“Fuss and Feathers” Anti – Scott

Jeff Riemann

Scott and Pierce ran on strikingly similar platforms.  Both wanted to avoid taking sides on the Compromise of 1850 as not to anger either the South or North depending on what side they took, and they did not have major divisive economic issues to side with.  This election, therefore, came down to mudslinging and attacks on each other’s characters.

I wanted to play up the fact that Scott was known to be very vain and appeared arrogant and flashy.  He focused a lot on outside appearance and caught flack for it.  I wanted to elaborate on that criticism and show how many people of his own party, the Whigs, were turning against him.

I used a picture from 1852 of Scott looking chubby and grumpy in a fancy tuxedo to display this vanity.  On his jacket I wrote a quote from James Buchanan describing how “vainglorious” Scott was.  I wanted to set the tone of the ad with this quote and get people thinking that “The World” thinks this, not just Democrats who were already opposed to Scott.

I used Chopin’s “Prelude 6 op 28 B Minor” to set a classical, sophisticated tone that matched Scott’s attitude.  It’s melancholy and slow pace was meant to get the audience to focus on the pictures and quotes with their effects, to drive home my message.

The “A Bad Egg” political cartoon made fun of Scott’s elaborate attire and nickname of “Fuss and Feathers”.  I cropped out the background of the cartoon and made the background black to have the “Fuss and Feathers” figure stand out.  I also cropped in another James Buchanan quote from his October 7, 1852 speech, which lists a number of noble leaders of the past, from Napoleon, to Jackson, to even Taylor.  He lists their distinguished nicknames and then asks how Scott’s nickname of “Fuss and Feathers” compares to the rest of them.  This clip is intended to feminize Scott and separate him from the other manly, noble leaders of the past.

I then faded into a simple, short quote by Horace Greeley of the Whig Party that showed him reluctantly accepting Scott as their Presidential candidate, claiming that he hates the idea of it.  This is a simple quote and I wanted to make it stand out with a simple black background and light grey lettering, letting the words speak for themselves.  This quote is meant to set the stage for the next segment of clips that elaborate on other fellow Whigs that chose to abandon their party in response to Scott’s selection as their Presidential candidate.

The picture of Scott as a General in 1847 in his colorful and flashy military attire with a war scene in the background quickly turns to Scott standing alone, with an all red background, providing a sense of warning in hopes that the audience will discount all of his past military honors and legacy from the Mexican-American War.  I wanted the audience to realize that they needed to focus on Scott as a presidential candidate alone, judging his fitness for that position only and not taking past accolades into account.  If people thought that his history as a Mexican-American War hero didn’t matter in terms of being President, then Scott would have nothing else to offer.  (I made sure not to hint at the fact that Pierce had little background to offer as well.)

The red background of Scott’s picture as a General slowly gets filled up with newspaper clippings that describe all of the prominent Whigs party members that chose to support Pierce over Scott.  I added James Lacey’s quote where he declared he wouldn’t “touch Scott with a ten foot pole” to add some comedy to the mix.  The clippings begin to cover up Scott’s image to show that these opinions and criticisms should overshadow any legacy of military success that Scott could be credited with.

The transition to a warning of Scott’s impending “Reign of Epaulets” is accompanied with the sound of heartbeats as the classical music fades out, to increase the intensity of the warning.  His “Reign of Epaulets” is, again, in reference to how Scott would have his priorities off as a leader, focusing on things like looking dignified rather than what actually mattered to America.  The letters are in red with a black background and scary movie font to increase the fear in citizens of this “Reign of Epaulets”.

The heartbeats stop suddenly as the background fades to a blue, soothing color with red letters (outlined in white to represent America’s colors), depicting Pierce’s 1852 campaign slogan, “We Polked you in ’44, We shall Pierce you in ‘52”.  The message is intended to wrap up this bashing of Scott with a patriotic message of hope, using Polke’s record to ease the mind of Democrats and US citizens in general.  The background noise is birds chirping on a calm day to increase the feeling of security and contentment with the message.

This ad is less content-filled and attacks Scott as a person, using superficial arguments and images, like the candidates did in 1852.  I wanted to have simple quotes and arguments and focus on effects and aesthetics in order to real the audience in and get them on my side of the argument.  Whichever party used these aesthetics and superficial arguments the best would most likely win the election because both Pierce and Scott did not have too many legitimate differences in political stances and records.