A few days ago, you’d have been forgiven for not knowing the importance of November 4, 2014. But after Rock the Vote’s previous scare-driven call to action, showing the kinds of people who DO vote, and, now, the music video here, you have no excuse.
If you don’t turn out for the midterm elections, you’ll have the likes of Lil Jon, “Lil” Lena Dunham, “Auntie” Whoopie Goldberg, and Fred Armisen all up in your grill. The raucous rap video #TURNOUTFORWHAT, a parody of Jon’s “Turn Down for What,” is the latest PSA from non-partisan voting advocacy group Rock the Vote. In it, Lil Jon (known for frequently employing the word “what”) goes to the polls to cast a vote for marijuana legalization. While there, he meets a host of fellow millennials who are casting their own ballots for initiatives including education, reproductive rights, environmental protection, and racial equality. He annoys Dunham, who is voting with the help of her celebrity trainer. And he rolls his eyes at an uber dorky white kid who claims he saw Jon in “da club” last weekend. He also dances around in a thick cloud of smoke of some kind.
This slick, highly produced video is a far cry from Rock the Vote’s first-ever PSA, shot in 1990. That spot features Madonna wrapped in an American flag, as she sings off-key and jokes around with two male backup dancers. The earlier video’s strength was about its irreverent informality; it felt like a series of outtakes. But 24 years later, a similar irreverence pervades #TURNOUTFORWHAT. Young people do love that perfect melding of silliness and snark. Rock the Vote gets this. Sure, you can turn out for important issues, but as Fred Armisen says, you can also turn out to impress your friends. “After all,” he quips “that’s the only reason to ever do anything.”