How Political Ads Sway Our Emotions Using Classic Filmmaking Techniques


Whether you’re voting Democrat, Republican, or another option entirely, it’s important to understand how all political ads manipulate our emotions. In the short video above, titled “The Anatomy of a Campaign Ad,” YouTube channel Now You See It breaks down the strategy most political TV ads employ to get us to think a certain way—and it just so happens that the strategy utilizes one of the oldest filmmaking techniques in existence: the montage.

Using examples from Psycho (1960), Citizen Kane (1941), and Requiem For a Dream (2000), Now You See It explains that political ads rely on a filmmaking technique that dates back over a century. While filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock used montage to tell a story, political ads use it to appeal to our emotions or make a point. In both cases, filmmakers show a series of unrelated images in quick succession to create an association between them. For instance, in Psycho, Hitchcock shows separate images of a knife and a woman screaming to make us imagine she’s being stabbed, while a Hillary Clinton ad uses separate images of the White House and Clinton walking among white pillars to associate her with the presidency.

“The point is that the assembly of images is extremely powerful," the video's narrator explains. "Everybody does it, and it’s not just limited to movies. This form of cinematic brainwashing happens all the time, not only in campaign ads but also other commercials. Beer commercials don’t sell beer, they sell an idea, and that idea is conveyed through a montage of people smiling, being social, and having fun.”

[h/t Gizmodo]

Banner Image Credit: Now You See It, YouTube.