The Abraham Lincoln video series is a parody of contemporary vlog videos and political punditry. The Trump era is proof that American politics and media operate as a Television reality show, built on exaggerated & simplistic structure, emotion, and narrative. Republicans benefit from politics and media that reduce a complicated world into simple stories and feelings. Using the avatar of Lincoln is a natural way of inserting politics into a variety of popular online video genres that don’t normally address politics (food tasting, film review, song cover, dance). While there are popular vlogs hosted by fictional characters, vlogs hosted by historical figures are rare. Using a character avatar to engage in political media criticism can help personify, explain, and make entertaining complex concepts and issues while still creating enough distanciation to allow viewers to develop their own thinking. While Lincoln is not beloved in many parts of the South, what appeal he does have is bipartisan. He is an ideal figure to represent a progressive editorial perspective. This approach could be useful for a media organization like Slate or Buzzfeed; an avatar can have an editorial voice based on the input of a diverse group of people, and creates an opportunity to break the ‘filter bubble’ and become exposed to new audiences. An individual reporter/writer/commentator either would not have the skill set to host videos across a variety of political and nonpolitical genres, or would not have the name recognition to attract an audience. Additionally, a character is not subject to the same level of threat or attack as individuals are. By foregrounding the make-believe elements of Abraham Lincoln coming back to life to make some internet videos, and possibly by varying the casting of Lincoln, the viewers are more aware of the association between character/pundit and network/institution. This would draw attacks away from the individual, and towards the organization.
Some aesthetics and narratives will always encourage complacency and lack of awareness. That our current politics operates on a reality show paradigm suggests that influence of superficial/exploitative/mindless media formats should be reduced. The multi-format multi-genre avatar approach creates a link and positive association with topics otherwise avoided.