In 2004 the winds of political change started to blow, flowing freely from the animated mouth of George W. Bush in a cowboy hat. JibJab.com launched their famous “This Land” video in response to the Bush/Kerry presidential election in 2004, a video that is now considered to be the first ever viral election video. Gregg Spiridellis and his brother Evan made the video in a “pre-YouTube” era and have since gotten more than eight million views. “Politics can be a dry, confusing topic to most people, hardly entertaining. We love bringing the laughs to the people which is why our short videos really resonate.” says Spiridellis.
Since then many others have taken their lead and created viral video parodies ranging from the hilarious poor lip readings of politicians to a few of the not safe for work (NSFW) variety involving Sarah Palin in a porno. Spoiler: you will never look at snowmobiles the same way again.
The Spiradellis bros say that the Democrats and Republicans are equally absurd. Maybe that’s why both sides of the political spectrum seem to be getting their share of YouTube views this election.
Top Ten Videos of the 2012 Election, compiled and commented on by Molly Sanchez.
Click on the title of the video to watch on YouTube.
10. Romney/Obama Hot and Cold
Posted: Oct. 16, 2012
When asked about his favorite political videos Spiridellis was quick to point out the lip sync videos that have been going around this election cycle. This YouTube channel specializes in splicing videos of Obama to make him “sing” the lyrics of popular songs (Carly Rae Jepsen’s perennial classic, “Call Me Maybe” chief among them). The choice of song here seems especially poignant given politician’s penchant to smile beatifically one minute and mudsling the next. Fingers crossed for a follow-up video based on Justin Bieber’s “Baby” as an allegory for Medicare.
9. Big Bird for Obama Ad
Posted: Oct. 9, 2012
In his first presidential debate Governor Romney had a lot of good comments to make about the state of healthcare and taxes in America, yet the only thing people remember is his stance on public television, or as I call it “The War on Big Bird.” It’s not a huge surprise that a conservative would be against Sesame Street citizens. (We can imagine Bert and Ernie aren’t thrilled with the party’s stance on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!) Democrats capitalized on this sound bite faster than Mr. Hooper could whip up a birdseed milkshake and this is the result.
8. Homer Simpson Votes
Posted Sept. 20, 2012
Springfield’s favorite father is back again, this time to discuss the political climate of contemporary America. Mmm….politics. This clip, aired as a promotion for the 24th season of The Simpsons, touches on a lot of hot button issues for this election from voter ID laws to gas station televisions, to Michelle Obama’s stand on health food. Eat your heart out, South Park.
7. Romney Girl
Posted Oct. 6, 2012
Trisha Paytas, amateur political commentator and makeup enthusiast would like to remind you that “Mitt” rhymes with “Tit” and “I have two of those so….” The latter maxim is just one of many reasons she is urging her followers to vote for Governor Romney (though the pun-minded among us would like to know how she could manage said “tits” without an Obam-bra.) Laugh at her comparisons between the governor and her cat if you will but mock not her enthusiasm to vote, especially in light of polls that suggest college age women vote less than men. http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/research/topics/documents/young.pdf
Plus you can read her “eww plane, go away” comment as a subtle 9/11 homage.
6. Shut Your Yapper
Posted: Oct. 4, 2012
I don’t care what your daddy says, Jimmy Fallon election videos are here! This video perfectly parodies the bullying of moderator Jim Lehrer during the first presidential debate who was ignored more that Matt Damon on Jimmy Kimmel. What’s that? You think my jokes are trite? I think you’ll find I have four more videos so jujunah nah neet. Juuu juuu nah naha neeeet!
5. Get Nana a Gun
Posted: Sept. 20, 2012
Whether her videos are about scrapping the Vatican for parts or doing the nasty with Matt Damon comedienne Sarah Silverman always makes her presence known on YouTube. Her message this election is about the proposed voter identification law that she says will affect “black people, old people, poor people, and students.” Her modest proposal is that everyone buy their grandma a gun license because it will serve as a valid form of identification where a social security card won’t. “It makes sense when you think about it. Cars cost tens of thousands of dollars but if you get a gun you can get a ride virtually anywhere!” Silverman says.
4. The Obama I Used to Know
Posted: Aug. 4, 2012
WARNING: Do NOT watch this video if you don’t want Gotye’s (goat-tee-yay, or Goat-ya?) “Somebody That I Used To Know” stuck in your head for the foreseeable future. This parody, complete with awesome stop-motion body paint showcases one man’s disillusionment with the president. “But you won and then you cut me off, now your speeches never soar as high as unemployment,” and “Sometimes I think that peace prize winners shouldn’t have a kill list” are among some of the song’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics that make this not only an effective parody but also annoyingly catchy and poignant.
3. Kids React to Election 2012
Posted: Oct. 21, 2012
“It’s like five-year-olds fighting over a toy, except the toy is America” is just one of the priceless quotes found in the Fine Brother’s latest “Kids React to” video. Out of the mouths of babes indeed. The responses range from silly to oddly astute and all of them strip the bickering of the political circus to its barest atoms. These kids know nothing of political policy past or present and heck, even a kid ruminates on “binders full of women? And I thought my binder full of magic cards was cool!” Their innocence makes adults both more aware of the absurdities inherent in the political process and of their own lack of that knowledge they thought they would have gained by now. What is the “Electrical College“ college anyway? An archaic institution, or maybe just another PBS show on Romney’s hit list?
2. Patriot Game
Channel: New York Times
Posted: Sept. 17, 2012
Though this creation of the New York Times Op/Ed department may look like a Wreck–It-Ralph trailer, “Patriot Games” is a great testament to the similarity between the two candidates and the silly-ness of the political system as a whole. To boil down speeches to video game-esque “achievement unlocked” scenarios is to showcase the blatant one-upping of each candidate. This kind of searing satire makes the watcher long for the “Game Over” screen.
1. You Must Vote
Posted: Sept. 2, 2012
If the New York Times is brilliant for boiling down politics to video games then Hank Green is brilliant for boiling down voting to Twilight. “Say a guy creates a YouTube video and a bunch of people watch it. Half of them are Twi-hards and half of them are BBC drama fans,” Green says.“ If the Twi-hards leave comments 90 percent of the time and the Whovians leave comments 10 percent of the time, the person who makes the videos will have no idea the Whovians are there and will be much more likely to make content for Twi-hards.” The video was so popular President Obama (or his savvy band of interns) posted it on his official tumblr. His message is succinct and relatable and a great way to encourage young people to exercise their right to vote. Green’s hope in the power of democracy is refreshingly earnest and favors neither party.
Hank Green’s message, like the message of JibJab CEO Spiridellis is nonpartisan. The message, whether it is communicated via a viral video, pamphlet, or snarky editorial is that you, as an American, should exercise your right to vote because it matters to the country you live in. These videos reach millions of people all over the United States and intentionally or not, they spread the message of the inherent silly nature of modern politics. So yes, every candidate can be made to dance, every candidate can say similar truths and lies, and every candidate is basically a monkey in shoes. But at the end of the day, one of them will be the monkey in shoes that makes big decisions on our behalf so we’d better tune in and choose wisely.