Obama Mia!

The 1992 election saw Democrat Bill Clinton trailing behind Republican George H. W. Bush. It also saw MTV, now over a decade old, trying to find new ways to stay relevant and meet the needs of their audience beyond music videos. The Rock The Vote campaign had begun two years previously with musicians making ads to encourage young people to register and vote. These ads had been given plenty of play time on MTV and coupled with the growth of MTV News, it showed that young people cared about issues other than Paula Abdul's new haircut.

MTV began by assigning a team to cover the election and eventually set up a town hall meeting for the candidates. Both Bush and Perot turned the offer down, but Clinton needed all the help he could get in the polls. Clinton answered serious questions about serious issues but also about his first rock and roll experience (Going nuts over Elvis Presley). Did Clinton's time on MTV make any difference in the campaign? He ended up winning with 43 percent of the vote and young voter turnout was up 20 percent from 1988.

These days, MTV seems to have less 'M', instead of focusing on the worst dating reality shows imaginable and following around celebrities. You can't really blame them however as the internet has forced them to find new programming to keep viewers. Why sit around watching countless videos you don't want to see until your favorites show up when you can view whatever you want whenever you want on YouTube? As music videos have migrated to the internet, so has music's attempts to shape public opinion.

On February 2, 2008, the Black Eyed Pea's Will.I.Am released "Yes We Can", a video based almost exclusivley on a speech given by Barack Obama and directed by Bob Dylan's son, Jesse Dylan. Shot in black and white and featuring 34 musicians, actors, and actresses, it samples Obama's most hope-inducing rhetoric. As of the beginning of August, the video has had nearly 9 million plays on YouTube.

Ludacris recently made a pro-Barack song of his own, "Obama Is Here". His track has caused controversy, bashing on Hillary, Bush, and proclaiming that McCain, "don't belong in any chair unless he's paralyzed". Rather than the optomistic tone of Will.I.Am's video, "Obama Is Here" comes across as militant as Ludacris threatens to "paint the White House black". Obama spokesman Bill Burton commented, "While Ludacris is a talented individual, he should be ashamed of these lyrics," and went on to say that the song is "outrageously offensive".

And what of John McCain? Is anyone going to make a song for him? Unfortunatley, the music industry is predominantly liberal save a few stars. Paris Hilton is one(she recorded a few songs right?). Her family recently donated to the McCain campaign. We can only suppose that Britney Spears is supporting McCain after her comments about trusting President Bush and our involvement in the Iraq War. Loyalties aside, the two tabloid princesses are now being used in a McCain ad portraying Obama as the biggest celebrity in the world; all style but no substance. I guess they won't be making a song for him anytime soon.

So far the only artist to make a YouTube video supporting McCain is Madonna. Who would have thought?

Only time will tell if YouTube can make the same kind of difference in this election that MTV did in the early 90's. The one thing that is for sure is the fact that Obama is the first "YouTube-able" presidential candidate in the history of America. There is no telling how many of his 229,000 videos on the site are music related but it sure beats McCain's 85,900. No matter who you support, rock the vote America.


Anonymous said...

that McCain video is hilarious

Arielle said...

For some reason watching Will.I.Am in "Yes We Can" makes me want to be a vegetarian and go green, along with vote for Obama.

vicm said...

It is a very inspiring song. I once heard a version of "Imagine" made completley out of George W. Bush clips. That was pretty funny.

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