Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Barely Political Revolution

Actually, the title is misleading - I couldn't resist the play on words - but the political revolution being fomented by the delightful Obama girl videos is far more than barely, even though that's good, too. But I think the revolution is major - and the fun of the videos makes it all the more so.

Here's why:

1. The satire in addition to being falling-down funny is sharp, biting, even Swiftian (not Swiftboatian - Swiftian). In the Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl vid released on Monday (formally titled Debate 08), for example, the Giuliani Girl tells us she wants to be "number four". She pushes a perp up against the wall (he's littering), as she extols Giuliani's crackdown on crime. And Obama Girl tells her - "Giuliani girl just stop your fussin', at least Obama didn't marry his cousin". Those are deep-slicing political cuts. (See the video with my initial commentary here.)

2. But Giuliani's people should be thrilled about this - as of course should Obama's. We all know how disinterested anyone under 30 - maybe under 20, who cares, you've heard this story - is in our elections. The Obama Girl videos are appealing to precisely this group (though I love them, too). But which is more likely to get people more active and sensitive politically? Some boring public service ad that lectures you, or a juicy Obama girl video?

3. The great work at also amounts to a very significant revolution in media presentation. Up until very recently, the only real political skit satire could be found on Saturday Night Live, Mad TV, occasionally Jon Stewart and Colbert (who are really something a little different - pseudo-news commentators), and the rare movie. But consider this evolution:

Last year, SNL hit big with its "Dick in a Box". Actually, it was inanely muted on its television showing to "Special Treat in a Box," but went huge on YouTube under its original name. Ben Relles and the Obama Girl team came back with an answer video(Leah Kauffman co-wrote and sang, before she did the same for "Crush on Obama") -"My Box in a Box". That was released straight to YouTube and viral video. And now we have "Crush on Obama" (Amber Lee Ettinger is the actress) ... "Debate 08" (or Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl - with Amber Lee continuing her part as Obama Girl) ... and Hillary Clinton and The Sopranos (also hilarious, produced by Hillary's campaign) in the middle.

I'd call that a profound sea change - or, as the Chinese say, a change of sky. More evidence that the cutting edge of our population is looking less at television and more at YouTube.

It was only in retrospect that political and media analysts realized how that dopey little "I Like Ike" cartoon - the first political commercial with a jingle on the then-new medium of television - helped Eisenhower win the Presidency so handily in 1952. He was a popular general, and would no doubt have won anyway, but that cartoon on television made it a shoo-in.

There's little doubt that the Obama Girl videos will help Obama, by getting more people under 90 to the polls.

There's no doubt at all that what is doing will change the nature of political campaigns forever - and for the better.

See also Obama Girl Applauded in My Class at Fordham This Afternoon (with photo) Goes Meta!

Ben Relles - Obama Girl Producer - Talked To My Class at Fordham Tonight

and First YouTube/CNN Presidential Debate

and Obama Girl in Old and New Media

and Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl

and Harry Potter and Obama

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
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