A political ad video has made the rounds of the Internet called “Give us your cash B__.” It was created as an ad against Los Angeles Councilmember Janice Hahn, and because of her involvement in a gang intervention program that faced some problems in 2009. The problem is, the video, in it’s ill-advised use of actors portraying a white female stripper with two black rappers, and with the stripper shaking her butt before the camera and the rappers slapping it, makes an image statement that can only be called racist and sexist, as my video explains:
The video itself is presented in full below:
Created to blast the California Democrat Hahn in her run-off special U.S. congressional election battle with Republican Businessman Craig Huey,, I first saw it posted this evening, on the account of Erin, a Facebook friend, then it spread like wildfire as political blog after pop-culture blog picked up the news of the displeasure with it. The Los Angeles Times reported:
Democratic leaders and others on Tuesday reacted angrily to what they characterized as an offensive and sexist YouTube video that tries to portray Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, a Democrat, as friendly to gang members.
And they called on businessman Craig Huey, Hahn’s Republican opponent in a July 12 special election for an open congressional seat, to condemn the video and demand that its makers, Turn Right America, take it down.
And LA Weekly reports that Huey himself has denounced the video, with his campaign manager, Jimmy Camp, calling it “inappropriate” and “highly offensive” saying that it has no connection to the campaign.
Why make it?
The video’s creator, Ladd Ehlinger, Jr. (in photo), and I clashed about his objectives when we first connected on Twitter. From my subsequent Twitter-exchanges with Ehlinger, he’s basically a good guy hired as a “video gun” by Turn Right USA, a new political action committee without a clear, named leader. Ehlinger said via tweet that he didn’t see the videos racist overtones at first, but after some back-and-forth with me, the fellow Star Trek and Comic Con fan did see things from this blogger’s perspective.
The video seems to use whatever remaining hate for black male and white female relationships as the basis for its storyline, although Ehlinger explains that other criminals are presented in it; the problem is their images go by in a flash, leaving us with the most overtly racist ones. That foundation in itself makes the video totally divorced from the reality of the work and problems of the LA gang intervention program. First, before any other information is presented, it must be known that only one member of the gang program, it’s leader, Alex Sanchez, who is Latino, not black, was arrested, and no one else.
Second, the organization in question, Homies Unidos U.S.A, helped rescue LA kids from gang life. Sanchez was arrested by the Feds in 2009 on racketeering charges, along with eight other people. Of those eight, and the Fed indictment naming 24 leaders, only one, Sanchez, was listed as being involved with Homies Unidos. Moreover, many in the Latino community came to Sanchez defense. Eventually, and after a lengthly legal and political battle, Mr. Sanchez was set free, and continues his work with Homies Unidos today, (Video here.)
It’s that fact that not only renders the Ehlinger video totally inaccurate, but also implies that Councilmember Hahn is a stripper pole dancer who hangs out with black gang members. The video, again, interjects the image of black rappers as gang-bangers, which has nothing to do with the members of Homies Unidos. Ehlinger, Jr., an Alabama libertarian who regularly does such shock and impact ads for Republican clients, made a giant error in this one.
For Ehlinger, such ads have not worked well of late. One for Dale Richardson, who ran for Alabama State Commissioner, didn’t help him win that race – he lost. And two other video clients, Les Phillip, and Rick Barber (of which the blog Gawker said presented “aw – shucks racism and incoherent rantings”), both Republican and Tea Party favorites, lost in 2010.
But Ehlinger, who’s main job, win or lose, is to create buzz for his clients, wins. Except in this case, where I think he loses.
It’s too bad Ehlinger didn’t pick a theme not racially-charged. He’s smart enough to do that, so I hold him to a higher standard than what he presented. As I explained to him, I’m really sick and tired of seeing images that are anti-interracial relationships and anti-black male. Ehlinger said he didn’t see color, but I tweeted that it was a good idea he start, so he doesn’t make such errors again.
The video has nothing to do with nothing. It was a mistake and defames Councilmember Hahn. For Ehlinger, and Turn Right USA, it’s back to the drawing board. For Hahn, it points to an election win.