Blog Wars Analysis
As our nation evolves technologically and scientifically, the way in which we behave changes. In our personal lives, we become more efficient and are capable of accomplishing more, but also our ways of interacting with and influencing people around us has changed. The political world has started to feel the effects of blogs on important votes, such as the presidential bid of Howard Dean and the primary challenge of Ned Lamont. The film Blog Wars analyzes the influence of blogs specifically in the case of Ned Lamont taking down Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary of 2006. It shows how bloggers decided Joe had to go, chose a candidate, and propelled him forward to victory. While it’s goal is to demonstrate the rising importance of the blogosphere in the political world, it stays honest to reality, admitting that it’s goal is long term, and right now the blogs are not effective enough to win the senate seat.
During George W. Bush’s State of the Union address, the President gave Joe Lieberman an embrace, and what some people believe was a rack on the cheek. This incident became known as “the Kiss”, and became a rallying point for Democrats who felt Joe was too right wing. Those who were opposed to him congregated on the Blogs, eventually throwing their support behind Ned Lamont and helping him upset Lieberman in the primary. Blog Wars presents an interpretation of the events that took place in a way that shows the bloggers as being a major force in the campaign, and as the primary being the point where bloggers truly showed that they are a force to be reckoned with in modern politics.
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One interesting point to note is that in the confessionals, other than bloggers, the only other person being interviewed is not Ned Lamont, but Joe Lieberman, the very person the bloggers are standing up against. In fact, this interview comes right at the beginning of the film. It is a statement telling the viewers that the point of the film is not to further a political or social agenda, but to empirically analyze the effects that blogs have and are increasingly developing on the political landscape. They allow Lieberman to make his claims freely without interruptions. What is missing is a direct address from Ned Lamont. This is important for the film’s agenda, since it is trying to portray the campaign as being essentially run by the bloggers, with Ned being a figurehead set up by them. An interview with him could severely challenge that thesis, showing that not only does he function under his own judgement, but there are many other important influences in his political approach. Truthfully, the vast majority of his funding came from his own pocket, so clearly he was not relying solely on the bloggers. Nonetheless, it is necessary for them to portray Ned this way, since the purpose of Blog Wars is not to document Ned’s political strategy, and the producers have no reason to weaken their own claims.
A constant theme which is reinforced throughout is that the bloggers are the normal, average people, while the politicians are aloof and not really regular people. The politicians “blacklist” the famous bloggers, not letting them into speeches, even when the bloggers have tickets. The bloggers are portrayed personally to show they are average. This is not so accurate, since many of the important bloggers have become pseudo celebrities, and they have their own agenda and are trying to sway public opinion just as much as any politician. They clearly show that Moulitsas has become a pseudo-celebrity, but in general stay away from showing bloggers in such a way, doing so just enough to show that bloggers are taken seriously in the real world. The film goes too far in this regard, putting an almost herculean attempt to present the situation as a people vs politicians scenario. The bloggers are usually portrayed informally, such as when they are trying to interview Joe Lieberman, going around with a cheap home camera and acting sheepish when he pushes aside their questions, acting like he is too important to respond to them. Another case is on the day of the primary, when we see many shots of bloggers nervously shifting in anticipation of hearing the results. The film ends with a fast cutting scene where we see blogs overlaying blogs overlaying blogs. This alludes to the multitude of blogs, and the continued struggles of the bloggers even through failure. Finally the credits roll to the song of “God bless the normal people”. This is an unabashed admission of the biased portrayal of these bloggers.
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Not all the decisions the filmmakers made relate to the actual content of the film. There are also some important editing decision that they made. One such example is the background that appears whenever a blog is being visualized. There is a screen with various random numbers rolling down it in the fashion of The Matrix. This is done to represent the fact that although these blogs have a significant influence on the real world, they themselves are merely part of a virtual world, and there is a limit to their power. In this way the film shows it has a legitimate and honest view of it’s own claims, and it realizes that at the moment blogs are only starting to gain power, and are not yet truly real enough to influence a large segment of voters.
Blog Wars attempts to portray the bloggers as the only significant support of Lamont. It tacitly makes the claim that this was really their campaign, and Ned was simply coming along for the ride. There are very few scenes where Lamont is campaigning, so although he is not completely passive, he seems almost like a side point. In reality, this was not true. There is evidence that in this specific case the amount of money, or “stimulus”, injected into the campaign may what determined the winner. Nearly 70% of the money used in Lamont’s campaign came from his own pocket, while only about 25% of the remaining funds came from online sources . While undoubtably the bloggers had a significant impact on the primary, it is unreasonable to discount the myriads of other relevant factors.
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The film Blog Wars attempt to develop the concept that blogs now have a relevant factor in politics. Some of their technique show their honesty revealing both sides of the controversy, while others demonstrate a bias towards the argument they are trying to make. The vast majority of the film, however, is both honest and compelling. It clearly shows the rising power of the American blog.
Blogs and their authors are quickly becoming major players in the American political scene. It is likely that in the future their influence will continue to increase. Therefore, it is essential for the people to understand just how important these blogs are. Right now they have only really shown their strength in primaries and smaller election, but 10 years from now they may be a critical scene in the Presidential race. The more people are made aware of the blogs ability to let average people express their opinions in a meaningful way, the more people will move towards this medium, thus further increasing it’s power. Blogs have already begun to change the world, and those who do not catch on to the trend will be left behind.
 Kevin A. Pirch “Bloggers at the Gates” p. 284
 Vincent Cambell “Blogs in American Politics: From Lott to Lieberman” p.150
 Kevin A. Pirch “Bloggers at the Gates” p. 284