There is a wonderful thing about storytelling which all the facts in the world can never overcome.
Even more in an election stretch where votes are counted, not truths.
Videos are leading the way in story-telling this election and it is not an oversell to state Barisan Nasional is way ahead in the race.
There are the 13 #namasayanajib videos circulating, for instance.
And a slew of other videos, with more coming your way.
Let’s be upfront about things.
Firstly, it is a game of persuasion, and persuasion is a funny thing, it does not emanate from truth. The use of young people in short stories to tell tales to tackle misconceptions about the government of the day, is effective even if they are intended to help the right accept BN’s view of the universe. Remember, the game bit.
As long as Pakatan feels it is truth alone which will bring them forward in this election, then they are mistaking elections for an academic exercise. There is a reason why educational material fall behind to showbiz online. We live in a world where young people learn about family, love and commitment from characters in Fast and Furious, where cars are stolen, lives are wasted and violence is celebrated. How all of that gels is the instructive lesson in showbiz.
It does not have to be logical, it has to meet the storytelling test.
Second, BN has the money to spend, and they are spending it. The work product is professional and akin to those cultural holiday ads. They want to generate a sense of feelgood for viewers and money gets you professional outcomes.
The BN politicians just show up for their shoot and let the hired firm to do the rest, which includes top billing in all social media spaces.
Is it a lost cause?
No, not really. Because while BN can present their version of reality with the help of top-end production support, they cannot turn back the clock, Malaysians have lived through this BN reality the last five years. A video has limits.
It is easier to dispel reality catching Wakandans running mad chasing fictional spacemen, but harder to just swallow propaganda when you lived the chase.
The videos seek to placate, even if they cannot defeat allegations against government.
Nothing can be done about the BN juggernauts in terms of overwhelming social media with spending, except two things; a) accept the fact they have caught up and forged ahead in utilising social media, regardless of paying for it, they seem to be directed payments in better directions presently; and b) be reassured they can’t generate as much goodwill, in terms of interaction, shares, mentions, LIKEs and all kinds of general engagement, because in cyberspace, the underdog is NEO, not the machines.
Pakatan may want to step up their story-telling.
Here are ideas:
1) On the life of the regular representative from the opposition. It can be depressing, especially those in struggling parts of Malaysia. To tell the story, why they keep doing it. Whether Kuala Kubu Bharu, Hutan Melintang or Temerloh, why these people keep trying to change things, when the easiest thing to do, the most pain-alleviating act would be to stop. But they don’t. That is a story that tells itself.
2) Shorts of parliamentary/state seat bases. It’s usually a makeshift tent outside a supporter’s house. A less organised (and paid) environment, where volunteers take turns to bring food and drinks for other strangers. All strangers trying to get some dude elected. Go further and record the meetings to decide on resources trying to regroup when it is a struggle to recruit. Even footage of setting up the basic ceramah sites.
3) Conversations with voters. Ask them what they think of the candidate, especially and incumbent. Why they stay with a MP/Adun who can’t get them much help? Would it not be cooler to have a minister MP, someone who can order GLCs to make their lives better, easier?
Here’s one thing to avoid, don’t preach. Just don’t.
In this country, if there was anything that pisses off people is more preaching, because it is full on in our schools, our offices, the customer meeting experience in government offices and on our TVs.
BN is about preaching their own goodness.
There is a stench of absolutism and desire for monopoly over everything which causes wary in the voters when it comes to them.
Pakatan has to be not that.
It is has to be the organisation which believes our country is bigger than the way BN reduces our love for each other because they say there is so much to fear.
There is always something fear, but there is always something to love.
This is why the BN videos can’t go all the way in wooing the people.
However, it still remains if Pakatan can match the need to tell stories and assure people, there are people who love the country even if it hurts them.