In Horror Framing and the General Election: Ghosts and Ghouls in Twenty-First-Century Presidential Campaign Advertisements, Fielding Montgomery reveals a pattern of mostly increasing horror framing implemented across presidential elections from 2000 to 2020. By analyzing the two most common frameworks of horror within U.S. popular culture (classic and conflicted), he demonstrates how such frameworks are deployed by twenty-first-century U.S. presidential campaign advertisements. Televised advertisements are analyzed to illustrate a clearer picture of how horror frameworks have been utilized, the intensity of their usage, and how self-positive appeals to audience efficacy help bolster these rhetorical attempts at persuasion. Horror Framing and the General Election shows readers how the extensionally constitutive ripples of horrific campaign rhetoric are felt in contemporary political unrest and provides a potential path forward.
Fielding Montgomery is a PhD student at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Al Gore vs. George W. Bush in the 2000 Election
Chapter Three: John Kerry vs. George W. Bush in the 2004 Election
Chapter Four: John McCain vs. Barack Obama in the 2008 Election
Chapter Five: Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama in the 2012 Election
Chapter Six: Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump in the 2016 Election
Chapter Seven: Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden in the 2020 Election
Chapter Eight: Conclusion
"Fielding Montgomery’s Horror Framing and the General Election: Ghosts and Ghouls in Twenty-First Century Presidential Campaign Advertisements offers the best theoretical analysis and most comprehensive survey of twenty-first century presidential campaign advertisements I have encountered. Drawing on a thorough and precise account of the European and American theories of the horror film, the manuscript explains how evil unfolds out of two orientations: classic and conflicted. These two orientations are used as frames that explain how presidential campaign advertisements attempt to persuade. Montgomery calls us to consider a third category – justified horror. This category allows candidates and critics to acknowledge the existence of real as opposed to constructed horror. The manuscript is an important addition to the scholarly literature."
"How does a country endure factions utterly horrified with each other? That’s the challenge arising from Fielding Montgomery’s analysis of this century’s presidential ads on American TV. In Horror Framing and the General Election, Montgomery shows how the ads use tropes from familiar horror films to configure a great range of subjects: immigrants, demonstrators, pollutants, budgets, terrorists, viruses, and more — but especially opponents. He explains how the resulting frames and strategies steer presidential campaigning in alarmingly fearful directions."
"Fielding Montgomery’s book presents a persuasive case for using the horror genre to study the narrative of presidential campaigns, a whole-campaign approach to examine “predominant strategies and rhetorical coherence.” In a clear, well-focused style, with exhaustive research, he studies the political advertisements of general election campaigns from 2000 through 2020. Well versed on the horror genre in films, he finds heavy use of the same kinds of threats and fear in negative campaign advertising. The book is especially strong in its cross-media approach, including audio, visual, and text elements of the specific presidential ads. Over the twenty years studied, campaigns increasingly used horror framing, both explicit and implicit types. The author raises intriguing questions about links between horror framing and voter nihilism, especially in 2016."