It was Say Yes to the Dress. A political ad in the form of a wedding dress reality show. No I am not shitting you.
For those not in the know, Tom Corbett is the current (and terrible) governor of Pennsylvania, running against Tom Wolf in November. He is old and white and Republican, and he's seriously fucked up a lot of things like education funding. Tom Wolf is also old and white and male, but he seems a lot less terrible than his Republican opponent.
Given his stance on education/LGBT stuff/energy/Republican things, Corbett isn't exactly popular among the young female collegiate set, so apparently some genius at the College Republican National Committee came up with this gem in an attempt to woo us. As a fledgling Say Yes to the Dress aficionado, there were a few thoughts running through my head:
- WHAT IS HAPPENING?
- NOT GONNA HAPPEN.
And as a member of this ad's target demographic, some other, slightly better-formed thoughts came to mind as well:
- Tom Corbett is really desperate when it comes to reaching college-aged girls.
- Tom Corbett thinks the best way to reach smart and educated young women is through wedding dresses, because "GIRLS LOVE WEDDINGS, amirite?" Look at us, always going through life with weddings on our mind. We all went to school for our MRS degrees, didn't we? Why, I've had my wedding dress on my mind since they day I slid out of my mother's Catholic womb, career dreams be damned!
- Even if #2 is over-exaggerated and "not what he meant," that still means that he thinks the best way to reach us is through reality shows. And no, the fact that I enjoy watching the show in question does not mean that I don't feel insulted. It smacks of condescension, kind of like that Scottish "Better Together" ad that John Oliver roasted a few weeks ago (see also Target Women). Oh look at us shallow kids, with our MTV and our TLC and our vapid, vapid obsessions. Apparently we aren't good enough for a straight-out discussion of the issues, we can only be enticed with pretty distractions. And if you think I'm over-reacting, the same channel has another ad series that mimics The Bachelorette, but I don't see any clear correlates aimed at young men.
- Either way, the metaphor falls flat. Corbett has been in power for four years, and he's a mainstream conservative. He is the old-fashioned, outdated model. Voting for him is the exact opposite of voting for something new, just by virtue of him being incumbent. It really doesn't make sense. And that's ignoring all the misleading information the ad presents.
- I find it really interesting that the ad makes a point of breaking away from the parent's opinion, as if young women generally want to become more conservative than their parents. Are they specifically targeting those of us raised by baby boomer women libbers who had too much coffee and NPR totes?
Point #5 also kind of falls flat within the context of the show, since usually the bride is the one lusting at an over-expensive dress, not the mother, so I don't know where they're coming from. Is the bride paying for her own dress? If so, good for her, but it kind of pulls me out of the whack-a-doodle reality of the ad.