Society chooses fun over information
In an admittedly funny but nonetheless childish move, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a parody video of President Barack Obama's bid for reelection in the 2012 race. In the few days since it was posted, the video has garnered more than 688,000 views, with more to come by the time this is published. Obama's real campaign launch video, on the other hand, has only racked up 168,000 views as of press time. Some people have been interpreting this as indicative of the number of Obama's opponents versus his the number of his supporters. Others see it as a lack of energy on the part of Obama's campaign. We, however, see it differently. The number of views the parody video has says more about our entertainment-oriented culture than it does about Obama's campaign.
Just a few weeks ago, everyone watched as Rebecca Black's atrocious "Friday" racked up tens of millions of views in a span of days. But that video did not go viral because of how much everyone loved it. Instead, it went viral for the exact opposite reason — people found it hilariously entertaining because of how downright awful it was. This tends to be how many people operate these days. People spend far less time investing themselves in what they sincerely care about on emotional or intellectual levels, instead devoting their time and energy to things, which are quick, cheap, and mindlessly entertaining. As a culture, we have, in many ways, chosen hilarity over sincerity. The common thought process for a view of the parody video probably went something like this: "Yeah, sure, I like Obama and all, so I probably know what his video is going to be all about. Let me see this joke one. It might be funny."
Another factor, which we hate to admit, is probably the length of the videos. The parody video is about half the length of the real one, and it is a lot easier to watch because it isn't supposed to be taken seriously. It is meant only to impart a few laughs in about a minute, and then the show's over. This makes it more likely that more people will watch it and that those people will watch it multiple times.
The disparity in video views is not something anyone should really be taking seriously. It most likely says absolutely nothing of substance about what will happen to the Obama campaign in the upcoming race. What it does represent, though, is what we like as a culture. But perhaps a little more sincerity and care about what's really important wouldn't hurt.