Political history, humor, and hate go viral on YouTube

Some of the most humorous, historical, and disliked videos of the year have made YouTube’s list of the top political videos of 2011.

Beyond the obvious – controversial or captivating campaign ads—videos that displayed fierce debate, funny moments or historic announcements topped the list.

Two of the funnier ones came from the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, as President Barack Obama and comedian Seth Meyers took the stage in early April, delivering pointed monologues that poked fun of current politicians and newsmakers. Unbeknownst to the crowd however, Obama was hours away from making one of the most historic decisions of his presidency: Giving the order to kill Osama Bin Ladin. Obama’s announcement that the terrorist leader had been killed joined the top 10, coming in at number four, as one of the most viral political videos.

Of course in an era of extreme dissatisfaction in our political leaders, videos that mocked and explained, topped the chart. Coming in at number five and number 10 were videos that attacked our national debt and the president’s first few years in office. Government Gone Wild explained to viewers how long it would take to pay off the national debt if the federal government stopped spending money today. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee created a mock campaign commercial that focused on failed promises made by the President.

But the most popular YouTube video of the year wasn’t a campaign ad or even from a professional politician, but a 19-year-old University of Iowa student who stood before state house of representatives and spoke about his family values and how he was raised by lesbian moms. Zach Wahls became an Internet sensation for defending gay marriage earlier this year with a three minute long speech that was viewed more than 15 million times in the last 10 months.

Although the end of every year brings an endless amount of best of videos or top ten lists, this YouTube countdown gives a glimpse into what American politics were like over the past 12 months, addressing the social, economic, and foreign issues that have shaped 2011.

Photo by United States Government Work

Justin Franz

Justin Franz

Justin Franz is a Montana-based reporter and photographer who wrote about web culture for the Daily Dot. His work has more recently appeared in Flathead Living Magazine, Trains Magazine, and Travel + Leisure.