Default Settings: Why Drumpf’s Anti-Hillary Instagram Ad is So Offensive.
Among the roughly ninety-thousand recent controversies that have sloughed off the bloated Donald Drumpf News Golem like a shower of dry, haunted dandruff, there’s been a fair amount of rabble over the video his campaign released last week on Instagram.
Its notoriety is well-deserved and not surprising: it is a pandering, fear-mongering, misogynist jerk-off that is as callous as it is stupid, playing out like a promo for a “very special episode” of Black Mirror directed by a manic-depressive eight year old cat.
Those critical of the ad(?) have focused mainly on factors like how it stokes a fresh batch of Red Scare, or how it shows the former Secretary of State barking like a dog, or how, blah blah hell hell blah. All valid concerns, of course, but based on Donny T’s condition where his mouth converts the air from his lungs into broad and vague idiocy, again, it’s not surprising. It’s hard for me to be offended by something so inevitable.
I’m most offended by how horrendously it’s made.
The amount of laziness and pure, uncut hack that the makers of this branded-content-polyp manage to fit into fifteen seconds is depressingly impressive. As someone who earns a living as a film and tv editor, getting paid to sometimes work on fifteen second branded-content-polyps of my very own, I see only two possible ways that whatever this thing is gets to see the light of day.
- The people who made and approved the ad thought long and hard about tone and ascetic, then decided that the best way to cut through the noise and land a strategic victory would be to mirror the style of a 5th grader’s first attempt at making a video. The deliberately amateur construction would convey an everyman ethos that is both direct and comforting in its simplicity.
- The people who made it are lazy hacks of the highest degree.
Like a song in that movie about the start of a different authoritarian regime said, let’s start at the very beginning. Here’s the first frame of Don T’s Instagram ad.
A strong, bold, all-caps font — in theory, a powerful choice! That is unless you’ve ever worked with Adobe Premiere Pro and know that this is the Title Tool’s default font. Default in the sense that if a drunk rat happened to walk across the keyboard when the Title Tool had just been opened for the first time, its short, pink toes would be stomping out some Abadi MT Condensed Extra Bold.
I had ten seconds to kill tonight. Here’s how much time and thought went into the making of something that appeared in an ad for a person running for President of the United States:
For those following along at home, here’s how to get this look in your own projects:
- Turn on you computer
- Open Adobe Premiere Pro
- Go to File → New → Title
- Type literally fucking anything
When people have asked me about which editing software I find to be the best, I always say to try them all and then go with whatever works best for them — no one will see their final project and be able to tell what they cut it on.
I stand corrected.
The saga continues. A distorted piece of early 2000's garbage stock-music that sounds like a microwave screaming plays on. As if to offend anyone with a sense of proportion or chronology, we get to a lovely aspect-ratio mismatch, jarring us between an SD clip of Putin appearing in a Black Sea Tae-Bo promotional video from 1994 and an HD clip of a terrorist terrorizing hard, direct to camera. Montage as assault. It’s an outtake from a Tim & Eric episode filmed in hell.
Square to rectangle. Rectangle to square. Be like water.
The invisible art of editing at its finest.
More time with our well-meaning, simple friend Abadi MT Condensed Extra Bold.
Really nice moves going with that four-period ellipses. Feels premium. And now I’m slightly more excited to see what the perfect answer is! At least be a creatively competent and stylish fascist — hell, the Nazis smashed windows in tailored Hugo Boss.
A record scratch. Huh. Gonna go with the record scratch. Okay, I….um…okay. (Takes large hit of ether, spins in a circle for eighty seconds, swallows own tongue).
Elections often end up as extreme responses to incumbents — our current president campaigned on the backs of graphic designers and font snobs; this is agitprop via a drunk Youtube Channel unboxing video.
It’s not a matter of style vs. substance. If anything it’s a sobering snapshot of how mindlessly assembled content can amazingly (and terrifyingly) have as large an impact as the most meticulous, Shepard Fairey-ed piece of art-paganda.
The battle is over — style and substance are both finally equal in the sense that they are both meaningless. It’s the politics of a dry cotton ball sitting in a bowl of mayonnaise.
I said above that I could think of only two ways such video still-birth could be put out by a major party’s potential nominee: the people behind it are either post-modern savants or they’re lazy amateurs. I’ve thought of another option, and it’s most likely the real reason:
They don’t care. There’s no need to.
A first-time cook is making shit-burgers on his front porch, and the chefs in the neighborhood are telling everyone, “Hey, those shit-burgers are made of shit — maybe eat something else?” but those shit-burgers are selling five to a man and twice that on the weekends. If you were selling said burgers, why mix it up?
If the medium is indeed the message, then the message is one of slap-dash hackery, clichéd, lowest common denominator ideas and an overall disregard for examination and nuance in both message and craft.
A fucking record scratch in 2016?
When you gaze into the abyss……(six-period ellipses. Very luxurious).