Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I went on vacation and then I was going to write about it, but then I started a knitting course instead.  Check out my new project!

Split focus = hopefully I'll someday tell you about Sweden.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ireland, Get Out The Vote!

It's voting day in Dublin, and the Lisbon Treaty is the hot issue.

Source: ft.com. Check out the full slideshow of images here.

When I first started seeing YES and NO to Lisbon signs about a month and half ago, I thought they were voting on whether to allow Lisbon into the EU.  Yes, it seemed a bit weird that they'd vote on a city rather than, say, the entire country of Portugal, but I'm just American, I don't know about this stuff.  

As it turns out, I still don't know much about it, but I did educate myself enough to know that it's a Treaty that was voted on in 2007, and that Ireland voted against it.  So, basically, there's now kind of a 're-vote' happening, and people are really, really divided on the issue.  The No People are like, WTF, didn't we already vote against this?  And the Yes Folks are all, Maybe we should stick with the European Union on this one?

More interesting to me than the issues, however, are the campaign tactics.  It's a pretty hilarious contrast.

The 'Yes to Lisbon' campaign is ridiculously upbeat and cheesy.  The street signs are simple enough: big YES FOR WORKERS and YES TO EUROPE posters stuck on street poles, each with a person of a different ethnicity leaning against a wall, arms crossed with a knowing smile, or looking up as they wipe their hands on their apron on a break in the local diner.  That kind of stuff.  A bit cliché, but harmless.  The video campaigns, however, as this article and several internet forums aptly point out, are just plain patronizing.  

I went to see Julie & Julia last weekend (great movie, adorable, teared up several times) and Away We Go the week before (a little meandering, but got better as it went).  So, just like the effing 'Twenty' that we have to sit through in the states, there are advertisement that run in Irish cinemas before the previews start, and now included among them is a pro-Lisbon (cleverly disguised in flashy cartoons and a friendly, female Irish voiceover) ad called 'what's this eu thingy doing for me?'  The nice lady proceeds to tell you, Not to worry, the seats you're sitting in right now are measured the the standards of European comfort! That popcorn you're eating isn't from China (okay, my words, not hers)!  And gosh, no matter which 'exotic' European location you want to travel to, no need to worry about the price of souvenirs, 'the Euro will sort you out'! 

 The most patronizing thing about it, though, is the repeated used of the word 'thingy,' as thought the Irish use it all the time because they're too stupid to use real, accurate words and that the word is the best way to explain a complicated treaty that would change the way the EU elects its officials and other EU processes and thing(y)s.

But the No campaign is even more (darkly) hilarious.

Source: indymedia.ie

It's basically fear-mongering, and from what I've read in 'non-biased' articles, a lot of it is based on false claims.  But I don't vote here, so again, I don't care much for the real issues.  It's the posters that really crack me up.

One features a tiny man in a hardhat, about to be stomped on my a giant, steel-toed workers boot, his arms flung desperately in front of him as though they will somehow protect him from this enormous foe: FOR WORKERS, NO TO LISBON.  This theme of people being crushed or bulldozed or otherwise physically harmed by large objects or beings is recurring in the No campaign, as though there's some clause in the treaty that will finally allow Giantland to join the EU and its citizens to lumber in and annihilate all the Irish.  

Leprechaun syndrome, anyone?  I think the Irish are a bit sensitive about feeling small.

My favorite No poster, however, doesn't involved direct depictions of violence and it only went up a few days ago, just in time to really impact the vote.  IRISH DEMOCRACY 1921*-2009? NO TO LISBON is written across the top half.  Pretty straight forward message; a yes to Lisbon is a no to democracy.  Covering the bottom half of the poster, however, is a picture of a tearful, green-eyed, creamy-skinned, Irish girl.  That's right.  Vote yes to Lisbon and you will make adorable, Gaelic children cry!  It's completely incongruous, but brilliant.  I'm sure some poor old lady changed her vote because of it.

In conclusion, politics are much the same everywhere.  It's the image that counts, not the issues.

*I'm not too sure about that date, but that is the year that Ireland became an independent state.  I wish I had had my camera to take a picture of the poster.

Thursday, October 01, 2009