Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 GPSA Coming Soon!

I'm writing up my 2012 Guam Political Sign Awards.

For those who need a reminder about what this entails, I thought I would post below my awards for the last election, in 2010.

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2010 Guam political sign awards

The political signs are slowly getting taken down around island and so before we forget that for close to a year our island was covered in a sea of slogans, promises, and smiling faces, Id like to hand out my 2010 Guam Political Sign Awards. These awards are decided by me and me alone, there is no panel of judges who have debated or voted on them.

The categories are neither fair, nor uniform, and they change for each election depending on what signs are out there. These awards are meant to be fun and funny, and rarely serious. These are not meant to attack any candidates, but are instead given to celebrate how invested our island can get into our elections, but also lament the fact that so much of our democracy on island is determined by who has the best, most interesting or least scary signs.

Without any further ado, here is a list of some of this years winners

Best Positive Use of a Photo Which Could Be Used by an Opponent in a Negative Way: Speaker Judi Won Pat for her black and white image signs. While the image is meant to convey, both the seriousness (black and white) of Won Pat, and her smile is meant to convey her friendliness, this image could just as easily be used in an attack ad on her. I can already image the voice-over, Judi Won Pat, smiled as she signed away our childrens future

Mirror, Mirror Award  Shared winners for this award, which goes to a candidate with the best sign which features him and his family, and then another image of himself. Both Dennis Rodriguez and William Taitague had signs where they are sitting happily with their family, and in front of them looms, some sort of mysterious, possibly evil stranger who looks exactly like the candidate! It makes you wonder if this stranger is an evil twin, a nefarious clone or a taotaomona, and which one, if any, is the real candidate!

Senator in a Box Award  The body language in a political sign is extremely crucial. Your image will be frozen in a pose for several months, fading by the side of the road or in peoples front yards and so you must pick a pose of yourself which will be able to send the right messages to those who glance at it. Everything from your smile, your hair, your clothes, to the position of your hands can make a crucial difference as to whether or not, at the most superficial level, you appear to be trustworthy. Most candidates pick images of themselves with their backs straight, standing tall, embodying the Chamorro word for forthright and honest, tininas. The signs for Senator Frank Blas Jr. stand out because of the way he appears to be hunched over, bending over or looking down in his image. One has to wonder what is the story behind his hunched-over posture? It almost appears that
Senator Blas is trapped in a box-like dimension like the villain Zod from Superman II, and only your vote can free him from this tiny prison!

The Family Reunion Award  It is a normal thing for candidates to name every chance that they get their finanaan familia, or to which different clans on Guam they belong to. They do so, first because it can help you understand where they come from and who has helped raise them, and second, it might help you collect a few votes from distant cousins. When you vote on a ballot, most candidates put either their slogan or list their family nicknames there, and this is helpful for someone like myself who always insists that at least one person in the Legislature each session be from the cabesa clan. As Guams electoral and racial landscape changes this will become less and less common and so we should celebrate it now before it disappears completely and is just replaced by generic slogans. The family reunion award goes to the candidate who includes the most family names on their signage thus transforming it into a mini-family reunion. This years winner is Joe Shimizu San Agustin, for his use of four of his clan names, candido, queto, lencho and kacha, in his larger signs.

Bromance Award  The higher the office, the more danger there is in your signs staining and stigmatizing your candidacy, rather than them helping you, and so there is always an impulse to play it safe and simple rather than try to be more bold or creative. The signs for Calvo/Tenorio and Gutierrez/Aguon represented a clear contrast. By the end of the election, CT had a set of surprisingly generic signs, the first exhibiting the Chamorro tendency to combine parents names in order to name your child (their offspring aptly named, vote) and the second, the typical two candidates staring and smiling ahead sign. GA started off simple, borrowing elements of Obamas successful campaign, and ended up creating some of the most interesting and confusing signs of the election. They packed signs with huge crowds of supporters, and also introduced the walking mafia set of signs, which had the two candidates ambiguously walkingsomewhere, perhaps towards a better future? The ultimate GA sign had to be the late introduction of their diamond shaped signs, which featured the candidates clasping hands and arms, and sharing a tender, bromantic moment.

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