The winners have been announced for Move On’s Bush in 30 Seconds competition. The challenge was simple: Make a thirty-second ad. Over 1,500 submissions were received. I’ve now watched the winners and the finalists, and concluded that the winners are better. Some of the finalists are pretty good too.
Below is my annotated list. I’ve linked to the low-bandwidth versions. If you want the high-bandwidth version, or the really-low-bandwidth slideshow version, they’re available onsite.Overall Best Ad and People’s Choice Winner: Child’s Pay. A lyrical and damning look at the long-term effects of the Bush deficit.
Runners-up for Best Overall Ad:Winner, Funniest Ad: If Parents Acted Like Bush. Deservedly the winner.
In My Country. Preachy and obvious. I’d skip it.
Polygraph. Decent enough, but no surprises.
Imagine. Just assume that unless I specifically say otherwise, every entry I didn’t like was preachy and obvious.
Human Cost of War. Okay, I guess. Demonstrates that the REM music video trope of saying one thing in the on-screen text and another on the audio track, over the top of a fast-moving video montage, is harder to do well than you might think. On the other hand, its TMI confusion does save it from being preachy and obvious.
Desktop. A bit of a lightweight, but witty and deft. Would have been more of a standout in the Animation category, which IMO is where it belonged.
Wake Up America. P&O. Implies voters are dumb, which is not an effective message.
Army of One. Good choice of subject97Bush’s callous treatment of the serving military97but fails to pull together a clear message at the end.
Bankrupt. Never quite jells. Escapes being preachy and obvious by being diffuse and confusing.
Hood Robbin’. Say those two magic words: p___ and o___. Also a___, as in awful. Storyline has a guy in a green Peter Pan costume and a George Bush mask, running through a neighborhood stealing stuff from the citizenry, then delivering the swag to a guy in a suit at a corporate office building.
Leave No Billionaire Behind. Another real goodie. Ingredients: Kids, piggy banks, plutocrats. Don’t miss the logo at the end.
Bush’s Repair Shop. Simple premise, less than brilliant writing, but oy, have they got a great prop to play with.Gone in 30 Seconds. P&O. Statistics from the Bush Administration viewed as a speedometer, wth car crash sounds at the end. Skippable.
Runners-up for Funniest Ad:Winner, Best Animated Ad: What I Been Up To. Very good. Definite Trey Parker influence there.
Bush Sucks. Okay, I laughed out loud at this one. Its best feature is its gleeful manic energy, but it needed tighter editing.
Greatest Hits. Bush as late-night-TV record compilation. A little preachy, a little obvious, but it’s passably funny and it has the good sense to move fast.If the Bush Administration Was Your Roommate 3. Kind of funny, but I suspect it’s a lot better in combination with 1 and 2.
Runners-up for Best Animated Ad:Winner, Best Youth Ad: Bring It On. Fast, clean, hard-hitting, intelligent: an impressive piece of work.
Brother, Can You Spare a Job?. Great black-and-white animation reminiscent of Max Fleischer. Unfortunately, it’s teamed with an incoherent script.
Yeehaw!. Preachy, obvious; kind of fun in a few places.School Yard Politics. Traditional animation, quite well drawn, but as an ad it’s absolutely dreadful. The most didactic cartoon you’ve ever seen would look like Ren & Stimpy next to this. I think it was put on the finalists’ list in recognition of the fact that even thirty seconds’ worth of unwatchable animation is still a hell of a lot of work.
Runners-up for Best Youth Ad:This contest was a great idea. The four winners are punchier and more memorable than any political ads I’ve seen in ages, and almost all of them are at least marginally watchable.
Bush Knew. A heartfelt performance by an inexpert but not untalented young rapper.
Al Keyda. A fast, economical, energetic little morality play with what may be the best closing line of the lot: “It’s not likely 85 but it’s legal. Thank you, Patriot Act.”Pop Quiz. P&O, somewhat redeemed by lighthandedness. The pacing gets a little wonky toward the end.
I don’t know how personal a reaction this is—the rest of you are welcome to let me know—but I’m truly grateful to see campaign ads that don’t reek of that stale, flat, encoded language that political insiders don’t so much speak as compile. I loathe that stuff. The “Bush in 30 Seconds” ads, even the clunky ones, have the grace to sound like they were made by human beings who’re trying to communicate with other human beings.
Simon (writing in the comments thread) and Patrick (speaking from the next room) have both directed me to a very notable unofficial entry: Bush in 41.2 Seconds.