31 January 2007

Political Media Literacy 101

I feel insulted. Either the Conservative Party of Canada thinks I - along with all other Canadians - am stupid, or their advisers and leader are so cynical that they think I will uncritically believe blatant political trickery. Of course, I'm talking about the launch of Conservative Party attack ads.

Anyone with even the least bit of media literacy will see them for what they are, that is, crudely-edited snippets from the Liberal leadership debates, over-larded with rhetoric and bluster during the bare-knuckles brawl that characterizes hotly contested leadership races. With a little more media literacy, it is easily seen that the clips have undergone a "context-ectomy" - all figure, and no ground, meaning that they have no meaning, aside from that provided by the viewer herself. And anyone who has observed partisan political contests over the past few elections will know that such childish attempts at name-calling signal desperation and fear, most especially when they appear before the (anticipated late-spring) election has been called.

The effect of such ads, even at the best of times, may solidify the base, and possibly swing the vote of the "soft" party supporter looking for a pseudo-rational justification to vote against their inner moral judgement or conscience. However, these ads also damage the democratic process by reducing political discourse of important issues facing the country to partisan chicanery and schoolyard bully tactics. In doing so, this type of advertising disengage the more (media-)perceptive and thoughtful among the society, most notably those comprising the youth demographic.

I have two things to say to the Conservative Party of Canada. First: Mr. Harper - please stop hurting Canada by stifling meaningful political engagement and examination of the issues. Second: This will backfire badly on the (non-progressive) Conservative Party. By alienating the youth and young adult vote at the same time that Stephane Dion and Gerard Kennedy are mobilizing that same demographic, you are effecting a massive swing of momentum in favour of the Liberal Party.

On second thought, Mr. Harper, ignore those last couple of pieces of advice. Go on. Attack some more.

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jonhusband said...

Anything to help Mr. Harper as quickly as possible move along to a sinecure with the Fraser Institute, or something.

Go, attack ads, go !

Anonymous said...

Check out my website, The Role of Media In Politics, www.frankwbaker.com...the site is primarily for K-12 educators who want their students to understand the powerful influence of the 30 second campaign advertisement