John McCain's Pork Invaders

So John McCain’s website has a new game you can play and/or embed in your Facebook profile called Pork Invaders, which you can sample below.

Yes, I know it sounds like porn. No, I’m not sure they realize that.

It's a simple enough web-app, based, of course, on the seminal video game Space Invaders. The idea is that McCain (who’s represented in the game by a box that just says “McCain”) fires vetoes at pigs (which are supposed to represent pork projects) and actual barrels labeled “pork” that fly across the top of the screen instead of the original flying saucers. Most important for the McCain campaign, at the end of every exceedingly simple level, players are “rewarded” with “facts” about the pork habits of both McCain and Barack Obama.

At least in this regard, the McCain game is an improvement on the original, which offered absolutely no reward for clearing a screen. But I don’t know if McCain’s people have completely thought this through. The game has some disturbing sub-text that I don’t think is meant to be implied, even though it seems obvious. And no, I’m still not talking about the porn.

First, there’s the question as to whether or not it’s wise to connect a candidate who’s obviously trying not to look so antiquated (both in idea and body) with a game that hit its height of popularity almost thirty years ago. Obviously, McCain’s handlers are trying to go a bit more high-tech -- they want users to embed this in their Facebook page, after all. But by using something that felt old back in 1982, they’re missing the mark by more than a quarter-century. What’s next -- a campaign song to the tune of Rick Dee’s "Disco Duck"? A testimonial ad featuring Captain and Tennille? Seriously, are these people trying to make McCain look sadly out of touch?

And then there’s the more subtle message here: Space Invaders was all about futility. There was literally no way to win. The game was an unending series of alien attacks, wave after wave that just kept coming, beating you down until you died. Game over. What a nice campaign message: There’s really no way for John McCain to beat pork spending. It just keeps relentlessly coming no matter how many vetoes he fires off. They’ll get him in the end, and all these “facts” that come at the end of each level (which just start to uselessly repeat themselves after Wave 3, by the way) won’t do him a lick of good. He’ll be dead and buried under a pile of perpetual pork.

Maybe not the best message to suggest your supporters spread across the web. But find out for yourself. -- Teague Bohlen

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