After the positive response I got from my blog on book trailers, I thought I’d go back and review some other straight-to-internet material I made in recent years.
I’m somewhat of an aficionado on “Viral Videos;” I’ve been hired to make them, as vehicles to diagonally promote books, movies, television, etcetera, and I’ve made many of them for myself, as a way to promote my own projects. The one that put me on the map, if there is such a thing in this intangible world of cyberspace, was a video called WATERBOARDING INSTRUCTIONS. It was a satire that shined a light on the aforementioned enhanced interrogation technique that was supported by the Bush administration and later condemned by the Obama administration, and other prominent republicans like John McCain. I chose a subject that, for obvious reasons, was controversial — especially at the time — and that treaded in the same water as the film I was promoting: the film was a short called SHADOWBOX and the theme was torture.
When I posted the video on youtube, it immediately got a good response. You can see it here currently on FunnyOrDie:
However, it wasn’t until I got a call from the actor who played the role of the interrogator (the actor, Chris Ashworth, is a wonderfully talented actor who played the Russian heavy “Sergei Malatov” in HBO’s THE WIRE) that I began to comprehend the reach. Chris said: “Will, turn on CNN; Wolf Blitzer just featured our video on ‘The Situation Room!'” Sure enough, Wolf featured a piece reported by the often tongue-in-cheek correspondent Jeanne Moos that explored waterboarding, in which she used my video as a visual example of the technique. In the ensuing months, the video was featured on both left and right wing websites, was the subject of online political arguments, and eventually racked up 500,000 hits. That’s half-a-freakin’-million.
But eventually it was taken down by youtube, citing that the video had violated its policies on “shocking and disgusting content,” whatever that means: it seemed to me that shocking and disgusting was a prerequisite for uploading material to youtube. But what the heck do I know.
After it was taken down, I uploaded it FunnyOrDie. They haven’t taken it down yet, so that’s a bonus.
Political subject matter is always a popular thing to skewer in a viral video; precisely because (mostly) everyone has an opinion and (most) people don’t hesitate to make those opinions known in the anonymous comment sections of websites. People love to share their opinions, and if a video encapsulates their point-of-view (or they think that it does) they will often forward it on to others — that’s just human nature.
At the present, I’m hoping one good thing comes out of the Obamacare vs. Romneycare debate (the revised “federal” Romneycare, not his prior state version that was identical to Obamacare) and that is “Death Panels” back in the public conversation. I made another political satire entitled “The Death Panel” not too long ago which made a decent splash:
Death Panels didn’t stay in the news, at least at the forefront of it, for very long (I can’t imagine why…they seemed like a completely rational solution to dealing with our nation’s elderly and their inability to pay their medical bills), but I’m hoping the video makes a resurgence.
It’s an election year, after all, and everything — absolutely everything — is back on the table.