Via Salon.com, I found a blurb about a viral video for the Obama campaign. I checked out the video, and I was quite impressed. The production qualities are high, which is what seemed to impress Salon. But that’s not what got me excited enough to blog about it; what impressed me was how authentically YouTube this video was. This isn’t some political hackery saying “me too!” to the Facebook generation. This video gets it.
One of the great, if not the greatest, creative strategies of online animations and videos is to take a work of mainstream culture and rework it, commenting on it, distorting it, and appropriating it. This is a dominant cultural logic of “hip” entertainment today (I have to put “hip” in quotes because I’m too old to use it legitimately).
The best examples of this strategy reveal and celebrate the voice of the remixer. In other words, the source voice is dominated by the viral video’s producer/editor. It’s not surprising that political campaigns, terrified of relinquishing control over their message, would be leery about fan-created videos. Certainly many inspiring online videos have been made about politicians, but they are commonly parodies (such as this one about Bush, or this one about John Edwards), or they are propaganda pieces.
But the Obama campaign has got to love how the Black Eyed Peas have reworked Obama’s oratory into a video that can stand alongside their best work. This video neither parrots nor subverts Obama’s message; it personalizes and extends it into the Black Eyed Peas own powerful idiom.