Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (with poll)

One of the most annoying arguments you can have with someone is whether something is funny.  Either you think it is or it isn't.  Earlier today I linked to a youtube clip a comedian friend of mine made mocking Hillary Clinton for her stupid 'pick my song' campaign trick, which had an impersonator asking users to submit a theme song for Iraq.  Whether the jokes pop out at you, the impression of Clinton is just dead-on.  When I linked to it, a few hundred people had watched it, but Boingboing picked it up and now it's at over 5000 views.  

I sent it around to a few people involved in the Iraq fight.  Here's the email I received from a Democratic PR person (who is a nice guy deeply embedded in the Iraq fight) when they saw the video.

Big deal, really.  211 people have viewed the video by some unknown comedian.  It doesn't say anything about the troops, it (frankly accurately) points out she was for the war and now against it.  I'd just assume leave it alone and let this comedian flounder in obscurity rather than help her out with publicity.

I've shown the video to a bunch of friends because the whole 'pick a song' trivialization of politics really really bugs me (Dodd had a nice hit on the same theme with his youtube spotlight video). The reaction has been mixed; some people love it and some don't.

Anyway, I think that 'culture bombing' the political system is going to become increasingly the norm in politics.  I'm curious what you think.  Pretend you are a Democratic PR flack, and that this is a real live PR decision, of whether to push this content.

What do you think?  Funny?  No?  And what does the email about the PR person say, if anything?

For my money, the Bill Clinton joke in there kind of bugs me, though it is a really funny joke. I do like the song list, and the vaguely creepy hallmark-esque vibe. It does capture Hillary Clinton, who probably really does like Celine Dionne, Hallmark cards, and casserole (as do millions of Americans who don't watch Adult Swim but do vote).

Tags: Hillary Clinton, Iraq (all tags)

Comments

40 Comments

Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

I think you are doing the work of the GOP for them.

by NCJim 2007-06-28 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

No, Hillary Clinton is doing the work of the GOP for them.

by mermzilla 2007-06-28 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

The humor in the video came across pretty flat, a lot like the 1/2 Hour News Hour type stuff where the political points are more important than the funny. As the Daily Show has shown, bring the funny first and the politics will follow.

Political campaigns have always engaged in really silly stuff. It's not a new development.

Oliver Willis

by owillis 2007-06-28 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

It's not like someone made the choice of 'let's not be funny instead let's be political'.

by Matt Stoller 2007-06-28 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

Well that's how the video comes across. That's what always happens when someone is more concerned with getting a political point in than getting a humorous point in that happens to have political content. And  in this case even when you may happen to agree with the point (I sort of do) it hurts the humor.

by owillis 2007-06-28 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

I didn't find the video very funny nor the satire particularly sharp (that is, it didn't challenge Clinton's perspective very much). I also didn't think it captured Hillary very well. A bug-eyed Hillary wearing a power suit and quick-cut camera-work is not particularly funny unless you really hate Hillary. So, all in all, I was not very impressed.

On the larger issue: I agree that culture bombing is really important. The Daily Show, Colbert Report, the other late night talk/comedy shows, Saturday Night Live, Tom Tomorrow, etc. have been essential in ridiculing Bush and his policies and informing audiences who would never listen to Democracy Now! or read The Nation or a progressive blog.

But to be effective, the humor has to be good and the satire sharp. If the outrage is that the campaign is all about picking a theme song instead of addressing important policy issues, then that concept needs to be ridiculed in a way that really points out how silly it is while clearly posing a viable alternative so that people "get it". What is outrageous about picking a theme song? What is the alternative to choosing a theme song? How can that be demonstrated in a clear and funny way?

by RandomNonviolence 2007-06-28 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

exactly. I fails at what it wants to be.

by bruh21 2007-06-28 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

The irony is that I found the video picking a theme song far funnier than this one.  Maybe it is because I am Sopranos fan or that they had Johnny Sack from the Sopranos in it but I thought it was really clever even though I am not supporting Hillary or anyone else at this point.  Campaigns have had theme songs for as long as I can remember so who really cares how they pick them.  

I have to admit the idea of picking a theme song for Iraq, regardless of Hillary's flipflop on the issue, really bothered me.  It really hit me the wrong way probably because people are dying there everyday.  

by John Mills 2007-06-28 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

I thought it worked pretty well. Honestly, the part that I didn't like was the Hillary-air-spank stuff. That's clearly lowbrow pandering. The rest I really liked -- but then again, I really hate Hillary, and therefore like anything that reinforces what a superficial patronizing machine she is.

The bit could be sharper, but it's on the right track. The key is not to try to be all things to all people. There's no point in mixing satire that's aimed at the politically aware with goofy 'hillary + sex' motions.

ps. I hate hillary.

by mermzilla 2007-06-28 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

I like that you admit your biases.  I have similar biases, though I actually find all the major candidates frustrating in various ways.

by Matt Stoller 2007-06-28 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

Did you think the $5 dollar dinner with Obama was a good political stunt?

by Menemshasunset 2007-06-28 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

I'm not sure.  I tend to dislike starfucker stunts, but I didn't follow it closely.

by Matt Stoller 2007-06-28 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

Did you notice that they picked a transgendered woman as one of their dinner attendees?  That got media attention and she opted out of going to the dinner.  A shame really, but interesting that her resume was compelling enough for them to pick.

by juls 2007-06-28 01:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person
 I think she has to combat that offensively sexist, Lady Macbeth imagery ( that has popped up repeatedly  in places like the NYT and Wa Po, never mind less respectable outlets) somehow.
     It annoyed me, too; but it was probably smart strategy to prove she could, in effect, be stupid and goofy and still convey an overall aura of authority.
by sb 2007-06-28 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

She's shown no leadership and has no authority, moral or otherwise. She's the only Dem who could possibly lose in november 2008. By then Iraq will have done even more damage to the Republican brand. Only a Hillary candidacy could energize the right and depress the left enough to keep the GOP in the WH.

by mermzilla 2007-06-28 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person

I got the most laughter out of the Bill Clinton joke.  Is Bill Clinton a sacred cow?  I am a fan of all the good Bill Clinton has done for this country.  However, are we suppose to stay shut about his DLC positions?  Are we supposed to allow ourselves to be thrown under a bus when a Dick Morris or Mark Penn ask him or Hillary to do so for political gain?  And  are we over his comments on Larry King Live regarding Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont?  These are serious issues that need to be addressed because Hillary will use him as soon as her candidacy flounders. I am not going to stand by and watch the Clintonistas attack my candidate even if the attacker is Bill Clinton.

by jncamane 2007-06-28 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

The John Kerry "Milkshake song" joke still has me laughing...I can't figure out why.

by lorax 2007-06-28 01:25PM | 0 recs
ROFLMAO!!

not even kidding!

by jforshaw 2007-06-28 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

That impression is dead on! Very funny.

by scaryice 2007-06-28 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny

Okay because you asked:

a) Over MTV editing. So visually it sucks.

b) It doesn't capture HRC. It captures a comedian. She's funny, but the whole slapping ass thing she does- what's that?

c) Have no idea what it's about. You say Iraq- I say Bill Clinton's sex life. I say it's about the comedian being funny- not about the politics. It's cool so long as one gets this- but I assumed you thought it was doing more than being Borat type funny right?

d) Is it funny? I chuckled a couple of times in a Borat way at the sex stuff, but did I remember anything about Iraq or care? Did I think of the politics- will it last? On this level, it failed.

Conclusion: it's not enough to make it funny. Make it funny so that people are laughing at the stuff about the candidate you want them to find funny. If they aren't focused on the candidate's weaknesses with your target audience, it's not funny for the audience.

PS- 5000 people is not that impressive and nor does a viral sensation make.

by bruh21 2007-06-28 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny

By the way- the question I just posed- does anyone think about the political point is important? Why because when I said borat- I am wrong. Borat had a political statement and I got that statement. Did anyone here really besides wanting to 'get it' really get the politics of why not HRC?

by bruh21 2007-06-28 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

It seemed to be trying to reinforce rush limbaugh talking points humor.

The joke about lap dances seemed crude flat and sophmorish.

Saw no humor just a hit job.

by the way i personally do not support Hillary and have always felt that Bill was the best republican president we had in the 20th century so no this is not a matter of protecting any sacred cows.

by Rational 2007-06-28 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Campaign song

By the way, I think the Clinton campaign theme song should be "Start Wearing Purple" by Gogol Bordello, because this kind of dynastic politics smacks of the same royalty feel as King George I and King George II.  

Actually, I wouldn't wish that infamy on Gogol Bordello.

Ok, ok, Clinton people, I will enthusiastically support her IF she gets the nomination, because EVERY alternative will then be so much worse.  But, not until after she gets the nomination!

by leveller 2007-06-28 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Campaign song

Yes! I'd vote for her if she had the good taste to pick Gogol Bordello!

by Danothebaldyheid 2007-06-28 03:04PM | 0 recs
My thoughts on this (part II)

.

by bowiegeek 2007-06-28 02:04PM | 0 recs
Yes, funny, should be widely seen

First, any chance to point out Hillary is a disaster on Iraq is important. Second, the fact her supporters have so little taste to vote for Celine fucking Dion is also important to point out.

As the DLC candidate, I really don't think anything is out of bounds and I'd rather everyone realize that culture bombing is here to stay before the general election. Vote Different has been seen more than 3,500,000 times and with Hillary's potential support maxed out under 50 and her the perfect target it is important that people stand up against her now rather than fret about how her candidacy is a disaster a year from now.

by Bob Brigham 2007-06-28 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

I'm not wowed by it.  Personally, I prefer something like the new video by Drug Policy Alliance - funny, educational, and action oriented.

I agree that culture bombing/jamming is going to become the norm in politics (and, in fairness, between Colbert and the Daily Show, it already is), but this is a low-end product I think, interesting more for its novelty at this stage of the game than for its quality.  

Stuff will start to emerge that make this Hillary look ridiculous and amateurish. It's pointing the way forward, but destined to be left by the wayside.

by Mike Connery 2007-06-28 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

You may not like it, but it's not done by amateurs.

http://candacebrown.com/

Candace is a veteran improv person, and Kent is the guy behind AskANinja.com.  I have respect for people who do professional comedy, as it's extremely difficult to do well.

One thing that's perplexing is why people automatically assume that their opinion on comedy is teh one true opinion.  As in, 'man, Saturday Night Live is NOT funny and I can't believe anyone likes it'.  Well sure, it's not funny to you, just as I'm sure there are many people who hate Celine Dionne.  But that doesn't necessarily mean it's badly done, it could just mean that you don't like it.

by Matt Stoller 2007-06-28 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

I didn't say it was done by amateurs, I said it seemed amateurish.  Just because someone is a professional doesn't mean the work they produce can't be amateurish.

I love Ask A Ninja, but I think this is subpar for that crew.

As you say, it really is a matter of taste.  I hated  Jib Jab too.  I thought there was much better political satire on the web in 2004, but folks like what they like.  

There's really no right or wrong, only effective or not effective.  Even with the BoingBoing bump, I think the jury is still out on this one.  It still has less than 5,000 hits.

The "Incarcerex" video just got BoingBoinged as well.  We'll see how that does.  Hopefully the DPA folks will get a good boost out of it.

by Mike Connery 2007-06-28 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

Good points, all.  I like it, though I could do without the spanking and the Bill joke, but that's just my opinion.

by Matt Stoller 2007-06-28 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

oh no, the spanking was one of the best parts.  if we can't laugh at our own folks, we are pretty sad people.

by Ag 2007-06-29 07:01AM | 0 recs
Dude.

That was f***ing hilarious.

If I get rich, I will bankroll a show for her. I have watched it 4 times and it's still cracking me up.

by jforshaw 2007-06-28 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

I agree.  The Incarcerex video is much funnier.

by John Mills 2007-06-28 08:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

I thought it was pretty funny. The plasticy and weird nature of her one-on-one camera spots make my skin crawl, and this satire piece nailed that completely.

But I do understand why people don't want to jump on the bandwagon of Hillary mocking like this, because if the unfortunate thing happens and she wins the primary, we will get plenty of mocking just like this from the GOP.

by Jenifer Fernandez Ancona 2007-06-28 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

In general, we need to be careful with mocking. Mocking is a great technique for propagandists to trash an opponent without actually having any valid criticism. That is why the Right uses it so much.

No matter who the Democratic candidate is she/he will be mocked by the Right using professional comics. They have a lot more money to go down this road. What we have are facts and integrity. Our mocking must be pointed and poignant -- illuminating the bad policies of the Republicans. They can't easily follow us down this path.

It is important for us to use our strengths (facts and integrity), not try to be propagandists like the Right.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-06-28 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny

I actually edited something written by Candace and directed by Kent that ended up winning an international award at the SXSW Film Festival.

I haven't seen anyone do a better Hillary impression, I'll say that.

by dday 2007-06-28 09:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

Funny, maybe not hitting a home-run funny, but funny.

She couldn't quite bug her eyes out enough though, but is that even possible?

What's up with those bugged-out eyes anyway?  It totally freaks me out - someone's gotta make fun of that.

by Ag 2007-06-29 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

Without the anime Adult Swim has become boring. Every single thing they've done since Venture Brothers has sucked except for Robot Chicken.

It's a little bit funny but not very funny.

by MNPundit 2007-06-29 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny with a Democratic PR Person (wi

I think it was a real stretch for content.  I feel like every blog is desperately looking for some video parody or something that will spark controversy.  

by seattlerock 2007-06-29 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Debating Funny

A funny, well deserved parody. Good parody shines a light on foolish, ridiculous, or absurd behavior of its subject. Somebody has to tell her majesty she has no clothes.

by croweb 2007-06-29 10:38PM | 0 recs

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