Thursday, October 26, 2006

Parkinson's and Politics: A Short Netroots Story

Often I try to avoid politics on this blog, since its focus is primarily the changing media. However, after seeing a Michael J. Fox commercial asking viewers to contribute to stem cell research, I must say that I've seen the most effective positive political advertisement in my lifetime.

Politicians' campaigns and their supporting committees constantly try to manipulate the media for their own use. They often spend millions of dollars for mere seconds on a television, radio, or newspaper. Their message is crafted, often so much that the subtlety is almost imperceptible.

But this clip is completely different.

"His body sways back and forth uncontrollably like a sailor being tossed around in a full-force gale," writes the New York Times' Alessandra Stanley.

Without intending to - since his illness is clearly real, despite Rush Limbaugh's protests - Fox makes a stronger case than any campaign has done. This is grassroots in a whole new way: Fox doesn't stand for one politician or one party, he stands for an issue. This isn't Swift Boat, either; Fox's commercial is advocacy.

Sure, Fox is a high-profile actor. We have seen celebrity political testimonies before. But his testimony hits a viewer in the gut just as legitimately as one by the parent of a fallen soldier. Why? Because we're seeing the side of an actor that we normally aren't allowed to see. And no one's attacking anyone else in the process.

Unsurprisingly, hits on YouTube for the video have racked up with breakneck speed - the video is the most discussed video this week and it's rebuttal is slowly accumulating views. But this video isn't a young girl emoting or a prank video on a radio show. This video isn't a diversion. It is real content.

In a YouTube era, it may have more impact than anyone expects - and that's a real netroots effect that no media company can create. View the video; see for yourself.

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