Representative Jeanne Ives released her “Thank You, Bruce Rauner” ad Feb. 2 in anticipation of the upcoming November 2018 governor election. The video’s cast of characters doesn’t introduce viewers to Ives’ political platform – nor does it attack Democratic opponent J.B. Pritzker. Instead, Ives attacks fellow Republican and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
Take a look at the ad before reading this editorial – you can find it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZwKZf2jtHI
So let’s break down the video.
It opens with a group of people who sarcastically say “thanks” to the current governor for a number of controversial policies, such as Illinois’s abortion laws and sanctuary state status.
One actor appears in a dress, arms crossed and purse on shoulder – an obvious stereotype of a transgendered individual. They say, “Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls’ bathroom.”
The next actor appears in a bright pink hat, dubbed a “pussyhat” by participants in recent Women’s Marches. She says, “Thank you for making all Illinois families pay for my abortions.”
The next individual is a man wearing a hoodie and a bandana – he’s holding a poster that says “Make Illinois a Sanctuary State,” and thanks the governor for making the state a safe haven for “illegal immigrant criminals.”
Next we see an older man who thanks Rauner for the “largest electricity rate hike in U.S. history.”
One woman of color then appears in a Chicago Teachers Union shirt and thanks Rauner for making the rest of the state “bail out Chicago teachers’ pensions.”
The problem is all of the coded meaning within the video. The Chicago Teachers Union actor represents the bailout of the Chicago School System, and the ad’s use of a woman of color as the face of the union is a cheap shot at the assumption that all “inner city” teachers are people of color.
The first actor stands in a “feminized” posture, and they emphasize the word “me.” The Women’s March actor also emphasizes “my abortion,” playing into the idea of liberal entitlement that the Republican Party should be fighting so hard against.
They’re each made into villains for their smug entitlement, and this ad places the blame of an entire system on a few individuals, rather than accounting for a diverse population with complex needs.
These are heavy-handed parodies, and it not only mocks the people of Illinois, but U.S. citizens and people around the world.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider released a statement Feb. 3 stating, “There is no place in the Illinois Republican Party for rhetoric that attacks our fellow Illinoisans based on their race, gender or humanity … [Ives] should pull down the ad and immediately apologize to the Illinoisans who were negatively portrayed in a cowardly attempt to stoke political division.”
But Ives defended her ad at a Chicago City Club luncheon Feb. 5. “I want to know why people are so offended by it,” she said.
This ad’s effectiveness thrives on its buzzwords and stock-image-like stereotypes. Sure, in the end, its sheer shock value is earning Ives countless views, but it for us it should act as a call to become more conscious viewers. We spin our own narratives with what we see – will we believe what Ives is telling us with her blatant and offensive stereotypes? Or will we recognize the ad for what it truly is – a lazy attack undermining politics once again.