YouTube, Culture, & Puerto Rican Politics

Good morning children. Today's lesson is about pop culture. Can you say that, repeat after me. Pop, as in pop goes the weasel (which is actually quite appropriate for today's topic if you are an avid reader of Jil the Genus). Culture, as in the arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought created by a people or group of people at a particular time.

I want to talk, specifically about a little toy that is very popular on the Internet called YouTube. Which is a new version of an old little box we all stare at and are infected by culture. But this new version isn't controlled by the bosses who are currently shaping our culture, it's controlled by Google, who sets some limits on what kind of culture we can receive through YouTube. Which leaves the rest of the task of defining culture up to us, the people. In a small way it is new mirror we hold up to ourselves to reflect our culture. Although I'd have to say it is one of those funny carnival mirrors that makes you look all distorted, because if YouTube is an accurate reflection of our culture, even praying to God isn't going to help us.

And as culture tends to evolve with our adaption of new tools, a new use of YouTube has emerged during the current political election process. First it was recently used to collect and refine questions for political candidates during a recent debate. Which lead to YouTube becoming an important media channel for candidates where they must participate, manage, and converse with the people of the Unites States. If you visit any of the current presidential hopefuls, you'll find videos and YouTube thoroughly integrated.

If you'll ask any of my friends, all three of them, they'll tell you that I have some basic assumptions about life and culture in Puerto Rico. One of my most useful and popular assumptions is that technology adoption in Puerto Rico lags the United States by anywhere from 3 to 7 years. However, one industry nearly eliminates that lag, the political industry. In fact, I think the local political system's adaption of tricks reamins close to the leading edge. As a sample consider the debacle the United States suffered through in 2000 when Al Gore was defeated by the Supreme Court of the United States in his run to become president. Well it was no coincidence that as soon as 2004 the courts had to decide that Anibal Acevedo Vila was elected governor.

So now, as YouTube becomes an important tool in the current presidential election process, so it is with our 2008 gubernatorial election process. Searching through YouTube, there are already videos available for the top three gubernatorial candidates. Here is a quick sampling of a few of the representative videos (btw, I couldn't actually stomach putting the videos inline, so you'll have to follow the links...):

Luis Fortuño
Pedro Rossello
Anibal Acevedo Vilá

I'd have to say things get even stranger when we stop to take a look at the web sites for the 2008 gubernatorial candidates. Of the candidates, only Luis Fortuño has his campaign web site operational at the time of this post. On his web site, Fortuño has a page dedicated to videos where he embeds relevant videos from YouTube. The other two candidates have not launched official campaign websites, but they have setup, get ready for it..., MySpace pages (here for Rossello and here for Acevedo Vila). They obviously pimp out their spaces with YouTube videos as well as a bunch of other mind-numbing crap.

As far as I can tell, none of the videos in YouTube has too many views, all of them are around 1,000 views. Which is really no surprise. First, with nearly 100% saturation in all news media channels of local politics, who in their right mind would actually choose to listen to more from these blow hards? But probably more insightful, while the candidates themselves might be at the leading edge, it doesn't mean their supporters are. A mistake we are all too familiar with here at Dó