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"Gay Marriages Will Save the Economy": Prop 8 - The Musical and Political Satire Online

"Gay Marriages Will Save the Economy": Prop 8 - The Musical and Political Satire Online

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Published by Renee Powers
[written for COMS 650-1: Media, Entertainment, & Citizenship at Northern Illinois University]
It is clear that the Internet can be utilized as a town square in order to gather support for causes contributing to participation in democracy. Nederman et al. (1998) write that computer-mediated communication “opens up clear opportunities for the creation of public spaces in which discourse may be enhanced in a manner consonant with what theorists… have terms ‘discursive’ or ‘deliberative’ democracy.” This can be further applied to viral videos such as Prop 8 – The Musical. Additionally, like satirical television news programs, Prop 8 – The Musical can “provide entry points to political engagement and allow for the performance of citizenship” (Jones, 2010) for many reasons: the medium of the Internet allows for greater reach in distribution as well as more targeted audiences, and the use of satire allowed for a subversive critique of those in power. All of these can only exist in a democratic setting.
[written for COMS 650-1: Media, Entertainment, & Citizenship at Northern Illinois University]
It is clear that the Internet can be utilized as a town square in order to gather support for causes contributing to participation in democracy. Nederman et al. (1998) write that computer-mediated communication “opens up clear opportunities for the creation of public spaces in which discourse may be enhanced in a manner consonant with what theorists… have terms ‘discursive’ or ‘deliberative’ democracy.” This can be further applied to viral videos such as Prop 8 – The Musical. Additionally, like satirical television news programs, Prop 8 – The Musical can “provide entry points to political engagement and allow for the performance of citizenship” (Jones, 2010) for many reasons: the medium of the Internet allows for greater reach in distribution as well as more targeted audiences, and the use of satire allowed for a subversive critique of those in power. All of these can only exist in a democratic setting.

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Published by: Renee Powers on Apr 03, 2012
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Gay Marriages Will Save the Economy1
“Gay Marriages Will Save the Economy”:
 
Prop 8
The Musical 
and Political Satire OnlineRenee M. PowersCOMS 650, Section 2Dr. SematiMay 5, 2011
 
Gay Marriages Will Save the Economy2
Introduction
This fall marks the forty-second anniversary of the Internet. Since itsinception, the United States has seen its citizens use the World Wide Web to buildempires, make billions of dollars, run for President, and speak for the small issues,too. Many have praised the impact computer-mediated communication has had ondemocracy and citizenship, though some are ultimately skeptical. Nonetheless, theInternet allows small groups the space to speak freely, regardless of the size of theiraudiences. The viral video
Prop 8
The Musical,
written by March Shaiman, is anexample of a special interest group that has utilized the Internet to gain momentumon a political issue.The fight for LGBTQ rights is not the first grassroots movement to utilize theInternet in such a way. Warner (2007) discusses the culture jamming website
 Adbusters
and its relation to subverting corporate power.
 Adbusters
uses theInternet to organize boycotts and petitions around morally questionable corporatepractices. Similarly, this paper will discuss
the ways in which March Shaiman’s
Prop8
The Musical 
utilized the Internet to subvert those in power in California and,more generally, it will discuss the impact computer-mediated technology has had onsocial movements in a democracy.
Prop 8
The Musical 
is a viral video that has reached over 5.3 million viewssince its release in 2008. Viral videos are one example of the Internet meme, a termborrowed from Richard Dawkins (1989) to describe quickly replicating culturalideas that spread among people, like a virus. Internet memes require specificqualities that allow them to spread, including fidelity, fecundity, and longevity, all of 
 
Gay Marriages Will Save the Economy3which will be applied to
Prop 8
The Musical.
I will then apply this Internet memeto a discussion of globalization and citizenship.The success of 
Prop 8
The Musical 
relies on its use of satire. Satire lendsitself to democracy in that it allows oppressed voices to speak out against those inpower, yet does so in a safe environment. Furthermore, it cultivates civicengagement and encourages good-natured fun at the expense of powerful figures.Jones (2010) asserts that, in an era of political entertainment and convoluted mediamessages, audiences desire more meaningful representations and interpretations of traditional news coverage. It is in this milieu that satire thrives. Computer-mediated technology provides a safe harbor for these messages to flourish carefullyand spread rapidly. This is only possible in a democracy that prides itself on c
itizens’
right to free speech.This paper will first explore the culture that fueled the use of a viral video
protest. It will also provide an explanation of Marc Shaiman’s
star-studded
Prop 8
 The Musical 
and the memetic characteristics of viral videos more generally. I willuse this video as a vehicle to facilitate a discussion on democracy in its relation tothe Internet as well as the roles viral videos and satire play in democracy.
Proposition 8 and the beginnings of a satirical viral video
Gay marriage has been a controversial matter in California for a number of years. The legal issues started in 2004 when San Francisco began administeringmarriage licenses to gay couples without state approval. These marriages wereconsidered void in a matter of months but the California Supreme Court overturned

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