More from TPM Reader JH:
Please forgive me persisting about this, but again, as a professional sound guy, I’m really gratified that people suddenly have a lot to say about what I do for a living and have so many insightful observations.
The sound effect tells a story: These spaces are quiet and empty.
It’s interesting to consider why they make this point with sound design. Romney regularly makes claims about joblessness in the US — where this ad has quotes about Swiss bank accounts, Romney’s ads will have quotes from newspapers on the unemployment rate. That’s where the knife-edge of the Obama argument lies: if he were to put up a chyron that said “American is suffering from a crisis of unemployment” it sets up the points about Romney but it confronts us with a bunch of unfortunate facts, like how many of those people became unemployed during Obama’s presidency, and how little that’s changed, and so on. Sound design is the perfect way of setting the stage with the fact of unemployment without actually making the sort of factual claim about unemployment that would trigger the left-brained skepticism that a swing voter is always trying to apply.
Also, placing Romney’s voice in the various locations builds the implication in the mind of the listener that Romney is present and witnessing it. It’s almost like he’s in America’s front office, singing into a PA microphone while the building rots. This highlights another feature of sound design: it’s a good way of giving people information in such a way that they don’t even know how they know it. You see the ad and there’s no cognitive speed bump to keep you from concluding that Romney was there in that empty factory, or there in the abandoned conference room, or there sipping Coronas on a beach in Grand Cayman.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.