June 19th, 2007
At least that was the hope when the CNN/YouTube "debate" was announced. Unfortunately, no one cared about the announcement (except the commenter who added "omg the youtube guy is fucking HAWTT!!!"). Nearly a week later, YouTube has managed to assemble just over 120 questions to choose from. And five of them are the dogs below.
Yes, for years we've dreamed of an interactive democracy — a giant techno-village wired into a real, two-way discourse. Why shouldn't our lawmakers get the same crowd-polling technology that's available to contestants on 1 vs. 100? (Answer: because the wisdom of the crowd is matched only by the buffoonery of the individual.)
While it's morbidly amusing to imagine candidates groveling for LonelyGirl15's endorsement, YouTube is slyly attempting to appear democratic without actually accomplishing anything. But maybe that's YouTube's cynical comment on democracy itself. Maybe they're imagining the event's slogan as: "It's participatory! It's YouTube! And it's stupid! Just like voting..."
This question comes to us from "HeadzUp", who specializes in badly-animated cartoons of jabbering heads — in this case, George W. Bush.
The cartoon President starts a familiar gotcha question — if a dirty nuclear bomb killed millions, and a second bomb risked millions more lives... But never mind. It's a joke.
"you are totally a moron," replied an irate YouTube commenter, "and if youtube had a star rating for the DUMB FUCKS, you would most certainly qualify, hands down LMAO,FOAD."
We've elevated the discourse already.
2. We are not alone
A user named "DickGhostmoon" wants to ask the candidates "a very, very serious question...about aliens." He's titled his video "alien autopsy CNN YOUTUBE Debate," and includes footage of a 2001 press conference seeking the declassification of secret government information about extra-terrestrials.
And there's also some footage of Santa Claus.
Interestingly, the question comes from England, and YouTube also received questions from Spain, Canada, Australia, and Malaysia.
We're guessing these questioners aren't even voting. They're just mocking our hopelessly compromised electoral system while enjoying their universal health care.
3. "88% of Californians..."
Imagine the next President of the United States fielding questions from "The Wine Kone." His YouTube channel identifies him as a Canadian, and promises "video responses and who knows what else (probably lameness)."
His self-described "very important question" concerns Arnold Schwarzenegger, his re-election as governor of California, and... No wait. It's another joke, this one about cyborgs and the plot of Terminator III.
"YouTube didn't put me up to this," adds a superfluous title at the end. (Really? Because it's hard to believe that YouTube would allow something so edgy unless they had an ironical hand in it.)
Maybe one day, with enough help from biting Canadian jokes like this one, Americans will penetrate the haze of our Puritan, bi-polar system and, like Maplestan, finally see how ultra-silly it is to elect actors as politicians.
4. "Hi, Hillary..."
OMG! It's a cartoon animation of Hillary Clinton! Asking a question to Hillary Clinton! My head is about to explode!
The question — read by a speech synthesizer — presents scenarios about access to health care. By the way, did I mention it's read by a Hillary Clinton avatar? "Give us a nice answer," it asks, "so you look good — and I look good!"
Video hides the face of the American asking, but maybe it reveals a deeper truth — that the real appeal of politics is the opportunity to preen and pose. "Please advise me on your future vision for addressing our health care crisis," the video seems to say...
"And also, check out my cool new widget!"
5. "So cool..."
16 people have rated this video. It's average score? One star. YouTube user Netram59 summed up the response. "You say YouTubers have a lot to say but it seems you don't."
But the uploader — "GoodNeighbor" — is actually part of an L.A. based sketch comedy crew. "They all like to draw," reads their YouTube profile, "and make music and movies and stuff!!" Hooray!
Is it better or worse that "GoodNeighbor" skipped the chance to question our next President for a quick laugh? I'm honestly not sure. YouTube may have empowered a generation, but maybe it's a good thing that the giant internet corporation hasn't been able to channel them all into a specific, YouTube-directed activity.
Maybe the revolution was never meant to be televised...
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