Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Are You Hot for Hillary?

I got a kick this morning watching a CNN report on a hip new YouTube video that's circling the web, "Hot for Hillary." It turns out that Taryn Southern -- a former American Idol participant -- made a video parody of the Clinton campaign, a clip that's added a new twist to the "citizen's video" genre. Here's a background news report:

It all started with "Obama Girl" with her crush on Presidential candidate Barack Obama, now someone has a crush on Hillary Clinton.

American Idol contestant Taryn Southern was inspired by "I've Got A Crush On Obama" and decided to make her own parody.

"Thought it was brilliant, witty, clever, funny, you name it," Southern said.

Although her lyrics say, "H-I-L-L-A-R-Y I know you're not gay but I'm hoping for bi...lingual," Southern said that she is a straight woman.

"...I knew the comedy would come from a girl singing about a girl. That's what made the parody different from the Obama Girl video."

Hillary did not comment on the video and the campaign said they had nothing to do with the video.
Check out the video on YouTube.

I tried to cut and paste the video's code, but was unsuccessful. I'm going to try again, though, because the clip's pretty good. Southern's parody is lending some support to the notion that the 2008 presidential race will be "
The YouTube Election":

The 2008 presidential campaign had barely cracked its first yawn when a mischievous imp created a sensation with an update of the famous 1984 Apple TV commercial showing a buff, blonde Über-babe shattering a giant screen with a sledgehammer, liberating the slave drones from their indoctrinated trance. Only, in this revised version it was Hillary Clinton hobgoblinized as the looming commandant in the Orwellian nightmare, her bossy specter hectoring the flour faces of the bedraggled inmates. I didn't find the "Vote Different" ad particularly inspired or persuasive as anti-propaganda in its invocation of Fascism, but the whoosh it caused in the media fed off the Hillary fatigue felt by many, that calcified, sanctified aura of lockstep inevitability. After a speculative tizzy in the political chatsphere as to the secret identity of the "Vote Different" auteur, Phil de Vellis surfaced at the Huffington Post to take credit and have his personal say. A supporter of Barack Obama's and a staffer at Blue State Digital (a pro-Democratic technology firm, from which he departed after the ad was sprung), de Vellis laid out his rationale for the mashup, insisting that he intended Hillary Clinton no disrespect. With a Nixonian clearing of the throat, he wrote, "Let me be clear: I am a proud Democrat, and I always have been. I support Senator Obama. I hope he wins the primary. (I recognize that this ad is not his style of politics.) I also believe that Senator Clinton is a great public servant, and if she should win the nomination, I would support her and wish her all the best." What's less clear is how you can portray Clinton as totalitarianism's dour answer to Miss Jean Brodie, plugging into the right wing's witchiest caricature of her, and insist there's no ill will. It'd be like depicting Rudy Giuliani as Mussolini on the balcony, a malevolent bullfrog exhorting the masses, then disavowing it by saying, "Hey, don't get me wrong, I dig the guy." The most salient point in de Vellis's fess-up was not why he did what he did but how easily it was done: "I made the ad on a Sunday afternoon in my apartment using my personal equipment (a Mac and some software), uploaded it to YouTube, and sent links around to blogs." No muss, no fuss, no brainstorming sessions with the creative team, no sending out for coffee and Danish, just a little quality time on the computer and voilà. Given the editing tools available to even a modest laptop and the ultra-low point of entry into the YouTube marina, de Vellis is no doubt correct when he signs off, "This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed."
On CNN this morning, the Clinton campaign declined to comment on the "Hot for Hillary" clip. But with all this citizens' campaigning taking off, I doubt the Clinton team can stay silent for too long.

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