WASHINGTON – Both campaigns for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say they know nothing about a new and chilling campaign advertisement airing on YouTube that attempts to cast the Democratic frontrunner and New York senator as Big Brother.
The ad, an example of a "mashup," in which old and new elements are combined to create a new message, uses footage from the "1984" Super Bowl ad produced by Ridley Scott for Apple Computer but splices in footage from Clinton on the presidential campaign trail.
Borrowing the themes in George Orwell's book in which Big Brother forces conformity among the masses, the updated ad shows Clinton's face on a large video screen as she talks about holding conversations with the public. Human drones mindlessly watch until a female athlete carrying a sledgehammer races into the room and smashes the screen.
The end of the ad takes some of the language from the original commercial but changes part of it to say, "On January 14th, the Democratic primary will begin. And you will see why 2008 won't be like '1984.'" The screen then fades to an updated Apple logo showing a rainbow colored O and the Web address BarackObama.com at the bottom.
The text to the right of the video says, "Make up your own mind. Decide for yourself who should be our next president." The ad's poster, named ParkRidge47, is anonymous except that he or she is listed as age 59.
Officials in the Illinois senator's camp say they have nothing to do with the ad. The Clinton campaign says it doesn't know where the ad came from and had no further official comment. But Clinton supporters are wondering aloud about the role of Obama's campaign even though they readily admit they have no evidence to support their suspicions apart from Obama's Web site being named at the end.
Regardless of the source, the ad hits its mark. Simon Rosenberg, president of the Washington-based New Democrat Network in Washington, D.C., told The San Francisco Chronicle that the ad, cheaply produced and apparently unfettered by copyright restrictions, represents the power of individual activists in a new era.
The ad is proof that "anybody can do powerful emotional ads ... and the campaigns are no longer in control," Rosenberg said. "It will no longer be a top-down candidate message; that's a 20th century broadcast model."
Rich Masters, a Democratic strategist supporting Obama, told FOX News that the ad represents a new day in politics, but not one that voters should welcome. He called the ad shameful and part of "the politics of personal destruction."
"For all we know, Swift Boat Veterans For Truth produced it," Masters said, suggesting that those who stand to benefit from the publicity are not Obama and his supporters, but Republicans or another Democrat further down the pack.
"I don't think for one second that it came out of either campaign," Masters said of the two Democratic front-runners.