Tuesday, February 5, 2008
At this point, if you haven't seen Will.i.am's video "Yes We Can" you have been living under a veritable rock. Hell, the day the video was released I received four different emails linking to the video, with such descriptions as "inspiring!" and "beautiful!"
Now let me disclaim the following commentary with an admission: before I viewed the video on youtube, a very good friend of mines IM-ed me saying "Am I the only one that wasn't that moved by the video?" So already I went into it with a cynic's eye for disappointment. I'd also like to fully disclose my skepticism: I am a critic's critic and have been described as "having something to say about everything." If I watched God create the earth I'd probably say something like, "Does Hawaii have to be that far? I'm just saying, that could get expensive..."
Disclaimers withstanding, let me go ahead and come out and say it - the video wasn't that great.
I will give it to Will.i.am for the creativity. I have always respected him as a producer and think he is an incredibly talented man.
However, seeing "celebrities" (not you Fonsworth Bentley, and sorry Tatiana Ali, not you either) sing/talk/act out a speech didn't really move me. People talking about crying over this video, I'm expecting seeing shots of Obama speaking intercut with old footage of civil rights protesters getting hosed down, single moms bouncing fat babies on their hips, little kids going to school... instead I got Scarlett Johansson singing in a studio, which distracted me more than a little bit.
That said, I think the concept of the video was a great gesture to the campaign, especially in light of the upcoming Super Tuesday. However I couldn't help but look at the celebrities involved as opportunist, jumping on the Obama wagon because that's what everyone else was doing. Hell, I bet if you asked half those people in the video how they felt about Obama's policies, they'd probably say something vague like "I like that he's for change..." Well no shit. Who ever runs for office saying "I'm going to keep this shit exactly the same, so don't ya'll expect shit from me, I'm putting this bitch on cruise control." It's a politician's job to say they're going to do lots of change, ESPECIALLY if they're from the opposition party.
So the video made me nervous in that I fear the kind of influence it could have on uneducated voters. The shit was very alluring, shot well, with the black and white to make it all moody and deep, that joint could def go to number one on 106 & Park. But does that make Obama a great candidate? I'd hope that people would research more of what he stood for and less of who stood behind him. I trust Will.i.am to make hit records, not inform my political vote. Hell, Will admitted it himself - he's not really into politics, and he was really won over by Obama's speaking abilities & win in New Hampshire, not his stance on the iraq war and universal health care.
And I won't parade around like I know much about politics either: after I took this online quiz, I learned that Hillary Clinton edged out Barack Obama to be the candidate that most lined up in my political beliefs, at 87%, 3 percentage points more than Obama. Now am I going to let this online quiz determine who my vote goes to? No. But if there's anything I learned, it's that it's my responsibility as a voter to really study the candidates and vote based upon my beliefs, not the alluring popularity of a candidate.