"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

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 BarelyPolitical.com 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 BarelyPolitical.com 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 BarelyPolitical.com 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 BarelyPolitical.com 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)

BarelyPolitical.com 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


Anonymous said...

What can I say besides this is all stupid, pathetic, and I can't believe what this country has come to.

Paul Levinson said...

anon - what can I say besides - people who "think" the way you do are precisely the problem with what this country has come to...

Fortunately, people with a sense of humor and political daring like the good folks at BarelyPolitical.com will help change that...

Anonymous said...


Congrats on being Obama Girl's "favorite."

Are you planning to watch "Mad Men" tonight?

And on a totally separate note, any thoughts on the forthcoming YouTube/CNN presidential debate? This take in today's Washington Post...

"It's the equivalent of the networks broadcasting the Kennedy and Nixon debate in 1960," said Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of "Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate." "It's a new move for a new medium."

...seems overblown to me.

Anonymous said...

As far as political goes, this illustrates nothing about politics as I have been reading from other blogs. The truth is that this is just a way for people to have fun and show their individual interest in the 2008 Presidential Candidacy. I think the people who worked hard on this video were just showing that they support Obama, which is their right to voice. I personally hate to say this but our country is not ready for a female leader, sorry Mrs. Clinton, and where Mr. Obama is a very strong and charismatic candidate there are just too many people who are not ready for an African American Muslim leader In the near future I believe that we will be ready for a leader such as Mr. Obama, and I hope that if he is unable to succeed in his ambitions this go around that it does not halt his candidacy for later elections. Where I see Mr. Obama as a man of Moral and Honor, it is a sad but true fact that we are just not ready for him to lead us. I however do believe that this country will be led by someone for Moral, and Honor, someone like Mitt Romney. I can hear it already so many people reading this and saying this person is just another Republican puppet, which is not true, if I were, I would believe that Mr. Giuliani would be our next President. Where Mr. Giuliani is a strong candidate I feel that he has appeared just too stand-offish to Republicans in the central and western US. I just pray that whoever the next leader of our Great Country can have the tenacity to get the job done and the courage to fight for what they believe is right.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is those girls are HOT!

Paul Levinson said...

Thanks, Zach - for the Obama Girl congrats, and for the Mad Men tip.

Tina and I just watched it, and really enjoyed it. Nice feel, set, dialogue (excellent) and music.

I'll write a post about it this weekend - in between reading Harry Potter, maybe...

One slight anarchronism - the IBM selectric was introduced in 1961 - so what was it doing in a 1960s office? Well, maybe it wasn't a Selectric.

On YouTube/CNN - I agree with your analysis and the critique presented in the WashPost article. Anderson Cooper and CNN should be out of it. Let it all occur on YouTube, with no moderation.

Still, it is a good step forward.

Paul Levinson said...

anon1: If you got that the Obama Girl vids illustrate nothing about politics - from reading other blogs - you're probably reading other blogs too much.:) Stick with Infinite Regress.

Otherwise, you make some good points in your analysis - thanks for sharing it - but I can't warm up to Mitt Romney because he may be a Cylon - see my http://paullevinson.blogspot.com/2007/06/is-mitt-romney-cylon.html

Seriously, he has an odd, programmed quality that makes me suspect of all he says.

But bravo to your yearning for a leader who can lead...

anon2: sizzling...

Scylla said...

If nearly naked singing people are really driving change in America, why is it limited to scantily clad women?
Where are the hot men dancing around trying to encourage the young female crowd to vote?

This string of videos may be everything you call them, but that doesn't change the fact that they obejectify women. More disturbingly, they send the message that young women can best affect change if they are half naked and singing, instead of running for office.

Paul Levinson said...

scylla - nearly naked women have been having an important impact on politics at least since Cleopatra (I don't know what Helen of Troy was wearing)...

But the Obama girl videos send no negative message at all about women better affecting change by half naked dancing and singing rather than running for office. In fact, if they send any message beyond the attractive, important mix of political satire and sexuality, it is a message that women can be excellent political satirists in the tradition of Tina Fey, etc (Leah Kauffman co-wrote the songs).

As for hot men dancing around to encourage women to vote - hey, if someone makes a video like that, I'd be glad to review it...

Anonymous said...

okay, well although at a young age (16)i am very intrested in politics and believe that these videos do work to grab the attention of viewers just not at a 100% political way i believe that Mrs. CLinton should win; i love Obama and his charisma but he is a bit biased and this is coming from reading his book. why does the country have to be white, black, asian and so on and so forth; why cant we be 1 country, 1 people, 1 governement this election is focused to much on the fact that a women and a man of color are running not the fact that they are both really qualified to do the job. Mrs. clinton has a pevious experiance with the presidential campaigns and elections; and she has bill although he may have been a bit aldultressy he was still a great president and woman in office would be nice get a bit away from the male ego about war and whos guns are biggers. Besides being a female myself i believe this is the only to go.

Paul Levinson said...

Thanks for the analysis, anon - I do like Obama at little better than Hillary, but that's taking nothing away from your intelligent and perceptive analysis.

I hope you'll continue to read and comment here at Infinite Regress.