The Hollow Campaign for a Hollow Constituyente

Shmaltzy music, aggressively smiling people and straight-up plagiarism: the propaganda state is using every trick in the book to sell us on Maduro's Constituent Assembly.

Seven weeks have already passed since Nicolás Maduro released his political kraken in the form of a soviet-style “Constituent Assembly.” The propaganda state’s goal now is to produce some kind of facsimile of the atmosphere of a normal election.

They’re not holding back. But neither are they succeeding. 

Let’s have a look at the ads SiBCI has come up with this time around. Some of them are actually included in the 10 minutes that all broadcasters must make available under the Media Law (Ley RESORTE) to public service announcements. For the hegemony, PSA = propaganda.

This one tries to sell the constituyente as “unavoidable”, like it’s a normal part of life and, at the same time, extraordinary somehow. Surprisingly, it’s in my view the most tolerable of the current crop of spots, even if it’s conceptually insipid and instantly forgettable.

Things go south fast after that one:

This one tries to sell the idea of the constituyente as a unifying force for all Venezuelans. After the first time I saw it, I got this uncanny feeling that I’d seen this one before.

And I wasn’t wrong:

This is a 3-minute ad called “All That We Share” from Danish TV channel TV2, made public earlier this year and which immediately became a global viral sensation. Seems like the hegemony liked it well enough to plagiarize it. In the process, of course, they stripped it of its original message.

Note to the folks of TV2: ring til dit kontor (call your office).

This next one piles on the schmaltz:

It also completely misses the point of what it’s actually trying to promote. A Constituent Assembly is not like insurance. Like in any conceivable sense. That’s not how it works.

Also, the over-patriotic narration doesn’t fit the imagery.

And then there’s this next one, too boring to say anything about. Except note the obsession with smiling faces.

State propaganda uses smiling faces the way J.J. Abrams used to use lens flares. At least he admitted that he had quite a problem and has worked toward moving on from them.

And no campaign would be complete without its own theme song.

We’re a long ways from “Uh Ah” —by far the most memorable campaign song in living memory. Not only is this one unhummable, it’s built on a huge fallacy: if the “constituyente” stems from “the people”, why don’t we have a referendum to consult the people just like we had in 1999?

The ad campaign sucks, in other words, but you have to reserve some sympathy for the ad-makers. They were given an impossible brief: to craft a campaign that sells the unsellable by concealing its real purpose. And that’s the point. The constituyente as now proposed is simply indefensible. All this talk about “sectors” just to have ministers and governors as members. I can’t imagine what the formal campaign will bring, starting July 9th.

Maduro has called the constituyente “an instrument of peace”. This brings to my mind what Nick Fury once told Loki: Yeah, you say ‘peace,’ I kinda think you mean the other thing.”

The last few weeks in the country are the living proof of that.