Friends Don't Let Friends Vote McCain

The newest funny viral video: a MoveOn.com parody of a don’t do drugs-type ad with young celebrities advising their friends about dealing with parents who want to vote McCain.

One of the most interesting parts of the 2008 campaign has been the use of viral videos to draw attention and sway opinion.  The phenomenon was not new to the 2008 campaign, but it definitely rose to a whole new level with "Yes We Can", which had millions of hits and seemed to capture, especially for a younger, web-savvy generation, the idealistic appeal of Obama. It’s probably this video as much as his rallies that also led both Sen. Hillary Clinton and later Republicans to attack Obama as messianic and also rhetorically gifted without beng concrete. As always, the playbook is, take a guy’s strengths and show they are weaknesses.

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There have been great virals since then; just to name a few --  the Democratic Primary in 8 Minutes, 15 Seconds (a parody of an ad for the TV show "Lost"); the Mike Huckabee/Chuck Norris video, after which his campaign suddenly took off; Paris Hilton’s Response to John McCainLes Misbarack, which set a song from Les Miserables in the Obama campaign office; comedienne Sarah Silverman’s foul-mouthed but funny "The Great Schlep", in which she calls on young Jews to go to Florida to convince their grandparents to vote Obama; Tina Fey’s take on Sarah Palin; and most recently, the young adult video above.  

All these videos have two things in common -- they’re funny; and they’re all videos for the Obama campaign. As far as I have found, the closest McCain supporters have come to something similar is a variety of videos depicting Obama as a budding Stalinist leader to the song "All Hail the Messiah, Obama Obama", such as this one. Ironically, the song alone is so absurdly wonderful, in some versions it’s not clear that it’s not Obama supporters who have made it as a joke, rather than McCain backers who mean it as an attack. 

With its celebrities waxing poetic and looking oh-so-serious the "Yes We Can" video is prime for parody, actually;  but ironically, the only major alternate versions (John.He.Is and No You Can’t) ha ve come from Democrats taking aim at McCain.  

Really, the only time the Republican Party has hit the funny bone in the last two months intentionally was at the convention. Sarah Palin’s comment about lipstick won her big points, and only reinforces the importance of humor on the campaign trail. 

To me, it suggests a new playbook is in order. Don’t waste your time and money taking down your opponent, especially if there’s nothing really there.  Rather, get a video camera and a clever script and say something funny. 

Jim McDermott, SJ

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10 years ago
I live in San Francisco and my sister Theresa lives in Phoenix. This campaign season we have enjoyed sending each other funny videos about the candidates. We especially have enjoyed Tina Fey's impersonating Sarah Palin. Thanks for these videos. Some of them are new to me. I have sent them to my sister. My sister and I are Democrats and voting for Obama.
10 years ago
Humor has its place in all things, but humor that doesn't reflect seriousness of thought is not funny and only ends up as self-parody. It is like beauty without truth- a temporary and fleeting lure that leaves you wanting more. Sure, some of these ads may be cute but the sheer magnitude of them this year makes me wonder how politicians and their surrogates must view the American voter? They know the how the game works: get a bunch of "stars" to pontificate or sing or voice their favorite four letter word and and you've got his or her attention. Then, one need not even attempt to talk about the issues.

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