I'm looking for a term that is essentially a diversionary tactic, and which I will explain by example. I have been told that some filmmakers deliberately add blatantly gratuitous material into what they submit to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA, the group responsible for censoring/rating movies). This is done so that MPAA reviewers focus on cutting the blatantly gratuitous material (for the film to achieve the desired rating) and, as a result, permit more of the other material to pass through untouched.
To distinguish from a red herring (or similar terms), note that this technique is always deliberate and that this trick has two functions:
- Distraction: the second party expends less effort on other material as a result of the more objectionable material.
- Distortion: the more objectionable material makes other material appear less concerning.
I do not associate this second function with a red herring. In particular, the more objectionable content is on-topic, not irrelevant, which is what makes the second method possible.
This trick is not unique to the film industry. For instance, a politician hoping to get a bill passed that increases school funding could add clauses with exceedingly generous subsidies for retired teachers, expecting that these will be cut back or removed, so that other material of greater interest to the politician is left intact. The use of animated ads in StackExchange's new ad program is, potentially, another example of this, and is the motivator for this question.