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November 22, 2008

So, Who Does Your Weekly YouTube Address?

Obama You Tube Address 1.jpg

Obama You Tube Address 2.jpg

Karen, who wrote me last week about the surprisingly banal staging of Barack Obama’s first Weekly YouTube Address had this to say about the latest effort:

So, judging by Obama’s’ taped address today, it appears that somebody else wasn’t pleased with the background last time. It’s an improvement, but it still seems to me that there ought to be a more 21st century look for this 21st century method of communication. (Not the Jetsons or anything, but something less stodgy.)

Any suggestions?

  • Paul

    “stodgy” is fine. Why do we Americans always want something “fun” or “appealing”?
    Jeez. If you don’t like the background, don’t watch it – there are probably plenty of Britney videos you could watch instead.
    Who gives a damn about the background? Time for America to grow up a bit. People have been brainwashed by bloody CNN etc. with the little popups, captions, tickers continuously scrolling. I bet that 9 out of 10 viewers don’t even know how to read the tickers anyway.

  • Sage

    I agree with Paul. Were you expecting a hologram? How about a real President who takes things seriously and speaks in full sentences? I’ll settle for that. Thank-you-very-much.

  • DC Exile

    No need for the flag. We know he is the president-elect of the USA. The potted plant is bizarre. Blue drapes — too funereal for such a funereal speech about “deflationary cycles” and millions of jobs lost” in the coming months. Simple is always best — especially for Youtube. And what is that random law book on the credenza? A prop? A book of torts? Made in China lamp is not a good indicationof a promised re-focus on the American worker and not international banksters. Oh yeah…the light blue tie…what is it with this? Bush loved this color tie. Symbolize a break with a new color.

  • db

    Wonks don’t care about the packaging. Non-wonks care very much about the packaging.
    This one might be better, though I’m not convinced. No doubt there will be more refining of the image as we go along.

  • robertdsc

    I look forward to the Oval Office as the backdrop, so what he’s got going now is not a problem for me.

  • sab

    American flag on one side, prayer lily on the other. What’s wrong with that staging, other than offending the tiny demographic that hates both flags and houseplants.

  • Pants Elk

    I’d like to see Palin being stuffed into a funnel by Grouch Marx in the background.
    (Hey – way to elevate the discussion!)

  • Tom Benson

    It looks to me as if the books behind the president elect are from the Public Papers of the President series — I can’t make out which years or presidents from this image. One of these days, President Barack Obama will contribute some volumes to that series.

  • Tom Benson

    Looking at the talk on full screen, it appears to me that the volumes from the Public Papers of the President series that are behind Obama are from the presidency of John F. Kennedy — 1961, 1962, 1963.

  • Michael

    I think it DOES make a difference…the impression one makes. If you’re going to take the time to produce a weekly address that’s audio-VISUAL…it should “look” first rate. Not like Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. These two shots look amateurish and cluttered.

  • Victor F

    It’s the content of his address, not the crap behind him that matters.

  • Rich

    The second, while a bit more interesting, is colder (bluer).
    But really, if you are just going to be a talking head, why bother with video? The novelty of this will wear off the it will be ripe for ridicule if Obama does not use the medium well to show us something.

  • lytom

    The arrangements of the setting have not succeeded to dispel the appearance of the gloom. After all the campaigning and the careful presentation of the candidate, the slogans in the background and enthusiasm, now you get the president elect, sober, with pin flag, flag on the side and some green in the corner. That is not enough to bring back the confidence and expectations that the gloom of economic disaster will be dispelled.

  • John

    They need to loose all of the distracting items in the background. Read any how to on using webcams and recording videos, plain backgrounds are the way to go!

  • Kristin

    The audio track is still used as a radio address, so he can’t include anything that depends on a visual element. As Victor F says, it’s the content that matters.

  • redX

    Flag – patriot
    Light (window & lamp)- at the end of tunnel
    Book – smart/knowledge
    Picture – family
    Plant – green and healthy
    The only thing he could do to add to the clutter is replace the fireside (warm/familiar) with a computer (tech/familiar) – but that will only be a piece of it in there and it will throw the picture off. Maybe a 12 inch digital picture frame that mixes pics of his family with his US hero’s?
    I really do think its overkill for the most part and the message is what is important, it seems he checked enough things off in the frame.

  • steve talbert

    I think the ‘banal’ background works better with the high tech method. Like he is so important he doesn’t need to look important. Plus, people have many different access speeds. A nondescript background works better if your connection is halting..

  • g-a-b

    Maybe he will create incremental improvements in each of the next 10 or so broadcasts, so as to phase into the ‘real’ presidential chats. A staging Progression we can believe in?

  • Kat

    Eh, pretty soon he’ll be doing them from the Oval, so it won’t matter anyway. I’m wondering if they’re worried about the back drop looking too “White House like” before he is actually President, although with the pundits blaming him already for not fixing the economy (Uh, guys? We have a President still in office who is supposed to be handling this stuff, remember? That Bush guy?) maybe they don’t need to be.

  • Gary J Moss

    Make it look less staged, even if it *is* staged. Make the props not look like props. This means that once O moves into the Oval Office, his handlers might try to make even the real backdrop look less staged. I don’t know how to do this, but it is such cliché to have the flag to the left, the window behind, and the picture of the beloved ones to the right. The silly legal? volumes and the potted plant don’t cut the mustard either. Except maybe they all do for Joe and Jane the Americans.

  • ratfood

    Actually, the plant in the background is what is commonly known as a “peace lily.” Doubt if that is significant but one can always hope.
    This setting is an improvement over last week. The window helps but it is still a tad claustrophobic. Needs more open space.

  • putnam

    Two words: Kitchen table.

  • Mr. Winkle

    He needs to go all bay-at-the-moon new age and have a tasteful rock fountain you can faintly hear in the background. I want to see the unmistakable constant trail of smoke from incense. Anyone think tasteful beads adorning the window would be marvelous? Is a large succulent, say Aloe Vera, going a bit far?…..I say thee nay…..

  • ice weasel

    On one hand you have to appeal to the rubes and that means flags and books and stodgy visible evidence of success. On the other hand I think the idea that this isn’t, at least yet, overly managed is a good sign. It’s on YouTube, not NBC (which isn’t to argue which is more influential, just to point out the context in which the video appears).
    If it were me I want to see Obama with his feet up on the desk, a smoldering Marlboro in the ashtray and the look of quiet satisfaction on his face. I’m good with that.
    Which is exactly why I am a photographer and not in PR.

  • san antone rose

    I like the plant. It’s something you don’t usually see during any kind of formal address by a politician. The plant provides oxygen and some life to an otherwise sterile environment. I would rather see Obama in a smoking jacket, tho.

  • rmforsyth

    Barack is a 21st century guy placed in a 20 th century Republican mode in these photos.
    Surprisingly his staff is following that old model. The picture, the plant, and the desk should go good-bye!
    Windows to nowhere are suspect to me. “Show me the money” Pick an American icionic city,or place where he can either stand or sit or whatever as long as he is seen as viable and moving. Ask Irving Penn for god sake Obama people. He looks stilited and stiff

  • John Powers

    I’ll second putnam we could really use some kitchen table talk.

  • Pants Elk

    Hokay. It’s “presidential”. Who else delivers a YouTube address looking presidential? YouTube is associated with lightweight soundbites and videos of people falling over – it’s not a presidential context. If people are listening to what he’s saying, it’s working. If they’re discussing the houseplant thing and the color of his tie – I dunno, maybe it’s still working on one level. But the look is also boring, head-banging-on-desk boring. He’s a smart, cool, funny guy, and he looks constrained by the setting here. Whoever said “kitchen table” up there got it right. Fixing himself a cup of coffee, open-neck shirt, kids crshing about in the background …

  • Spencer

    On YouTube people point cameras at themselves and talk; there’s no stage management involved. I want to see Barack Obama’s version of that – have him where he’s comfortable, where he works. If that’s too boring, dress it up a bit. If the real thing is not available, then stage-manage a convincing version of it.
    This guy got here on the simple, stirring conviction of his words, and who he his – let those things be the focus.
    Any razzle-dazzle will take away from the authenticity. Leave the staging and production design to the talking heads on news channels.

  • sdv

    I took a chemistry lab course in college, and before each class we watched a videotaped lecture by the professor explaining that week’s experiment (there were multiple sections, so this saved him a lot of time). Usually he was in the lab, and demonstrating some of the things we were learning. One week, though, he gave the lecture from outside, sitting under a tree. It was really disconcerting. I’m all for Obama giving his addresses from his desk. The more he tries to make it less staged, the less authentic it will seem.

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