The Impact of Non-Traditional Videos on the 2012 Presidential Election

With Election Day around the corner, it’s time to buckle down and make some serious, long-term decisions.  On the fence?  Maybe some ridiculous videos will help you make your choice. 

He started during the 2008 election with the viral video "BarackRoll", and this year Hugh Atkin is back with some even more parodies mocking this year’s battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. If you don’t remember "BarakRoll," in this video, creator Hugh Atkin takes cuts of Obama’s speeches and mashes them all together to create the lyrics of Rick Astley’s "Never Gonna Give You Up", with the instrumental playing in the background. The video was called "BarakRoll" because of a meme at the time in 2008: people would trick their friends into clicking a link or watching a video, which was always followed by Rick Astley’s music video taking over their computers or Blackberries.

The Australian Lawyer and apparent political viral video producer’s "Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up," uploaded to his blog and Youtube channel in March of 2012, is produced in a similar way, except this time to Eminem’s song, "Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up." Check it out below:

"Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up" has received 5.8 million views on Youtube in 7 months.’

On September 16, Atkin released his second most popular video of the season onto Youtube. This one is called "U Didn’t Build That by MC ‘Bama", and it came shortly after Republicans attacked Barack Obama for a phrase in his campaign speech in Roanoke, VA. Referring to businesses relying on multiple American resources, the President said,

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Immediately after the speech, The quote "You didn’t build that" was pulled out of the context of the speech, and became the center of anti-Obama campaigns, including a commercial by Mitt Romney’s camp. To make light of this, and to ridicule the explosive reaction, Atkin created the below video.

In one month, the video had over 1 million hits. In fact, if you type "Obama" into Youtube, you will see the search term "obama you didn’t build that" directly underneath "obama 2016", the latter most certainly being a search term for one of the most influential piece of pre-election editorial, Dinesh D’Souza’s popular documentary, "2016: Obama’s America".

It is a relief, after seeing how many hits each of these videos have gotten in their time on the web, to see that the Presidential Debates have been seeked out and viewed more (although not very much). But we can’t help but ask – are these ridiculous(ly funny) videos going to influence Americans when they walk into the ballot stations next Tuesday to vote?

Doubtful. The above two videos are clearly manufactured, and any educated American would know to watch these strictly for entertainment purposes. Yes, the videos each have a very clear message, but unless you have been following the election on a more serious level, you might not understand the messaging anyway.

At the very least, they are creating debates. If you go to the Youtube comment sections of "Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up" and "U Didn’t Build That by MC ‘Bama" , you will see that these parodies have actually stirred up some genuine conversation between every-day Americans. Although it is doubtful to us that the videos alone would sway even an undecided party one way or the other, here Youtube provides a place for people to react and have their voices heard.

And no non-traditional video is stirring up more conversation than Epic Rap Battles of History’s videos.

The people at Epic Rap Battles of History created a few seemingly unbiased videos aimed at young people, asking them to then tweet and debate about the election.

It is much more likely that through the debate and conversation prompted by this type of non-traditional campaign video, decisions may be affected. Beyond this, the videos seem to be some much-needed comic relief, during a season of extremely intense and heated campaigning and debating.

The real question is, is it a coincidence that nearly all of the available parodies for the 2012 election are pro-Obama and anti-Romney? Does this say something about Democrats vs. Republicans?

What do YOU think about these videos? Will they help you to make your decision next week?

While you think about it, check out this last parody, "Mitt Romney Style":