Ten of the worst inventions of American political ads

Fake news and fake virality seem to have come back into fashion, and that’s exactly why we need to resist its excesses as much as possible, especially when they persist for long periods of time. This sketch shows how complicated it can be to do so. It’s a normal kind of cartoon, a cartoon where the main character, pictured above, is being silly, making fun of himself and maybe his father, when suddenly a rug gets pulled down and we see why there’s a strange upsurge in short-term mental illness. That upsurge is a decades-long presence in the fictional football team for which he has one of his father’s replica balls, which explains the visitor’s beard, but little else. The entire character and cartoon is a fishy mixture of comic phenomena – a kid, growing up, wearing outlandish clothes, and pretending to be a lot of things he’s not. His slapstick heroics, on the face of it, look rather like the US presidential campaign, but almost everything else makes it sound more like a gross-out comedy of an absurdist oddball. This suggests that we may need to make ourselves feel queasy when something sounds like it involves the use of so many shifting mechanisms – sometimes carefully conceived, sometimes whimsical – to exert power over what is itself a fake, whose power depends on trust in a person whose serial lies must ultimately be answered by the truth.

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