Okay, so I haven’t smashed any tvs, although I’ve wanted to. In an unrelated incident, I have cracked my iPhone screen because my new jeans are too tight, but they do look damn good.
I’m not against political advertising. However the way it’s being done this election campaign is hurting me more than stepping on a nail in bare feet, making small talk with a real estate agent or watching the Melbourne Football Club play football.
Only once was an election ad a relief. While I was watching the boring game of charades that is the hour long waste of time known as ‘Slide Show’. The morning after my last house party, I stepped over funnier stains while trying to find my pants.
The exact figures won’t be released until after the election, but around 50 per cent of all political advertising is covered by Australian taxpayers and for this election, the total cost is likely to be around a hundred million dollars.
Still far less than in America, where they spent over six billion on advertising during the last election. What a sensible use of money, when they have a debt of over sixteen trillion (about $50,000 per person) and still don’t have a proper health system.
Back to Australia, and I can think of several better uses for a hundred million dollars. You could buy fifty million beers. Australia’s population is twenty three million, so that’s at least two each. Those ridiculous adverts won’t win my vote, but two beers might.
Australians also love gambling. Why not have a lottery with a hundred million dollar top prize? In exchange for your vote, you get a ticket. Then again health, education and the environment could always use the money. You know, those services we need to survive.
As a country, choosing who’s going to lead us is the biggest decision we ever get to make. So with an election approaching, it’s important to get the message out there about the policies of the different parties. Which is the exact opposite of what the two major parties are doing.
Instead they’re obsessed with telling us how terrible the other one would be at running the country. This lack of any actual information means making a choice on election day is exactly like choosing where to live by throwing yoghurt at a map. Of Canberra. Or judging what to do with your life, by pulling random bits of rubbish from a bin. Or picking someone to marry, based on which person on the tram gives you a smile. I’ve been trying this for years, and it only frightens people.
Think about an election for high school president. Even those candidates tell you what they’re going to do. Such as providing free donuts, banning bullying and opening a licensed bar. Three things that probably won’t ever happen, but for me, would have made high school bearable.
Imagine if other businesses took up that advertising strategy of Rudd and Abbott.
Instead of telling us the benefits of a certain car, manufacturers would just show graphic pictures of other cars in horrific accidents. With no explanation of why they’re actually inferior.
Shopping for a pair of jeans, instead of being shown a pair you might like, the shop assistant would get you to try on everything you’d never want.
Imagine going to a restaurant, ordering dinner and getting food that’s the opposite of what you wanted.
‘Can you taste that? That’s not what you wanted is it? Disgusting isn’t it? I’m pretty sure you’re allergic. Make sure you don’t vote for that.’
This strategy is being applied this election, because the parties have done the calculations and decided it’s safer to say nothing. That the votes you win by being positive are far fewer compared to the votes you could lose by making even a tiny mistake.
We’re a little bit to blame for this. The media is obsessed with speed and turnover, not depth. They report only the most basic as quickly as possible because at the moment, that’s what they believe we’re most interested in. The media is in the business of advertising as much as any company or politician, and they’re marketing whatever news gets the most readers.
Actual information is out there, and it’s not that hard to find. If more of us started looking below the surface, the media would provide a better quality of news. With the end result being that we’d have an election campaign based on logic and facts. Not propaganda, slogans and crap.
So here’s a message from me to every political party in Australia. If you can’t say anything nice, or anything intelligent, just spend the money on beer.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. (www.xaviertoby.com)
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