Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican running for U.S. Senate, tries to come across as "authentic" by satirizing politicians who make fake-looking TV ads with their wholesome families. In "The Johnson Family," Johnson's wife and three kids praise his virtues while emphasizing the corniness of their lines.
"He's a really super dad!" says daughter Carey, deliberately overdoing the perkiness.
"He's a great role model," says son Ben in a stagey monotone while staring at a cell phone.
"He's worked extremely hard all his life!" says daughter Jenna, scrunching up her face as she pretends to read a cue card.
Johnson himself breaks in, supposedly putting an end to the artifice. "Obviously I'm not a professional politician, and they're not professional actors. We're just a Wisconsin family worried about our country!"
But Johnson's statement is clearly untrue. These people are actors, whether professional or not. They've practiced their lines and their gestures, including orchestrated fist-bumping and head-shaking. Each skillfully creates a character: enthusiastic Carey, bored Ben, dopey Jenna. Johnson plays a character as well. He's the father figure too concerned with getting "our nation's house in order" to fool around with campaign-ad artifice.
That's right -- "The Johnson Family" is campaign-ad artifice pretending to be anti-campaign-ad artifice. It makes you wonder what character Johnson will play if he does get elected to the Senate.
Isthmus TV critic Dean Robbins will assess candidate commercials throughout the 2010 fall elections in this regular feature. Read more reviews of political campaign spots.