Press Release Summary = Sometimes Raw and Always Personal, Political Expression Finds a New Medium
Press Release Body = LOS ANGELES-A vibrant hip hop beat throbs to flash cuts of angry citizens voicing their dissent to the party in power. The camerawork is deft and the look sleek, with jolts of animation punctuating sound bites of disaffected voters speaking their minds. Dozens of man-in-the-street interviews build with increasing intensity toward an anthem-like crescendo.
"Take Back the Capitol," Sim Sadler's 2-minute political public service announcement, could easily have come from the edgier side of Madison Avenue. But in fact, it's a benchmark of the extent to which guerrilla videos harnessed to viral distribution strategies have infiltrated the political discourse as the mid-term elections draw near.
Though still nascent during the 2004 elections, viral video has come into its own in the past two years, in parallel with the rise of YouTube, MySpace, and other Web 2.0 sites. It\'s become a preferred method of expression for politically-minded filmmakers and activists. Many, like "Take Back the Capitol," are made with little or no budgets, as pods of like-minded people band together for a common cause.
What's more, their creators are not affiliated with candidates, political parties, PACS, or other agenda-driven organizations.
" 'Take Back the Capitol' started with a bunch of friends hanging out at Chango coffee house in the Echo Park district of L.A.," says Sadler, a filmmaker, video artist and editor whose narrative film "Flight," was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. "The technology has evolved to where a few people can get together, make a statement and distribute it via the internet for little more than a few pennies. People are frustrated with the political culture and they\'re dying to speak out. I think you'll see grass-roots PSAs becoming a force to be reckoned with in future elections. "
Sadler's entry into the realm of Web 2.0 political expression began as a lark with "Hard Working George," in which he compressed 31 sound bites of President Bush declaring the Iraq war to be "hard work." Drawing power from the phrase's repetition, the montage of clips creates a sensation of heightened absurdity that made "Hard Working George" an early if accidental viral success story, garnering hundreds of thousands of hits and airings on CNN and C-SPAN.
While Sadler's work is unapologetically leftist, a random scan of YouTube reveals a kaleidoscopic selection of viewpoints, with Democrats and Republicans each taking their share of the heat. Many are send-ups done in the form of "remixes" such as "Hard Working George," a template which Sadler doesn't claim to have invented, but the success of which clearly galvanized the form's use. While 'Take Back the Capitol' is a more straightforward expression of political dissatisfaction than its predecessor, Sadler sees viral video as a new outlet for pent-up irreverence.
"As the mainstream media becomes increasingly dominated by corporate sensibilities, there's a real dearth of sharp political commentary," Sadler observes. "At the same time I think there's a real hunger for clever expressions of impertinence that viral video is fulfilling. It's enough to renew your faith in the web as a democratizing influence."
See the video at http://www.takebackthecapitol.org