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David Cameron's 'thug life' on YouTube

By BBC Trending
What's popular and why


A parody video of David Cameron making a witty put down during Prime Minister's Questions has gone viral in the UK over the past few days.

It begins with footage from March of last year, when Labour's Stephen Pound asks the prime minister if he would be willing to disassociate himself from the "snobbish and disdainful" bingo and beer advertisement tweeted by the Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps (the ad said cuts in duty to beer and bingo would "help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy" and was widely parodied at the time). Cameron replies at length, before quipping "I am sure that you enjoy a game of bingo - it's the only time you will ever get close to Number 10". Suddenly a hip hop track ("Breathe" by Sean Paul) begins to play, and the words "THUG LIFE" appear on screen - in celebration of Cameron's put down.

It was first uploaded to YouTube by a young Conservative supporter called Harrison Harvey Hale at the beginning of February, but really started getting attention on social platforms when it was picked up on Tuesday by Lad Bible, a social media platform which targets men between the ages of 16-30, on their Facebook page. It was watched 3.6 million times in 24 hours, with about 100,000 "likes". Hale tells BBC Trending he thinks its popularity comes down to the fact that "people value charisma over policy when it comes to selecting their politicians".

Lad Bible tell us they "do not support any political party", have not received any money for promoting the film, and that politics is a part of their "content mix". Since they posted it, Conservative party supporters have retweeted the film, and shared older "thug life" videos of David Cameron, which have cropped up on YouTube over the past few months. The comments - most of which seem to be from young men - suggest viewers are glad that politicians can engage in "witty banter".

More generally, "thug life" parodies of politicians have become a thing on the internet. They come as videos, vines and memes are shared by millions in the US. They started trending in the UK in big numbers earlier this year. Usually they glorify politicians by highlighting a key speech or phrase with hip hop music. A put down by Labour's Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls to the former Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove has been viewed more than 16,000 times since it was posted last November, and Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson's description of the London Assembly as "great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies" has been viewed more than 36,000 times over the past two months . In the US, a "thug life" video of Barak Obama's ad lib in his State of the Union Address has more than 430,000 views.

All the political parties are aware that it is a great motivational tool if people can laugh with their leaders. The Liberal Democrats have tried to tap into this by releasing a Nick Clegg "Uptown funk" video which has had more than 287,000 views over the past week.

The Labour campaign has used similar rhetoric about its leader, but using T-shirts rather than online video. They emailed their supporters offering them "hell yes I'm voting Labour" T-shirts, the day after Ed Miliband told Jeremy Paxman "hell yes I'm tough enough" to be prime minister.

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