The Very Creepy “Life of Julia”

Pssst: hey, Catholics, see that screen capture above? Yeah, I think he’s talking about us again.

The picture is from the Obama campaign’s new “War on Women”-themed site, called “The Life of Julia.” I guess the “Conservatives hate women and want to implement The Handmaid’s Tale as social policy” meme is polling well with the uninformed, so the campaign is rolling out this very slick and super-duper-creepy site following the life of an average woman named “Julia,” explaining how she benefits from the social policies of the current administration and how only the thin blue line of Democratic party politics can prevent Mitt Romney from forcing her and all women like her into breeding camps at low wages without free contraception or something. It’s a little vague.

I have to hand it to them: they’ve got that crisp, 1950s propaganda art style down cold. I expected a picture showing Julia ducking and covering under a desk paid for by the president himself.  This is all rather odd considering how much the left utterly detests those hidebound reactionary sexist racist 1950s, with their stupid balanced budgets and prosperity.

It didn’t take long for Twitter to pounce on the #Julia and #RealJulia hashtags, updating her story to include milestones such as “At age 18, #RealJulia gets pregnant after a one-night stand. She decides on abortion, funded by the taxpayer.”

A couple of things to note:

  • Julia springs into existence as a ward of the state, with no mention of her parents. Note the use of the passive voice in the first panel: “Julia is enrolled in a Head Start program.” Enrolled by whom?
  • Her sole tie to a “family” comes in a mention of a tax credit they get. “Who’s daddy’s ootle wootle deduction!”
  • Contraception is seen as integral to her life story, and without it she is not seen as fulfilling her true potential. She cannot afford this herself at a cost of about $10 a month, but her employer must pay for it because … well, because if they’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to pay for it, then we need to punish them.
  • There is no mention of marriage: we skip straight to “Julia decides to have a baby.”
  • A father for this baby is never mentioned.
  • The anti-Romney squibs get more and more unconvincing, including the claims that Romney would somehow be more anti-business than Obama (!?) and the old-but-effective Democratic scare tactic: they’re comin’ fer your Social Security check! Ah, the classics: do they ever get old?
  • The entire thing is a disturbing bit of statist agit-prop, making the case that a human being cannot live in this world without being swaddled in a suffocating blanket of state-mandated cradle-to-grave support. Please note well: I absolutely support the social safety net for the poor (although I believe it should be left to the states), but that is not what we’re being sold here. Nothing says Julia is living in poverty. She could be an average middle class kid, or even quite wealthy, but she cannot reach her full potential without the help of the federal government. And contraceptives. Lots and lots of contraceptives.

People are going to be making fun of this for days, but it’s beautifully designed and hard to counter, and thus effective. It’s a flat-out brilliant use of new media. Watch and learn, conservatives: this is how propaganda is done in the 21st century.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.


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