Republican presidential candidate (and sometimes frontrunner of the GOP Horse Race) Herman Cain released a video on his YouTube channel on Sunday that attempts to lend some context and clarity to his seemingly impossibly simple solution for the perennial woes of the American tax system.
Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan for Economic Renewal proposes a 9% business flat tax, 9% individual flat tax, and 9% national sales tax and purports the aforementioned reforms will “expand GDP by $2 trillion, create 6 million new jobs, increase business investment by one third, and increase wages by 10%.”
Cain’s video, 9-9-9 The Movie – Slaying the Tax Monster explains all of the above and more by way of informal animation with lots of numbers, nondescript human beings, primary colors, a friendly voice over, and five minutes and fifty seconds of exposition on the fundamentals of taxation in the United States. Take a look:
I’m no James Carville, so for a political critique of the short film, let’s see what a few Capitol Hill-oriented journalists have to say. Alexander Burns at Politico thinks:
It’s the kind of thing that Cain fans may enjoy, that Cain detractors will laugh at, and that shows, in any case, how little Cain’s message has evolved since the summer.
Maggie Astor at International Business Times writes:
The return-to-roots strategy of the movie makes sense in that Cain’s “9-9-9” plan is the most eye-catching part of his platform…On the other hand, returning to the “9-9-9” plan may reinforce the growing perception that Cain is a one-trick pony, especially since the shift in strategy comes on the heels of several foreign policy missteps and unclear statements on hot-button issues like abortion.
And Lucy Madison at CBS News believes:
When it comes to analyzing the basis for Cain’s claims, however, that the 9-9-9 plan would be a simple route to economic success, the film falls short.
But what about in terms of the actual production of the film? Is the animation engaging? Is the short any good? I’m less of a Dan Meth than I am a James Carville, so I asked Cold Hard Flash editor and animation expert Aaron Simpson to offer up his take on how Cain’s film holds up.
Here’s Simpson on Slaying the Tax Monster’s design and eyeballs:
The design isn’t overly-slick, which helps enforce the grassroots nature of Herman Cain’s message. With the exception of a few caricatures, the character designer made a curious and stingy decision regarding eyeballs. These organs are the most expressive part of our faces, and I think an opportunity was missed to connect with the viewer, especially when the characters depicted are often the common man.
And here Simpsons’ take on the film’s adult-oriented animation:
While this is more of a ‘motion-graphics’ piece than a character animation, the animation itself is capable, full of bouncy, natural-looking walk cycles, and stimulating enough to keep us interested when the content of the video gets more nuanced. The animation producer helped the Cain team avoid a trap that can befall many who venture into animation for the first time – allowing the results to veer into the kids realm. If the characters or production design start to look like a Disney creation, a somewhat serious message can become hostage to those less serious undertones.
So, while the critics at Politico, International Business Times, and CBS News find fault with the film’s message, it seems at least from a visual perspective, Cain’s film is more or less a success. But for better or worse (depending on which side of the aisle you’re on), a few thumbs up on his latest YouTube upload from animation enthusiasts probably won’t do much for Cain’s chances in that horse race.