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IA Closing Ads 3: Hillary (2)

January 30, 2016

I.  Hillary’s ad, “The Time Has Come” (previous page) probably is rightly called her “closing” ad in Iowa; but another, “Making a Difference,” also has been called her closer, so I want to say a bit about it too—and some others.

It’s about her work over many years to make a positive difference in the lives of children. It’s all her voice, in phrases culled from many speeches, beginning when she is strikingly young (college?), telling us about the importance of improving the lives of children. I find the message itself convincing, in its content about children and about herself. [Of course the subject of every candidate ad is the candidate, and I plan to address that on a final page about all of these IA ads.]

The visuals are film clips, portraits of her speaking, so that as we hear her voice mature we see her face mature too. Each visual, taken singly, seems to me not to achieve the deep power of what I’m calling “image;” and yet cumulatively, as we watch the passage of time, as we do with our children, they achieve that depth. Our children grow to be adults; and by the end of the ad, as I hear and see the candidate’s story of her reaffirmation of her ongoing commitment, now in the context of the role of President, I feel the sense of advanced responsibility for lives at stake.

As with Bernie’s “America” ad, I feel as though I’m watching a home movie, about Hillary Rodham Clinton, concluding with a brief series of snapshots of her face (sort of suggestive of selfies, I suppose, but clearly not taken by herself).

The number of visuals of the candidate, especially waste-up or face alone, seen from a variety of angles, strikes me as somewhat curious. I think it is a deliberate expressive device, but I’m not good at figuring what it is intended to express, and thus whether it achieves its expressive goal. I’ll think more about it on the last page of this episode.

II.  While trying to find the “closing” ad, I came across what I understand to have been the opening ad of Hillary’s campaign (as mentioned by Sam Seder’s guest—see previous page). The building of human image is comparable to Bernie’s great ad (but not the music).

On Youtube, before I realize, “oh, this is the ad,” I see and hear an ordinary youngish couple. They’re getting ready to do something that is going to make a difference in their lives. They’re enjoyable to watch, I’m excited for them, I want them to succeed. Then I enjoy meeting, looking in on, many, diverse folks (the ad runs about 2:30). They’re making real changes, “reinventing” themselves, and happy to be doing it. I’m happy with them, and I’m impressed.

Hope and good American values emerge; and at 1:30 Hillary is there, conversing with them. Now she tells us that she’s getting ready, too:  she’s going to run for President (as we know, from later ads, she’s been getting ready for decades). She speaks directly to us, telling us that she knows that Americans work hard, but still the deck is stacked against them. She wants to be their champion. It’s our time, and she invites us to join her on this journey.

Clearly the artistry in this ad is superior (but not the music). The visuals are dramatizations, not just illustrations. We hear, surmise, imagine, get into, a lot of people’s stories, such as we have lived, or may well live. Hillary knows those stories too; she’s living one of her own, in which she imagines herself playing the role of champion in the journeys of our lives.

This ad seems to me to go deep enough to achieve the archetypal powers of image, story, conversation. We can feel the difference. We can imagine its truth.

III.  I want to mention, too, an ad that runs for nearly 5 minutes, telling the story of Hillary, “The fighter”—for children, for women and human rights at the international conference in Beijing, for health care, for the firefighters at Ground Zero, for America in foreign affairs. She’s a fighter who doesn’t quit, and who wants to be our champion. The image of “fighter” is well constructed on a deep level, and then all of that cumulative imagery is transformed into the imagination of what a “champion” is.

So this is, all and all, the building of the image and story of the journey of a warrior. But the ads fill our imagination, too, with the image of a woman, not a knight. Her armor is made of her experiences and perspective as a woman, and of her actions with indomitable spirit.

IV.  In that context of the warrior, I want to mention a film that I came across—an ad sponsored by “Hillary for America.” It’s an excerpt of her eulogy for Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was born in the United Arab Emirates, was brought by his parents to America, and died in Iraq, stepping forward, toward the enemy, to save the lives of the soldiers in his infantry unit. His story, told by Hillary, is an image of personal and universal human values, which we have the privilege of sharing.

Hillary isn’t very important in this ad, but I do find its campaign message convincing, that she knows and feels, deeply imagines, what this is all about.

[Next page: Cruz and Trump. Then I’ll reflect on all this.]

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