My acid flashback continues.
You may remember my utter astonishment in this space about a month ago in my review of the Web ad put together for Carly Fiorina's Senate campaign in California. That so-called "demon sheep" ad — in which Fiorina attacks fellow Republican Tom Campbell as a wolf in sheep's clothing — ran three minutes and 21 seconds and has been described as everything from "awesomely bizarre" to "deranged."
If you never saw it, it's not too late. Click here.
My post from February 9th concluded by mentioning that the Fiorina campaign — and ad mastermind Fred Davis — "promised more such outrageous ads in the coming weeks."
That time is now.
They are back, this time with an ad running an ungodly seven minutes and 40 seconds. This one attacks — I don't even know if "attacks" is the right word — Sen. Barbara Boxer, the three-term Democratic incumbent whom Republicans detest but have never been able to defeat. With the same solemn/ominous voice as we heard in "demon sheep," this time warning us about Boxer's lack of accomplishments in her 18 years in the Senate, we see Boxer's head growing, her body rising, until it crashes out of the Capitol dome and becomes, well, a Barbara Boxer hot-air blimp, floating across the sky. I swear I'm not making this up:
As with the "demon sheep" ad, it's simply transfixing. You watch and you don't blink.
Michael Scherer, writing about the ad in Time magazine's Swampland blog (as he did with the demon sheep offering), says he posted the latest ad "for the same reason that people slow down to look at car crashes."
Kate Phillips, in the New York Times' The Caucus blog, describes it as "an exaggerated head of Senator Boxer floating over California in a bizarre spaceship that looks like something from the 'V' TV series.
Drew Grant, blogging at Mediaite: "One thing you have to give Fiorina: She's certainly original."
Sam Stein, at the Huffington Post: "The whole spot is bizarre to the point of hilarity — which, it should be noted, is by design — with cliched charges of elitism and egotism, and a downright comic non sequitur between the stimulus package, terrorism and climate change."
Lester Haines, blogging on Bootnotes, says that the Fiorina team is "apparently still relying heavily on mind-altering substances during its campaign brainstorming sessions, if this pop at Democrat incumbent Barbara Boxer is anything to go by":
Fans of Fiorina will recall that there was more than a trace of lysergic acid diethylamide in her broadside against "demon sheep" Tom Campbell.
While Fiorina has now evidently dealt with her "increasingly bizarre fixation on farm animals", as Campbell's camp described it, we can't help feeling that in the wake of the Boxer hot air balloon shocker, "Carly for California" is planning to pop some 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine and treat voters to something truly conciousness-shifting.
Chris Matyszczyk, writing in CNET News' Technically Incorrect blog, says that the ad's creators may have "been doing nothing but feed themselves the mushrooms of an exotic forest and the movies of Terry Gilliam for several long, giggly months." But Matyszczyk is not completely negative:
I must confess, though, that I am rather warming to this highly idiosyncratic style of political advertising.
You see, it's one thing to be nasty. But it's surely a far more exalted form of communication when you attempt to describe your adversary's frightful incompetence with the use of pure, heartfelt and very Californian imagination.
Who can fail to admire a politician reaching for art, when they could merely reach for banal bile? Who can fail to be moved by the use of such advanced technological special effects that create a clear and passionate distinction between a woman of the future and a woman of the past?
I am going for a hike in the forest now. Perhaps I'll pick myself some of those mushrooms too.
Last month I suggested that "demon sheep" might be "the worst political ad ever." Now I'm not sure. I can't tell if this "hot air" ad is simply terrible ... or so incredibly terrible that it's brilliant.