0. NOTES


Advertisement divided into four horizontal slices.

- Big, textual header
- Cartoon (eye-catcher)
- Explanatory fine-print
- Black bar w/ text

BIG TEXTUAL HEADER


Only two lines of large text - not daunting to read at all. Large capital letter in the very upper-left is a big cue to start there. Wordplay in header references cartoon:
- "Little by little / big problem" sizes analogous to relatively little and relatively large people in the cartoon.
-- "problem" is the last word. Important.
- "Restricting" directly related to situation in the cartoon.
-- "restricting" is the first word. Also important.

Slippery slope argument.

CARTOON


Direct reference to Gulliver's Travels. Any other parallels to the story? Don't think so.

Bewildered, respectable looking man tied down by a handful of crazed little activists. He clearly wasn't expecting this and doesn't know what to do about it.

Each is near a tiny sign condemning something: Coffee, smoking, leather, free thought (Extreme slippery slope here - a grim future.) I wonder if his shoes are leather?

Prominent policeman with megaphone and nightstick, presumably shouting instructions / threats to the tied-down man.

FINE PRINT


The header and the cartoon both catch the eye and intrigue, but don't explain very much. Makes me want to get to the bottom of this.

The text is smaller and denser than I'd expect on an ad of this size, but since I'm intrigued, I'll read it anyway.

"Most Americans..." first words. Bandwagon.
... want "Big Government" off their backs and out of their private lives. Big Government a proper noun, adversarial, threatening. Big Gov't = Big Brother? See the picket sign stating "No Free Thought."

"A group of extremists isn't getting the message..." 'Extremists' is a word used to describe much worse folks than anti-smoking activists. You'd just as soon hear about 'a group of extremists' blowing up an office building in Saudi Arabia.

"Self-appointed" lifestyle police. The rhetor here claims they aren't labeling people, adversaries have labeled themselves as lifestyle police.

"Who's next..." (First, they came for the Jews...)

"50 million smokers lose their rights" - all their human rights? 50 million = extension and justification of bandwagon. Statistics make it legitimate.

Bold phone number to call - the only outlet for reaction to this ad.

NSA logo small and discreet beneath this text. Looking back, you don't know that the ad has anything to do with smoking at first glance.

BLACK BAR


Bigger text - white-on-black completely different than the rest of the ad. The "bottom line" here is positive. Words like "defending" and "protecting" - very positive. Ends on a high note.


1. DESCRIPTION OF THE AD


This is an advertisement for the National Smoker's Alliance which is meant to convince people that their right to smoke is threatened and, should that right be taken away to the smallest degree, other rights will follow. Its audience is everyone who puts value on freedom of thought, as this is one of the rights that the ad insists is threatened.

A large, central cartoon shows a man 'restricted' by the 'lifestyle police,' literally tied to the ground by tiny, threatening little activists. He is restricted from smoking, wearing leather, eating red meat, drinking coffee and thinking; this is the worst-case scenario the National Smoker's Alliance warns against. Header text introduces this situaion with some humourous wordplay.

Beneath this lighthearted and somewhat silly portion of the ad, a block of text makes the NSA's case with severity. It clearly defines an "us" and a "them." The antagonists here are Big Government, which is characterized as naturally prying and controlling, and the "lifestyle police," a pack of zealouts (the activists from the cartoon) who intend to strip us of all our rights. The ad implies that the threat is very real, that millions of people will be affected, and that these antagonists will not stop until we are totally imprisoned.

The ad provides a phone number to call in order to react and, in a tagline at the bottom of the page, asserts that the NSA is protecting and defending everyone's rights (against phychotic, Nazi-like activists).

2. HOW DESCRIPTION / CHARACTERIZATION SHAPED THE WAY I VIEWED THE AD


My immediate, glandular reaction agains this ad was disgust because of its central use of the slippery slope argument, which has been a thorn in my side for a long time. The argument that to give an inch is to abandon all human rights is absurd to me, and I wasn't looking forward to digesting the rest of this ad because of it.

The cartoon does give a great deal of information about how the NSA characterizes the forces it's talking about. The little figures of the "lifestyle police" are both rediculous and terrifying, like a pack of rabid rats which, once they taste blood, will swarm over you and chew you to the bone. In the following fine print, that characterization is even more exaggerated. The ad is entirely one-sided, painting a threatened "us" and an inhuman, unreasonable "them" which threatens destruction.

I read this ad with an eye out for any sort of evidence to support these claims, but found nothing beyond empty rhetoric. Beyond that, the ad was very effective at drawing a line in the sand and communicating anger and fear of an enemy.
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