March 2, 2008

A few more thoughts about the Clinton ad with the letters "NIG" on the sleeping child's pajamas.

Writing about the letters "NIG" on the child's pajamas in the Hillary commercial yesterday provoked a lot of comments, and unfortunately, Blogger seems to have a glitch that makes it hard to get to any comments after the 216th one. It's not enough to click on "comments," you have to click on "comments," then "post a comment," then scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the tiny word "newer" and click on that. There are some very good comments beyond 216, so let me front page some of them here.

Alan adds a layer of interpretation:
I would go further. The child in question is shown just when the voice-over asks whom we would want in the White House when that crucial phone callcomes through. I think he's meant to represent Obama.

Who would we want in the WH? A sleeping (lazy) black (good nig) child (inexperienced)? Or Hillary Clinton?
The sleeping child is black, so I would agree that if the image was deliberately created, this was part of the idea.

Theo Boehm wrote:
"NiGERO"

That's what my lizard brain saw when I looked at that commercial full-sized on a 19" computer screen.



Seeing it on a better screen is important, since it is meant to show on television, and the YouTube version has much poorer resolution. Note that Theo is still watching the YouTube version, and what goes on TV will be clearer. He goes on:
I saved it from YouTube and watched it repeatedly. I tried to forget about the image and imagine I was looking at it with fresh eyes. I'm sorry, but it was pretty blatant to me. The letters from the word "good" above begin to look like "ero" in this context, at least to my brain, conditioned as it was in the days of blatant racism in this country.

First of all, the image is visible for nearly three seconds. It starts at second 10 and fades at the end of second 13. This is hardly some single frame flash measured in milliseconds. This image sinks in.

We are friends with a mixed-race couple who have a couple of kids, one of whom looks (or at least used to look) quite a bit like the child in the commercial. If I were truly paranoid, I'd say Hillary's campaign is at once infantalizing a possibly bi-racial kid by showing him depending on the National Parent Hillary for protection, and at the same time fear-mongering about blacks, as dissected ad nauseum upthread. Looks like a double-whammy to me: Here's little Obama asleep in his wittew beddy-bye needing a grown-up to protect him; but at the same time you gotta watch out for those pickaninnies.

I think Alan has just beat me to it with this interpretation.

In any event, I agree with Althouse. This is either incredibly foul or unbelievably stupid. I know a lot of people won't see it that way, including my wife, but my kids picked up on it instantly. I showed them the commercial after dinner and asked what they saw. My youngest piped up immediately, "That kid had the N-word on his pajamas." They then had a lot of fun making up variants, thankfully all non-racist. Not trying to congratulate ourselves too much, but my kids have NEVER heard the N-word in this house outside of watching "Roots," "Glory," and possibly a few other movies, but they know what it represents. FWIW, they have also NEVER said it themselves to my hearing.

In his most recent comment in a thread about shoe shopping, Sir Archy called the Presidential candidates, "Wretches." It thought that was a cute faux-18th century rhetorical flourish, but in reality going too far.

I'm now beginning to think he's on to something.
(I've added the link to the Sir Archy comment.)

Ralph asks 2 questions:
Can you imagine the response someone would get if they suggested this in a campaign strategy meeting?

Can you imagine the response if this were a McCain ad in October? I suspect few of the commenters above would dismiss it as coincidence.
On the second question, I think McCain would be pilloried.

Let me vary the first question. Assume the lettering has found its way into the footage either intentionally or quite by accident. (As some commenters are saying, it could be stock footage.) Then, campaign strategists are reviewing the ad and deciding whether to approve it or have it re-edited. Wouldn't they notice the lettering and freeze frame it to make sure it doesn't say anything that might be used to hurt the candidate? And once you do that and try to read it, aren't you going to see "NIG"? Now, try to imagine the scenario at this point.

Scenario #1: They feel a little guilty, but they know their candidate is desperate, and they think they might stimulate the anti-Obama vote and decide to run with it. If anyone tries to talk about it, we'll trash them. They're crazy!

Scenario #2: Great! Let it go out like this. It's bait. If the Obama campaign says we're going racial, we'll paint him as one of those nuts who sees racism in nothing. He's staring at a kid's pajamas? Shouldn't he be looking at the real problems in this world? Either it will have no effect, it will have a subliminal effect, or it will create opportunities for attack.

Scenario #3: ???

IN THE COMMENTS: I love this, from ace commenter Meade:
Scenario #2.1:

Great! Let it go out like this. It's bait. If the Obama campaign says we're going racial, we'll paint him as one of those nuts who sees racism in nothing. He's staring at a kid's pajamas? Shouldn't he be looking at the real problems in this world? Either it will have no effect, it will have a subliminal effect, or it will create opportunities for attack.

No effect? Can we really afford to take that chance?

Good point, "Tom." Say, that gives me an idea. You know a few things about those - what do they call them... blogs? - don't you? What if you were to plant a comment here or there? Whaddaya think? Doable?

LOL. I've thought that the commenter who prompted me to write the first post could be a campaign insider. His name, "Tom," doesn't connect to a profile page.

53 comments:

George said...

Blow Up: Yardbird distortion beckoning static page

rhhardin said...

Well but isn't all women's reasoning subliminal effects?

I mean, the not throwing of subliminal effects out ; whereas fat and stupid guys pay no attention to them in the first place.

One of the subliminal effects not discarded here is the theory of subliminal effects, as it grows itself as a misgiving about not throwing the idea out like the fat and stupid guys in the first place.

I'm trying to account for the ``Yeah whatever'' reaction that I have, vs. the hysterical one. (Who knows the etymology of hysterical?)

Hey, I can spot racism better than anybody. It's not here.

Guys are wired for one single subliminal effect only, that they spend their lives trying to figure out and remember anniversaries of.

Palladian said...

I'm not convinced.

Palladian said...

"Scenario #3: ???"

Profit!

libhom said...

I'm not sure the Clinton Smear Campaign is guilty in this case. However, they have done so many racist things in the past that I can see why people completely distrust them.

Ohiogrannie said...

So you aren't noticing that 3 seconds into the ad, a blonde girl has her angelic face aglow with STARS on her pj's and STRIPES on her pillow case. So the little black child with the HUGH letters, which might or not, be spelling Good NIG... and it is purely irrelvant and just shocking, I say, shocking that Ms. Althouse would stoop so low as to infer such a thing.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse:

OK, to recap:

First, you accused the Clinton campaign of deliberately planting this message. Then you hedged by saying that maybe it was accidental, and mere incompetence.

But then you rescinded this hedge by stating that anyone who thought that this was accidental was "dangerously naive".

Now, it seems as though you realize that the purposeful planting of this message is ABSURD -- as Ralph said, imagine the reaction if someone suggested this in a campaign strategy meeting. And they would have had to have suggested this. Too many people would have to know about this to hope to keep it secret.

So now you're suggesting that maybe the image was accidental, but the Clinton campaign saw it, and left it in, because they're desparate and/or because they can then accuse the Obama camp of paranoia if they're called out on it.

And they MUST have noticed this image, because it's so obvious, and on the screen for so long. (Out of the center of a dark screen for 3 seconds, with soft focus, in an image where your eye is drawn to the face of a sleeping child; with the letters sideways, some capital, some lowercase; with the 3rd letter indistinguishable between a C, G, or O, without a few minutes of contextual analysis). It's so obvious that they had to notice -- and yet its effectiveness as a subliminal device supposedly depends on the fact that it's hidden.

This image is only obvious to someone obsessed with race. An earlier commenter on the first thread on this topic compared this to an ink-blot test, and that what's seen here says more about the viewer than it does the image, and I think that they were spot-on. When I look at this image, at full speed or freeze-frame, I see "NiC". But then, I'm a conservative; I don't suffer from the soft bigotry of lowered expectations.

If the Clinton campaign noticed this image, and thought that anyone would interpret it as you have, they would of course have removed it, for the same reasons that they wouldn't have intentionally put it in: It isn't worth the risk.

It seems as though you're just desparately trying to rescue your original argument/accusation, just for the sake of debate, and not for the purpose of uncovering the truth. How very lawerly of you.

Middle Class Guy said...

Scenario #3:
The typical Clinton campaign rule; we run it. If Obama or anyone goes racial, we apologize, disavow, demonize, and fire all involved. We tell everyone to just move on. The issues are too important to get bogged down in silly mistakes. Obama should be debating the issues and not playing the race card anyway.

Ann Althouse said...

"First, you accused the Clinton campaign of deliberately planting this message."

BZZZT! False. Go back and read the first post again.

Ann Althouse said...

I have always said that it could be an accident, but if it is it is incredibly stupid and incompetent.

From Inwood said...

I like to think that subliminal messages would not effect me. Not me.

After all, I don't run out to the candy counter just because some actor on the screen is popping Pepsi™ & later on in the Supermarket I don't go first to the soda section, so not for me the weakness of the common man (OOPS, person). Odi profanum vulgus et arceo. Yep. Don't snigger, um, there I go with the subliminal, I guess.

But all kinds of folk, from self-described centrist/moderates to Loony Leftists had a field day about the "rats" issue in 2000, so he who lives by the pseudo-science gotcha....

I agree that, if nothing else, you've shown that pseudo science works both ways. I applaud you for this & for keeping it up despite the vituperation on the part of those who must destroy anyone who would dare attack the most "brilliant" person in the race.

Gotta stop now & enjoy my M&Ms™ which I haven't had for years but which for some reason I picked up at the market on my way home from the movies yesterday.

From Inwood said...

Prof A

Reading the comments on this & the previous thread, I think it fair to say that some would like to, shall we say, let sleeping "NIG"s lie!

Good for you for bringing this up & not backing down.

From Inwood said...

Prof A

Since I am told repeatedly that Hillary is “brilliant” (talking points, my dears? I would fold the Hillary lover's "brilliant" sweatshirt so that the letters "ill" are highlighted!), & has assembled a staff of brilliant people who will continue to advise her, well, brilliantly in her cabinet & in sub-cabinet posts, there is no Scenario 3. You’ve created a nightmare for Hillary epigoni.

(OOPS I just caught the subliminal “nig” in my word “nightmare” & “pig” in my word “epigoni”. I must remove this post.)

somefeller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

The first question was benzion's. I was merely aping it, though it is a good one.
I noticed the upside down "G" before the half "G" that follows the "Ni".
I like Scenario #2, but at this point in her demoralized campaign, I suspect it's mere carelessness.

somefeller said...

"First, you accused the Clinton campaign of deliberately planting this message." BZZZT! False. Go back and read the first post again. I have always said that it could be an accident, but if it is it is incredibly stupid and incompetent.

You also later said that those who believed in the incompetence option were naive, which clearly shows that you believe the image placement (which doesn't exist outside of your mind and that of a few other feverish Hillary-bashers) was deliberate. Such comments make it clear that you believe in the deliberate racism option, which you are trying to backtrack from now, and it's pretty clear that's the meme you were trying to spread, claims of even-handedness aside. Face it, Ann, you got caught out on this one.

Meade said...

Scenario #2.1:

Great! Let it go out like this. It's bait. If the Obama campaign says we're going racial, we'll paint him as one of those nuts who sees racism in nothing. He's staring at a kid's pajamas? Shouldn't he be looking at the real problems in this world? Either it will have no effect, it will have a subliminal effect, or it will create opportunities for attack.

No effect? Can we really afford to take that chance?

Good point, "Tom." Say, that gives me an idea. You know a few things about those - what do they call them... blogs? - don't you? What if you were to plant a comment here or there? Whaddaya think? Doable?

Skewered Left said...

Next you'll be telling us Gov. Mike Huckabee's supposed "floating cross" TV commercial was deliberate.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You people who are searching for hidden messages in pieces of burnt toast and minute snippets of a video are seriously insane. Paranoia is the term that comes to mind. Projection is another.

gail grimmel said...

Geez.. Ann you're stretching a lil bit here. If you want some overt racism, or the most blatant example of using the race card, you might want to check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNrlSn7ndAA&e


I checked your archives and you didn't seem to blog about it.

Hmmmmmm..

rhhardin said...

seriously insane

There's survival value in perceiving threats that aren't there, in that you also perceive threats that are there very quickly. So we have the gene.

Where it goes insane is that with mass communications, the harmless mistakes become nationwide rather than local and varied.

If they're local, bad ones don't do more than local damage, when that happens from time to time.

Now it's national.

JackDRipper said...

After reviewing the video I think my ZIO = Zionism theory definitely works.

It's not only the ZIO but also the GO short for GOD of course.

Plus we can see that the phenotypes of the children match the Jewish ethnic range from Ashkenazi to Sephardic to Mizrahi. Then we have the archetypal Jewish mother imagery looking after her children - The Children of Israel - even at 3 AM.

This is especially good imagery coming at a time when Obama is being asked to denounce the support of the archetypal anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

The imagery plays to subconscious Jewish and Christian Zionist fears for the Children of Israel while offering Hillary as the ever concerned (Jewish) Mother.

I think Hillary wearing the glasses accentuates a kind of Jewishness.

Otto Man said...

As some commenters are saying, it could be stock footage.

"Could be"? Do you have even a passing familiarity with TV commercial production? There is zero chance that the house scenes are anything but stock footage.

First, this would have been insanely expensive for the campaign to produce. Given how Mark Penn seems intent on burning through cash, I wouldn't put it past them, but this would be beyond stupid even for them.

But even if they had shot this -- which they'd absolutely have to have done if they were to inject the subliminal messages that your tinfoil hast receptor is picking up -- then just how did the Obama campaign manage to air the exact same footage in their own response ad?

Did the Clinton people donate the footage they filmed and owned to their rivals? Or did Obama manage to secure the exact same actors, directors, set, crew, and cameramen to recreate the Clinton footage in a shot-by-shot homage?

Or did both do what many ad campaigns do and pay for some stock footage from the same source?

Personally, I'm inclined to go with the simplest explanation. But then again, I'm not insane.

Gerard said...

Since we seem to be double dipping at the Fruit Salad Bar here's a scenario from one of my commenters that I initially put in the first thread. I mean if you are going to talk "scenario" it seems to me this one has some very fine questions.

Do you think the ad agency storyboarded this ad?

Do you think they 'Blocked out' each frame in black and white sketches then taped the pajamas to the kid and bed and lit the scene carefully for those three frames so that the partial "NIG" of "NIGHT" would be partially visible?

"I'm not getting enought of the "NIG" here guys! Tape it down and tell the damned kid not to breath!"

"Goddamnit! I'm not getting any of the "NIG" now! Tell the kid to stop squirming! I'll give her something to cry about!"

Or do you think they hired an outstanding Hollywood CGI studio to perform the effect? Did they make the kid wear 'green screen' pajamas so they could add the effect in later?

And then swore them all to double-secret secrecy? Is this a LIHOP or MIHOP conspiracy? I'll bet the studio was the same damned Illuminati one in the basement of Denver International Airport that faked the moon landings and covered up for the demolition of WTC 7! Fire doesn't melt steel and kids pajamas DO NOT have N-I-G on them!

Do you know what the inverse of "Occam's Razor" is?

It's Smacco's Butterknife.

GOOD NIGHT!

Jacques Cuze said...

We knew you were shitty with law, and we knew you wanted to be a pop culture pundit but didn't think you could teach in that department.

I suggested you create courses in the law department along the lines of the legal issues of pop culture using perhaps free speech, "intellectual property", and stuff like that. But apparently you were too lazy or not imaginative enough to do that.

But ya know, I suggest now you stick with what you're "good" at. Constitutional Law.

Omaha1 said...

Pajama letters in the DARK?
You’d really have to be on DOPE
To think suggestions of CAIN’S MARK
Could SPOOK the man who offers hope.
The JIG is up for Clinton’s game
I don’t care WHO’S SAYIN’ this looks bad
Truly, your racist thought IS LAMe
If you should sNIGGER at this ad

Ann Althouse said...

Gerard, that's funny but:

1. My original post says right in the beginning that the actual pajamas say "Good Night."

2. Even if "NIG" ended up being highlighted purely by accident, a review of the film of the sort that is necessary before putting out a political ad should have led to a careful inspection of the letters that showed up and these could have easily been removed from the film and were not.

Now, try again. Face these facts. Don't airbrush them out.

dick said...

The problem with going over and over and over is that you will see what you know is there and that is good night. You bought the PJ's specifically because that is what was on them and that is what you see every time you see them. Every time you see them you will see good night. Looking over and over doesn't change that.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Even if "NIG" ended up being highlighted purely by accident, a review of the film of the sort that is necessary before putting out a political ad should have led to a careful inspection of the letters that showed up and these could have easily been removed from the film and were not.

Ridiculous.

Possibly it wasn't removed by the people who made the commercial because such a stupid idea never occurred to them. Whereas, people who want to see conspiracies and racism in tea leaves and splots of mold on the walls will see it any where.

I'm glad people are all a tither over this retarded idea. I gives us a good idea of our repressive future in an Obama Presidency. Humourless and uptight.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:

You should consider a career change where you can put your firece advocacy skills to good use. They will serve you well in defending the guiltiest of clients. But don't take too many cases like this "NIG" ad because, as good as you are, you won't win too many like this.

Dale St. Clair said...

I’m one who didn't infer the ‘N-word’ when I saw the commercial.

Thinking about various hypothetical scenarios I believe I could have been around some child for at least a few minutes without bothering to look closely and actually consciously read words that might have been printed on the kid’s pajamas. It’s one of those inconsequential details that I usually ignore, at least initially, in my personal environment - like wallpaper patterns in motel rooms, text of newspaper sections used to wrap and cushion items when packing for moving, etc.

I also have to wonder why so many who viewed the thing on TV assumed the third letter was ‘G.’ After all, the fold covers half the word so that the letter in question could just as easily have been a ‘C’ or ‘O.’

The Drill SGT said...

I'm with Pasta and DBQ.

An, this is much much ado about absolutely nothing. It borders on 911 truthing.

I can see a NIC on the PJ's. so what? Only a raving conspiracy nut could see more and you'd have to be wearing tin foil hats to think that the ad agency was to blame for not catching it.

Your continued mania about this has me concerned about your mental health.

Consider taking a few days off. I am not kidding.

Verso said...

Gosh, why do y'all have the interesting conversations when I'm not around? I'm way too late to comment on the original thread, and assume everyone else is sick of talking about it by now. But my two cents:

(1) I see Ann is still swirling around in the Hillary vortex. ;)

(2) There's no way Ann really believes this. She's just stirring up controversy. Just about nobody is buying this interpretation. It defies common sense to believe that Ann believes it herself. My personal theory is that she wants to damage the Clinton campaign because she believes Bill Clinton destroyed the feminist movement. All of her works of interpretation (e.g., carrots & onion rings) are designed to spoil the message intended by the campaign by creating a controversy to dilute or poison the original message.

Fortunately for Hillary, Ann doesn't work at CNN or Fox News, so her ability to undermine the intended message is quite limited.

(3) After reviewing many other blogs, I cannot find a single one defending Ann's interpretation. I realize there must be one or two out there, but it's almost unanimous. Even in the comments at Free Republic, one of the most rabidly anti-Hillary sites on the Internet, the comments are overwhelmingly against Ann.

(4) Mortimer Brezny (or whatever his name is) offered his observation that the brain fills in the missing pieces. He's right, and he left out the most important part: It does so in context. Mort ignores and omits the actual context in which these 2.5 letters appeared.

When you see a sleeping child at night in a dark bedroom in pajamas with stars and moons, the brain completes "NIG-" to the obvious "NIGHT." Not "Nigger." That would explain why, upon frame-by-frame review, the word "Nigger" did not leap out at anyone. The brain in this context clearly realizes the word is "NIGHT."

The context is what determines how the brain completes the word.

If I say "red fruit," most people think apple. If I change the context a bit, I can change the fruit you think of: "ice cream sundae, red fruit topping" Now you're thinking of strawberries.

It's the context that determines how the brain "autofills" the missing pieces.

One of the most hilarious posts in this conversation was when someone suggested that you are predisposed to be thinking of "niggers" because the commercial takes place inside a house, and people think of houses as things black people break into.

What a hoot. How did we ever get along all those years before blogging? This is comedy gold!

Original Mike said...

Verso said: One of the most hilarious posts in this conversation was when someone suggested that you are predisposed to be thinking of "niggers" because the commercial takes place inside a house, and people think of houses as things black people break into.

That was Mortimer, Verso.

You're right about context, Verso. As Pastafarian said: This image is only obvious to someone obsessed with race.

JohnTaylor88 said...

you see a sleeping child at night in a dark bedroom in pajamas with stars and moons, the brain completes "NIG-"

Except NIG is itself a whole slur.

It is not a fragment of nigger.

NIG means "little nigger".

The kid with NIG on his pj's is black.

French said...

You have got to be kidding me. The whole thing is absurd - impossible to keep secret, unproven efficacy, and way too much risk for too little reward.

And "NIG" as a short form of "nigger"? I've never heard it even once in my 46 years as a Texan. Not once. Try this - try saying "nigger", "nigra", "coon" and "nig" in a Southern accent. You'll see that given our tendency to have a slight lilt or drawl makes "nig" just too damn short, abrupt and ugly to fit into our speech patterns. "Nig" begs for a closing vowel and would seem to fit in a pattern that is shorter, choppier and more gutteral.

But hey, thanks for believing that it'd be an effective tactic in Texas and Ohio in 2008. Very cosmopolitan of you all.

AlphaLiberal said...

It actually says "Onio."

The Onion should sue!!!

You guys have over-analyzed this.

AlphaLiberal said...

Can't believe I missed this chance.

It's a slight against bloggers, blogging in their pajamas. And stinking of onions!

Gerard said...

Ann, as is her wont, instructs:

2. Even if "NIG" ended up being highlighted purely by accident, a review of the film of the sort that is necessary before putting out a political ad should have led to a careful inspection of the letters that showed up and these could have easily been removed from the film and were not.

Now, try again. Face these facts. Don't airbrush them out.


"Should have?" Humm, maybe in your happy little world, Ann. But the fact you have to face even as you pump photos into the page to drive the posts down the hunt, is that you don't have a chip in the Clinton game.

Neither do I.

We're just a couple of bloggers so far down the Presidential Election food chain we don't even rise to the level of krill.

To give instruction and advice to the campaigns from where our commodious butts sit in our comfort chairs is the height not only of arrogance but of foolishness as well.

Now, if you want to puff up your hallucinations of NIG into the high cirrus of the blogosphere, please do. That's the name of the game and we often, as we see here and in the parent post, swap reputation for attention. But that's just because there is something fundamentally wrong with us to do all this for the attention. Still, whomp, there it is.

But puhlease don't think that you can issue shoulda wouda coulda notes to the campaigns and have the whisp of a chance of making a dent in their operations one way or another. Doesn't happen that way.

Indeed, the only way it could have happened is before the event if, through some magic mind meld of the Vulcan variety, the campaign people that are greenlighting ads happened to share your hallucinaton. Which they clearly did not.

These spots are made on the run and in real time by campaign professionals handling live ammunition. They don't hover and bob over them like the drinking bird over the glass of water.

That's the bloggers job. And that's why, for all the hype, they matter so very little.

Look at it this way, if I was a campaign worker for Hillary or Obama, I could address some of my time this Monday to the things Ann Althouse saw in the windmills of her mind, or I could get into my car and try to make sure all six residents of an old-folks home in Dallas got to the polls.

Somehow, bloggers just don't make that cut.

And those, those are the real facts, that you've got to face. It seems like a big deal but it isn't. Really.

I'll be at the Starbucks on Montague and Henry tomorrow at 12:15 with my video camera and we can put this whole discussion on YouTube by five.

The Exalted said...

standard althouse moves here...

1. Post something truly idiotic

2. Backtrack, hedge

3. Circle the wagons

4. Declare victory!

Theo Boehm said...

French said...

You have got to be kidding me. The whole thing is absurd - impossible to keep secret, unproven efficacy, and
way too much risk for too little reward.

..."Nig" begs for a closing vowel and would seem to fit in a pattern that is shorter, choppier and more gutteral.


It may be absurd, but there are a lot of people who seem ready to spend money on similar things that are done every day in advertising, both in print and in video media. This has been argued to death elsewhere on these threads, but I would only advise you to take a close look at advertising images in magazines, not to mention TV ads you might be able to replay on the internet.  If you do not encounter words such as "sex," or subtle images of genitalia worked into ads, all I can say is that you might well have been an English pinball wizard.  Sorry about your rotten childhood.

For my part, I did indeed see a more complete word than just "Nig."  There are other letters that could be interpreted as completing a word something like "Nigero."  See my comment that is fronted on this post.  The point is that the image implants letters that make up some variant of the several "Nig..." words for African-Americans.   It needn't be spelled out perfectly or clearly obvious.  That sort of thing is seen repeatedly in examples of implanting words like this just below the level of consciousness in advertising.  "Sux" is one weed I've run across growing in the lawn of a satisfied Toyota owner on the back cover of US News, if I remember correctly.  Of course it could be that there just isn't enough crabgrass to finish that pesky "e."

Assuming that Toyota, Honda, Heublein, Chrysler, etc., etc. are not in the habit of scattering advertising money to the winds like flower petals pulled from a daisy, it is not at all certain that this kind of implanting technique lacks efficacy.

And so what if it is exposed?  Other than something big from the MSM, it will remain something of a tempest in the blogospheric teapot, but at least could offer the opportunity to bash a non-conformist and non-Hillary bandwagon-jumper like Althouse.

In any event, when the Braille anthology of Althouse comes out, you might want to review what has been said repeatedly and well about all this, both upthread here and on the original post, .

*   *   *   *   *

Gerard said...

Look at it this way, if I was a campaign worker for Hillary or Obama, I could address some of my time this Monday to the things Ann Althouse saw in the windmills of her mind, or I could get into my car and try to make sure all six residents of an old-folks home in Dallas got to the polls.


Yep, who cares what a crazy old bat like Althouse says?  It's not worth anybody's time.
That's why we see comment after comment from people no regular here has ever heard of before, bemoaning Althouse's lack of judgment, that they are longtime readers, but that this is too much, etc., etc.
Looks to me like campaign workers, or something like them, e.g., really bad bots, seem to be protesting too much.

Gerard's point is well-taken, though.  All of you in the tank for Hillary should drive the old folks to the polls, and the rest of us will comment on Althouse.  A win-win if I ever saw one.

Gerard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theo Boehm said...

You know, I should have said, "digital crabgrass" above. It's a well-known fact that real crabgrass can't spell.

It would be worth millions if someone could develop a strain of Fescue that writes naughty words in the lawn on its own. Both grateful advertising producers and bemused homeowners would strip the shelves bare of this the first hour it appeared.

Theo Boehm said...

And ladies, what about a Pilates course to develop those penis-shaped lower back muscles, as seen in liquor and tropical vacation advertisements?  Real attention-getters on the beach this summer.

But there I go again, just imagining things, like that 18th century French trade card that shows a lady trying gloves, but when you turn it upside down, ooh la-la, she's doing really naughty things between her legs.

It's all just in my dirty mind, I know.  No one would ever advertise anything that way.  I mean, you don't actually notice it, and who would imagine putting out that sort of filth, anyway, just trying to sell something?

French said...

If you do not encounter words such as "sex," or subtle images of genitalia worked into ads, all I can say is that you might well have been an English pinball wizard. Sorry about your rotten childhood.

Theo, I don't plan to spend any time at all searching through TV or print ads looking for hidden messages or genitalia. You can have that all to yourself. Funny -there's saying in Spanish that says, "when you're hungry, all you smell is food."

For what it's worth, growing up in West Texas in the 60's and 70's wasn't entirely rotten - we spent a lot of time outside, made lots of friends and read a whole bunch of books. I don't know anything about you other than our one interaction here, but I don't get the feeling that any of those things would hurt you one bit.

Mack

Gerard said...

Well, I was there but no Althouse -- at least not that I recognized.

I guess there's blog courage and then there's real world courage. Ah well, no mano-a-mano so we'll just have to agree to differ virtually.

Theo Boehm said...

French: You know, one of the distinguishing features of our time is how visual it is.  We sail on a sea of images, and a rain of advertising falls on our heads every day.  Like Polynesians navigating by dead reckoning, we ignore or fail to see the often subtle signs of our surroundings at our peril.  I find it incredible that you have managed to live as long as you have blinded to what is around you in this ocean of human imagery.

Tommy could blame his childhood for his blindness.  On what can you blame your own inability to see?

Or is it inability?  I think you know as well as I do, if not better, all the psychology and artifices of advertising imagery.  You have, in point of fact, a political axe to grind, and your job is to blunt criticism of the Clinton campaign, and to inoculate it against any further scrutiny of its tactics.

One way is the rhetorical tack of simplicity:  "I don't have time to bother with that sort of thing."  Of course you have time to write a comment on a blog no one has seen you on before denying the whole thing.

And the "Very cosmopolitan of you all" in your first comment is a nice touch of boob bait, proving your bona fides in flyover country as against us coastal types.

Actually, your original comment and your answer are both very cleverly and economically constructed, proving to me, at least, that you are a involved in Mrs. Clinton's campaign, and no just honest everyday sort from West Texas.  I know when I'm up against a professional, so my hat's off to you and your candidate.  Looks like she's going to take wittle baby Obama apart bit by tiny bit.

But to those who still have a little curiosity left about all this, just Google "subliminal messages" or "subliminal advertising," and spend 20 minutes or so going through the links.  It won't take long, and you may wind up better equipped to paddle your canoe through that dark ocean of mirages we've created for ourselves, as well as to avoid the sharks that lurk there.

Theo Boehm said...

LOL. I've thought that the commenter who prompted me to write the first post could be a campaign insider. His name, "Tom," doesn't connect to a profile page.

Am I making too many connections to suggest that "Tom"="Tommy?" A clever little Boomer joke? And if "Tom" is a campaign insider, consider these lyrics from the end of "Tommy:"

Welcome to the Camp,
I guess you all know why we're here.
My name is Tommy
and I became aware this year

Listening to you,
I get the music.
Gazing at you,
I get the heat.
Following you,
I climb the mountains.
I get excitement at your feet.

Right behind you,
I see the millions.
On you,
I see the glory.
From you,
I get opinions.
From you,
I get the story.

French said...

Theo, I just don't believe in the efficacy of subliminal messaging. I believe it at best a psuedo-science - all hat, no cattle. Too many strong visual competing messages out there for a flash to command the attention of the subconscious. The stronger, better constructed message invariably wins.

If you truly Googled and read the articles, that seems to be the general scientific consensus.

I believe that to implant an impulse or to make an action reflexive takes the input of all senses, muscle memory and strong repetetive stimuli. These are the basis for any training program that seeks to create a reflexive response to stimuli. If subliminal ever worked, I'd argue its time is far gone for the medium of television or film.

Video games, social websites that young people spend hours on obsessively? Maybe a different story. Would the Hillary campaign spend boatloads of cash on Facebook teens?

Me as a Hillary operative? Laughable - you're definitely barking up the wrong tree. See my site: www.brassknucklesblog.com

Note my "economic writing style" doesn't change there.

Johnny Rhetoric said...

theo:

I have now made it through two long comment threads on this topic. Over 300 comments in all. I agree that that is a lot of protesting. Too much?

I especially enjoyed the commentator who denied the existence or efficacy of subliminal messaging yet asked to be believed about a child's ability to understand nonverbal cues from a parent somehow capable of pantomiming the N-word.

Then, I read a couple of comments which go into excruciating detail about the speech patterns of Southerners in order to explain how the Clinton ad could not be construed as an intentional act or mistaken buffoonery.

My favorite responses are the ones bringing up the "stock footage" and "storyboard" excuses. Those defenses are ingenious and took a great deal of thought. They took a lot of effort as well.

Why do the Clintons require such a vigorous defense, so much protesting?
_________________

Because I posted the following after the 216th post on the previous thread, I have put it here as well:


In my mind, the biggest controversy raised by the advertisement should be the fact that ABC Senior Political Correspondent George Stephanopoulos managed to air the ad (free of charge to the Clinton Campaign) 11 different times during his appearances on "This Week," "Nightline," "Good Morning America" and "ABC World News" in the three days before the Texas and Ohio primaries.

Yet, during all this recent camera time, Mr. Stephadisingenuous managed to fail, abjectly, to note that he "was a senior political adviser to the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign of Bill Clinton and later became Clinton's communications director."

This is the type of "say anything, do anything" to win ethic I would expect only from a Clinton -- or a Clinton protege.

Theo Boehm said...

Johnny:

This thread is pretty extinct by now, but I did want to get in a last comment before it disappears into the archives.

Your points are very well-taken.  Far too much protesting IMHO.  That's why I took after French, who seemed like another too-clever-by-half Clintonista.  I see I was mistaken, and I apologize to him for the mockery.

But Althouse's basic thesis still stands:  This was either a screw-up or a nasty piece of deliberate work.  All the excuses from supposed advertising professionals on these threads that they NEVER do such things may be true in that they may not be photo editors and would have no knowledge of what's going on in that department.  They also could just be Clinton supporters lying.

The other excuse I find curious is that advertisements are just not that carefully put together, and that it's frequently a last-minute, chaotic process.  That may be true for some ads, but from what I understand, ads for a national TV audience are, or should be, carefully made.  If not, what are the clients paying for?

The excuse that subliminal ads "don't work" is another odd one.  What we saw here is not a "subliminal" ad, but an example of imprinting, a technique of encoding hidden messages that has been in use for ages.  There have been vast controversies over messages hidden in religious art, for example. On the secular side, there is even supposed to be the word "sex" worked into a Rembrandt painting.  I'm not putting up links, because if you're curious, you can do your own research to confirm or deny this, and I really hate dueling links in any event.

Subliminal ads, in the sense of a frame or two flashed with a message, almost certainly don't work.  But I wonder about imprinting, when you can find examples of it in magazines if you know how to look for it.  My introduction to this was about 12 years ago when I was a chat room host on AOL.  In those days, AOL charged by the minute and was expensive, so working as a chat room host for 6 hours a week to get free service was nice deal.  A controversy erupted when it was discovered that the splash screen AOL used had the word "sex" worked into the speckled background several times.  Once pointed out, it was obvious.  AOL made no attempt to deny it, but this came out shortly before AOL went to a Web-based service and made other extensive changes, so the whole thing became moot fairly soon.  I can find nothing about this controversy on the Web today, but it did happen a long time ago.

I remember reading several online pieces at the time about this kind of advertising, complete with examples and techniques for finding it.  I have since been able to find examples of imprinting down to the present day.  I must confess that I am not that familar with imprinting techniques in video format, but what we see here is analogous to what you might see in print, if somewhat more blatant, because, perhaps, it goes by fairly quickly.

In any event, your remarks, especially about George Stephanopoulos, are really spot-on. The Clinton campaign looks like it indeed will "say anything, do anything," and I, for one, hope Obama can find the gumption to stand up to it before it's too late.

A bit of truth in advertising from my end:  I am leaning toward Obama, although, like a lot of people, I have some doubts.  I'm not going to vote for John McCain, because I've never voted for a Republican Presidential candidate in my life, and I'm not going to start now.  I have sat a few elections out when the choices were unpalatable, and it looks like I may do that again if Mrs. Clinton is the nominee.  I'm in Massachusetts, so my staying home on election day is not going to make any difference, except in my own mind as a protest.

Johnny, thanks again for an intelligent comment. Hope to see more of you around here.

ozcon said...

I just have to say that we are a mixed race family through adoption and both of my African American teenaged sons as well as my Anglo husband and I saw this as "nig" while watching this ad replayed yesterday during a discussion on Chris Matthews show with Prof. Orlanda Patterson. The frame that shows this child is also brighter than any of the other children. This may be because of the replaying on the TV but it was fairly apparent. I, who fit the target profile of anglo security mom, saw it first. I independently just asked my husband what it said on the pajamas and he came to the same conclusion. We asked our sons separately and with the question, "I can't figure out what it says on that kids pj's. Can you?" and they both came to the same conclusion and I feel I should mention it was a conclusion filled with sadness. I know you'll probably ban this post when I put this but it was a real WTF moment for all of us. Thank you for raising this issue. I actually found your blog because I was searching to see if anyone else had noticed this in order to bring it to someone's attention. In terms of this being a case of seeing racism in everything I'm reminded of a quote I heard somewhere--"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you."

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