Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to annoy the public while depleting the rain forest.

I live in Seattle, Washington. Our city has the reputation for being rainy, liberal and green, both in physical environment and mentality. As I previously pointed out in this post, the Emerald City prides itself in an organic, free range lifestyle, where our kids attend class in yurts made of the finest hemp, and if the classroom accidentally catches on fire, people gather from miles around to take in the "unfortunate event."

We recycle everything—yard waste, food waste, plastic, paper—if soylent green ever becomes a morally acceptable option, Seattle will be the first city to repurpose and eat Grandma.

And because I'm a lifelong resident of this enlightened region, it drives me crazy, every year around this time, when I observe the mailman, as he drives his boot heel into our mailbox to force in every last political flier. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but for the past week, our daily mail haul has averaged at least five, full-color, collateral pieces put forth by candidates and special interest groups.

From a design perspective, I probably scrutinize this stuff way too much, but it doesn't take a trained eye to notice the cheesy photography and lame Photoshop effects. Everything is too large, and if the goal is to present the candidate's head in actual size, I suppose they've nailed that objective.

But enough ranting about basic aesthetics, let's talk about messaging. You would think that each candidate's opponent is Satan him- or  herself, and the choice is clearer than Saddam vs. Cheney (Sorry, actually that's a tough call.). The major contest in Washington state is between the incumbent, Senator Patty Murray, and lifelong, smarmy Republican naysayer, Dino Rossi. He's already run for governor, and lost, twice, and now he's attempting to unseat Senator Murray, a sixteen year veteran of the congressional trenches.

We've been receiving at least one pro-Rossi piece of tree every day. Yesterday, he sent us a letter-sized document, showing a diapered toddler rolling around in stacks of cash. The headline read, "Senator Patty Murray's Spending and the National Debt: THEY SEEM TO GROW SO FAST!" All caps always drives the point home so nicely, especially when it's also underlined and accentuated with a drop shadow. I'm tempted to mail out my own flier which simply reads, "The Graphic Designers' Association of West Seattle endorses Patty Murray," based on that lame piece of Rossi propaganda alone.

There's usually also a highly unflattering photograph of the opponent, either laughing maniacally in black and white or making some sort of face that could only have been captured in a "moment of privacy."

I won't go into the various literature pushing initiatives, referendums and bond issues, because the modus operandi is pretty much the same. They want to scare the hell out of you by any means necessary, and make you believe that voting against their idea will end the world faster than even the Mayan calendar predicts.

So now, I suppose it's time to peruse a little thing called "The Washington State Voter's Pamphlet," and afterward, my wife said she could make me some nice pants out of it.

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