Viral Video Turns Senator Into a Silent Comedy Star
By ASHLEY PARKER MARCH 16, 2014, NYTimes
WASHINGTON — When Senator Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign released two-and-a-half minutes of video footage featuring him wordlessly smiling, it was most likely hoping to provide a friendly “super PAC’ with high-quality images of Mr. McConnell to use in ads.
Instead, the campaign got a viral video sensation that exploded on the Internet last week, and even spawned its own term — “McConnelling.”
The phenomenon started on Tuesday when the campaign put out a web video filled with genial images of Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader: Mr. McConnell smiling at the camera; Mr. McConnell smiling at his wife; Mr. McConnell walking with voters and, of course, smiling.
Because campaigns are legally prohibited from coordinating with super PACs, they are increasingly publishing what is known as B-roll footage of their candidates, which is available for public consumption, including for use by friendly outside groups. But in the age of memes and GIFs and viral videos, the McConnell web ad proved to be yet another cautionary or quirky tale (depending on one’s perspective) of what can happen when the online world decides to subvert even the most carefully crafted of messages.
Mr. McConnell is perhaps known as much for his dour and jowly appearance as for his political acumen — one campaign ad recently compared his visage to that of a turtle — and the Internet rallied to make him an online star. Videos that edited his smiling face into famous sitcoms from the 1980s and 1990s began popping up, with Mr. McConnell making cameos in the opening credits of everything from “The Cosby Show” to “Full House” to “Who’s the Boss?” (In “Full House,” the credits helpfully explain that Mr. McConnell will be appearing as “Uncle Mitchy.”)
“The video may have become the laughingstock of the Internet, but it does do an adequate job of highlighting why so few Kentuckians have any personal affinity toward McConnell,” said Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “His awkwardness and out-of-touch demeanor comes shining through.” [Read the rest of the story HERE]