Friday, July 28, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: Let’s Talk about Messaging

Something occurred to me this week.  It’s this: The right way to talk about the current moment in politics isn’t to talk about the politics of the current moment at all.  In the modern world, one can find news to fit one’s worldview regardless of what that worldview happens to be.  Someone out there somewhere is reporting news with an editorial slant that agrees with whatever philosophy each and every one of us personally finds comforting.  Since people like to feel good about themselves, almost everyone has chosen to get their news from sources that make them feel some combination of smart and vindicated.
Arguing about reality is therefore pointless, and indeed, it’s becoming increasingly pointless to argue at all.  
Spoiler alert: no one is listening.
With this in mind, I’ve realized that the right way to talk about modern politics is to ignore the message and to focus entirely on the success or failure of the messaging.  In the end, it’s the success or failure of the marketing that’s going to determine the future of this country.

Schumer said today's working Americans are "justified in having greater doubts about the future than any generation since the Depression."
"Americans believe they’re getting a raw deal from both the economic and political systems in our country. And they are right," he said.
"And for far too long, government has gone along, tilting the economic playing field in favor of the wealthy and powerful while putting new burdens on the backs of hard-working Americans."
Democrats have in the past hesitated from "taking on those misguided policies directly and unflinchingly — so much so that many Americans don’t know what we stand for…"
The Dems ended up going with the slogan “A Better Deal”.  This hearkens back to the “New Deal” of FDR’s 1930s-era Depression administration but doesn’t actually contain much that wasn’t previously in the party's platform.  Bottom line, Dems think they have the right policies, especially for the down-and-out white working class voters who—they believe—put Trump into office last year.  They seem to believe that they’re missing just the correct messaging to win those folks over in 2018.
I’ll agree with the Dems’ to the extent that I think “Make America Great Again” is a great and powerful slogan.  It, as much as anything, helped put Trump in the White House.  Dude is a good salesman, and branding really is important.  This is why the Dems’ search for a catchphrase is truly fundamental to their future success.  Still, I also think that part of the problem is the Dems’ messengers, that folks like Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi aren’t ever going to win over the skeptics in Middle America.  In an “Us against Them” world, those two have too much history of being with “Them”.  If nothing else, people love to hate their enemies, and hate—especially righteous hate—is a powerful message.  It puts people on the side of fighting for what they believe in.  This caters to vanity, making would-be partisans feel justified and even important to the struggle.
The messaging problem for the Dems therefore isn’t just finding the right slogan.  It’s delivering that slogan in such a way as to outflank the pre-existing disgust of the very people they’re trying to reach, people who enjoy hating them at a basic, fundamental level.  Again, the Dems are not there yet.
The show… faced the problem that sharks and people are not comparable swimmers. Not even close. Humans, even superhumans like Michael Phelps, swim no faster than 6 miles an hour. Great white sharks hit 25 m.p.h. Phelps was given a monofin, which let him swim faster than his world-record times. But he still wasn’t going to come anywhere near the shark’s top speed. This certainly seemed like a stumbling block for an interspecies race.
Actual shark raced by Michael Phelps.
Sally and the kids got fascinated by this.  I told them I wouldn’t watch it unless they dipped Phelps in blood and made him swim for his life.  
Nevertheless, “Michael Phelps races a shark” is obviously excellent messaging.

Didi Gregorious stopped because he thought that the ball was going to be caught, forcing him to tag up.  But the Reds then turned the double-play with time enough to also throw Didi out at third.  
However, with bases loaded and no outs, the runner at third still had time to score.  Thus, this play actually gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead.
Men in Western nations produce about half as many sperm per milliliter of ejaculate as their peers did in the ‘70s, according to a new research review published inHuman Reproductive Update. Between 1973 and 2011, researchers found, the sperm concentration of Western ejaculate fell more than 52 percent, while the total number of sperm per semen sample fell by almost 60 percent.
“If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future,” co-author and epidemiologist Hagai Levine told the BBC. Those chemicals include phthalates, which recently had their 15 minutes of fame for being present in nearly all tested brands of macaroni and cheese mixes. Phthalates get into foods by way of plastics in packaging and processing equipment, and evidence strongly suggests that they disrupt testosterone production, leading to reduced sperm counts.
I think our sedentary lifestyle might also be at play here.  One good way to keep naturally high testosterone is to work out, especially in the weight room.  But Americans especially have allowed themselves to become lazy, and when you add in a few common plastic manufacturing chemicals, this is what happens.
Messaging: “Are dudes not as good at sex as they used to be?”
Avengers: Infinity War
I love how this poster makes Avengers: Infinity War look like high art while simultaneously evoking soap opera story theory.  Based on this messaging, the new movie looks like the first half of a five-hour miniseries organized along soap opera lines, complete with an A-plot, B-plot, C-plot, and D-plot.  
Makes sense to me, but I’ve never seen it attempted in an actual movie.
* * *
Announcement 1.  Despite months of epic procrastination, it appears that I may yet find myself on a Swim Across the Sound relay team.  The event is August 5th, which means that if you're reading this, you should stand by for a furious fundraising effort.

Get your checkbooks ready!

Announcement 2.  It looks like Joe and I are going to start our epic NFL season preview on Monday, August 7th.  The tentative plan is to post on Mondays and Thursdays.

 -- Week 1. NFC / AFC East
 -- Week 2. NFC / AFC West
 -- Week 3. NFC / AFC North
 -- Week 4. NFC / AFC South

As I've said before, I'm doing the NFC and Joe is doing the AFC.  However, despite the messaging choice above, i.e. me listing the NFC first, Joe may actually lead us out.  That's still to be determined.

For more, visit Joe's blog: A Hoosier on the Potomac.  Do that now.

That's all I've got.  Enjoy the weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment