Folks, Obama has done it again. On the heels of that awful debate, where he clearly (unfortunately) got pummled, Obama went on to discuss the issue of the "distractions" that seem to overwhelm discussion of real policy issues. He went on to discuss the problem when the media and other campaings focus on these "gotcha" distractions, and how to deal with them. The rest is history.
A simple gesture about 2:28 into the above video, telling the audience what you have to do when the critics attack you with nonsense brought the crowd to its feet. But it was more than that. A lot more.
Barack Obama is clearly taking that abysmal ABC News debate in stride. He told his supporters not to fret about all the "textbook Washington" drama on Thursday, recounting the superficial moderators and Hillary Clinton's attempts to "twist the knife" on trivial issues. Then Obama made pop cultural history, miming the rapper Jay-Z's iconic hand signal to "brush the dirt" off his shoulders.
Now, I would surmise that most everyone knew what he was getting at when he did that. But less so the more recent orgins of the gesture, or the pop-culture background.
That popular youth gesture grew out of "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," a hit song in 2003. As Wikipedia explains, it refers to "getting enemies off your chest by brushing your shoulders off." Blogger Spencer Ackerman, who regularly mixes political analysis with hip hop references, immediately heralded the move as "perhaps the coolest subliminal cultural reference in the history of American politics." A YouTube clip of the cultural moment, uploaded by the Obama Campaign, swiftly drew over 100,000 views on Thursday. And then the mashups started.
Ah, the infamous YouTube Mashup. Now, mashups themselves aren't new, but YouTube has made them famous.
On Thursday night, YouTuber Bill3948 uploaded a one-minute mash-up of Jay-Z songs, Clinton attacks and Obama's inspired response. The sequence opens with clips of Clinton's cheap shots, accompanied by the Jay-Z ballad "Moment of Clarity," pivots to lowlights from the ABC debate, and then scores Obama's response with the original "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" track. While Obama brushes, graphics of Hillary, Bill and Charlie Gibson fly off his shoulders. Then he shakes off a kitchen sink -- a nod to Clinton's desperate strategy -- as Jay raps about hanging out "in the kitchen with soda." It's a fun, sharp extension of Obama's call to brush off some of the ridiculous attacks:
This one has 15k views in 17 hours.
And another one.
And lest you think Obama didn't get the popculture behind his move, think again:
Lately I've been listening to a lot of Jay-Z -- this new American Gangster album.
I love the art of hip hop. I don't always love the message of hip hop. There are times when even ... with the artists I named -- the artists I love, you know -- there's a message that is not only sometimes degrading to women; not only uses the n-word a little too frequently; but also something I'm really concerned about, it's always talking about material things. Always talking about how I can get something. How I've got more money...
And if you don't think this is resonating, check out some responses:
bdalani1985 (16 hours ago) That was was very smooth, i like how he mixed hip-hop & politics. Classic. lol
join4jd (15 hours ago) HAHAHA! That was AWESOME!
YES WE CAN!
shadowspawn99 (15 hours ago) LOL, Great video and point taken!
Scientific1 (15 hours ago) Good stuff; thanks for the laugh...
markilauren (15 hours ago) Great job!! When I saw this on TV, I heard JZ.
Hillary, Bill, George and the rest of the haters just got JZ'd. LOL
antinociception (15 hours ago) I wish we had politicains like Obama in Australia. He's brilliant.
lemonsherry (15 hours ago) haha, barack is ballin.
ashleyisasweatervest (14 hours ago) Great job!
And a few more:
April 17th, 2008 at 6:07 pm
heh! Beautiful! That’s what you gotta do!
April 17th, 2008 at 6:12 pm
Dude, I nearly swooned — SWOONED, I tell you — when I saw that. That’s one of my fave Jay-Z joints of all time. HUGE SWIRLING VORTEX OF LOVE. I could not pink-fuzzy-heart Barack one iota more.
April 17th, 2008 at 9:15 pm
oh man that was hilarious. i can’t believe he did that. i swear i heard some hova chants with the obama chanting immediately after he did that.
the front row should’ve thrown up the diamond; it would’ve been all the more sweet.
April 17th, 2008 at 11:37 pm
i fucking loved this.
Is it any wonder that Obama has the support of the young vote and major support online? It's because he gets "it". I'll let Andrew Sullivan break it down:
Is Obama channeling Jay-Z. Compare this speech with this video. Christianists aren't the only ones who can dog-whistle. Heh.
Hey, if he can send out a little dogwhistle to us on occasion, more to the good! So to everyone fretting about Obama dealing with the media and the other campaign, take a deep breath and go work for victory!