ted cruz linklater ad

If Political Ads Could Win Oscars, Richard Linklater’s Anti-Ted Cruz Would Be the One to Do It

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There’s been a lot of great publicity to come out of the Texas Senate race between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz. Some of the best de-facto ads for O’Rourke have been the videos of his speeches that have gone viral. Some of his best publicity has also been from what were intended to be attack ads put out by Cruz’s campaign. Now, there’s a new anti-Cruz ad making the rounds, directed, incredibly, by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Richard Linklater.

The ad, which isn’t paid for by O’Rourke, but rather by the Fire Ted Cruz Pac, takes on the incumbent senator’s “Tough as Texas” campaign slogan. It stars Sonny Carl Davis, appearing to reprise his role from Linklater’s 2012 film Bernie. But you don’t have to be familiar with that movie to appreciate the ad. Using his trademark ultra-natural style, the Texan filmmaker’s ad features Davis challenging the idea that Cruz is worthy of his macho slogan.

“If somebody called my wife a dog and said my daddy was in on the Kennedy assassination, I wouldn’t be kissing their ass,” he says, referencing the various disparaging things Donald Trump said about Cruz during their race to win the Republican nomination ahead of the 2016 election. But after Trump won that nomination, Cruz turned around and endorsed him.

In his fight to keep his Senate seat, Cruz has tried to paint O’Rourke as a liberal monster who wants to ruin Texas and “ban barbecue.” By contrast, then, Cruz is attempting to represent “real” Texas, the rugged, tough, “don’t tread on me” Texas. And while those sorts of ideas of traditional masculinity may be antiquated in their own right, it’s even more ludicrous when men like Cruz are the ones to cling to them. Cruz is “tough as Texas” as much as Trump is a “man of the people.” Even as a fictional character, Davis is a great advocate for O’Rourke. The Democrat might have some liberal ideals, but Cruz’s attempts to paint himself as a rough & tumble Texan by contrast aren’t fooling anyone.

In his iconically Texan “Come and take it” hat, Davis epitomizes the good ol’ boy persona. Telling the camera what he (or any real Texan) would do to someone like Trump, who he never actually mentions by name, he says, “You stick a finger in their chest and give ’em a few choice words. Or you drag their ass out by the woodshed and kick their ass, Ted.”

“Come on … Ted,” he says exasperatedly, giving us a delightful new catchphrase.

(image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.