Why Would the NRA Pay for this Embarrassing, Error-Riddled Ad?

I spent the first twenty years of my life in Maine. I visit my family in Maine once a year. And though I choose to live in Seattle, I take a lot of pride in being from Maine, born and bred. It’s a culture unlike anywhere else in the United States: indpendent, reliant on common sense, and proudly insular. There’s a term Mainers use for people who were born elsewhere and move to Maine: they’re From Away. I had a friend who spent the first three months of his life in Connecticut before his mom moved home to Maine. He’s From Away, and he’ll always be From Away. Even if he lived in Maine for the rest of his natural life, my friends and I joked, he’d have to put “From Away” on his gravestone.

I share all this because the National Rifle Association just debuted a new advertisement opposing Question 3, a commonsense background check initiative. And here it is:

Okay. So many issues with this ad. First of all, that’s not even the New York City skyline they use in the beginning of the ad; it’s the San Francisco skyline with a Statue of Liberty stapled into it.

sanfranciscoisthebigapple

Second of all, they got Maine’s shape wrong. This is not what Maine looks like:

fakemaine

They lopped off the whole western side of the state that borders New Hampshire.

realmaine

Third, and perhaps most importantly: what kind of ridiculous Maine accent is this voiceover supposed to be? None of my aunts and uncles sound like this guy; this is the kind of exaggerated, Hollywoodized Maine accent you see in a bad episode of Murder She Wrote. It’s almost as bad as Freddy Quimby’s intentionally terribad Boston accent.

Mainers are used to hearing people From Away mangle our accents—tourists do it every summer, and we fake a smile and nod and pat them on the heads while we take their money—but the content of this ad makes the accent unforgivable. They’re arguing that people From Away want to take your guns, and they can’t get the accent or even the shape of the state right? It’s just embarrassing. (If you’re curious, this personal testimonial from the Yes on Question 3 campaign, Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership, is a good example of a real, unexaggerated Maine accent.)

Look, I admit that this is goofy stuff. There’s much more substantive policy we could all be discussing right now. But I think it’s only fair that someone alert the NRA to the fact that they’re apparently being taken for a ride. They presumably paid a lot of money for this ad and it features the wrong city, gets the state’s borders wrong, and it’s centered around a laughable Maine accent that’s trying to incite nativist feelings. These are all unforced errors, and when they’re combined they result in just about the most embarrassing ad you could fund. How much money does the NRA have in their coffers, that they can waste a huge wad of cash on amateurish ads like this?

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.