By Marisa Wong. Marisa is a Master’s candidate in International Affairs and Media at the New School in New York, with a focus on human rights, participatory media, and documentary photography. View her photography and multimedia work on her website. Read her previous post on our blog.

Why You Should Watch This:

After celebrating the recent passage of New York’s Marriage Equality Bill, I wanted to revisit some of the video advocacy efforts that supported the campaign.  This PSA, produced by Human Rights Campaign, featured statements from New York celebrities and civilians, and garnered over 1 million views on YouTube.  It showcases video and personal testimony as simple and straightforward tools for capturing public attention, raising awareness, and mobilizing action.

Video Facts:

Goal: This PSA was the final compilation of 50 individual videos, used to supplement Human Rights Campaign’s support-building efforts for same-sex marriage in New York. Famous and everyday New Yorkers ask people to rethink their notions of equality, join the movement, and contact their state legislators to advocate for marriage equality.

Primary Audience: The video uses its celebrity factor to bring exposure to a wide, mainstream audience and shape public opinion on the controversial issue. By incorporating a differing range of voices, the video appeals to those both inside and outside of the queer community, reaching out to a larger base of support.

Message: While many of the subjects in the video had catchy sound bites, I thought the message was well summed up with this statement: “Equality for some is not equality.”

Content/Style/Voices: This video’s appeal lies in its incorporation of a medley of voices, from A-list actors to politicians to people on the street. In this way, Human Rights Campaign was able to put a diverse, yet familiar face on the issue, connect with a more varied audience, and maintain the viewer’s attention throughout.

Did you know? Human Rights Campaign recruited everyday New Yorkers for the video by hosting a “pop-up” filming event in the Meatpacking District.

Suggested Resources: Stylistically, this video used a “talking heads” approach, consisting entirely of people speaking directly to the camera.  Visit the Training section of the WITNESS website to learn about a wider range of filming techniques and styles.

Join the conversation: With all of the marriage equality advocacy organizations nationwide (and in New York in particular), I was surprised that I didn’t find more viral YouTube videos supporting the cause.  Do you know of any examples of effective video advocacy for marriage equality? Please share your links and thoughts below.

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