Stephen Colbert Super PAC's first ad: What's it really making fun of?

The Stephen Colbert ad seems to have several targets, among them Texas Gov. Rick Perry, political ads in general, and voters who are influenced by them. In any event, it's entertaining.

Yuri Gripas/Reuters
Stephen Colbert greets a crowd outside the Federal Election Commission after his meeting with members of FEC in Washington June 30. In a new Super PAC ad, Colbert seems to have several targets, among them Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC has finally struck!

Dipping into its massive war chest of literally dozens of dollars, the new political organization has financed and released its first ad of the 2012 election cycle (see below).

It urges Iowans to write in Rick Perry’s name when voting in Saturday’s straw poll. But it also asks them to misspell it as “Rick Parry.” “That’s Parry with an ‘A’ for ‘America,’ intones the ad. “With an ‘A’ for ‘Iowa.’ ”

Is Colbert’s main target here the Texas governor, who is widely seen as intending to soon announce that he will shortly announce presidential candidacy plans, at some time in the future?

We’re not entirely sure. The ad seems to be operating on a number of levels of meaning, with a poke at Governor Perry being only one of its points.

There’s the title, first of all. It’s “Episode IV: A New Hope.”

Do we have to say what that refers to? OK, we’ll give you a hint. “Star Wars.” As in, it was the title of the first Star Wars movie, which was called Episode IV, because George Lucas already had the whole thing outlined in his mind, including the part where Harry becomes a Horcrux. Just ask any software engineer you know and they’ll explain it.

Secondly, the ad is really about ads, not about Perry per se. It starts with the quick cuts and sound-of-doom narrator of negative ads, warning of a “money storm” that’s gathering over Iowa. In that, it reminds one of the classic “demon sheep” ad that GOP California Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina ran prior to the 2010 election. (She lost.)

Then the Colbert PAC spot switches to the hopeful-ad style, with small kids saluting the flag, and so forth, and generally giving a feeling that Iowa can be saved by “our Super PAC money,” as opposed to that of the special interests.

And thirdly, there’s the meta-language. “Parry,” of course, means “to fend off,” as in fending off a fencing blow. So perhaps the Colbert folks here are subtly telling us all to fend off the corrupting influence of all partisan political speech, and make up our own minds about what direction the nation should follow, instead.

Why yes, we majored in English at college, why do you ask?

Anyway, the ad is entertaining, and you should watch it in full, since by deconstructing it here we have leached it of all comedic value, which isn’t fair.

We look forward to further ads from the Super PAC, which, as Colbert reminds viewers on his show, can raise unlimited sums of money to do pretty much whatever it wants.

If you send in a donation, Colbert will list your name in a crawl across the bottom of the screen during your show. It’s an effort to “seduce the prudent,” he says.

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