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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Darth Vader, Peppa pig and cat Barsik: why do fictional characters go into politics


“Levada-Center” conducted an interesting experiment and included in the pre-election survey by sociologists coined the “Party of youth”, which eventually won even more votes than some existing parties. In politics often appear and other imaginary players. Recent examples — Peppa pig and Fixies, campaigning for candidates in the Urals, and voting for the characters in the TV series “Game of thrones”, which began in the midst of the presidential campaign in the United States. “MK” has decided to understand, why this policy are pulling fake players and what this means.


photo: vk.com

Candidate for President of Ukraine Darth Vader.

The games played by the researchers

“Party of youth” we came up with to determine the level of false identifications,” — said the Deputy Director of “Levada-Center” Alexei Grazhdankin. What does it mean? “5% of respondents felt that such a party is,” explains the sociologist. And these 5% can be deducted from the measure of popularity of any party to find out what she’s actually recognition”. That is, if the survey showed that awareness of the party, for example, 7%, the reality of it knows about 2% of the population.

Another question, which set themselves the researchers, experiments, how many people are willing to choose the party with your eyes closed, focusing solely on the name? Turned out a little bit: for “Party of youth” voted, 0,3% of Russians. “On the one hand, the results of the experiment show that greater preferences only due to the name of the party to not, most people vote intelligently, says Grazhdankin. — On the other — that there is a demand for a party with clearly stated values.”

Sociologists often conduct such experiments. For example, in February of this year, “Levada-Center” asked the Russians: what do you think of the party “Democratic coalition”? Although in reality the “democratic coalition” existed as a brand for the unification of several opposition parties, which was not legally issued. Interestingly, only 26% of respondents said that they know nothing about this party. A similar study conducted by sociologists during the late 1990s, when on the agenda was the unification of the “Right things”, the “New force” and the “Voice of Russia” electoral bloc “Union of right forces (SPS). In 2005, when there was a question about creating a single list of the same SPS and another opposition party in the elections to the Moscow city Duma. “We are testing a possible reality, in this case on the subject of what will the Union of political forces, — says Alexei Grazhdankin. And then some of the options already can germinate during the election campaigns”.

Absolutely unreal characters also sometimes appear in the opinion polls. “The creation of such images is often part of the election studies,” says Grazhdankin. — People who can’t artikulieren to Express the attitude towards a particular character, offer a simple way, which is a set of certain values: bear, hare, Fox, wolf”. So, a few years ago sociologists were offered to citizens to describe politicians through the characters of the fairy tale “the Golden key”. “The researchers also occasionally play games,” says Grazhdankin. The purpose of these games — getting the details of public opinion, which cannot be obtained by asking the standard questions. You can ask: “do you Approve the activities of such a policy?” and offer response options “Yes” or “no”. Then the output will be a fairly flat picture. And here are the responses to the proposal to describe that policy using any image say about the attitude of people is much more.

Games play policy

Often fictional characters are not used in research, and for practical purposes. They almost become real political players. So, in the elections of the President of Ukraine wanted to be part of the candidate Darth Alekseyevich Vader, exploiting the image of a character from “Star wars.” Before that he even fought with drug trafficking and illegal paid Parking lots in Odessa, and in 2012 tried to vote in the elections to the Ukrainian Parliament, but the election Commission banned. Failed to register him as a presidential candidate. Moreover, the formal reason was specified incorrect address of the election of the Congress — the rest of the documents were in order, the applicant has provided a passport in the name of Darth Vader and made an electoral pledge of 2.5 million hryvnias.


Waldo President. Still from the TV series “Black mirror”.

In Russia, too, has a similar character. Barnaul cat Barsik last year even won the online voting of candidates on a post of the head of the city administration in public “Altay Online. This year the ambition of the whiskers became much more serious: he was going to the Duma under lists of party of government, studied the principle of operation of the project “Applicant” and checked the primaries. However, the Deputy of the General Council of the party said that snow leopard will not be able to participate in the elections. The cat studied the Russian laws and discovered a sad fact: from the point of view of civil law it is nothing more than a thing. “Watching the activities of deputies, the snow leopard has long been came to the conclusion that though he is a cat, but much closer to the people than some elected officials. At least he doesn’t give empty promises and to his mind not the ideas of absurd bills,” — said Altai public. It is also said that the cat intends to defend their rights in court. But while the history of any development have not received.

Another interesting episode is the animators in costumes of cartoon characters in peppa, Fixico and teenage mutant ninja turtles Leonardo, agitating Perm preschoolers to vote for candidates in the primaries, calling them “our favorite wizards”. The Prosecutor’s office considered such propaganda illegal. But the claim wasn’t there for the presentation of the campaign through cartoon characters, and due to the fact that the event was held in kindergarten.

Most recent example from overseas: the creators of “Game of thrones” theme on the website has launched a vote. Fans of the series are invited to choose one of four candidates for the Iron Throne: Daenerys Targaryen, Jon snow, Cersei Lannister or Petyr Baelish. On the one hand, the interactivity is part of an advertising campaign for the new season, with another — the subject of this ad refers to the upcoming elections of the President of the United States. It is no accident that she appears in the midst of the election campaign.

Advertising a show without electoral effect

“This is to ensure that through an indirect way to attract people who are not interested in politics,” gives his own explanation of such political games Alexei Grazhdankin. In this case, the question arises: what effect has the use of fictional characters on the political system? On the one hand, they are really easily gain the attention of people, but on the other — for bright image remain unnoticed important detail.


Democratic elections of the candidate on the Iron throne. Interestingly, initially led by John snow. And now he’s only the third.

But political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko believes that characters like Darth Vader in politics can be used in several cases: when a person wants to promote himself as a showman; for the promotion of any idea; to use political technology “of carnivalization elections, when a candidate wants to show that there are some clowns, but they’re the only ones who can vote; or in the case if the person is just crazy. “This is pure show, without any electoral consequences,” — said the expert.

To dystopia is still far

The emergence of real political life fictional characters like Darth Vader, cat, cartoon characters and series reminiscent of the plot of one episode of the series, the dystopian Black mirror. Comic-loser draws a blue bear named Waldo to an animated character interviewing politicians for his Comedy show. Producer jokingly suggests that Waldo could compete with politicians in the elections, but soon begins earnestly to bring this idea to life. At Waldo there is no meaningful pre-election agenda, he just shows up for debates and other events with the participation of competitors and trolls them relentlessly. In the end, the project is gaining popularity among those tired of the serious political agenda of citizens, and Waldo wins elections.

Should I be concerned over the current political system? After all, fictional characters, on the one hand, do draw attention to the election, but a bright image remain unnoticed important parts of the political process.

“When we see advertising, there is little that tells us about the qualities of the product, — says Alexei Grazhdankin. — What does it have children or pretty girls? But they create a positive image perception, positive associations, which are fixed with this product. Moreover, for each thus, in contrast to the image of Waldo, fixed set of values. “I think that from this situation, as in “Black mirror”, we are still far, ” says the sociologist. — Postmodern attitude towards the electoral process is not very common. People are still serious about the election and vote mostly intelligently.”

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