A Tale of Two Videos
YouTube has replaced the soapbox as a platform for political expression. Go to http://www.youtube.com/, type in a few keywords, and you will be deluged by thousands, if not millions, of political videos ranging from the individual to the professional and from the prim to the obscene.
Last week saw the debut of two such videos, at the opposite extremes of the political, moral, and financial spectra.
One was "Wake the F**k Up!" [sic], a pro-Obama anti-Romney commercial, lavishly produced by the Jewish Council for Education and Research, written by Adam Mansbach and starring Samuel L. Jackson . In it, Jackson invades a complacent Democratic household and warns them that, if they don't go out and campaign vigorously for Obama, horrible things will happen:
An out-of-touch millionaire has just declared war
On schools, the environment, unions, fair pay...
And how about that student loan overhaul?
Mitt will cut that sh-t in a second...
A vote for Romney is a vote to let Planned Parenthood get cut...
Romney and Ryan will gut Medicare if they're elected...
For those who are titillated by such things, the video includes a scene wherein grandma's humping of grandpa is interrupted by Jackson and the little girl. The domestic idyll ends with the sweet little girl shouting out the obscenity of the title .
The other video was "Obama's Way", an anti-Obama satire produced and sung by Mark Griswold, a Seattle-based PR consultant. The audio is a parody of Sinatra's "My Way", recast by lyricist C. Rabbit as an egocentric Obama monolog, detailing his supposed accomplishments and plans for the future:
You've lost your job, foreclosure's due
My stimulus did not help you.
My pals come first but never doubt
I'll spread the wealth and bail you out.
I'll fix you yet, ignore the debt, and do it My Way.
The lines (sung by Griswold in a wonderfully weary off-key imitation of Obama) run through the depression, Iran's bomb, Putin's missiles, unemployment, Solyndra, the debit crisis, and a dozen other issues, with the repeatedly barked command that we "do it MY WAY!" The song is illustrated by a slide-show including several of Obama's most embarrassing moments. At the end, with the screen showing a Romney banner, Obama runs through a juxtaposition of his old quotes, urging us to vote.
The contrast between the two videos is intriguing . WTFU is a more impressive production than OW, but cost several hundred times more to make . OW is slyly satiric while WTFU is filled with irrational hype. OW is low-key and slow-paced while WTFU has the urgency of a used-car ad. OW has the nostalgia of a Sinatra melody while WTFU has a sort of hip-hop beat. WTFU's foul-mouthed dialog will amuse the hip but disgust the traditional; OW's respectability may have the reverse effect.
In summary, each video will tend to attract viewers who already agree with its message and repel those of the opposite political persuasion. Both are essentially preaching to the choir--but not entirely. A thoughtful swing voter might be persuaded by OW's arguments. A respectable swing voter might be disgusted by WTFU's obscenity. The contrast of the two videos might shift some centrist voters to the right--or at least, I hope so.
 Jackson and Mansbach collaborated in an earlier foul-mouthed video, Go the Fuck to Sleep, based on the latter's best-selling book. At the video's beginning, Jackson explains how he used that same phrase "a lot" with his little daughter .
 One wonders whether de facto Secretary of Education Michelle Obama would approve of this mode of early sex education.
 From an esthetic viewpoint, Rabbit's verse scans and rhymes better than Mansbach's. But that is hardly a factor that will affect many votes.
 WTFU probably cost at least $50,000; OW cost about $100. Both are bargains in that they will probably cost much less than ten cents per viewer.