For me, at any rate. Thanks, ExpatJane. I'm pretty much just biting your post, although writing my own connection with it. You da bomb.
For those of you who don't know the campaign, here's the original. If memory serves, this was originally just a joke amongst a bunch of friends that one of them filmed and the idea got pitched for a real commercial. Then it became the stuff of legend.
And the new version. Of course it's just coinicidence, but the main character is noticeably more gaunt than years ago. I'm sure it's just cooincidence, but it just adds something extra to the idea that all hasn't been going well, and you see them packing up their apartment.
The new America is such a stark contrast with the old one, which a lot of us remember along with this commercial, when we were a lot more innocent, self-assured, and things just felt better. That direct comparison really hits home as we revisit each character; but when we get to the punchline and the TV shot, this time it's revealed what is being watched -- and it's the only moment things are looking up. Another significant departure from the original is that instead of distracted and casual detachment (which was the cool part of the friendship we were being exposed to), the main character's face actually lights up at the moment of the reveal -- and we see that Obama is what's up.
Very effective, and strangely touching. Especially coming from several black men, whether or not the viewer IS black; the race of the members is never explicitly referenced, but their entire mode of interaction is, obviously, unmistakably black. That's why it works -- and not just for black people. It makes a certain type of desirable black malehood instantly accessible. You see stylized versions of black malehood commodified and consumed all the time -- from rap stylings to entire modes of behavior -- but this version is much more mundane, normalized, and endearing. And I think that's why this commercial became so popular in the first place. And for me, I liked the popularization of this particular black "mode" because it showed black people being black, but being completely NORMAL. You didn't see much of that even back in 2000. And we've come a long way since then to Obama.
That being said, revisiting these same guys and seeing them being normal, black, but now experiencing the same pain that we're going through really works at one level. On another more subtle one, perhaps felt by black folks more directly because these are issues that impact folks more disproportionately, from economic crunches to having the Army be an attractive financial option to Hurricane Katrina -- all of which were portrayed in the vid, once again, the video works on levels and deeper levels.
Smart, smart video, guys, and great job.