Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Video Never Lies

Amateur Attack Ads Tell Interesting story

It’s official. YouTube has become a cultural phenomenon.

Like many recent cultural phenomena, perhaps the greatest strength of YouTube is that it offers its users a do-it-yourself online media outlet (not much unlike blogs – hello!).

Like any do-it-yourself media outlet, YouTube was quickly harnessed for political means. Various people have used YouTube – as well as similar sites such as Google Video – for various political purposes. Those with a stake in the current Liberal leadership campaign are no different.

Often, the way the grassroots uses the do-it-yourself online media tells an interesting story.

Once again, the current Liberal leadership contest is no different.

A number of amateur attack ads have been uploaded to these sites. They convey an interesting image of the Liberal party at this turning point in its history – and it may not be a very pretty picture at that.

The bulk of the videos take aim at one of two targets (if, of course, one ignores the mass of attention paid to George Bush and Stephen Harper): frontrunners Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff.

”Once a Dipper, Always a Dipper” takes aim at Rae, predictably highlighting Rae’s career as the disastrous NDP premier of Ontario, and listing several inflammatory quotes made about the Liberals during that time. “Keep leadership in the family,” becomes the theme of the piece.

”Timmy” portrays a couple of pop-art Ontarians, NDP supporters turned Liberals, shocked to learn of Rae’s candidacy for the Liberal leadership. While the mother is driven to drinking, the father tells his son Timmy the story of “Rae days” in scant detail. Rae Days are also the subject of ”Potholes”. In ”NDP Orange” it is actually suggested that Rae’s candidacy for the Liberal leadership metaphorically pisses on the “great” image and legacy of the Liberal party.

George Bush and the Republicans also become an omnipresent spectre. In ”Michael Ignatieff Outakes”, a South Park-style animated Ignatieff needs to be corrected after announcing his candidacy for the Republican party. He is later on seen ogling a map of Iraq. ”Fit to Be President” makes use of Hulk Hogan’s famous “Real American” entry music, and makes reference to some of Ignatieff’s contentious writings on imperialism and torture, as well as a photoshopped image of Iggy with an Eagle perched on his outstretched ”Presidential Finger”. A video of this title tries to turn a hand gesture into a political issue (yet curiously makes few references to Pierre Trudeau’s Prime Ministerial finger).

Speaking of Pierre Trudeau, no Liberal campaign of any sort could possibly be complete without someone exhuming his ideological grave, and this campaign is no exception to this rule. ”Quebec as a Nation: A New Perspective” quotes Pierre Trudeau at length on the issue of Quebec nationalism, painting Michael Ignatieff – whose recent Quebec as a nation appeal reopened the issue – as an outsider, out of touch with Liberal values. Video can also be found of Justin Trudeau responding to Ignatieff’s suggestion.

Even nutbars such as Alex Jones have weighed in, spreading their typical paranoid nonsense, and insinuating that Bob Rae could be used as a sacrificial lamb to allow the Conservative party to help institute a North American Union of Canada, Mexico and the United States.

To be fair, there are some bright spots. In particular, Gerard Kennedy’s supporters have posted some positive ads, highlighting their candidate’s strengths.

Frankly, these ads do not paint a flattering picture of the Liberal party.

Not only do they paint a start picture of a party divided against itself, they also reinforce the (arguably) popular public image of the Liberals as a party running headlong into a dead end – of a party so committed to living in the past that they cannot possibly lay claim to the bold vision for the future they often lay claim to. Between rampant anti-Americanism, and political xenophobia, these ads show a side of the Liberal party they would likely much rather remain private.

But nothing remains private when it is posted to online video, for the entire world to see.

1 comment:

  1. damn my only video on youtube is me chugging a beer...


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