With only a handful of days left until the special election to replace Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) in California’s 36th congressional district, the new Turn Right PAC and its hired video producer have made a serious misstep with a campaign ad that critics are calling vulgar and sexist.
Before considering the contents of the ad in detail, first stop and note carefully that this is an actual campaign ad created by a registered political action committee for a U.S. congressional election in California… and that it’s probably not safe for work. The mere fact that online journals with articles about this campaign ad feel responsible (and CAIVN isn’t the only one) to warn their readers that the ad is explicit can tell you two things right away: first, that it could easily go viral on the Internet as it has, and second, that it is unlikely to impress your average voter, especially conservative ones.
But in addition to a vulgarity that will likely put off many conservative voters– the ad’s title is “Give Us Your Cash, B–ch!” –the Turn Right campaign ad commits cardinal sins against progressives’ focus on equality and tolerance by portraying racist caricatures of black men holding up guns and rapping the words: “Give me your cash, b–ch!” The clear intent of the video is to dredge up racial fears and tensions to exploit for political gain, but the offensiveness doesn’t end there: the ad portrays Democratic congressional candidate and L.A. City Council member, Janice Hahn as a female stripper.
Portraying a female candidate for office in such a demeaning and chauvinistic manner has set off an intense and very negative reaction from critics throughout the media and blogosphere. One blogger at the San Francisco Chronicle even argues that there is a not-so-subtle subtext to the controversial campaign ad that hopes to play on public opposition to interracial relationships by suggesting some kind of sexual relationship between the white female stripper and the caricatured black males who demean and objectify her in the video with the purpose of outraging viewers. They’re outraged alright. If that is Turn Right‘s appraisal of California voters, they’ve made a serious miscalculation.
The ad’s creator, Ladd Ehlinger Jr., is not apologizing, saying:
“We decided we would launch with a controversial ad that would piss a lot of people off. If I get dinged a little, then so be it… Our basic goal is to name names and take no prisoners. We’re going to start raising funds and making crazy viral ads every month or two.”
As for the actual issue raised by the campaign ad, all theatrics aside: the organization Hahn supported was Homies Unidos U.S.A, which works to rescue L.A. children from gangs, and only one member of it had ever been arrested– on racketeering charges– and he was actually released after a lengthy court battle… and he was Latino, not black as the campaign ad suggests. Racially-charged alarmism notwithstanding, the facts are Janice Hahn supported an organization to help rescue children from gangs, and one of its leaders was indicted on racketeering charges. She did not funnel guns and money into California gangs.