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The Obama Girl videos are not actually funny. They’re not actually sexy. They don’t actually have any kind of message and they don’t perform any kind of practical analysis. And in their very evasion of any kind of substance, they’re totally genius.
The latest Obama Girl video, Obama Girl Returns For Iowa!, was released on Jan. 2. The Girl makes her return via a faux movie trailer, an election-minded spoof of Rocky Balboa that positions the Girl in a new light: she’s not just a writher, she’s a fighter.
The Obama Girl videos have never had anything of substance to say about Barack Obama’s candidacy or campaign, but unlike the previous clips, Obama Girl Returns amounts to more than just the (admittedly powerful) theme that the desires of attractive women make the world go around. This time, Obama himself is pushed way to the periphery, to make room for an even more powerful theme: the catfight. It’s no longer about Obama vs. Hillary; it’s about Obama Girl using sex and celebrity to clear the path for her man.
Obama Girl reveals the potential power of a discreet web video to create a powerful spectacle despite the fact that the video itself has no intrinsic value. There’s absolutely nothing to “get” about Obama Girl, beyond the image of a hot girl in a bikini gyrating in front of an image of the presidential candidate, and that core “message” is absolutely tailor-made for the über-reductive 24-hour news loop. If there was actually any there there, it would be too much content for cable news.
Sometime after Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucus on Thursday, the title of the video was edited on YouTube to read, “Obama Girl Returns for Iowa! (Why Obama Won).” This is probably not completely accurate, but it would be impossible to deny that Obama Girl has had a real impact on Barack Obama’s visibility and credibility as a new kind of candidate. At the very least, her presence and popularity has motivated the mainstream media to anoint Barack as the candidate of choice for hot girls and Internet nerds. That’s the kind of cachet that money can’t buy, and if Iowa is any indication it apparently, amazingly, translates into actual votes. More amazingly, it’s a full-on repudiation of the myth that content is king.