Rudy Giuliani’s 1993 New York City mayoral campaign used advertising featuring a racially diverse cast to exploit nascent fears of an increasingly unsafe and out-of-control city.

Alison Mitchell’s 1993 story on the mayoral candidacy of Rudy Giuliani emphasizes the candidate’s exploitation of fear through advertising. The Giuliani campaign exploited and enhanced fears of New Yorkers that were rooted in the perceived disorder of their city, a perspective that vilified vandals, street drug dealers, panhandlers, and squeegee men. The campaign’s advertisements foregrounded a racially diverse group of speakers, featuring White, Black, and Hispanic New Yorkers alike who articulate their shared fear that the city streets were not as safe for their children as they once had been. All of this amounted to a campaign with a diversity designed through advertising that pitted petty criminals, and the city government who enabled them, as the culprits for an increasingly disordered city — one that might slide at any given moment into unimaginable levels of violence for all New Yorkers.

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Buell Center (sz2950)