Down-ballot races have been contentious this political season, as none of the contenders really know how the bitterly contested presidential race will affect them. So candidates are getting creative. And for us, that means better than average political ads.
The millennial-pleasing, '80s homage below is my favorite dance-based political promotion of the season. It stars Bay Area legends Joe Montana, MC Hammer and Ronnie Lott, as well Jaleel White (aka Urkel) and former Congressman Barney Frank jamming out to a cover of the Huey Lewis and News track "Hip to Be Square." All in an attempt to elect Democrat Scott Wiener, a candidate for California State Senate.
Portal A, the agency behind the video, has practically cornered the market on fun, celebrity-filled dance videos shot in multiple locations with MC Hammer. That's why they keep getting tapped for YouTube's annual Rewind video. But my heart has always had a unique appreciation for low-budget versions of the art form. There's something innately human about barely recognizing a celebrity as they dance poorly but excitedly in front of a green screen to a bad song cover.
Let's also take a moment to appreciate this political ad as the sort of thing that could only run in California, in this day and age. Not only is it set in a gay household with two great gay dads, but the candidate, Mr. Wiener, appears at 1:22 wearing a leather vest and tie, presumably attending "the grand daddy of all leather events," the San Francisco Folsom Street Fair, as leather pride flags wave behind him. The fact that it's cool to be this openly gay in a political ad is pretty rad.
Speaking of totally radical things, you can also tell the producers have been watching Stranger Things and really wanted to try out their '80s costuming skills, popping backwards caps and jean jackets on the kids, grabbing their best Cosby sweaters for the two dads, and outfitting the sax player in aerobics sweatbands.
Altogether, it signals a strange new world for political promotion videos, where it's no longer enough to invite the cameras into your house and put on a flag pin. Standing out is the new fitting in when it comes to political ads. And we have actual agencies like Portal A to thank for helping move the genre from a nod-off to a dance-off.