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The things we don't talk about see the light of day

It's been a year in which some of the things we don't usually speak about publicly (or at least, not in polite company) began to be talked about at last. Movements toward political correctness, which swamped the media and public discourse for much of the past decade, met with a backlash, and seem to be giving way to a sort of new openness. Political seasons tend to bring these things to fore.

The biggest milestone of the last presidential election was probably John Kerry's kiteboarding lesson. But this one's been different. This campaign cycle has seen history-making speeches on religion and race, and redefined the political conversation. During the primaries, Mitt Romney fought his critics, the rumor mill and dirty campaign tactics with a memorable speech on his Mormon faith, a speech that many compared to John F. Kennedy's historic address on his own Catholicism during the 1960 campaign. And Barack Obama spoke about race more directly than any other
politician running for high office has ever dared try. This year also brought a serious female presidential candidate and a female vice-presidential candidate, bringing issues of gender equality and sexism front and center.

Ad campaigns are plunged into this environment, and both reflect and are shaped by it. There's no corner of the media left untouched by the tumult; taboos are coming out for some air and taking a walk around a neighborhood where previously people kept their curtains tightly drawn and spoke only in whispers.

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