Thursday, February 4, 2010

Baaaa-lzebub on the Loose in California Politics

Today we have yet another example of why I don't write much satire any more. I simply can't compete with reality. Or surreality in the case of this bizarre and hilarious political attack ad from U.S. Senate wannabe Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, which still has me giggling, eighteen hours after I first saw it.

Before we go any further, you must watch the ad. In fact, even if you don't read any more of this blog post, you must watch the ad. Even if you never, never, never click on anything that somebody tells you to watch, YOU MUST WATCH THIS AD:

... yeah, I know, I know. You're thinking that you can't possibly have seen that. Go back, watch it again if you must. I'll wait. I assure you that it gets funnier and stranger every time you see it.

Many of the jokes seem to write themselves. And they seem to do so quickly both on the rapidly growing list of YouTube comments and in the Twitter topic: #Demonsheep.

So I'll try to take you through a few of my thoughts on this thing without repeating too many of the obvious points made elsewhere. With a hundred-thousand Twitter monkeys texting away as I speak, I'm not sure I can do that. But I'll try.

My initial thought when I saw this was that it was a satire, though I wasn't sure of what. Political ads? Tom Campbell? Carly Fiorina? Old-style Ceylons disguised as sheep? The next Terminator flick: Terminator V: The Ovine Invasion?

My next thought was that this must have been produced by one of the other candidates in the campaign, as an attempt to discredit both. I've gone so far as to browse the Carly Fiorina for Senate web site, where they are indeed trumpeting their new ad.

My third thought was that perhaps Carly Fiorina is running on a platform that promises full containment of Ceylon/Terminator sheep beasts. I've been away from California for quite a few years, so maybe Ceylon/Terminator sheep beasts have proliferated in the wilds and suburbs. I'd sure want any politician asking for my vote to promise to keep them from eating me or my flock of sheep.

The last of my initial thoughts upon seeing this thing was to wonder if Terry Gilliam so badly need between-movie work to pay the bills that he had signed on to make political ads. I honestly couldn't think of another director who could create something so bizarre. As I type, David Lynch is looking at this ad, and saying, "I don't know ... it seems a bit too strange and incomprehensible."

And then, yes, I began to think about what this said about the candidates themselves. As I said, it's been a while since I lived in California, so all I remember of Campbell is that he was a Republican Congressman at some point. From what the ad said, it sounded to me as if he had been trying to deal with the fiscal woes of that state in an adult manner. The list of accusations in here actually made me more inclined to vote for him. This is an epic point of failure for an attempted attack ad.

All I remember about Fiorina is that after she was appointed its CEO she pretty much wrecked HP in just a couple of years and cashed in a $20-million buyout, making her an outstanding example of everything that is wrong with this nation's corporate culture these days. But hey, lots of incompetent company-wrecking CEOs go on to successful political careers. Heck, we just had one as President for eight years.

After seeing this ad, I think I can now add to my knowledge of Carly Fiorino this. If she approved this ad, she's obviously incompetent and quite possibly mentally disturbed. Oh, and she doesn't understand what a "fiscal conservative" is either. She also doesn't understand the meaning of the word "proven." I will, however, grant the accuracy of the statement that says she "has accomplished enormous things in life." Wrecking a Fortune 500 firm in a couple of years and getting paid $20 million to stop doing so is indeed an enormous thing.

I could pile on further, but I think the best way to express this is that on further reflection my reactions to this ad resembled nothing more than the Seven Stages of Grief:

1. SHOCK & DENIAL - I did not just see that, did I? No, that can't possibly have been a demonic Terminator pseudo-sheep crawling on its hands and knees? Could it? And why did it have banker shoes?

2. PAIN & GUILT - I can't believe I lost three and a half minutes of my life to watching that. I have to watch it again. Oooohhhh, I feel so bad about wasting the precious minutes of my life that way. Must watch again!

3. ANGER & BARGAINING - Is this crap what our political system has come to?! What am I going to do once the corporate money for political ads really starts to flow this year?!! How much will a pair of glowing red eyes cost me for my Halloween costume? Can I get a bargain price if I buy now?

4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS - I am so depressed that this is what passes for political discourse in our society. And what of the demon sheep himself? He seems to be one of a kind. I wonder if he's lonely, too? (Note to self: best at this point to stop speculating about sheep, loneliness, and California politicians.)

5. THE UPWARD TURN - We have now reached the absolute low point in political advertising. The course of our Democracy must trend upwards from here. Mustn't it?

6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH - Did that ad really have have a giant phallic column topped by a sheep that rose to the sky as the announcer intoned, "Men!" Oh, no, wait ... that would be "regression" not "reconstruction." Let's try some "working through": I must work my way through a blog post about this at lunchtime today without giggling so much that my coworkers ask me to call the mental-health hotline.

7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE - Yes, I accept that I really did see that god-awful ad. And I hope that it gets nominated for "Best Short Film" in next year's Academy Awards. I know I have never seen anything funnier and more surreal, and I've watched a lot of Acadamy-Award-nominated short films recently.

And in closing, I'd like to say that we can all be glad that at least Fiorina didn't scape-goat her opponent.


  1. I hope Brigitte doesn't see this ad. Her abhorrence of mutton will only increase.

  2. Oh yes, she saw it on the Rachel Meadows Show and just barely avoided puking from laughing so hard.

  3. I prefer my mutton with glowing red eyes, thank you!