Thursday, July 26, 2007

Obama Girl in Old and New Media

I wanted to mention a fascinating and instructive episode in the Obama Girl revolution - which I didn't get a chance to mention, last week.

It's from the four divas on The View, discussing the first Obama Girl video a few weeks ago. Most of it is good fun. But, at the end, Joy Behar opines that, because Amber Lee Ettinger, the actress who plays Obama Girl, said "I don't know who I'm voting for," this is an example, according to Behar, of "hookerville ... she's an actress".

Now this has received a lot of bemused commentary, and Amber Lee has since said she has considered all of the candidates, and she indeed expects to vote for Obama, but ...

There are several important points which deserve to be remembered in this episode:

1. Behar's point was inane even before Amber Lee announced whom she was supporting. She's an actress - as Behar recognizes. This means that everything she says and does in the videos is part of a role she's performing. It matters not in the slightest who the actress supports - any more than whether James Gandolfini thinks the mob is a good way of life. I would bet anyone in kindergarten or higher understands this.

2. But there's also a deeper, media-evolutionary point here: old media, and their stars and proponents, are frequently hostile to new media. This can take many forms. D. W. Griffith, one of the great pioneering filmmakers, considered himself a prostitite (hookerville...) for not working in the legitimate medium of his time, the theater. Stars of silent movies lashed out at talkies (in some cases, understandably, because their voices didn't match their faces).

In the current, fast-moving realm of audio-visual narrative media, we have new media (YouTube), middle-aged media (all-news cable), and old media (the networks - on which is The View). Not surprisingly, the team and Amber Lee have done very well on Fox News. CNN is clearly very aware of YouTube (doing the YouTube Presidential debates), and MSNBC is, too (though MSNBC missed an important beat, I think, in not getting those YouTube debates on its air).

But old media - of which Joy Behar is a classic expression - just don't get it. Like the sinking CBS Evening News, the networks are sliding downward, and anything really cutting edge will fly and flourish off it...

In the meantime, here's the entire 2 and 1/2 minute clip from The View, for your viewing pleasure...

See also The Barely Political Revolution
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