Monday, June 18, 2007

Idle threat of the week

Often, when the panel of judges meet to decide Idle Threat of the Week, we get caught up downloading videos from YouTube, and everyone has a clip of a daredevil skateboarder or Argentinian soccer phenom that they want everyone else to see.

At this point, I think I've seen enough of goals from improbable angles and humans flying off buildings and landing on four wheels to last me for a while. And, quite frankly, I'm getting a little tired of YouTube.

But they keep telling us it's going to change politics, and this week a video called "I Got a Crush . . . on Obama," which features a young woman in tight clothing lip syncing her love for Presidential candidate Barack Obama, created much buzz on the Internet and, so far, over a million views on YouTube.

The song itself is horrendous. Set over the beat of a cringe-worthy R&B slow jam, the lyrics are clever in the way a relatively sophisticated eight-year old can come up with a rhyme or two. The video sports production values a bit too high for it to be cheesy amateur fun, and way too low to qualify as a spectacular disaster. We are left with, instead, three minutes of intense, joyless viewer embarrassments.

It's also unclear if the intention of the video is to promote Obama, make fun of big breasted women who blindly support Obama because of his supposed good looks, or sell t-shirts and hype a website.

I have no problem with it being all three, but I can't get beyond the irredeemable awfulness of it all.

Still, that's not the thrust of the panel's professional interest. What did grab our attention was the reaction to the video: All sorts of speculation from mainstream political venues about what effect the video would have on the race.

That question was already answered about three months ago when an Obama-supporter contrived a well-done spoof of the iconic 1984-themed ad that lunched the Apple Macintosh.

Despite the spot's high quality, and the relevant Hillary/Obama contrast, it had absolutely no effect on the race, other than to hint at -- but not increase -- Obama's support on the web.

YouTube can be the death of the politician who spends too much time fixing his hair, or coins a new multilingual racial epithet, but the idea that supporters of a candidate will produce original, non-gotcha videos that move the polls is largely unfounded.

The mere speculation that the dreadful and vapid Obama girl video would have an effect on the 2008 presidential campaign is the Idle Threat of the Week for June 11th to 17th. The panel was also shocked to learn said video has a four out of five star rating on YouTube, and admonishes the YouTube community for perpetrating the soft bigotry of low expectations. If there is ever going to be a day that user-content sways the electorate, there is going to have to be a tightening of standards and expectations.

* Now this spectacular disaster is how you make a a terrible video!

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