In the November 2008 United States election cycle, the state of California had Proposition 8 on the ballot. This was in response to the state legalizing gay marriage through the judicial system. After the legalization of the practice, opponents of gay marriage were able to put Proposition 8 on the ballot in an attempt to overturn the court ruling. Ultimately they were successful, but not without millions of dollars in campaign advertising. This paper will examine the main advertisement named, 'Gathering Storm'. This ad was shown throughout the state, and in retrospect seems to have turned the tide of the Proposition 8 battle, helping enormously to swing voters in favor of banning marriage between two members of the same sex.
The advertisement itself was, like many political ads, targeting a wide demographic of 'swing voters', voters who historically can fall on either side of an issue. It was played at prime time on regular rotation, but appeared to target a cross section of the population consisting of young to middle age professionals. The producers of the ad also seemed to be acutely aware of the wide range of diversity within California by making sure that all racial demographics had a speaking role in the ad. It is possible that this is an intentional choice by the creators of the ad as well, seeing as how the opponents of Proposition 8 often countered arguments by portraying the supporters as bigots who were attempting to limit human freedoms.
As the ad opens, an attractive white woman in business attire begins by saying, “There's a storm gathering.” In the background you can see ominous clouds swirling mightily behind her. The music is of an ominous nature, implying a dangerous situation. The camera then cuts to a wider angle, showing a mix of people standing in a desert with the same clouds behind them. It is worth noting at this point that California has deserts, and the most famous one of them to the locals is known as 'Death Valley'. There is no...
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