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Paris is Burning

There are many ways to catch a spark in the political melee that is the race for the US presidency. Playing the race card is always a good, old fashioned, incendiary maneuver, as is questioning your opponent's patriotism or spilling a family secret ( a la John Edwards- oh, how the well-coiffed have fallen). But these dirty games become even more enticing when the mud is thrown from outside the fight and everyone gets hit.

Case in point, the satirical campaign video featuring Paris Hilton that was posted on Funny or Die.com this week. According to Jenna Wortham at Wired.com, the viral video has been watched 6.2 million times (as of Friday), giving a major boost to the traffic at the website. And no wonder: the clip is in direct response to a recent campaign ad put out by the John McCain camp (that's short for "campaign"! I hope to pick up more obvious jargon soon), posing Barack Obama as a celebrity idol, like Britney or Paris, who is as vapid and as irrelevant to US politics. Enter Paris.

When I first saw reference to her "response ad," it was in a story on CNN. What struck me was that although the anchors were flippant and dismissive when mentioning her name, theycovered what she said, the message of her madness, in newsworthy detail. Which is why I blurted, "She's a genius!" at the TV screen. (I now I formally demand a retraction from myself; it obviously wasn't her idea or her thoughts displayed). But at the same time, this is possibly the most effective use of celebrity power in a campaign since...I'm bad with political history, does anyone know? It's effective because no one cares about her message and she's not affiliated with either candidate, so she's not tarnishing anyone's record by association. But what she said actually makes sense: combine the proposed energy policies into one with a little compromise.

So essentially, Paris got into the presidential fight and emerged unscathed. If anything, it boosted her celebrity, while diminishing the effectiveness of McCain's ad and the enthusiasm for Obama's energy policy. If only we as a nation were as inclined to listen to what the experts are saying about the race. That will never happen, though, because we Americans always want our serious news with a sugary dollop of pop culture.

(If you want more of a fix, view the new video at jibjab.com. It pokes fun of the candidates as only Americans know how).

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  1. Blogger Sean | 10:58 AM |  

    omg! paris is pretty

  2. Blogger Sean | 11:08 AM |  

    plus i know a dude that works at jibjab. and i still think their videos are lame.

  3. Blogger chris | 11:23 AM |  

    I really wonder who scripted and shot that video for her - how does Funny or Die work? Do they just have a staff that creates original videos or is it all composed of submissions from various sources?

  4. Blogger Lady Amy | 11:54 AM |  

    Paris is not funny at all. Blah!

  5. Blogger nicole | 12:12 PM |  

    It was shot by Chris Henchy, Brooke Sheilds's husband, who's a television producer, I think.

    She's funny in this video because it's obviously too smart for her! It's like the producer was taking a too-subtle-for-her jab at America's perceptive of her vacuity.

    Other stupid people that are funny when they try to sound smart??

    (hint: he's the most powerful man in the world:)

  6. Blogger qualler | 12:19 PM |  

    Um...Ryan Seacrest?

  7. Blogger Brigitte | 12:51 PM |  

    i'm also gonna go with ryan seacrest. he is definitely one of the most powerful men in the world right now. and he's an idiot.

  8. Blogger Brigitte | 12:52 PM |  

    and, actually...at the risk of being stoned...i'm not really sure how dumb paris hilton is. i mean, she seems to consistently get exactly what she wants, doesn't she? is really actually just a dumb puppet or does she really know how to play the crowd? i think she might be smarter than we think...soon she'll unleash her robots. then we'll REALLY be in trouble.

  9. Blogger DoktorPeace | 1:21 PM |  

    I agree with Sean on the lameness of jibjab. Their animation is as annoying as the lyrics they oh-so-cutely substitute for real songs.

    I used to think Paris was secretly smart, but I've come back around to the notion that only the rich people controlling her are. That said, I'm betting less than half of Americans could string together the sentences she does in the video, scripted or not.

    Audi 5000!

  10. Blogger chris | 2:23 PM |  

    Oh that's what Jibjab is. Gross. Leno loves them.

    Regardless of just how intelligent Paris really is, I think she's smart enough to understand the point of the video she partook in. And I'm actually a huge Ryan Seacrest fan, I'll admit. His appearances on The Soup alone make him way awesomer than anyone else involved in American Idol.

  11. Blogger Brigitte | 3:29 PM |  

    Ryan Seacrest is one of my most hated celebrities. Most. Hated. He's totally worthless. And his appearances on The Soup don't make him cool. He's like that jerk in highschool who thought he was so cool, and thought "oh hey look i'm laughing at myself, too haha" but he isn't really laughing at himself, he's really just showing you how cool he thinks he is...and that makes me hate him even more. EVEN MORE!

  12. Blogger chris | 3:37 PM |  

    We almost got into this when Amy blogged the John Mayer clip, but I still don't understand. Why is it better to be a egotistical celebrity that never makes fun of his/herself (every judge on American Idol, all loathsome to the core) rather than being self-aware of one's flaws and pomposity? Would you rather hang out with Simon, Paula, Randy, or Ryan? I'm thinking Ryan would be the only one that I could make fun of in person and he wouldn't get upset, he would just laugh and play along. And whether or not deep inside I've hurt his feelings, at least he's not a dick with no sense of humor.

  13. Blogger Sean | 4:45 PM |  

    chris is right, hanging out with celebrities WOULD BE totally AWESOME. regular people are boring.

  14. Blogger nicole | 6:05 PM |  

    I think anyone who can laugh at themselves is cooler than an uber-sensitive person.

    And the jibjab videos aren't that pathetic. I see them as a tongue-in-cheek display of our flawed media that dwells on minor issues...they highlight only the trivial. Maybe that's just my interpretation though. (pushes up glasses). But you can't say you don't love to see Barack Obama riding a unicorn! It's so Utopian. I hope he rides one all the way to his inaugural address, baby! (Is partisan politics accepted in comments?)

  15. Blogger Sean | 7:18 PM |  

    politics are a tool to distract the masses.

    our real leader is probably some AI super-brain beneath a mesa out west.

    the only shot we have at freedom is to fight the mesa-bot!!!

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