Power Players

He built that: The man behind the “MC ‘Bama” and “Real Mitt Romney” videos

Power Players

Political Punch

Only a political junkie could create smart, high-quality videos satirizing American politics that then go viral on YouTube. And that's just what Hugh Atkin is -- an American politics junkie, who just happens to be a lawyer living in Sydney, Australia.

"I've grown up watching 'The West Wing' and podcasting the Sunday morning shows, so I was always really interested in U.S. politics, and it just sort of rolled on from there," said Atkin.

Atkin rolled to YouTube fame in the U.S. with a video showing then presidential candidate John McCain getting 'BarackRoll'd' at the Republican National Convention, a spoof off the YouTube RickRoll'd meme. More than 3.6 million people have clicked in to watch the McCain video, and 7 million have watched Atkin's BarackRoll video.

This election season, Atkin's video 'Will The Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up' has 4.5 million views so far. The video takes Romney's words and drops them into Eminem's 'The Real Slim Shady' rap. His latest send up, 'U Didn't Build That by MC 'Bama,' uses mostly the president's words and phrases and drops them into MC Hammer's 1990s hit. The tightly edited video, like Atkin's previous work, includes several clever - and edgy - turns of phrase.

Mr Ryan and his voucher retailin'.
Maybe he's just a brighter shade of Palin.
Mr Romney, and his friends on Wall Street.
What I'm saying is they're SuperPACking Heat.
And here is a woman Mitt killed.
But that was an attack ad you didn't build.

"There's a novelty to seeing Obama singing and seeing Michelle Obama dance, but I wanted to layer in some of the lyrics a few deeper things, or other ideas people could think about and argue about," says Atkin. "And I think it's nice for those who follow U.S. politics quite closely to be able to catch, really, the in jokes."

Either the left or the right could embrace the latest Obama video because it went straight for the joke; viewers could take the charges seriously or just laugh, but either way it worked no matter what their political views.

"I was definitely trying, trying to make fun of the people who take the president out of context and also just the slightly insane cable news back and forth arguing about one particular quote," said Atkin. Taking lots of different quotes to make whole new meanings out of it was in part satirizing the editing that happens in left wing and right wing cable news, Atkin continued.

There have been a range of responses to Atkin's videos, but the best one, he says, came from two American kids "who put on 'The Real Mitt Romney' video on the background and did a whole dance to it."

"It's quite nice to know that you can put a video together and kids could be dancing to it on the other side of the world," says Atkin.

And while the clicks are in the multi millions, Atkin says he does not get paid to do them.

"I just really like ... getting to see something when you put it up online and seeing it spread through Twitter, through Facebook. Seeing people share it with their friends and just seeing the reaction of people," says Atkin.

While he does have a day job, Atkin says, with a laugh, that he would be open to changing careers.

"If Lorne Michaels or Jon Stewart gave me a call that would be great, but I'm quite happy just doing it and writing on the side."

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