When I was in college, I quickly realized something about the class I took. My best classes, the ones I was most interested in, the ones that I worked the hardest in, the ones, I remember today, weren't always the most interesting topics. Sure some of them were right in my interest wheel house, but many of them were subjects I never really cared much about then or since. Conversely, the worst classes were often in topics I was sure I'd love. What separated the bad from the good, the boring from the interesting was the quality of the teacher. The best teachers made subjects (like English History 1600-1658) fascinating and relevant.
I bring that up in the context of this new ad from Jessie Jackson Jr.
On the face of it, it should be compelling, it should be heartbreaking, it should move me to outrage..., but it doesn't. The spot is flat emotionally. Now, I know a mom telling the story of her son gunned down on the way to choir practice is inherently powerful, but it's not. That first line "I'm Pam Bosley, my son is dead..." should grab you and make you sick, but it doesn't.
I'm not blaming the mom, who has obviously gone through a tragedy no parent should ever have to face. It takes courage to get on camera and speak about it. I blame the consultant. It appears that she's reading a teleprompter, repeating words from rote rather than telling her own tragic tale. Then to make matters worse, they have her spouting political blah, blah, blah about there opponent (the highlight of the ad is actually the phone of Debbie Haverston behind Jesse Jackson with that awful expression on her face).
I saw a quote from a screenwriter that said if the answer is 4, write 2+2. Unfortunately the script here gives us 4. There's no room for the audience in this ad either emotionally or intellectually. Instead of bringing us into the story they hold us at arm's length.
"A million deaths is a statistic. One death is a tragedy."
By the time she says, don't let my son die in vain, we should be heartbroken.... I read a great line about Jeremy Lin, the Knicks point guard, who came from no where to dazzle the NBA -- a reporter said the true story of Jeremy Lin was "about how in a society full of nonsense and noise, of fizz and vapour, of pretty colours and manufactured products, we ache for real magic."
This ad has the potential for real magic but instead they gave us more nonsense and noise.