Starting with rumored sightings and confirmed by a spokesman last week, Barack Obama’s campaign has done the most ingenious thing to boost our interest in the presidency since the blowjob – Xbox Live in-game advertising – which includes (so far) early-voting reminders placed on billboards in “Burnout Paradise” and stadium banners in “NBA Live ’08” and “Madden NFL ’09.”
It’s the first marketing campaign of its kind, and with its employment comes the ultimate manifestation of our McDonaldized culture. It’s disgusting that the valuable demographic of young adult males is so passive about their democracy that a candidate will buy out 18 video games just to remind them what month it is. But when we – as the future of the country – are unwilling to alter our lives for these elections, the elections have no choice but to alter and present candidates not as politicians but as products, advertising a prospective president as if he were the season premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The advantages, of course, are great – increased voter turnout, more politically involved youth, the ever yearned-for “cool” factor, etc. – but they are ephemeral. The problems – and the long-term social message – are much greater.
Our democracy – or as I like to call it, our democrazy – will forever be pandering to our malaise. The precedent this election is setting will ensure that in 2012, being able to friend a candidate on Facebook and conduct an interview in a virtual world will be the norm.
All of our debates will be conducted with video questions submitted on YouTube, and anyone who is indecisive can set up a Web site where people sway his opinion with their own ignorant opinions because the only thing people will have heard about the candidates came through a video game. Candidate Web sites will be neon, flashing keywords to hold our goldfish-length attention spans long enough to convince us to vote for them, which we will do as long as we don’t get distracted by something shiny on our way into the polling booth.
From here on out, status and lineage won’t matter because the winners will merely have implemented better, more effective, more persuasive marketing strategies and in the end, our vote will be worth the same amount as a purchase of a CD. Although my description of the prospective future is exaggerated (and, granted, McCain probably doesn’t know what a Web site is), we are definitely being sold to.
In order to keep up with our malaise, Obama devised a way to inject information without knowledge, opinions without wisdom. It’s scary to think people are going to vote for a president as if it were a decision about which upcoming movies they’d like to see. Instead of trying to sell themselves through mind-numbing escape mechanisms, candidates should inspire us through art, reading and actual, in-person human interaction.
It’s alright if a candidate calls it “the MySpace” or if they give high fives as awkward as my father’s because video games and social networking sites are no place for presidential elections. These things are popular in the first place because they help us avoid responsibilities, not guilt trip us into acknowledging them and, boy am I glad it’s election week because I don’t think I can handle the real world infiltrating my pop culture cocoon for much longer.
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