It is no longer comedians who parody candidates. People who work for actual politicians, or at least work for well-funded groups that support said politicians, are mounting their messages on platforms that look, at mildest, like any number of bitchy social media pages, and at most extreme like something straight ouf of Tim & Eric.
Have you seen this new Herman Cain video where a bunny rabbit is catapulted into the air and then shot to smithereens and Herman Cain is shown in silhouette standing on a cliff? Yes, that exists! The video is both a message about small business and the current tax code (or something), and an advertisement for a new website called SickOfStimulus.com, which the pizza millionaire started because he's got some ideas tied to Cain Connections that he wants to share with everyone. But why is he sharing these amazing ideas in such crazy fashion?
The rabbit video, which is in the style of the infamous "This is your brain on drugs" PSA from yesteryear, is of course not the first weird video that Cain has blessed the world with. Just last month there was a video in which a goldfish appeared to die ("This is the economy on stimulus...") and of course there was all that strange grinning stuff and the famous smoking campaign adviser ad while Cain was still running for president. In fact, Cain and his team have produced so many bizarre, internet meme-ready videos that we're forced to assume that this has all been done on purpose. It's not a troll, exactly, it's more a clever manipulation of what the internet collectively finds funny and passes around.
Cain's people aren't the only political entities who are sneakily speaking in viral tongues to get some play. In fact much of the discourse of the day has evolved (devolved?) into snarky web-speak. Just look at Rick Santorum's new "Obamaville" ad. Sure Santorum is probably serious about his message, but the style of presentation is absolutely designed to be passed around by friends and foes alike. Actually, it's probably more for the foes than anyone else.
The "Obamaville" video and most of the Cain oddities (why, Nick Searcy, why??) absolutely subscribe to an any publicity is good publicity ethos, and, for short burst moments anyway, they seem to be effective. We can probably look forward to more campaign and PAC videos and other media that cater exactly to this WTF internet sensibility.
And look for more blog commenter-style snarking from political groups as well. Remember Romney's communication director and his whole Etch-a-Sketch gaffe? Well not only did Gingrich and Santorum make their dopey old man jokes about it, but the American Bridge PAC, a fairly sizable political action committee, has gone so far as to create a sarcastic Pinterest board suggesting other toys that Romney might want to associate with his campaign. When the PACs are making snide jokes on Pinterest you know that web 2.0 has truly engulfed the campaign process.
How far down does this rabbit hole go, we wonder. Is some Santorum campaign staffer going to start a fake Twitter account attached to a famous person or known internet property? A "Romn_ebooks" maybe? Will Obama guest on "Between Two Ferns"? We can't really decide if this trend is a good thing or a bad thing, we just know that it's kind of funny and a little despairing to see people who make policy (and pizza) acting like any kid off of 4Chan. Thanks internet. Great job.