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Madland: The unfunny parody websites in Wisconsin's 2014 gubernatorial race
What is the key message the voter is supposed to learn?
What is the key message the voter is supposed to learn?
Credit:Republican Party of Wisconsin

Wisconsin doesn't have a great track record when it comes to political candidates using humor. Tom Barrett's "Madison on a Diet" ad features the worst acting I've ever seen outside of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. However, the new trend this campaign season is to make fake websites that pretend to be for a particular candidate but are actually created by the opposition. There are fake Walker sites and fake Burke sites and both are just plain awful.

Before I say why these sites are awful, let me show you an example of a good parody site. was a great use of campaign satire. One of Romney's big stump-speech lines was that he could cut taxes by $5 trillion without hurting the middle class. The DNC used this website to make one simple point: Romney never quite laid out how this would be possible. The entire site is just a button that moves to avoid the cursor when you try to click on it, a dodging button to represent a dodging candidate. It's clean, memorable.

The parody site is a seemingly pro-Walker site that's actually an anti-Walker site but is terrible enough it could make someone turn pro-Walker. It features satirical news stories meant to undercut Walker's claims of creating jobs in the state. The stories are written in the style of The Onion -- minus jokes or wit.

Here's an example:

Kenosha is set for a groundbreaking later this year to pave the way for up to 621 jobs from Illinois-based Kenall Manufacturing. "This is perfect," said a Kenall supporter. "Kenall moves 40 minutes north and gets $4 million in grants. Many Kenall employees won't have to sell their houses and can continue living in Illinois -- they'll now just drive a little north vs. a little south.”

The writer believes this word-vomit can actually alter how someone votes.

What does this have to do with Walker? Why are you wasting your time talking about this company? It's, not

Sure, is awful, but it was created by an entity called Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Wisconsin. Most likely, this is just one person or a small group of people who are simply pissed off by Walker's administration. They are not seasoned political operatives or communications experts. Surely, something run by a state-level political party must be better, right?

Nope., as you might know, is a fake site set up by the Republican Party of Wisconsin. The user is presented with a clear message: Mary Burke is rich. And she went snowboarding once. And she and Jim Doyle were best friends. And she was handpicked by "party bosses," which sounds like union bosses (which is bad). And her campaign won't make promises, which is obviously a reason why she can't be governor. It's scattershot, messy.

Just imagine if had added a picture of businesses bought out by Bain Capital. And pointed out Romney's family wealth. And made fun of dressage. And said he was friends with George W. Bush. What is the key message the voter is supposed to learn?

The problem with both and is that they are created by people who outright hate the other candidate. When you’ve got that much hate, every single action by the candidate is going to piss you off. So you just want to add it to the stockpile of rage you are building.

However, a rage checklist isn't that convincing or that funny. Satire is a blade, not a blunt object. Step back from the situation. Find that fundamental weakness, or the major hypocrisy, in your opponent's argument and then use satire to expose it to the world. Or keep pushing bad Onion articles and Photoshopped snowboard pics.

Your choice.

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