The newest Obama commercial, featuring actress Lena Dunham as a talking head discussing “your first time” (voting, that is) may be a first time for her. But according to other sources, the idea’s been used at least twice before.
Foreign Policy magazine’s blog reports that a very similar idea was used in commercials earlier this year, in television advertising for Vladimir Putin:
I see the Obama campaign has a new YouTube ad featuring Girls star (and fellow Oberlin alum!) Lena Dunham:
“Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy,” she says, referring to casting your first ballot for Obama. (What were you thinking?)
It’s a clever conceit, but feels a bit familiar. Perhaps because the same joke was used in an ad for Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign earlier this year:
A suggestive ad rallying support for Putin’s presidential campaign shows a young woman seeking a fortune-teller’s advice. “Let’s find out, cutie, who is intended to you by destiny,” the mystic says. The girl replies, “You know. I wish it to be for love — It is my first time.”
And that wasn’t, er, the first time, either.
P.J. O’Rourke’s essay “Return of the Death of Communism,” published back in 1990 in Give War a Chance, “describes a billboard aimed at city youth (the voting age is 16 in Nicaragua) showing a moonstruck couple in Ortega T-shirts walking hand-in-hand toward a voting booth beneath the headline: ‘When you do it for the first time, do it for love.'”
Of course, among Obama opponents, among others, the commercial didn’t exactly inspire a love-fest.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, for example, tweeted a one-word question: “Appropriate?”
Less well-known bloggers and commenters questioned the spot’s appropriateness as well:
- “Talk about desperation. They’ve finally sunken to a new low trying to get the youth vote by comparing voting for the first time to having sex for the first time. ‘Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You wanna do it with a great guy . . .'”
- “We MUST elevate the level of debate in this nation or none of our problems will be solved.”
- “What…you were expecting anything less from Barack’s people ? When you are scraping the bottom of the gutters of Chicago, this is what you find. Ads like this.”
- From Commentary editor and syndicated columnist John Podhoretz: “He later adds, ‘I’m Barack Obama and I appro . . . wait, what the hell IS this? Are you CRAZY????'”
Insulting to women?
Many thought the commercial was condescending, at best, to women:
- “This ad, suggesting women should want to sleep with Obama, is disgusting.”
- “…@BarackObama portrays women as giddy, helpless, impressionable morons.”
- “Is that what this administration thinks Real women are like?”
And, as one might expect from a commercial loaded with sexual double entendres, many questioned its taste (some in tasteless terms themselves):
- “That Lena Dunham ad was a very risky move for any campaign. And even more surprising it was approved by the father of two girls.”
- “The #MyFirstTime ad is the height of vulgarity…Is this how you want the president talking to your daughters?”
- “Does one get the feeling Hugh Hefner is running the Obama campaign?”
- “I know I’m supposed to be shocked by Obama’s new NSFW ad, but instead I’m embarrassed. It’s like walking in on my parents having sex. I mean, you know that your parents — or your President — is aware of sex. You just don’t need to VISUALIZE it.”
- (from a Democrat) “Word of advice for Obama, don’t create an ad you wouldn’t be comfortable with your daughter reciting.”
- “If you’ll excuse me, I have to go bleach my eyes.”
- “Shorter Lena Dunham in her Barack Obama campaign ad: ‘Labia, not Libya.'”
Finally, a few more level-headed commenters criticized the spot on policy grounds:
- “Dear college kids: trust me on this, having a job when you graduate is WAY more ‘cool’ than voting for Barack Obama. I PROMISE.”
- “You don’t want your first time to be with #Obama because his stimulus package didn’t deliver as promised.”