The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 3B
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 3B
Witn tne 2012 presidential
election just a few days away,
all eyes are on President Barack
Obama and Republican presi-
dential nominee Mitt Romney.
While the candidates' stances on
the economy, jobs and civil liber-
ties are what many Americans
consider the most divisive issues,
. there's an aesthetic element to
campaigns that often goes unno-
"Images play a key role in poli-
tics," Rackham student Caitlin
Brown said. "Images have the
ability to bypass critical thinking
and connect to citizens' emotions.
The emotions evoked can be posi-
tive or negative."
Brown, whose studies focus on
political communication, noted
that art car be a useful form of
Politicians spend millions of
dollars on advertisement cam-
paigns and, in the case of this
unprecedented election, billions
- a record-busting $l.7 billion has
been spent as of Saturday, thanks
to the Supreme Court's deci-
sion in Citizens United v. Federal
Election Commission that allows
unlimited donations to techni-
cally unaffiliated SuperPACs.
Campaigns hoping to appeal
to the greatest variety of voter
demographics pore over count-
less designs for posters, fliers,
pamphlets and logos to ensure
they're sendingthe right message.
The focus group thought Rom-
ney's tie wasn't patriotic enough?
The red didn't test well with this
audience? Back to the drawing
As The Michigan Daily report-
ed last Wednesday, even campus
political groups feel the pressure
to brand themselves. University
students are likely familiar with
the circle logo of the University's
chapter of the College Democrats
- posters and fliers hung across
campus boast the image, a blue
and maize donkey with its bottom
half in the shape of a Block 'M'.
Now, the University's chapter of
the College Republicans plans to
overhaul its image in the vein of
the opposing party.
"Democrats have a great brand
name," LSA senior and chair of
the College Republicans Rachel
Jankowski told the Daily. "When
you see their stuff, you know it's
the College Democrats. That is
what the College Republicans
have been focusing on and it's
what we're pushing."
Images through history
Advertisement campaigns are
nothing new. From the 1840 elec-
tion's "Tippecanoe and Tyler
Too" to the iconic "Hope" poster
from the 2008 presidential elec-
tion, politicians have used images
for centuries to disseminate their
Rebecca Zurier, an associate
history of art professor, said poli-
ticians believe art and images will
make a difference in their cam-
paigns, because they tend to stay
with people longer than some-
thing written or spoken.
"Images can get to people in a
direct way, or can propose things
that aren't there in the literal
words," Zurier said. "It can make
possibilities imaginable with peo-
Zurier said one of the most
prominent examples of the power
of imagery occurred in the Ken-
nedy-Nixon presidential debate
in 1960 - the first ever televised
debate. Because television was
a brand new medium, the cam-
paigns had no precedent to follow
to prepare their candidates for the
focus on their appearance. In the
end, this proved disastrous for
Today, candidates are more
familiar with how various images
play on TV or in print and are able
to manipulate their image in a
Lookingathow candidates pose
and what props they use, such as
the American flag, is an aspect of
politics that has always interested
Zurier. And then there's always
the question of what a president or
politician "should" look like.
"They all face that 'looking
presidential' thing, don't they?"
Zurier mused. "We saw plenty of
that in the presidential debates
and then the pundits went right
for it, 'Who looks more presiden-
Even something as seemingly
unobtrusive as a pin can make a
world of difference.
When then-candidate Obama
didn't wear an American flag pin
on his lapel during the 2008 elec-
tion, voters noticed, and were not
After major backlash, Obama
began to wear the pin because,
as a presidential hopeful, he
had to conform to what a candi-
date "should" look like, Zurier
"Would people have to learn
more (without images)? Maybe
not because we have soundbites,
slogans," Zurier said. "But the
complicated process through
which an image helps you imag-
ine something is possible, (like)
'This guy could be a leader."'
Zurier illustrated her point
with mailings encouraging her
to vote against certain ballot pro-
posals in this year's election. She
said a particularly bizarre image
of Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam
made her take a second look at the
mailing, but didn't sway her opin-
ion on the issue.
"Somebody's putting thought
into creative use of imagery in
an effort to get Michigan voters
to take these initiatives seriously
enough to vote on them," Zurier
said.."Whether it persuades peo-
ple or not, I don't know."
She said the one use of art that
may have made an impact in U.S.
politics was the federally funded
art program during FDR's New
Deal, when artists were paid to
create murals across the coun-
try. But, as Zurier pointed out,
the murals weren't endorsing a
candidate or promoting a certain
Though it's difficult to point
to any one image as profoundly
impactful, images and politics
continue to go hand in hand.
Josh Neufeld, a narrative car-
toonist and a trrent Knight-Wal-
lace fellow at the University, calls
art a provocative, personal format
that can illicit strong reactions
"Art is a subjective interpre-
tation of reality, and the artist
intends for it to have an effect,
create an emotional response,"
In the wake of Hurricane
Katrina, Neufeld produced a
graphic novel titled "A.D.: New
Orleans After the Deluge,"
detailing the aftermath of the
disaster. Though not intended to
be political, the book was critical
of the government's response in
a way that people were able to
relate to and understand.
In this way, he explained, art
will always play a role in politics.
"I think there's still something
special about a demonstration or
a hand-held sign that's sort of
pretty similar now as it was 100
years ago," he said.
Neufeld noted that comic
strips, such as "Doonesbury," are
often placed on the editorial pages
of newspapers because of their
underlying political commentary.
Public Policy senior Natalie
Berkus, a member of the Ann
Arbor Obama campaign team,
also pointed to the power of polit-
ical cartoons to connect to audi-
"When you see a drawing of a
gnarled George Bush on a flam-
ing background with the words
'READ MY APOCALIPS' in the
center, that has an impact, distin-
guishable or not," Berkus wrote
in an e-mail in reference to a criti-
cal poster of the former president
by Robbie Conal, an American
guerrilla poster artist.
"I think that it is an interesting
juxtaposition: art and politics,"
she continued. "While both things
seem to come from completely dif-
ferent worlds, it's interesting to
note the close symbiotic relation-
ship that both things share."
Rebranding with new media
Today, most campaigns and
political groups have moved away
from physical mediums like post-
ers, to online messaging.
"Effective design has become
an essential part of campaigning
and Obama's 2008 campaign truly
changed the landscape because
of how good the design was," said
Business sophomore Kyle Smith,
a member of the College Republi-
Smith said art and graphic
design have become intrinsic
parts of campaigns, citing Presi-
dent Obama's first campaign as the
precedent for subsequent efforts.
"In campaigns - and the
evolution of social media and
other methods of image shar-
ing - graphic design can play a
big part in a candidate's success,"
Smith said. "The way people are
getting information is moving to
the virtual world and our atten-
tion spans are shrinking.
Smith said the current elec-
tion hasn't produced a campaign
- on either side - that used arts
and graphics as well as in 2008.
As a result, both candidates are
"I can guarantee you that the
next presidential campaign to
match or exceed how effective-
ly Obama used imagery to help
create his theme will win by as
much of a landslide as he did in
2008," Smith said.
Public Policy senior Tessa
Wick, fellow member of Obama's
Ann Arbor campaign team,
wrote in an e-mail that much
of the president's ability to con-
nect to the younger generation is
a direct result of his campaign's
ability to weave art, media and
technology together in a refresh-
"He has used art to create a
style and finesse in all aspects
of his campaign that have differ-
entiated it from any other presi-
dential campaign I know of,"
Wick wrote. "His use of art and
his commitment to detail in his
emails, website and in the over-
all look of the campaign, have
created an unparalleled visual
experience for his followers."
At the University, both the
College Democrats and Repub-
licans hope to create a similar
LSA junior Alexandra Brill,
chair of the University's chapter
of the College Democrats, said
the group's logo has made it easi-
er for other students to approach
the organization with questions
about important issues.
Brill has received e-mails
about voter registration from
unaffiliated individuals who rec-
ognize the group as a resource.
Jankowski said the College
Republicans are seeking a "uni-
fied look" on the club's clothing,
posters and other materials, sim-
ilar to College Democrats.
"We're working hard to put
together that look about us,"
Jankowski told the Daily. "We're
trying to really build a presence
on campus, and build a solid look
about us so that you know, when
you see an advertisement, that's
the College Republicans and not
a different club."
Smith said the College Repub-
licans hope their image becomes
synonymous with a more inclu-
"Our brand is pretty strong
as of now I think," Smith said.
"(But) we may begin using info-
graphics on our Facebook page
or through posters and hand-
outs at events explaining how
the notion that Republicans are
anti-women is ludicrous and
emphasizing that the (College
Republicans) welcome all people,
LGBT or otherwise, to our club."
If history is any indication,
a well-executed campaign aes-
thetic can only help.
20TiH CENTIURY FOX
"LET US BON E
Is Bride'- m arriage
of humor, nosagia?
tasize and to exercise creativity, it a "cult" classic.
How many of us, when reading And yet, wait I did. I watched
Like in the salons of 77th a book or being read to, visualize as they described a very super-
and 78th century France, the characters and their world, ficial love, one that went not far
this weekly installment becoming completely caught up beyond "he loved her, and it was
in what we've imagined? so." I told myself it would be fine,
will feature two Daily Arts "The Princess Bride" cap- this wasn't an important part of
writers discussing the finer tures and revels in this univer- the movie, anyway (even though
sal phenomena of storytelling in it was the foundation for the
points o farts mediums a charming, genuine and clever entire plot).
from at least 70 years ago. way. We bruise our ribs laughing The man in black goes on to
at Billy Crystal's antics as Miracle dispatch the three outlaws who
Max and the preacher with the capture Buttercup - each in a
Full disclosure: I love "The speech impediment, sigh with manner more cheesy than the
Princess Bride." It's an obsession. relief when Inigo finally enacts last. In fact, I briefly recall put-
Growingup, my friends and I dis- his revenge, yearn to rhyme along ting on a skit similar to the Vizzi-
cussed the film regularly, quot- with Fezzik and get the warm ni's "battle of wits" when I was in
ing long portions to each other. fuzzies when Westley and But- elementaryschool.
We would run around our high tercup share the kiss that left all So I kept waiting - until I
school during fencing practice, other kisses behind. realized that, much to my dis-
pretending to be Westley and And boy, what a story "The may, I had waited through the
Inigo Montoya, always shocked Princess Bride" tells. As Peter whole movie. Yes, Billy Crystal
to discover our opponent was Falk's grandfatherly character and Andre the Giant are fantastic
not really left-handed. We would summarizes, there's "fencing, cameos to have - but I've seen
watch the behind-the-scenes seg- fighting, torture, revenge, giants, Billy Crystal before. With many
ment over and over and intensely monsters, chases, escapes, true fans naming this, movie the "
theorize which actors should be love, miracles" - is there anyone 'Wizard of OZ' of our time," why
cast as which roles if a remake who wouldn't be intrigued? That wasn't I feeling like I'd witnessed
were ever attempted. would be inconceivable! a classic?
Essentially, if "The Princess -LEAH BURGIN Perhaps it was the lack of nos-
Bride" comes up at trivia night, talgia. For others, this movie was
you want me on your team. I'm *** a cherished antique, the scenes
not ashamed to admit I can recite and jokes having collected the
the entire film along with the I had been told since middle varnish of 10 or 15 years.
actors. school that "The Princess Bride" Interestingly enough, I
And as nerdy as it is, "The Prin- was one of the best movies ever watched a similar movie for the
cess Bride" inspires this level of made and easily the funniest in first time a year or two ago: Mel
devotion from myself and count- its genre. It seemed clear - any Brooks's "Robin Hood: Men in
less others because, at its core, guy that showed up for Hallow- Tights." The two movies are so
the film is a celebration of sto- een dressed as the Dread Pirate alike, that even the protagonist
rytelling. Yes, like other tongue- Roberts was swarmed by girls, is played by the same actor: Cary
in-cheek films out there, "The despite taking a cool 10 minutes Elwes ("Saw 3D"). Yet I thought.
Princess Bride" has its comedic of preparation. Clearly this movie it was vastly superior - the jokes
quirks and contagious one-liners, had to be magical. were wittier, both on their own
but the film ultimately adds up The quotes, too, floated and as allusions to themes out-
to be more than the sum of those around my circles of friends, side of the particular genre itself
parts. even when we weren't directly Richard Lewis (TV's "Curb Your
This is because "The Princess talking about the film: "I do not Enthusiasm") is a funnier villain.
Bride" fuses the power of story- think that word means what And the debut of Dave Chappelle
telling with the power of film as you think it means." "Anybody (TV's "Chappelle's Show") is - I
a medium: The entire movie is want a peanut?" "Inconceiv- hate to say it - more exciting
in the imagination of a sick kid able!" And despite knowing not to watch than Inigo Montoya's
being read a novel by his grand- even one of the other charac- "classic" line.
father. Within the context of the ters' names, I could quote Inigo Yes, "The Princess Bride" is
film, he creates the characters, Montoya's death proclamation, six years older than "Men in
Florin, Guilder, the Pit of Despair word-for-word. Tights." Yet a classic is supposed
and the other iconic portions we So imagine my delight when, to be timeless (as the latter, at
love in "The Princess Bride." freshman year, my friends and least to me, seems to be). Maybe I
That's what's so wonderful I decided to rent "The Princess should've watched "The Princess
about sharing stories, creating Bride" so I could witness it for Bride"when I wasyounger, but as
stories and reading stories - the first time. I could scarcely an adult, it just seems average.
they allow us to escape, to fan- wait to join the "cult" that made -ELLIOTALPERN
-r .. .. _ r _,
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