Reason Magazine on the Ron Paul Movement
From Reason Magazine
by Jesse Walker | July 16, 2007
Among the other firsts of his campaign, Ron Paul is probably the only presidential contender to be compared to a Samuel L. Jackson movie. The Texas congressman, a dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination, was being lightly grilled by Kevin Pereira, a host on the videogame-oriented cable channel G4. "Young people online, they were really psyched about Snakes on a Plane, but that didn't translate into big ticket sales for Sam Jackson," Pereira said. "Are you worried that page views on a MySpace page might not translate to primary votes?"
The reference was to the Internet sensation of 2006, an action movie whose cheesy title and premise had sparked a burst of online creativity: mash-ups, mock trailers, parody films, blogger in-jokes. Hollywood interpreted this activity as "buzz," and New Line Cinema inflated its hopes for the movie's box office take. When the film instead did about as well as you'd expect from a picture called Snakes on a Plane, the keepers of the conventional wisdom declared that this was proof of the great gulf between what's popular on the Internet and what sells in the material world.
Ron Paul is popular on the Internet, too, with more YouTube subscribers than any other candidate, the fastest-growing political presence in MySpace, a constant perch atop the Technorati rankings, and a near-Olympian record at winning unscientific Web polls. Like Snakes, he is the subject of scads of homemade videos and passionate blog posts. When Pereira mentioned the movie, he was making a clear comparison: Yes, your online fans are noisy, but will their enthusiasm actually translate into electoral success?