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

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You may have heard that Rick Perry's mind-meltingly horrible anti-gay campaign ad has more dislikes on YouTube than Rebecca Black's "Friday." The story has been covered by Time, the Today Show, and the Huffington Post, among many others. There's only one problem: that's not actually true. The current version of "Friday" has only been online since September, even though the Internet's interest in the song clearly dates back to March. That's because the original YouTube upload of the clip was removed in an aborted attempt to put it behind a paywall; when that didn't work, "Friday"'s creators re-upped the original clip, thus resetting the counter on views and dislikes. That current version, it's true, only has some 250k+ dislikes, less than Perry's now-400k+ figure. But before it was taken down, the original upload had more than three million dislikes, far outstripping what Perry's video has accumulated. (Some outlets got it even more wrong, trying to claim that passing Black's video made Perry's the most-disliked in YouTube history, even though two Justin Bieber clips and Black's other video have far more dislikes than Perry's.)

While some outlets have issued corrections, the "fact" has gone viral, leaving the more interesting question of why, exactly, it's important that Perry is more disliked than Black (or Bieber). On one level, of course, it's just good news for liberals, a nice confirmation that their repulsed reaction to Perry's ad is shared by lots of others. But it belies a deeper anxiety about the relationship between politics and entertainment. In the last few years, YouTube has taken a weirdly major role in our political campaigns, serving as the central clearinghouse of everything from campaign ads like Perry's to major campaign speeches, career-ending gaffes, and even presidential debates, to say nothing of all the reaction videos and remixes voters produce.

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