begging for the youth vote

October 18, 2008

No matter how many times NOFX rocked against Bush or Paris Hilton was seen wearing a Rock the Vote t-shirt, the young voter turnout in 2004 sucked. And despite printed-on-sample-ballot warnings of crowded auditoriums and convalescent-home lounges for this November 4th, much of our generation remains as uninformed as ever, forcing this year’s candidates to capitalize on our apathetic lifestyles by spoon feeding us political activism through the lowest of brow’d mediums.

Starting with rumored sightings and confirmed by a spokesman last week, Barack Obama’s campaign has done the most ingenious thing to boost our interest in the presidency since the blowjob—Xbox Live in-game subliminal advertising——which includes (so far) early-voting reminders placed on billboards in Burnout Paradise and stadium banners in NBA Live ’08 and Madden NFL ’09.
It’s the first marketing campaign of its kind and with its employment comes the ultimate manifestation of our McDonaldized culture. It’s disgusting that the valuable demographic of young adult males is so passive about their democracy that a candidate will buy out eighteen video games just to remind them what month it is.

But when we—as the future of the country—are unwilling to alter our lives for these elections, the elections have no choice but to alter for our lives and present candidates not as politicians but as products, advertising a prospective president as if he were the season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy or a new ACDC album..

The advantages, of course, are great—increased voter turnout, more politically involved youth, the ever yearned-for “cool” factor, etc—but they are ephemeral.
The problems—and the long-term social message—are much greater. Long after 18-34 year-old slackers take advantage of early voting registration and Mitt Romney’s e-strategist dies in vain, our democracy—or as I like to call it, our democrazy—will forever be pandering to our malaise.
The precedent this election is setting will ensure that in 2012, being able to friend a candidate on Facebook and conducting an interview in a virtual world will be the norm. All of our debates will be conducted with video questions submitted on YouTube and anyone who is indecisive can set up a website where people sway his opinion with their own ignorant opinions because the only thing people will have heard about the candidates came through a video game.
Candidate websites will be neon, flashing keywords to hold our goldfish-length attention spans long enough to convince us to vote for them, which we will do as long as we don’t get distracted by something shiny on our way into the polling booth.
From here on out, status and lineage won’t matter because the winners will merely have implemented better, more effective, more persuasive marketing strategies and in the end, our vote will be worth the same amount as a purchase of a CD or a count towards a Nielson rating.

Although my description of the prospective future is exaggerated (and, granted, McCain probably doesn’t know what a website is), we are definitely being sold to. In order to keep up with this trend, however, Obama devised a way to inject information without knowledge, opinions without wisdom and votes without questions; it’s scary to think people are going to vote for president as if it were a decision about which upcoming movies they’d like to see.

We have become so disseminated from our democratic process that instead of being proactive about our political-information intake, the only way we can feel engaged with what is going on is to turn an unappetizing photo of McCain from the third debate into a Photoshop contest (where the winner is a gif of the two in a sexual position).
So instead of trying to sell themselves through our mind-numbing escape mechanisms, candidates should inspire us through art, reading and real, actual, in-person human interaction (just like the old-fashioned times!). Like Shepard Fairey’s already-iconic Obama posters—wheat-pasted like movie bills across the city—or community-organized discussions so we can engage with our neighbors IRL (in real life).
It’s alright if a candidate calls it “The Myspace” or if they give high fives as awkward as my father’s because video games and social networking sites are no place for presidential elections. These things are popular in the first place because they help us avoid responsibilities, not guilt trip us into acknowledging them and, boy am I glad it’s election week because don’t think I can handle the real world infiltrating my pop culture cocoon for much longer.


One Response to “begging for the youth vote”

  1. Brandon said

    Whoa! Just scrolling through that post, I saw the picture of the NBA Video game with Barack Obama’s ad. Now that is amazing! Talk about technology taking over our lives!

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