Sunday, November 14, 2010

DPP ad and the use(lessness?) of cultural memory

I saw the following DPP political ad on Michael Turton's blog:

There are some interesting comments to his post about whether or not this ad will work. There are elections coming up at the end of the month here, and as usual, they're hard-fought. I've seen lots of ads talking about what this or that candidate is going to do for his or her constituency. Some people commenting on Turton's blog fault this ad for its focus on the past rather than on the future. The ad makes sort of a gesture toward the future at about 0:59 where it notes that politicians who have now run for president were "against presidential elections in the past," implying perhaps that President Ma (whose face is shown at this point, though he's not named) is not to be trusted. And perhaps there's a sense, for those who know the history, that a democratization so recently won is fragile and can be easily lost.

The question, though, is what kind of effects can be expected (and achievable) from a political ad that depends on fragments of cultural memory to motivate parents of twenty-somethings to gather up those fragments and pass them on to their children. The question implied by the blog comments might be best phrased as, quoting rhetorician Gerard Hauser, "whether the distance between the contracting relevance of the past and the fading horizon of the future precludes the possibility that we can still establish bonds of community"--and what kind of community we might establish. To be apathetic to the past portrayed in this ad is not even to disagree about the factuality of the events portrayed, but simply to refuse to identify with the kind of community the ad seems to be trying to create.