fms351-L11-reading01 - Photoshop for Democracy 207 6...

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6 Photoshop for Democ racy Ihe New Relotionship between Politics ond Popular Culture In the spring of 2004, a short video, edited together out of footage from newscasts and Donald tump's hit TV show, The Apprentice (2004), was circulating across the Internet. Framed as a mock preview for The Ap- prentice, the narrator explains, "George W Bush is assigned the task of being president. He drives the economy into the ground, uses lies to justify war, spends way over budget, and almost gets away with it until the Donald finds out." The video cuts to a boardroom, where Trump is demanding to know "who chose this stupid concept" and then firing Dubya. Tiump's disapproving look is crosscut with Bush shaking his head in disbelief and then disappointment. Then came the announcer: "IJnfortunately, 'The Donald' can't fire Bush for us. But we can do it ourselves. join us at True Majority Action. We'll fire Bush together, and have some fun along the way."1 Who would have imagined that Donald Trump could emerge as a populist spokesman, or that sympathetic images of corporate control could fuel a movement to reclaim democracy? A curious mix of cyni- cism and optimism, the video made Democrats laugh at the current ad- ministration and then rally to transform it. True Majority was founded by Ben Cohen (of Ben & ferry's Ice Cream). Its goals were to increase voter participation in the 2004 elec, tion and to rally support behind a progressive agenda. According to its Web site (, the group has attracted more than 300,000 supporters, who receive regular alerts and participate in letter- writing campaigns.2 Interviewed a few weeks before the election, Garrett LoPorto, a sen- ior creative consultant for True Majority, said that the core of viral mar- keting is getting the right idea into the right hands at the right time.3 206 Photoshop for Democracy 207 This video generated a higher than average resPonse rate, he argues, both because it expressed a widespread desire to end a failed admin- istration and because The Apprentlce provided a perfect metaphor to bring that decision closer to home: "We aren't here talking about this grand cause of appointing someone as the leader of the free world. We're just trying to get some guy who screwed up fired. It's that sim- ple." Their goal was to get these ideas into the broadest possible circu- lation. To do that, they sought to create images that are vivid, memo- rable, and evocative. And most important, the content had to be consis- tent with what people more or less already believed about the world. Locating people who share your beliefs is easy, LoPorto says, because we tend to seek out like-minded communities on the Web. Each person
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This note was uploaded on 10/20/2010 for the course ENG FMS351 taught by Professor Meng during the Summer '10 term at ASU.

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fms351-L11-reading01 - Photoshop for Democracy 207 6...

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