Really College Republicans?


Michelle Togut

Michelle Togut resides in North Carolina with her husband and pets. She has worked as an adjunct professor of history, contributor and writer, and small-firm attorney, among other things. These days, she's trying to sell real estate. For fun, she reads political blogs of all persuasions, practices yoga, drinks wine, hikes, reads, and volunteers for a local animal rescue.

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36 Responses

  1. Avatar j r says:

    What exactly about that ad makes women look like airheads?Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      The whole notion of comparing choosing a candidate to picking a wedding dress because it’s assumed that’s something with which women would identify; the shrewish presentation of the mother; and, of course, the notion that Tom Corbett (whose ratings were in the dumpster even during our brief stint in Philadelphia two years ago) has any new ideas that would somehow make him desirable.Report

  2. Avatar j r says:

    (save for the one comparing women’s voting for Barack Obama to their dating him).

    Also, did you mean this one:


    • Avatar j r says:

      D’oh! Wrong video.


      • Avatar Michelle says:

        No, there’s a Republican version. But the one that you linked to is equally insulting.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Ok, but putting aside the question of whether it is insulting, would you also claim that Lena Dunham and the Obama campaign don’t get women?

        Or what about the women in the ad or the women who work for or are College Republicans? Do they not get themselves?

        I am not trying to pull a Gotcha! here or even disagreeing with you about the bad taste and poor quality of the ads. I am trying to figure out how you are using these terms in this case.Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        @j-r I think it’s more a question of being tone deaf.

        For example, if you were a Democratic candidate that was trying to appeal to rural voters who historically hadn’t voter for you, you might do an ad reaching out to them that was done like a Hee Haw sketch, with guys in overalls an no shirts with a straw sticking out of their mouth saying that other candidate was like the revenuer who was always telling you thatyou shouldn’t date you cousin.

        A Republican probably wouldn’t run that ad, but if they did, other Republicans wold probably just dismiss it as a bad ad. A Democrat running that ad, though, would made every Republican think, “oh, I guess that guy just sees me as some inbred hayseed!”

        It’s the same with the wedding dress ad. Every woman who was going to vote for the GOP candidate no matter what isn’t going to love the ad, but they aren’t going to hate it either. Most other women are going to see it as yet another bit of evidence that the GOP thinks that all women care about is clothes and getting married.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “Most other women are going to see it as yet another bit of evidence that the GOP thinks that all women care about is clothes and getting married.”

        Or maybe they’ll see it as a cute riff on a popular TV show.Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        No, they won’t.

        You can argue that they should, and you’d probably be be right.

        But they won’t.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        Interesting. Tell me more about how you know everything about women and what they think. Remember that you’re the enlightened non-sexist party in the conversation while you’re telling me.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I would say the difference is that the Lena Dunham one is much more clever. It’s a rif on the Vodka ads, where “first time” is a double entrende. It has a meaning that you’re supposed to get that’s different than the insinuated meanjng. So it’s not treating women as dumb, but as smart enough to enjoy the joke (not that you have to be that smart to get it, and not that it’s that funny).

        The College Relublicans’ ad is much less subtle and clever. Toms Corbett and Wolfe aren’t insinuated to be like wedding dresses, they’re explicitly designated as wedding dresses, in case someone doesn’t get the joke.

        Some movies/TV shows insult the audience’s intelligence by making the joke so explicit a monkey could cath them–they telegraph them, linger on them, maybe even explain them, in case their audience might miss how clever the writers are. Other movies/TV shows assume the viewer is smart enough to catch the joke. These ads track that dynamic–the College Repubs ad is the former, in spades, and the audience they’re insulting, their intended audience, is women. The Lena Dunham ad is the latter (albeit only an average example of it, probably because the authors were constrained by the subject matter–how funny can you get in a political ad without making the candidate seem unserious?),Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        Ok, but putting aside the question of whether it is insulting, would you also claim that Lena Dunham and the Obama campaign don’t get women?

        Maybe it’s a generational thing, I’m firmly in my 50s and I find it pretty crude to compare voting to losing one’s virginity. So, perhaps that kind of ad speaks to a younger, hipper version of voters. But, just because the person who made a given ad is a woman doesn’t necessarily mean that she can’t produce something that comes off as insulting to a lot of them.

        Then again, I find most political ads insulting. I’m in North Carolina where we have a much contested senatorial race going on. Last night, I saw one of the Republican Tom Tillis’s ads that featured a group of mostly middle-aged white women bad-mouthing the incumbent Kay Hagan, an ad that appeared to be clearly aimed at my demographic. It (of course) didn’t mention anything Tillis had done, probably because many of the laws he helped push through the legislature (he’s speaker of the Assembly) are extremely unpopular here. So do his people think that having a bunch of women in a commercial denounce Kay Hagan will convince women to vote for him? Apparently.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I liked the ad where they hired excons.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @jim-heffman “Tell me more about how you know everything about women and what they think. Remember that you’re the enlightened non-sexist party in the conversation while you’re telling me.”

        Sure, I’d be happy to!

        You see Jim, women are a subset of these things called “human beings.” And when you are running for office and trying to convince “human beings” that don’t normally vote for you that they should reconsider, it’s important to communicate to them that you hear, understand, and take seriously their concerns. That isn’t just Politics 101, it’s Marketing 101.

        Now in this particular case, the “human beings” we are talking about are women. Last months the GOP did its own poll and found that in general, women don’t trust them to take them seriously or pay attention to the issues that are important to them. In fact, the GOP’s own numbers told them that the number one issue that turned women away was the perception that all they cared about was tax breaks for the wealthy. And what do they produce in a multi-state campaign? An ad that doesn’t communicate that it takes women’s issues, focuses primarily on taxes, and makes the person who would disagree with the ad a silly, overbearing woman. It’s an ad that patently ignores everything the GOP itself just identified as the way to stop alienating female voters, and tries to duck around this fact by appealing to a a show they believe independent women identify with.

        As I said about, this will backfire with anyone who wan’t going to vote GOP anyway — and not because the group we’re discussing is women.

        You can take any group of these “human beings” and attempt to get them to come over to your side of the fence in this manner, and the result will be the same. If you’re a white GOP candidate that reaches out to black voters with an ad that ignores issues important to black voters but is made to look like a gangstah rap music video, you’ll do more damage than converting. Similarly, if you’re a city slicker liberal Democrat trying to sway rural voters and you make an ad that ignores issues important to rural voters but is made to look like the Dukes of Hazard episode, again, you’ll do more harm than converting. None of this is because these people are women, or blacks, or rural dwellers, it’s because — once again — they are these things called “human beings.”

        And I know, I know. You’re saying, “Well sure, that stuff wouldn’t appeal to me, but I’m Jim “Density Duck” Heffman — I use logic and my brain, and I’d see right through it. But this is an ad directed at women! They love reality shows about weddings!” Still, I think you’ll find the whole being a “human being” always seems to creep into the mix, even for women.

        You’re welcome.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        Feel better? I can practically feel the spittle spraying from your lips.

        You can be as super mad at Republicans as you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a light-hearted pop-culture reference.

        This whole thing does serve as further confirmation of my feeling that Republicans will never change because they won’t be allowed to. Obama Girl? Haha, that’s so funny? “Say Yes To Tom Corbett”? OMG REPUBLICANS THINK GIRLS ONLY CARE ABOUT DRESSES. MEGA FUCKING SEXIST, BRO. MEGA. FUCK. ING. SEX. IST.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        This is probably going to go nowhere but:

        1. The Republican Party clearly wants more women to vote for Republican Party candidates.
        Putting ads out targeted at various groups generally means that you want their votes as far as I know.

        2. Many women seem to find the Republican wooing attempts to be awful or contradictory.

        3. Instead of listening to women (who you are trying to woo), you just dismiss their complaints and get angry. Is that really a smart tactic?

        4. Republicans will almost certainly have a very good year in 2014. Most people also expect 2016 to be great for the Democratic Party and potentially even 2020. It takes a long time for political demographics to change but change they do. Do you want to alienate everyone and be caught off guard?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “Instead of listening to women (who you are trying to woo), you just dismiss their complaints and get angry.”

        Tod Kelly and James Hanley are actually women? Wow, didn’t see that one coming.

        Also, who’s angry here? Me, saying “this is actually a silly pop-culture parody ad which is not really a new thing”? Or Tod Kelly, trolling through commentors’ IP addresses and old posts in a weird half-baked doxxing attempt?Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        Jim –

        I’m a woman. I think the ad plays to sexist tropes. I have no problem with men like Tod supporting women on this.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      I take it you meant that video for Saul’s post. One of my favorite movies.Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Well, it’s a sophomoric ad, and we should expect sophomoric work product from a group that includes a substantial number of sophomores.

    On a not-entirely-unrelated note, there’s also this bit of strangeness that at least comes with intermittent MacGuffin labeling explaining its otherwise-impenetrable similitudes. Perhaps not as insulting overall as the ad @michelle points to in the OP, but just as… odd.Report

  4. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    You’ve seen the original show, right?Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      There’s a crucial difference – a show that makes you think that its producers think you’re an airhead leads to your not watching the show and that’s about it. They can insult your intelligence just enough to make you not watch, or a whole lot more than is required to make you not watch, all it changes is how many minutes in you get.

      A political ad has aims outside getting you to watch the ad. If it insults your intelligence just enough to get you to change the channel, but still leaves you receptive to other political ads for the same candidate, it’s only slightly counterproductive as compared to one that drives you to a firm and unwavering decision to vote for another candidate.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “A political ad has aims outside getting you to watch the ad.”

        Yeah, it wants you to get a particular name stuck in your head, so that when you’re in the voting booth trying to pick between Eenie and Meenie you’ll remember that Tom Corbett had that cute ad that was like “Say Yes To The Dress” only with politicians, and the other whatsisname didn’t have anything like that.Report

  5. Avatar Damon says:

    That was a cute add.Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    It doesn’t work because Corbett is the incumbent, and thus associating him with ‘new’ and his opponent with ‘old-fashioned’ is completely backwards. (i’m reminded of the Microsoft ad for IE a few years ago that used what it fundamentally a breakup song – after a long relationship no less – to push the new browser version)Report

  7. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    Yeah, if you’re a party that is already associated (for good reasons: e.g., political officials and candidates dismissing rape; calling women whores, sluts, etc. for expressing political opinions) with stereotyping and disrespecting women, it’s a bad idea to put out adds that are entirely based around stereotypes of women (let’s compare the candidates to clothes! That will get their interest!)

    As RTod and Tod Kelly have pointed out, that kind of thing is going to look worse when addressed from a party to a demographic of voters that typically regard them as disrespectful or outright hostile.

    It would still be dumb and sexist if ad had been put out by the Democrats, though.Report