If 2008 was the year of Obamagirl and Hillarygirl – the musical spoof in politics – 2012′s viral videos are turning toward the mash-up – taking real video to make literally put words in politicians mouths.
Both are part of the growing and ever-more-creative catalog of Internet videos that spoof politics and presidential candidates.
The latest and most inventive example stitches the words of Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and others together to create a not entirely flattering picture of Romney, focusing on some of his gaffes during the 2012 campaign season.
It’s set to the song “The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem. Except in the political mash-up version, it is “Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up.”
It includes lyrics like, “You all act like you haven’t seen a Mormon before” and “I want every American to be in the top 1 percent.” And it uses the term “mass debater,” uttered by Romney in a way that makes it sound like a different word.
Of course Mitt Romney never said those things, but the cuts of the video put them in his voice.
A similar series has President Obama sing the actual lyrics of Lady Gaga songs.
With all the White House video available free and online, manipulating the president’s words has never been easier.
The Romney “Slim Shady” video goes further by creating an entirely new and unique rap for the candidate. It The video was made by Hugh Atkin, who describes himself on his website as a lawyer living in Australia, and who has been making original YouTube videos since 2007.
The rough cuts of the video make it an obvious – and successful – farce. Less obvious was a Grammy-inspired video that put words mocking Newt Gingrich into a voice that sounded a lot like Adele and over video of her singing “Someone Like You,” at the Grammy awards.
You, of course, rhymes with Newt.
That video, which has half a million views, was produced by Howard Neuthaler, a New Yorker and former lawyer, who wants to transition full-time to the world of viral video production. It was labeled in the tags on YouTube as parody, but at least one report suggested it was really Adele singing. Neuthaler said it was the voice of a friend, but wouldn’t divulge her identity.
Neuthaler and his Venga Productions have produced videos with varying degrees of popularity. And he’s roasted both sides of the political aisle.
“I’m definitely a Democrat, liberal, all that stuff. Its all about comedy for me. A lot of people are interested in the political stuff,” he said this year.
Then there is the website “Bad Lip Reading,” in which the creator, who has remained anonymous, puts funny gibberish in the mouths of candidates.
“I’m crazy and I’m right,” Rick Santorum is made to appear to say in a recent posting. Most of the Bad Lip Reading posts have well more than a million views. And they’re making money too. Each is pre-rolled by a commercial of up to a minute long.
If Neuthaler wants to make a living as a web producer, he could do worse than to emulate Bad Lip Reading or Ben Relles, the man behind 2008′s Obamagirl.
Relles and a partner started Barely Political, which was ultimately bought by YouTube in March 2011. And while Obamagirl herself is still making Internet videos, he has moved on to become Head of Creative Development for YouTube. He helps YouTube partners – individuals who roll ads with their videos to generate income – grow their audience online.
There are 30,000 people around the world who are YouTube partners, according to company spokeswoman Abbi Tatton, who said, “they might be making pocket money or they might be making six figures.”
Alphacat is one of the more successful partners featuring political video. His videos have some some 100 million views and he is in the YouTube partner program, meaning he gets revenue from running ads on his videos.
The president’s address on the death on Bin Laden, has about 6.3 million views. The parody of the same by Alphacat has more than 7 million. But most Alphacat videos have somewhere in the low hundred thousands.
How does one become a viral sensation? Relle’s main piece of advice to budding YouTube auteurs is speed.
“Being original is key,” he said. But there are other elements.
Second: “Be quick. Sometimes stories only have 24- to 48-hour lifecycles… It needs to be funny but also quick enough to being part of the story,” he said.
He certainly did that with “Obamagirl,” which was produced before Barack Obama was really challenging Hillary Clinton in 2008. for Relles, which he said, “changed everything about the way I viewed creating comedy and creating content.”
It’s now got 150 million views online and channels associated with Barely Political have more than a billion views. The most popular now aren’t even related to politics, but music videos and comic book characters.