To cleanse the palate, a joint production of the Federalist and our cousins at Townhall, with a cameo from S.E. Cupp. This was my point exactly in writing about the latest Hollywood PSA excrescence: However you feel about the message, there’s no room for debate on whether the genre is now as stale as three-year-old bread. The blank background, the repetitious affectation, the humorless direct-to-camera pitch feels as fresh as one of those single-shot 80s sitcoms set in a living room with a laugh track. It’s paint-by-numbers advocacy from people who get paid — millions — to be entertaining and creative. They had a brilliant comedian like Keegan-Michael Key in the last ad and all they could think to do with him is have him recite some earnest lines about the coming Trumpocalypse? Good lord. Let him do a character, at least. They would have gotten 100 times as many views with him and Jordan Peele doing their Obama/Luther bit than they got with what they ended up with. That’s the thing about those ads — the genre is so rote that the message ends up feeling rote too. Even if you agree with them, how can you get inspired when they’re palpably phoning it in?
Although I wonder if maybe we’ve misunderstood the incentive system on all this. It may be that the creative people behind most of these PSAs simply want to network with big-name actors in hopes of advancing their careers and they see a well-timed political spot as an easy way to make that happen. Write an ad, follow the conventions of the genre, then start making calls to agents to see who you can get to show up. The actors get some cheap brownie points with the left for carving out an hour for the cause, the creative people get a chance to gladhand some B- or C-listers who might be able to make things happen for them, and everyone’s happy. It’s box-checking all the way down.