Most Americans are well aware that in 2000, the presidential election was decided by 537 votes. From hanging chads to the hourly updates of the manual recount, this story was obsessively covered by the mainstream press. However, what wasn’t covered was what journalist Greg Palast discovered that thousands of primarily minority voters were scrubbed from the voter registry in Florida and prevented from potentially changing the course of Americans turbulent last four years.
By the spring of 2004 all around the country, groups from both sides of the aisle were organizing and activating plans to impact the coming presidential election from MoveOn to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Here at GNN we were finishing our book, True Lies, two related documentary projects and barely had enough time for our own attempt of an online voter registration campaign. Through Palast’s reporting and our own investigations into electronic voting machines and the crossover campaign that defeated Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, we became increasingly aware of the fallibility of elections and the fragile state of America’s most fundamental democratic process. We also knew the potential power of the youth vote. With more than 55 million voters between the ages of 18 and 35, this demographic group accounts for 36% of the total eligible voters in the U.S. And as witnessed in 2000 it all comes down to who shows up to vote on election day.
So on the eve of one of the most spirited elections in recent times, it’s time to try and turn out the vote. As a music video director, ideas for videos usually come independent of the song and are then adapted to fit the timing and lyrics of the featured track. I initially developed a concept for this video in June 2004 and contacted Interscope shortly after to find out what artists in their roster would be releasing albums near the election. The goal was to make a video that inspired young people to vote because they too often disregard it as a powerless exercise. To show them that political decisions do impact their daily lives and that voting is the most powerful act we all have to voice our opinion and effect change. And to educate and reiterate the point that whether or not people want to accept it, there are forces in play that attempt to suppress the youth and minority vote.
When I got the callback that our favorite conspirator of controversy, Eminem would be releasing an album in November, I knew we had the potential to say something that would be heard by the masses. And after hearing the song later that month it seemed Mr. Mathers had also been in the lab concocting his own plans for the election and it was precisely the anthem I had been looking for. So with less than six weeks to deliver we put together a team and forgot about what it meant to sleep. In order to produce animation for a song that runs 5:20 in just over 5 weeks we were going to need a lot of green tea and mate and a little help from Marshall himself. This video was made possible by a team of artists who came together inspired by a song and video that might be able to effect the next four years of all of our lives.
Two years ago, this video would not have been approved by a single record label. A year ago it would never had the possibility of being played on television. But with the changing tide of public sentiment marked by the success of our last video for Chronic Future, an anti-war message that made it into rotation on TRL we think it might just have a chance.
Now, it’s up to the broadcasters. Will they ban the top selling musical artist for being anti-establishment while they allow other propaganda to air? Or will they finally allow an artist who has the courage to speak out to take center stage and utilize the airwaves for something other than typical celebrity fodder?
Stay tuned here for updates on the unfolding antics and remember to show up and vote for you candidate of choice on November 2nd.
Watch the Music Video Here