Internet and political sensation expands her horizons

By Jennifer Trieu

September is almost over and in less than two weeks, the 40th Canadian general election will be held to determine the next prime minister. The preparation for this election, however, has not been publicized nearly as much as the Presidential election of our neighbours to the south. With the increasing popularity of YouTube as a medium for all things entertainment, news-related or just plain bizarre, its influence over public opinion is undeniable. The popularity of videos such as “I got a crush on Obama” has no doubt altered the way politics is presented to the public.

“We literally shot [the video] in six hours and when I shot it, I really had no idea it was going to get as big as it did,” says Amber Lee Ettinger, also known as ObamaGirl, the star of the popular online video. “It’s been unbelievable and a very great experience for me, opened a lot of doors and thrust me into this political world I wasn’t really involved in.”

Garnering over 9,700,000 hits in the last 15 months, Ettinger’s clip launched a worldwide phenomenon that was recently parodied by Canadian supporters of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This new video is predictably entitled, “I got a crush on Harper.”

The imitation doesn’t stop in Canada as the video has garnered much international attention.

“When our video first came out there were so many duplicates,” Ettinger says. “There was a girl for practically every candidate out there. Japan’s called me to do interviews. There’s a Russian spoof [of our video] for a political person in Russia. I think as far as foreign policy is concerned, people see the buzz these videos create and they just want to jump in on it and see what kind of reaction they’re getting as well.”

This worldwide attention has sparked the interest of record producers and Ettinger has recently released her first single “Second Time” which is now available on iTunes. Though Ettinger does not sing in her famed video– producer Leah Kauffman wrote and performed the “I got a crush on Obama” song– she is excited about expanding her talents as an artist despite concerns that her work may not be taken seriously given the comedic nature and cheekiness of the ObamaGirl videos.

“This is the first little jab we’re taking at doing music,” Ettinger says. “I’ve been involved in entertainment and singing my whole life that [recording an album] was naturally the next step. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback already on the first song and it’s only been the first song. I have a music video coming out in the next couple of weeks and it’s totally separate from ObamaGirl. Obviously I won’t be able to be ObamaGirl for the rest of my life, so I do want to keep pursuing my dreams.”

In addition to Ettinger’s continuing musical pursuits, she is also launching a new jewelry line with her mother in the coming months.

Whether or not one enjoys, respects or dislikes Ettinger’s videos as well as her other artistic endeavors, her involvement in the cheeky-unendorsed-online-promotional-political video has created an internet phenomenon that is not likely to disappear anytime soon.

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