Viral Is Viral: Christine O’Donnell Ad Imitates Antoine Dodson

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REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Run and tell that, homegirl

Christine O’Donnell, to put it charitably, has said a lot of things during her Senate campaign that most other office-seekers don’t say. But while it may make modicum of sense in the context of the Delaware Senate race for O’Donnell to be talking about masturbation and witchcraft — they were, after all, brought up by others first — it just seems strange for her team to be quoting lines from a viral video when they’re trying to win an election. Unless it’s a deliberate strategy.

For readers unfamiliar, the lines in O’Donnell’s ad “The Taxman,” “Hide your will, hide your lights, he’s taxing everybody out here,” would seem to be a joking reference to a local news broadcast about an attempted rape in Alabama, in which the victim’s brother, Antione Dodson, famously told the cameras, “hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband, because they’re raping everybody out here.” The clip went viral over the summer and was later turned into an AutoTuned single, which reached #89 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Leaving aside the matter of implicitly comparing one’s opponent to a rapist, the video points to a larger trend: the use of quirky campaign ads intended to go viral and dominate the political conversation. Our colleague Michael Scherer has a great profile this week of Republican ad guru Fred Davis (the man behind this O’Donnell ad as well as her “I Am Not A Witch” joint) that includes an illuminating example: Arizona Republican Ben Quayle was dogged by news that he had been a contributor to a soft-porn website; Davis ran an over-the-top ad that saw Quayle proclaiming Barack Obama “the worst President in history”; news outlets (including NewsFeed) rushed to make fun of the ad, pushing the porn story to the back burner; Quayle won his primary.

It’s a bold tactic that uses the media’s over-pursuit against itself. Releasing a wacky video will make sure people won’t be talking about how good you are, but it means they also won’t be talking about how bad you are. The story becomes “Christine O’Donnell quotes Antoine Dodson” and not “Christine O’Donnell down 15 points.”

Antoine Dodson has taken his accidental viral fame in stride, using the proceeds from a video that mocks him to get his family out of the projects. If the latest polls are correct, it’s going to be a little bit harder for Christine O’Donnell to use her Internet fame to achieve her dreams. (via Videogum)