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Finally, a funny political animated short

ArnoldWe see a lot of those supposedly-funny animated shorts that are intended to incite JibJab-like viral marketing traffic, create buzz, generate sign-ups to a campaign website. Most of them are awful.

Finally, however, here's one of those political cartoons that's actually worth forwarding to your friends. Arnold's Neighborhood (y'know, on Schwarzenegger Street) is a hilarious send-up of the Governor of California and his right-wing friends.

Too often, these political toons just aren't funny and aren't compelling. Politicos get excited because they've never done cartoons before, and they're funny - but only in that "last night at the bar" kind of way.

Always remember that your audience doesn't know the inside political gossip, they don't understand or care about the particulars of the policy proposals, and their attention span is minimal. Also, when you do a funny or clever cartoon, you're competing with the Daily Show, David Letterman, The Simpsons, The Family Guy, and the rest of the global pop culture universe.

Some tips:
Keep it short, the humor simple to understand, the voiceover clear (or use captions if your target has a funny accent, ala Arnold), the images bright and large, and most importantly keep the editing fast. Too many political cartoons drone on and on and on ponderously moving from shot to shot. Remember that most television these days moves at a machine-gun pace, with dozens of shots per minute.

The Arnold's Neighborhood cartoon, produced by the good folks at M&R in Washington DC for the Angelides for Governor campaign, has 37 separate shots in almost exactly two minutes. It goes through an Act One, Two, Three model - with the musical number as Acts One and Three and dialogue as Act Two. They've paid close attention to background scenery, and are using the cartoon frame as a 'camera' with off-camera dialogue, shots of characters partially out of frame, and the like.

Remember, all the basic rules of television and film production apply to cartoons. Just because it's now easy to technically produce online cartoons doesn't mean the creative has gotten any easier.

The other two political cartoons that join Arnold's Neighborhood in my personal hall of fame include the musical Three Peas in a Pod from Oregon Death with Dignity (starring John Ashcroft, Gordon Smith, and Kevin Mannix), and Oreos by True Majority Action (starring Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry's).

Generally: AtariDemocrat reviews several California election 'toons.
Pro: LAvoice.org, Last Liberal in Central Florida, Matthew Gross, Seeing the Forest, Oliver Willis
Con: Sacramento Bee's California Insider,Independent Sources, Peat Bog

Previously on P&T:
JibJab gets triple the traffic of Kerry & Bush combined...