implications than most people realize. As an academic who studies propaganda, I am very concerned by the suggested (subliminal or otherwise) message that Gore/Democrats are considered and depicted as "rats" by the Republican strategists. In the infamous Nazi propaganda film "Der Ewige Jude" ("The Eternal Jew"), the symbolism of rats to depict Jews as vermin was a central theme. All propaganda is a call to action and it did not take a genius to figure out that if you depict people as vermin, the expectation is that you will eradicate them. Is this what the Republicans were actually trying to say? I wonder how Joseph Lieberman feels about this. Clearly the Republican campaign, under the so-called "compassionate conservative" leadership of George W. Bush, has sunk to a new low in modern campaign activities. Would you really want these people to run the country? The thought scares me ... and I live in Texas!

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-- Garth Jowett

The designer who assembled the typographic animation knew exactly what he or she was doing: The word "rats" is too perfectly centered in the frame to be accidental. And the people who reviewed the moving typography for spelling errors were certainly aware of how distinctly the word "rats" was displayed.

Perhaps the creatives who made this ad were just making fun of the whole subliminal advertising idea, an internal joke that somehow made it past final edit. How it happened doesn't matter. It's more important to seriously question the ethics of the people who designed the ad and the motives of the people who approved it.

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-- Richard Mehl

This isn't really about subliminal advertising but about the Republicans getting free advertising. Every network I watched showed the complete ad at least once and sometimes three times. I'm sure the Republicans figured a little embarrassment over the "rats" was worth all the free showing of the ads. When are the networks going to get wise to this? If nothing else, they should show a similar ad from the other candidate instead of giving the Republicans all this press. This is the second time they got an ad on the networks free. The first one they withdrew, but managed to get on the air all over the country. Pretty clever, I'd say.

-- Dewey Pasquini

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