It seems like the role of the internet ‘mob mind’ as political force has been everywhere lately, from Carly’s brilliant post on the power of the social internet, to the follow-up on TechCrunch showing the likely death of Cooks Source, to the pressure mounted on the TSA scanning systems (aka: Door 1: porn scanner, Door 2: sexual assault, Door 3: exit from airport) showing up as protests over the systems have ‘gone viral’ and entered into congressional hearings.
I am not going anywhere so serious with this …
This image is not from some Tea Party web site, not from any other sort of political organization … it is from VoteForTheWorst.com, also known as VFTW.
The goal of VFTW is pretty simple – on shows with call-in votes, find the worst people and get in as many votes as possible for that person for no better reason than to screw with the producers and judges of the show.
The site gained fame a few years ago when it only tracked votes on American Idol. In response to rather obvious work by the producers to get certain ‘plant’ contestants through to the finale, VFTW found an unlikely hero – Sanjaya. He was brought through for his entertainment value, but on the back of support from folks like VFTW he made it to 7th place! In retrospect the biggest impact he had was to make the judges never bring someone like that into the audience voting segment again … meaning the ensuing years have been dreadfully boring.
With Sanjaya there was no talk of Politics, no Tea Party operatives at work, no vast right wing conspiracy. But now that Bristol Palin has made the finals of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), everyone is crying political cheating. Palin is arguably one of the very worst contestants on this year’s Dancing with the Stars, whose ‘star’ claim is being the daughter of someone who was selected to run for Vice President on somewhat dubious grounds.
But from what I have seen, despite limited natural talent, Palin has worked very hard and has come across quite charming. Perhaps the combination of charm, moxie, an underdog spirit and the VFTW crew have all helped her? Nah, naturally it is some big political land-grab … because her doing well would mean … um, what?
Also, last week Tina Fey won the Mark Twain award for humor in a televised PBS broadcast. The problem? The show ran twenty minutes past time, and even still there were plenty of cuts made. The issue is that many of the deepest cuts came from the acceptance speech from Fey, who was her usual acerbic self … in fact here is what she said that was part of what you never would have seen:
And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women – except, of course –those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape ‘kit ‘n’ stuff,” Fey said. “But for everybody else, it’s a win-win. Unless you’re a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years – whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know – actually, I take it back. The whole thing’s a disaster.
So we have some bad editing that hacked more from the end of a show than from anywhere else. We have certainly seen that in the past … only now, because the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is under heightened scrutiny, there are insinuations that PBS did specific trimming to make the content more bland and specifically to avoid overly upsetting Sarah Palin.
PBS has basically said ‘hey, we had to cut almost 20 minutes, stuff got cut from all over the place we would have liked to have shown’. And of course, there was no national inquest when George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words skit was cut from the televised version of his receiving the award.
I just think that the whole thing is out of control. Do I think that some brain-dead supporters of Sarah Palin mindlessly call up voting for Bristol perhaps without seeing the show? Of course I do!
But at the same time … I think that if there was a poll on ‘Best Orc on Film’ and someone got Star Wars and Star Trek on the multiple choice list, we would see a mass internet mobilization to get one of those two franchises (neither of which feature Orcs, by the way) to win.
So what do you think? Do you think that the politicization of everything has gotten out of hand? Are we seeking conspiracies where there is simply internet mob-mind at work?