Don’t buy what Harper, Trump are selling
The new Conservative Party online ad that attacks Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau by showing viewers stills from Islamic State videos of decapitation and drowning is strange on every level.
This peculiar ad, aimed at your thicker voter stuck on YouTube at 4 a.m. or perhaps an Uber driver waiting for a gig, announces that Islamic State also vaporizes people, and gee, why don’t Liberals mind that?
I cannot say for sure what Islamic State actually does with its corpses and in what order. The Elizabethan hanged-drawn-and-quartered has now become a kind of death sampling, a burn-chop-drown mix tape. But the Conservative message is clear: if Stephen Harper doesn’t get enough votes, Canadians risk being executed by Islamic State on the street in a way that would make Louisiana’s Death Row guards blanch. I get that. Anyone who values their own neck-pipe should vote Conservative. I don’t want Islamic State removing my 92-year-old aunt’s head with some kind of exploding wire. Although I don’t see why they’d do that. She lives in Red Deer. It seems improbable. But why take the risk?
The Conservative ad has left everyone angry, including, presumably, Islamic State accountants, who like their videos on the news but would want a taste of any commercial use. Anyone of Middle Eastern origin would be angered by hearing their music and languages accompanied by images of hideous death. Anyone whose child glimpsed the ad — “Mommy, are the orange men going underwater in a cage to look at sharks?” — will go into that shaking rage that only parents know.
And the CBC has called its lawyers because the Conservatives used footage from its interview with Trudeau and chopped it like parsley.
Trudeau has a rational plan to deal with the man-made catastrophe in Iraq and Syria: stop the bombing, train local forces, and offer humanitarian aid. But the Conservatives edited that out, presuming that you won’t factcheck the ad and see what Trudeau actually said. And face it, you probably won’t. So I’ll help out by playing film critic.
Taste-wise, the most obvious parallel to the Harper-Islamic State ad is Donald Trump’s brassy classic “The World’s Greatest Steaks” commercial, for the fine meats that bear his name. “When it comes to great steaks, I’ve just raised the stakes.”
Trump’s thick pink slabs glisten as they grill. He bellows: “It’s the best-tasting most flavourful beef you’ve ever had, five-star gourmet, quality that belong in a very, very select category of restaurant,” doubtless served by Mexican rapists, as he put it recently.
Do not buy what Trump and Harper are selling. The only difference between them is that Trump exudes his anger and Harper internalizes it.
Take hair. Trump’s hair, sometimes silver, sometimes auburn, heads out into the air, brakes and flips back on itself. His hair is saying, “I have a huge net worth. I hate losers. Anyone who doesn’t love me is a very very big loser.”
Harper’s hair sets out as big as Trump’s, but then he quickly shuts the situation down, whether it’s with a razor cut or volumizing-protectant product during the day (I know hair) or some kind of anvil or helmet system in the nighttime. The whole deal is heading back into itself, emblematic of a man with an ingrown personality. Even his hair is saying “Help me. Let me go.”
Playing the Conservative ad with the sound from Trump’s, and vice versa, I became disoriented. I hate Islamic State. I hate everything: the words “economic,” “action” and “plan,” Air Canada’s toilets ( filthy), the Canada Day fireworks (brief, unsatisfying.) At this point I could make my own perfectly nutty commercial. I am also having a terrible flash of déjà vu. Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge of 2015, another tribe of evil primitivists let loose by an American invasion. Again the U.S. bombs. But in 1975, Conservative leader Robert Stanfield didn’t run ads of spade-on-skull executions to win votes from prime minister Pierre Trudeau because he resented Trudeau’s youthful charm. Or am I wrong?
Everything is strangely the same - evil rampages as always, a Trudeau recommends reason over passion — but Canada, under Stephen Harper, is so much worse.