Emotive Politics Mediascape

Beyond his policy positions and rhetorical mad skillz, Barack Obama is setting a new standard for excellence in mass communication propaganda. Go to Barack TV and check out the “Generation Obama” video. It’s just under 15 min long, documentary style, and a fascinating example of aspirational politics.
* It opens with organizing a student meeting, generating questions for a conference call. It then moves to student discussion of the Virginia Tech meltdown. The question crafted for the conference call is about international relations.
* 4:00 – Students sitting around telling their story. All student conversation; no narration or voice-over.
* 6:00 – Today’s college sophomores were seven years old at the time of the Oaklahoma City bombing, 11 years old at the time of the Columbine murders, and 13 years old on 9/11/2001. Video continues with their stories about 9/11 – all their ideas and opinions.
* 7:30 – Back to Virginia Tech. Students discussion the loss of safety.
* 9:00 – Serious mood is broken to outright humor as a student acts out and mocks Barack’s 2004 speech. Making fun of him! Produced and promoted by the campaign—would Clinton ever make fun of herself?
* 10:00 – Obama appears for the first time, and we’re into some stump speech territory.
* 12:00 – Barack backstage with the students, joshing about cell phone photos.
This short film shows students learning the operations of political operations—how to move the people and levers of democracy. This is a legacy of the Dean campaign: increasing activism. Students trying to make sense of the world—struggling to find the right response; not simply black and white reactions. Students trying to make a difference—willing to put themselves out there and have fun at the candidate the meet ‘n greet. Politics is fun people.
It was filmed on April 19th, but has only just now entered rotation, taking an implicit or subconcious position that he’s been a consistent candidate, the same person since Spring. All of this is powerful political propaganda. Motivational, educational, instructional. The campaign filmed all this raw material and have been producing it in due time, rolling it out when the time feels right. It’s a very powerful media strategy, deploying raw media material as the situation dictates. This one models active, positive, and good student behavior. Nearly zero specific policy discussion – you can read the data on the website. This was all emotion. Closing the sale.
I have been an Obama supporter since March or April last year, which you may have first noticed as a semi-amusing blog post:

“I heard you wanted an Obama bumper sticker,” he said, as he handed me the goods. I nearly fell over. “Wow! This is like a precious commodity!,” I exclaimed. “Yeah, they’re really hard to get,” he said. I said, “I went on the website, and I couldn’t believe they weren’t selling them.” Then Dave said, “Yeah, I was talking with Graham, and he said you wanted one.” I laughed out loud. “You were talking with Graham?!?!?” Like, this is the modern political campaign. Including intrastate backchannel discussion about getting Michael J. his Obama bumper sticker? My mind reeled. “Yeah,” he said, “I came a couple of times last week, but you weren’t here.” Three words: O. M. G. I’m thinking, here’s this guy, walking the streets of Hanover, searching for Michael J., with a single Obama bumpersticker in his hand! It’s like they invented some weird, inefficient, but personal, and effective, distribution mechanism.

They have long been people-powered at the grass-roots, with advanced technology (targeted CRM, portable video, web distribution, online fundraising), expressing the messages that their own audience puts in their own words!. And now everyone else is paying attention. No need to say much in person, now. Show up and inspire, support the detail online. Stay connected on a human level. Voice your campaign with your audience’s own words and faces.
So, he’s getting my vote this round. It’s brilliant, daaahling.