Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Perception Management

I was talking to my students today about the focus on image and marginalisation of substantial policy from much of the political communication that is made mainstream. In other words the stuff that is promoted to us is more about building a perception of the man rather than telling us what the man will do when elected. The following video is a prime example.

The link is sent around by email saying that his opponents are asking 'who is Barack Obama'. His campaign team's response is to: "share a video of personal moments from behind the scenes at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, so you can see Barack and Michelle as they are -- decent, warm, and kind people with a loving family". It is a fly on the wall style video, well done yet appearing to capture private moments - a cynic would wonder how much is staged and whether anyone can act normally when a camera is pointed at them. But the broader picture is also whether this is asking the US voter to vote Obama simply because he is a nice guy, a family guy, a guy 'like you' or just to get them interested and involved to collect further information. While the latter may be an aspiration is the former more likely in reality and if so does this have a negative impact on how informed voters actually are?

1 comment:

Shawn said...

th all due respect, and while admitting I am a biased Obama supporter, the Obama camp needs to put out such messages for many reasons:
1. to respond to McCain's nasty attacks, making ignorant followers believe he is advised by a terrorist and the most fevernt of their followers hating and fearing him, even believeing he is a terrorist.

2. people are not sure about him b/c of race. While no one goes there publicly, it is safe to acknowledge that many would be voters for him "aren't quite sure" or say, "there's just something about him."

3. As you noted, the camp is repsonding to questions of "Who is Barack Obama?", so they give a snippet of personal, behind-the-scenes look, responding to the question.

4. There are more points to make, but let's acknowledge as well that many of the masses vote or are influenced by looks and personal characteristics. The initial Palin bandwagon is a prime example, but once her substance was questioned, many people started to "see" her differently.

You have a valid point; both camps try to present their candidate as a personable person, someone you would like to spend time with, but that is in response to the populace that would cast their crucial votes on such superficial things.

You imply with your questioning that the Obama camp would have us vote on image and not substance. When you compare what the two candidates have presented to the country thus far in substance, both through their words and websites, it is clear that Obama has presented more substance. he has also been more consistent in his message and plans, revising them only to meet the newfound realities of the financial crisis.