One of the worst things about election season is the celebrity get-out-the-vote ads.
And this one, from Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Vote 4 Stuff” campaign, is especially egregious.
I have a simple message for you, if you watched this ad, and your immediate response was, “Stuff! I’m passionate about stuff! Voting time!”:
Don’t vote. Get a sandwich or something. Take Tuesday off and go see a movie. Take Tuesday off and go to the beach. Take Tuesday off and go rethink your life.
I am serious.
These celebrity vote-promotion ads are the worst thing possible.
This particular ad occupies the weird space between spoof and non-spoof. It’s just self-aware enough to be awkward. Half of it is a parody of how bad these celebrity get-out-the-vote ads are, and the other half is a celebrity get-out-the-vote ad. It is initially endearing, with its lists of joke issues and real issues, until almost the last frame, when it tells us that “Hey, I Bet You Have Stuff Too, Huh, You Guys? Right? Care about stuff? What’s your stuff! Tell us stuff about your stuff! Do stuff!”
“What stuff is important to you in the upcoming election?” DiCaprio asks. Send him a video or tweet about it!
I believe in voter participation and voter registration and all of that. Admittedly, I am registered in D.C., where voting is largely a decorative pursuit, but still.
DiCaprio told the Associated Press that this was “one of the most important elections of our lifetime,”adding, “We are using the power of social media throughout the Vote 4 Stuff campaign to incite bipartisan conversation around real issues, encourage registration and voting in November.”
“We are using social media to incite conversation around real issues” generally translates to “We did not do the reading either.” The call that we end this partisan bickering and start Talking About the Issues, the Real, Big, Important Issues, Finally, At Long Last — is just another way not to talk about the issues. If you want to talk about issues, then talk about them. This is simultaneously condescending and generic.
The ad is not that bad. But the campaign: Vote 4 Stuff? They don’t even respect our intelligence enough to spell out the word the whole way! The name is about as hip and relevant as those videos from high school health class. It’s about as happening as Chuck Grassley’s tweets.
Look, if people are actually as idiotic as these celebrity get-out-the-vote ads presume, then I do not really want us to be voting. In fact, the prospect terrifies me.
People are either not idiots, capable of voting based upon issues they care about, or they are the target audience of this ad. But I do not think they are both.