"This is the Most Important Election of Our Lives!!!" We've all heard that before (2000, 2004!), but this time it's different.
Everywhere we look, friends and colleagues who have never been very involved in politics are involved, whether it's as one of the thousands of lawyers who have volunteered to help monitor the elections, or the untold millions who (in between donating money to everything from Michele Bachmann's opponent in Minnesota to truemajority.org) are spending a bit too much of their days forwarding emails and links or re-checking realclearpolitics.com to confirm that Obama is, indeed, still gaining on his lead in the polls. In Los Angeles, a group of women picking up their kids from school one day in September were discussing how their fear over the possibility of a McCain/Palin win was literally causing them to lose sleep, when they decided to channel that energy into something productive, and the idea to make Mamas for Obama spots was born. In a matter of days, this informal group discovered that their desire to channel their fear into action was widespread in the entertainment industry, and they soon had a large group of volunteer writers, directors, crew and post production people who produced 14 spots in 14 days.
We sisters of Five Sisters Productions spent formative years in Washington D.C. and have always been politically engaged. But this year all of us were taking more of our time to phone bank, to travel to Ohio, to do something more. When we were asked to contribute to the Mamas For Obama project, we jumped.
We made two spots through our Five Sisters Productions company. In Family Values. We used our real extended Burton family (our parents, spouses, and kids). Like the flag and other symbols of patriotism, the idea of "family values" has been increasingly marketed as belonging only to the conservative right. We wanted to reclaim family values, defining them not in narrow terms that restrict the rights of some, but as values that strive to help all Americans.
For the second spot, having worked with SNL's Julia Sweeney last year producing Letting Go of God, we asked her if she'd like to do something, and we created A President to be Proud of. When Bob Garfield wrote about this spot in Ad Age, he connected it to the larger phenomenon of myriad people and groups working to get out their political message. "In terms of memorable advertising, the Obama campaign has left it to proxies, too. ... Now, as the campaign draws to a close, comes another... uniquely pointed spot from a grass-roots group called Mamas for Obama. It features another ex-SNL cast member, Julia Sweeney, and her daughter. "You know what I want? I want a president that I am not embarrassed about. ... " As small a desire as you can imagine. But a small little swing can bring the runner home."