YouTube’s 5 Sorriest Questions for the 2008 Presidential Candidates

By
June 19th, 2007
What if my President was selected by MySpace? It's the nagging concern raised when young video bloggers lob questions at the Presidential candidates. In July when the Democrats gather in Charleston, they'll find CNN has swapped in questions that were uploaded as videos to YouTube.

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..."

1. Headzup



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...


See also:
YouTube, the 20-year-old, and Date Unknown
Should YouTube Hear Me?
John Edwards' Virutal Attackers Unmasked
Iraq Battle Footage
The 5 Sexiest Apple Videos


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16 Responses to “YouTube’s 5 Sorriest Questions for the 2008 Presidential Candidates”

  1. Are we prepared? | Hyperkinesis.net Says:

    [...] Perhaps I was wrong all along and we are just not prepared, or willing for this. In any case, this article in 10 Zen Monkeys, presents some interesting [...]

  2. Ned Says:

    Nice work there, mass amateurisation.

  3. chris coda Says:

    Hold on a second, why is #1 a joke? The military has discharged a group of linguistics experts who speak Farsi and other Middle Eastern languages, some of which were serving in Iraq, because they are gay (not sure of the exact number).

    I assume if the this highly unlikely event were to actually occur, it would be the military who would have access to the intel, so what if the only available linguists were known or suspected to be gay? Or if none were available because they were all overseas, where they are so badly needed– Because, well, we fired a bunch of them for being gay.

    It’s just as likely as the inane “ticking-timebomb-I’ve-been-watching-too-many-24 episodes-while-eating-cheetos-in-my-moms-basement” rationale.

  4. Bill Walsh Says:

    Ah the wine kone. Genius.

  5. Maplestan? Says:

    Your point about Daniel Clark (see the end of the video 3 discussion) was interesting …until I followed the link to learn that we here in Maplestan actually did not elect said Mr. Clark – which totally undermines the smug attempt at irony. Or have I misunderstood you?

  6. Jeff Diehl Says:

    Oops, I linked to the wrong Wikipedia page. Try Richard “Gentle Ben” Thomas instead.

  7. Jordan Says:

    I agree with Chris Coda. While the first video is a bit of a troll, it’s a very good one. Right now there’s an critical shortage of military translators in Iraq, yet the military has discharged 300 of them for not being heterosexual. That’s no laughing matter. Here’s some background:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKSAJdLLwzc

  8. GSmith Says:

    The Washington Post page lists 12 great videos.
    http://blog.washingtonpost.com/channel-08/2007/06/cnnyoutube_debate_the_best_of.html

    There’ll always be buffoons, but misrepresenting these 5 as indicative of the whole lot is pretty sloppy.

  9. The Official Website Of Brandon J. Mendelson » Blog Archive » Do You Hear The Barrel Being Scraped yet? Says:

    [...] website 10 Zen Monkeys has collected, what they think, are the five worst Youtube videos submitted for the CNN / Youtube debates. They argue there are only 120 submissions thus far for the [...]

  10. 10zenmonkeys Says:

    Interesting article. And by interesting, I mean lame.

  11. DickGhostMoon Says:

    Thanks for the number 2 slot. I can’t advance a reasonable explanation for the Disclosure Project (ie 600 witnessess with impeccable credentials willing to testify the truth in congress) – so its time to let congress find the answers so we can all make informed opinions.

  12. Destiny Says:

    I’d say #1 is a joke because it’s delivered by an animated George Bush.

    It’s not clear that the questioner even cares about gay rights in the military — they could just as easily be thinking that it’s funny to use the word “homosexual.”

    That’s sort of the point of the article. The YouTubers haven’t embraced the faux “be seen and be counted” meme. Instead they’re using it to play around in their own, original ways. Election what?

  13. boostailey Says:

    Actually, Canadians _are scratching their heads at y’all.

    Can’t quite figure out the shoot ‘em, jail ‘em, leave ‘em bleedin’ in the street, actor-electin’ way you otherwise fairly nice folks go about things.

    Curious, really.

    But maybe that’s why we Canadians are known for breeding such good comedians; we have such absurd neighbours.

    Yes, neighbours with a “u”. And then there’s the whole thing with “w”, of course.

  14. VideoFatwa (r) Says:

    This one, of course, was rejected from the contest. Does Osama WANT to be found??

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOlR-whAeiM

  15. Words Dept. » Blog Archive » YouTube does hard political journalism. And fails. Says:

    [...] post questions to US presidential candidates. Predictably, the results are Godawful. Here’s a link to an amusing selection of the worst five videos [...]

  16. e.politics: online advocacy tools & tactics » Quick Hits — June 26, 2007 Says:

    [...] Top 5 stoopid YouTube questions for politicians. Let’s rethink that YouTube presidential debate idea…via ReelPop. [...]

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