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Karina’s Capsule: Here Comes McCain Again

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Were you as surprised as I was that so many people even questioned whether the first McCain Girls video was an earnest effort by genuine supporters? I was amazed that some people even went as far as to suggest that it was paid for or produced by the campaign itself.

I know the jury’s still out as to whether or not the Republican candidate has the pop cultural savvy to be our commander in chief (Was that whole “Heidi Montag is a talented actress” comment made out of utter cluelessness, or was it a knowing wink at the construction of her pseudo-reality show, The Hills?) but McCain seems smart enough to generally play away from his known weaknesses.

Plus, It’s Raining McCain simply looked too good. From the hundreds of little McCains that rained on the Girls to a green-screen gaffe caused by a certain costume, the video’s very badness had a rhythm to it that was clearly intentional. But if any doubt remains that McCain Girls is something between pure parody and Obama Girl-style, cable news-baiting performance art, the Girls’ latest video should clear that up.

Here Comes McCain Again, set to the tune of “Here Comes The Rain Again” by the Eurythmics, features the same three women who appeared in It’s Raining McCain, none of whom are credited by name. On the left, there’s the older white woman, who seems enthusiastic yet befuddled and who, in both clips, is the Girl most likely to fumble her lines or choreography. On the far right, there’s a sexy young thing who resembles Obama Girl, but OG’s winking eye twinkle is replaced by the vacant stare of Audrina Partridge. And in the middle is a largish black woman, indisputably the most confident and compelling of the McCain Girls (potentially even a break-out star?). It’s a model of demographic diversity — which, in the context of the McCain campaign, seems to be a joke in itself.

The biggest difference between the first video and the second — beyond the fact that the first could be found in YouTube’s “News and Politics” section, while the second was categorized as “Comedy” — is that in Here Comes McCain Again, the central figure steps away from the pack to become a protagonist, confronting the floating specter of a miniaturized McCain in a darkened countryside. Of the three actresses, she’s clearly the one who is the most in on/the most comprehending of the joke; last week, she appeared in this video, an ostensible response to McCain Girls haters, which seems more like an effort to maintain the illusion that McCain Girls is a “real” phenomenon, pushed by three genuinely passionate McCain supporters.

I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but it’s not. Two weeks ago, I saw comedian Jon Benjamin at Brooklyn’s Union Hall, where he did an entire set about It’s Raining McCain, which he said he produced in conjunction with the Huffington Post’s 23/6 comedy site. Although Benjamin didn’t directly address why the video had been placed on YouTube instead of 23/6, I walked away from the show with the impression that it was done to maintain an ambiguity about where the video came from and whether or not the girls themselves were “real.” (For the record, Benjamin did say the “Girls” were found on Craig’s List, and indicated that, at least on the first clip, they were not given any sort of creative control).

This Washington Post blog entry debating the derivation of the clip is the only one I’ve seen pointing towards the 23/6 connection. Interestingly, that post also notes that the clip was virtually ignored on YouTube until the Huffington Post promoted it. That’s the funny thing about today’s YouTube climate: With the average viewer stunned into passive consumption by the sheer deluge of content, it’s fair to assume that if you’ve even heard of a video, a powerful entity has an interest in its promotion.

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