When Eminem blew up the Billboard charts with “The Real Slim Shady” in 2000, we bet the controversial Detroit MC never thought that it would get remixed quite like this. But thanks to the weird and wonderful world of internet mash-ups, Mitt Romney is now spittin’ lyrics to Em’s famous beats…with Obama as his un-hype man.
+ WATCH: "Will The Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up" Eminem Parody
Guess there really is a Slim Shady in all of us! Mash-ups like this are def the 2012 political parody of choice -- just look at the breakout popularity of similar video series like Bad Lip Reading or Obama Going Gaga. “The Real Mitt Romney” focuses on the DC diss that the former Massachusetts Governor is constantly and conveniently changing his mind.
We had to learn more about Hugh Atkin, the 28-year-old Aussie attorney behind this cheeky cyber send-up of GOP’s frontrunner. Atkin isn’t new to the mash-up game -- his YouTube page "The Margins of Error" has a mega catalog of similar political parodies, including 2008 viral classics like the Sarah Silverman parody, that have been viewed nearly 17 million times.
When it comes to casting his popular videos, any candidate could nab a leading role:
“I don't make these videos to support any specific candidate or party. I am generally supportive of President Obama, but I think anyone is fair game for parody and if I have a good idea to make fun of President Obama I would definitely go for it,” Atkin told us.
He's also got some advice for the politicos out there who are trying to get young people to listen up:
"Young people don't want to be treated as idiots and I think are somewhat indignant about being broadly painted as apathetic. You saw in 2008 that young people will pay attention to politics if politicians speak to their concerns in a way that is honest and direct and I think you see it also in the success of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert."
Check out more deets on how Hugh created his latest online phenom and why he's got mad respect for Eminem below -- then take Action to make sure the real YOU stands up in this Presidential election by staying informed with MTV's Power of 12!
Act: So tell us why you started making these, especially given that you're an Australian and these are American politicians. (We know you've done a bunch of Aussie political parodies, too!) What motivates you to mashup Yank politicians with pop songs?
Hugh Atkin: I started off doing satirical videos online during the 2007 Australian election. One of the videos (a mock Chinese propaganda film about the then Opposition Leader) went viral and received a fair bit of press coverage. I was really pleased by the response and decided to see if I could reach a bigger audience. I've always followed US politics pretty closely and had been a fan of then-Senator Obama since his convention speech in 2004, so I had been following the primaries pretty closely. A few of the videos I made during the 2008 campaign reached pretty big audiences (I'm F*cking Obama, Barackroll, John McCain Gets Barackroll'd) and so I was keen to see if I could do the same thing during the 2012 campaign.
How do you find all this footage? How long does it take you to go through it all and piece it together?
I compiled all of the transcripts I could find of Governor Romney's interviews, debates and speeches and then searched through them for words I could use. I also relied quite a bit on the Fox News and C-SPAN websites -- their videos are indexed to transcripts and are searchable by text.
This video took a little over a week of full-time work to put together. It took a fair bit longer than any other video I've made just because of the number of words you need in a rap as compared to some of the slower songs I've parodied before.
In some videos you are critical of a specific candidate like "The Real Mitt Romney," but in others you poke fun at the whole establishment, like in "Changes" -- do you make these videos to support a specific candidate or party?
I don't make these videos to support any specific candidate or party. I am generally supportive of President Obama, but I think anyone is fair game for parody and if I have a good idea to make fun of President Obama I would definitely go for it.
Why rap this time? Are you a big Eminem fan?
I do like Eminem, but wouldn't describe myself as being a devotee or as being particularly knowledgeable about rap. That said, I listened to "The Real Slim Shady" well over a hundred times before starting out on this video, and, in doing so, really came to appreciate Eminem's skill with language, rhyme and rhythm. The half-rhymes and rhythms in the original song are much more sophisticated than anything I managed to achieve.
As for the choice of rap, I really liked the incongruity of someone as straight-laced as Mitt Romney rapping, particularly to a song as "rude" (for want of a better word) as the Real Slim Shady. There is a nice similarity between the sampling, cross-referencing and use of personas that you find in rap and hip-hop and the process of creating a mash-up video.
Is there a certain audience you are hoping to reach with these videos? What about young people -- how do you think we can get their attention during this election year? Do you think videos like this are more powerful than regular mainstream media?
I'm really just trying to reach as large an audience as possible and certainly hope to reach as many young people as possible. I'm 28 and think that a lot of young people are pretty cynical about politicians and political coverage and switch off at the first sign of talking heads spouting identical talking points from channel to channel. Young people don't want to be treated as idiots and I think are somewhat indignant about being broadly painted as apathetic. You saw in 2008 that young people will pay attention to politics if politicians speak to their concerns in a way that is honest and direct and I think you see it also in the success of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It would make me exceptionally happy if my videos had helped to pique any young person's interest in politics, but it wasn't my main aim with this video and I certainly don't think of viral videos as being able to make up for the failings of the mainstream media.
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