May 5, 2007
MoveOn's VideoVets Project Puts Faces with a Cause, in Multiple Media Forms

An interesting digital video initiative has arisen in the past few days from that extremely active political group Move On, the political group whose rallying against the war in Iraq has led to an interesting online video project called VideoVets.

The structure of the project is that a variety of military families and veterans are interviewed regarding their views against the war in Iraq, emphasizing that there are plenty of dissenters among these people as well. The variety of interviews are then going to be put together into a television commercial that MoveOn will push put together by the infamous Oliver Stone.

The site says, "The administration tries to call anyone who criticizes their policy in Iraq 'anti-troop,' but the interviews below show that 'supporting the troops' does NOT mean supporting an endless war. The voices of these veterans and military families are missing from the debate in Washington. Together we can make sure they become a vital part of the national dialogue around ending the war."

This type of political mobilization makes sense on several fronts. Showing the images of these veterans and their families emphasizes the point MoveOn is trying to make far more than any text-only quotes could. Further, the process of a plethora of interviews with these critics of the war can be edited down to the most emotionally and logically compelling moments with a renowned director attached to the final product.

This proliferation of content combining "everyday voices" with well-known auteurs and distributing this work across multiple media forms creates an immersive campaign that MoveOn hopes will counter the prevailing belief that protesting the Iraq War is "unpatriotic."

MoveOn has become well-known as a "liberal" political group which is quite active in inspiring online petitions and other active campaigns. I know I first got to know MoveOn's work through my support of their net neutrality petitions, but I suddenly started receiving regular e-mails from them on a variety of topics which I guess they presumed I was aligned with them on because I agreed with their stance on net neutrality, even though I never signed up as a MoveOn member, just as a supporter of their net neutrality campaign.

While their force-fed "viral campaigning" has gotten on my nerves, the VideoVets project intrigues me, and I think it's quite smart to give face to military families and veterans who do not support the war as a way of countering claims that war protesting is somehow un-American (how protest of much of anything is un-American is beyond me). It's easy to dislike MoveOn, perhaps (especially when your inbox is flooded with their e-mails), but it's quite another to vilify veterans and military families. And MoveOn seems quite adept at using a variety of media platforms and initiatives to distribute these interviews.

Thanks to Ivan Askwith for sending me a note on VideoVets.