China may or may not be stealing U.S. manufacturing jobs, but with Washington gearing up for mid-term elections, China’s rise appears to have done wonders for at least one category of American worker: producers of political ads.
Bashing China for political gain is nothing new. But this year’s election season has seen a stunning increase in the volume – and production quality – of anti-China political messages.
The latest example , from Citizens Against Government Waste (“America’s #1 taxpayer watchdog”), is a slick exercise in Sinophobia that takes the genre to new visual heights.
Titled “Chinese Professor,” the ad opens on a futuristic Chinese classroom festooned with social realist Mao posters. Text at the bottom of the screen tells viewers the year is 2030 and halographic Chinese characters floating above a stage announce the class as Global Economics. Enter the shaven-headed professor, dressed like a Bond villain in head-to-toe black, who proceeds to explain how the U.S. empire fell: Massive stimulus spending and tax increases; government takeover of industry and major changes to the health care system.
Fans of advertising will notice shades of Apple’s 1984 Macintosh spot, albeit with a much less uplifting message. It’s not clear how much CAGW spent on the ad, but the sheer prettiness of it suggests a significant budget.
Critics of the ad have noted that China has committed, or is in the process of committing, most of the “mistakes” listed in the ad. It was a $580 billion stimulus package in 2008 that many believe help saved China’s economy from suffering the way others’ did during the financial crisis. Meanwhile, leaders in Beijing have been steadily promoting state-owned companies in a variety of industrial sectors while also talking about an overhaul of the nation’s health system.
Of course, the nitty-gritty of Chinese policy isn’t really the point. Fear is. And fear of China’s rise has rarely looked this good.
– Josh Chin. Follow him on Twitter @joshchin.