Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Let's judge the 2016 candidates by their website photos

Circle gets the square! One of these people could walk away with $10,000 in cash and prizes!

We're all very busy these days. Well, I'm not. But you probably are. And I'm guessing you don't have time to get to know all the candidates for president: who they are, how they spell their names, and what they generally stand for. You may only have enough time to visit each candidate's official campaign website for 5 to 10 seconds apiece, stare at the picture on the homepage, and move on with your life. After all, that gaping chest wound of yours isn't going to cauterize itself. The clock is ticking. Well, don't you worry, because I've visited the websites of the major remaining candidates, and I'm here to make some snap judgments about them, drawing mostly on purely superficial crap. Please do join me.

Talk to me. Pull up a chair and bend ol' Benny's ear for a while. That's why he's here.

HOT TAKE: Okay, this is just plain weird and unsettling. Ben Carson is the only one of the major candidates whose welcome photo seems to have been shot in a gray, featureless void. All the other candidates opted for real, recognizable locations. Was this pic actually taken in one of the corridors on the Death Star? Is that what's happening here? That queasy half-smile of his is creeping me out, as is his leaning-forward posture, and the way he has his hands folded. Is he a Bond villain? A serial killer who only kills other serial killers? "Heal * Inspire * Revive." Is this a political campaign or a goddamned day spa? Anyway, I have this theory that the candidates' photos will reveal how liberal or conservative they are. You'll notice that Dr. Carson is all the way to the right in his picture. Enough said. Also, couldn't he get a comfier chair? That's the kind of chair you sit in when you're sent down to the principal's office for talking in class.

Is that a peace sign? What is this, Woodstock? GET A JOB, HIPPIE!

HOT TAKE: Of all the candidates whose sites I visited, Trump had the biggest welcome image. No surprise there. I actually couldn't get the whole thing on the screen at once, so the red banner with the the word TRUMP at the top got cut off. Sorry. The rest is what you see here: Donald doing the classic "bunny ears" thing over his own campaign slogan, as if that slogan were some clueless underclassman he's been hazing all week. "Seniors rule! Freshmen drool!" You'll notice he's on the right side of the screen, too, just like Ben Carson, and they both have that "I'm a bad widdle boy" smile going. The most badass thing about Trump's site is that you can get there by typing jebbush.com into your web browser. Try it. I'm not kidding. Otherwise, this is very dull. I wanted everything to be written in money font, with maybe a shiny gold border around the edges. Step up your Scrooge McDuck game, Donald!

I swear, this is not a picture of a crooked faith healer.

HOT TAKE: Ooh, black and white! Classy! Notice where Ted is standing? Right in the center of the picture. I think that's to show that he's not an extremist like Trump or Carson, even though the former just called him "a maniac," so make of that what you will. It cannot be ignored that Ted Cruz has basically given himself a halo here, and he has his hands pressed flat together like a Precious Moments figurine of a praying child, so he's just maybe courting evangelicals with this image. Much more interesting to me, though, is the rambling slogan at the right. It's just a delicious, cheesy omelet of pure nonsense. "I'm running for President because we need to build a dynamic nation where anybody with nothing can achieve anything." So, conversely, nobody with something can achieve nothing? I'm lost, Ted. Stop praying to baby Jesus for a second and toss me a life preserver. At least he knows how to smile properly.

RubioBot is ready to lead America. And he makes crushed ice, too!

HOT TAKE: Well, are you ready for a new American century? A century in which the cyborgs take over the country and wrest control of the government from us lowly, imperfect meatbags with all our messy emotions? What is this thing you hu-mans call love? Marco Rubio is not programmed for love. Marco Rubio is confused by hu-mans and their hu-man feelings, but he cannot help but be curious and perhaps even yearn for something beyond the parameters of his pre-programmed system specifications. There's a prog rock concept album in this somewhere. His heart is human. His blood is boiling. His brain IBM. Even those words in the lower left-hand corner sound like something a lurching, clanking 1950s robot might say in a monotone. "Must.... watch... videos... Need... sensory... stimulation... Beep... Boop..." Another odd decision here is to put the candidate behind what looks like a tinted windshield. Is that so we won't touch him and get our oily hands on his delicate circuits?

"That's how you're gonna beat 'em, Jeb! They keep underestimating you."

HOT TAKE: This campaign has been an endless, joyless death march for Jeb Bush, and the strain is clearly showing in this picture. The mouth is smiling. The rest of the face is... not. It's too late to say we're sorry. How would he know? Why should he care? Please don't bother trying to find him. He's not there. Saturday Night Live just made fun of the poor guy for using "Jeb!" with an exclamation point as his campaign slogan, but I kind of like it. It reminds me of the old days of the Internet, when there were exclamation points at the end of seemingly every name. Maybe I'm misremembering that, and it was just Yahoo! Anyway, I don't know if Jeb (or Jeb!) stole the red "I'm In" button from Ted Cruz or vice versa, but I genuinely like the fact that he's being photographed with American servicemen. After all, they're the ones who ultimately have to risk their asses for the politicians of world. Why shouldn't they be front and center in this election?

She goes through so much Purell on the campaign trail. So, so much Purell.

HOT TAKE: Hillary has, by far, the most modest welcome image of any of the major candidates. It's actually more of a banner and only takes up half the screen. By the bottom half of the screen, Hil's already into her talking points. ("Hillary's economic plan: raise middle-class incomes." Sounds pretty sweet.) In this respect, she's the anti-Trump. I wonder if this is just efficiency, or are women in politics expected to maintain a certain level of decorum and refrain from bragging about themselves too much, lest they upset the menfolk? I sensed that Condoleezza Rice was under this particular kind of strain when she was Secretary of State under Bush #2. It was like Condi was always telling herself, "Be good. Smile. Be nice." And then she'd go home at the end of the day and just scream for a half hour until her vocal cords were shredded. Anyway, you'll notice that Hillary is all the way to the left of the screen in her picture. And clad in bright blue, too! Is this subtext or just regular text?

That's very interesting, sir, but can you PLEASE tell me your order? There are people waiting.

HOT TAKE: Well, Bernie ruined my theory. He's the furthest left on the political spectrum, but he's standing on the right in this photo. GODDAMN YOU, SANDERS! Anyway, the Bern-meister always looks haggard and disheveled whenever he's filmed or photographed, but at least his hair is relatively under control here. Smiling's not his bag, though. Never has been. I wonder about the shirtsleeves. They don't reach his wrists, yet they're not really rolled up in the classic "let's get to work!" fashion either. It's like he pushed his sleeves to the top of his forearms and rebuttoned the cuffs just south of his elbows. Is that comfortable? If not, is that why he's so grouchy all the time? It's hard to tell at this size, but I think he's wearing jeans. That's a nice touch. Really, a button-up shirt with jeans is how I dressed for work for years, so Bernie and I have a lot in common, fashion-wise. I also notice something odd about the photos of Bernie, Hillary, and Jeb. Why are there never any black people in these pictures? All three candidates are awash in a sea of peach-colored flesh.