By Lisa Keen
You may be among the more than 2 million people who have tuned into YouTube to watch the now infamous “Obamagirl” tribute to presidential candidate Barack Obama, but you’re probably not among the 1,200 to have watched the drag king rap of Obama saying, “I’m down with the dykes, the straights, and the gays.” Or the 3,700 who have tuned into a cartoon debate between Obama and Hillary Clinton where a Rosie O’Donnell caricature asks whether Clinton is a lesbian. A caricature of her “The View” nemesis Elisabeth Hasselbeck replies, “Of course, she’s a lesbian. They’re all lesbians.” Or the 4,400 who have viewed the video of “Nitt Rommey” whose “plan for America” consists of “No homos”?
This is not your father’s presidential campaign. This is 2007, and the ease with which anyone can now create and upload a video onto the Web has enabled hundreds of people with to get an audience for their views on the presidential candidates. And many are using YouTube, the most popular venue for such videos, to highlight candidates’ views on gays.
Finding those videos takes just a little work and many hours of YouTube surfing, and the rewards can be both hilarious and entertaining, or downright frightening.
Republican Rudy Giuliani’s famous drag spoofs are, of course, ever present on YouTube, but the drag king video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=PmdNX7-hD0s) is, like most of the videofare, low budget but highly creative. It’s a spoof of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby,” but the Obama character sings, “I’m nice, nice, baby.” It appears to come from a small theatre troupe in New Hampshire.
A one-man theatre troupe in Seattle, 24-year-old Kevin Awesome, plays both “Nitt Rommey” and several reporters at a press conference (http://youtube.com/watch?v=RTOwgU6WYak). One reporter asks Rommey what plan he has for America. Rommey holds up a sign that says, “No homos” and explains, “America was founded on having no homos in it, and I believe we can indeed rid America of our homos.” He then holds up his “detailed plans” for America which is a map of the U.S. and Canada with “Homos” migrating to Canada. Later in the clip, a reporter named Carla Devingworth from Sexy Ole Lady Magazine asks what Rommey will do “to protect me and everyone else from the ravages that gay marriage is going to do on our everyday life?”
“I strongly believe in one man and one woman,” says Rommey, “though I do believe that can be interpreted as one man and many women -if you look at the specific wording right….”
A “Hott4Hill” video posted just last week (http://youtube.com/watch?v=-Sudw4ghVe8) has gotten 83,000 hits already–spoofing the “I’ve got a crush on Obama” video posted two months ago. The twist is that a 21-year-old female model sings about being “hot” for Hillary.
“I have a crush on a girl named Hill, but she’s not with me, she’s with this guy named Bill,” sings Taryn Southerner. Other clips from Southerner show her seeking admiration and kisses from other women but Southern said she produced the clip as a takeoff on the Obama tape (http://youtube.com/watch?v=wKsoXHYICqU) and it’s hard to tell what effect she hopes the video will have on the viewer’s vote.
There’s little doubt about where Rusty Shackleford, a self-described “trucker/singer/songwriter from the south,” stands on the Clinton candidacy. He wrote and performs a song relying heavily on the reprise, “Hillary Clinton is a man’s man.”
At first glance, two “good ole boys” from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, appear to be a bit hostile to gay civil rights in their “Red State Update” suggesting a question for YouTube’s July 23 Democratic candidates’ forum (http://youtube.com/watch?v=pFhqsdkXkRI). They note that Vice President Cheney is reluctant to talk in public about having a lesbian daughter. One of the two guys asks Hillary Clinton, “are you gonna mind when people start mentioning that Chelsea’s a lesbian?” “Chelsea ain’t no lesbian,” says the second guy. “She is in my mind,” says the first guy, “and so is Dennis Kucinich’s wife.” Surf their numerous contributions, however, and you’ll soon see a gay friendly side (for instance, their review of Brokeback Mountain at http://youtube.com/watch?v=aEooduW4eWM)..
Not all the gay-related presidential campaign videos are entertainment-oriented or spoofs. Some, though at times slow and dull, contain historic clips of the candidates speaking about gay issues before they became presidential candidates. For instance, “The Presidential Candidates On Gay And Lesbian Rights” (http://youtube.com/watch?v=y-0hIsP3MDU) shows Illinois State Senator Barack Obama running for the U.S. Senate being interviewed on C-SPAN in 2004, saying, “What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before god and it’s not simply the two persons who are meeting.”
“We have a set of traditions in place,” he says, “that need to be preserved.”
The tradition of presidential campaign, however, will never be the same.