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Betting on the seals

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Sophisticated billboards offering advertising space on either side or those that alternate between two different images are wonderful tools in an election campaign. Thanks to these technological wonders, we can see DSZ candidate Olga Zubová on one side and Prague Zoo’s seals on the other.

Another placard features the somewhat over-stylized, majestic and thoughtful face of Karel Schwarzenberg — which dissolves into a half-naked female whose graceful exposed backside advertises … I don’t remember; probably some sort of a cosmetic product or a massage parlour. Schwarzenberg’s face is hardly worth more than a passing glance, but the other picture takes longer to look at.

It’s not a ground-breaking discovery, but these types of billboards emphasize how politicians are becoming everyday items of pop art and consumerism. In a way, they’re playing an honest game here: it takes guts to compete with a seal exposition, or with sunscreen on a callipygous female. Choosing a candidate carries no more weight choosing a laundry detergent, or whether to go to the zoo or the cinema.

This is actually an ideal of a liberal society, where the state is weak and politicians nothing more than well-paid administrators who try not complicate people’s lives or offend them. A good post-office clerk doesn’t require the public spotlight to do his job. Selecting the right laundry detergent might actually be more important that picking the right politician. Pretty much anyone can run a bureau decently, but this T-shirt and I share a very personal bond.

We aren’t very close to the liberal ideal just yet. We should admit that our thinking is still somewhat complex and old-fashioned. So what will it be: Go see the seals, a movie, or vote?

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