Presidential elections in the US have been called various things over the last few decades — acrimonious, jingoistic, hate-driven, even surreal. Never, however, have they been called the Internet Elections. Nor for that matter, the YouTube Elections. The 2008 race is different, though. It’s been largely dignified (despite the occasional barbs between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton), and has been driven mostly by news and views presented on the Internet.
Obama’s popularity, in particular, owes a lot to his following on the Web. And so, the events of last week was no different. Will.i.am, frontman for the popular hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas (best known for ‘Where is the Love?’, ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Don’t Funk With My Heart’), and an ardent supporter of Obama put up a music video (based on one his speeches) dedicated to America’s fastest rising political star. With 10 million collective views on YouTube and dipdive.com, the video is already the No 1 for this week.
Will.i.am is not alone in his support. The three-time Grammy winner is accompanied by other American celebrities, including Lost In Translation actor Scarlett Johansson, former basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and CSI: Miami star Adam Rodriguez, in addition to almost 30 other singers, musicians and actors ranging from Tatyana Ali, Herbie Hancock and John Legend to Amber Valletta, Eric Balfour and Kate Walsh. Oh yes, it’s directed by music legend Bob Dylan’s son, Jesse.
Needless to add, Obama’s campaign has been quick to take advantage of this independent video (although Obama says he played no role in its making). It’s already all over his campaign’s community blog, and strategists have been trumpeting his popularity with the younger generation.
Says Will.i.am, "The outcome of the last 2 elections has saddened me... on how unfair, backwards, upside down, unbalanced, untruthful, corrupt, and just simply, how wrong the world and "politics" are... So this year I wanted to get involved and do all I could early.” The video, he says, is the outcome of his despair.
It is not certain yet who the Democratic Party will choose to be its presidential nominee at the national convention in Denver later this August with both Clinton and Obama in a dead heat as of now. What is certain, though, is that Obama is well on his way to becoming the Internet’s first political icon.