Why Do People Want Rick Perry To Be More "Disliked" Than Rebecca Black?


Rebecca Black, "Friday"

The positive spin on this phenomenon is best summarized by Ethan Zuckerman's "Cute Cats" theory, which posits that for any new technology to be useful politically, it must first become a successful platform for cute cat videos (and/or porn). By drawing people to a service that could be used for political participation and giving them the motivation to learn how to use it, YouTube's entertainment content eventually produces more hooray-democracy moments than would have existed without it. That's heartening, but it discounts the other things we learn about our fellow citizens through YouTube. On the one hand, our fellow citizens' capacity for thoughtful, substantive, and productive engagement with public affairs and the political system is apparent; on the other hand, so is the fact that people spend the vast majority of their time watching videos of baby pandas sneezing and calling one another "fag" in the comments. That duality always existed, but YouTube, like the Internet in general, makes the contradiction so stark that it's become impossible to ignore—even if, as is the case here, the metrics on which we're basing that comparison are highly questionable.

And that's why the narrative about Perry's video being more disliked than Black's is important. Certain critical opinions notwithstanding, Black's publicly agreed-upon meaning is that of vapidity in its purest form, "where the talent wave finally broke and rolled back," as even one admirer recently put it. The consensus is "Friday" is awful, and that caring so much is a bit embarrassing. If there was a way to prove that Americans cared more about Rick Perry's repugnant and potentially harmful hate speech than Rebecca Black's mildly annoying and unquestionably harmless pop, that would just be great news for democracy.

But even that was true, would it really make that much of a difference? After all, Perry's ad would be just the exception that proved the rule. It may have reached the mountaintop, but every other political video is still scrambling up the foothills. And that's as it should be. The reality is that the only time people are going to care more about politics than entertainment is when there is a clear and immediate threat to their well-being; if the military seized control of the federal government, you'd better believe people would spend less time watching Rihanna videos. Public enthusiasm for music videos and other entertainment can happily coexist with a healthy, functioning democracy. What's important is not judging the two by the same standards. When gauging the importance of politics using the same market metrics that measure pop success, politics will always fall short. But that's because politics isn't important in the way "Friday" is—and thank heaven for that.

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kevin
kevin

It’s invalid to compare these two videos.  When people were voting like/dislike on Perry’s ad, they were voting on the specific issue of gays and/or their opinion on him as a candidate.

The whole thing with Rebecca Black is a whole other can of worms.  The majority of those who voted on her Friday video where teenagers who have an extremely narrow view when it comes to tastes in music.  Ask the average teen and they will say they either love a band/artist or they hate them.  Their musical taste haven’t really had enough time to develop any real refinement on the subject.  The second thing is the fact that she’s only 13 and teenagers cant stand that some nobody in their age bracket could rise to success so suddenly. 

Kegill12
Kegill12

You're joking, right? You obviously haven't seen the 'Friday' video and if you have and didn't immediately regret it then your musical taste could use some serious refining.

Secondly, do you not remember Nsync, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, Britney Spears, Spice Girls, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Rihanna and the Jonas Brothers? They all became successful as teens and I'm pretty sure that can mainly be attributed to others 'in their age bracket' who were obsessed with them and not to adults rushing to buy their newly released album and issue of Teen Beat with 13 new posters inside.

joshc
joshc

Without trying to validate the importance of YouTube downvote campaigns, it does seem useful to consider reaction to these videos as as proportions instead of raw counts: 

For instance, just over 15% of the 3.2 million viewers of Rick Perry's constitutionally ignorant 30 second spot responded with a vote (98% of votes were in the downward direction). In comparison, only 3.1% of the 10.6 million viewers of Black v. Eardrums cast a vote (78% negative) and less than 0.5% of 672.3 million viewers had anything to say about young Bieber's adventures with Ludacris (67% negative).

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