the hermit/ season 1
In the spring of 2007, THE HERMIT WITH DAVIS FLEETWOOD began. In May of 2007, when Presedential candidate Hillary Clinton asked America to help her decide on her campaign song, Davis got Hillary’s attention when he suggested that Hillary adopt the song “Cancer in my Backyard” by seminal punk/ emo band The 1.6 Band.
Davis won over fans with his particular brand of optimism, naiveté, and dance moves that seemed almost embarrasing on someone of his advanced years when he suggested that the 2008 election would prove to be the year that we all would “Vote different” in the 2008 election.
Like Davis, Kucinich believed that the grassroots of the 2008 presidential campaign would be made up of ones and zeros. Shortly thereafter, THE HERMIT WITH DAVIS FLEETWOD began to combine elements of direct action with entertainment.
PELOSI: PUT IMPEACHMENT BACK ON THE TABLE
The game changer, however, was when Davis threw down the gauntlet to Students across America. His video, STUDENTS: A CHALLENGE FOR YOU, with over 4.5 million views on YouTube alone, is his most widely viewed, and his most misunderstood. (note- you may have to be logged into YT to view this video, as it is been flagged as inappropriate for those under 18) This video earned Fleetwood a Best of YouTube 2007 nomination.
According to Fleetwood himself, it was the follow up video, made just 24 hours after the Challenge to Students was made, that best sums upo the thrust of season 1 of THE HERMIT. Simply titled WW3, this video is also commonly misunderstood as a call to assassinate president Bush & Vice President Cheney. It is not, Fleetwood claims, a direct call to action. It is, he claims, “a philosophical meditation on the rules of subtraction, or perhaps a twentieth first century response to the Rolling Stones song ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’, anything but a ‘call to action’.”
With two weeks of the WW3 video and The Student Challenge video posting Davis Fleetwood was hired to be a spokesperson and media consultant for the presidential campain of Dennis Kucinich, making him the first video blogger to be hired by a presidential campaign.
Outside of the basement, THE HERMIT traveled the country with and for the campaign. Here is in Boston with Dennis Kucinich & Ani DiFranco:
In the days before the New Hampshire primary, Fleetwood was traveling with Kucinich and sat with him on the campaign bus the canddiate learned that he was going to be excluded from the nationally televised debate with the other candidates. Fleetwood advised Kucinich to march to the gates of the debate hall and force State troopers to arrest him. It would, Fleetwood thought, make for great theater. And New Hampshire in the week leading up to the primary in January of 2008, was nothing if not one large stage. Kucinich declined, and the campaign mustered this impotent march, captured in the report filed from New Hampshire by Fleetwood:
Locked Out: Kucinich excluded from NH Debate
After the New Hampshire primary, Fleetwood was back in his basement, awaiting orders from the camaign, when word came down that Kucinich would also be locked out of a debate in advance of voting in Nevada. The DNC and Howard Dean left Kucinich hanging out to dry.
In a discusion with Kucinich, Fleetwood said, “We only have a few days to put pressure on NBC and the DNC (they are not directly involved, but should be exerting influence here) to keep their promise to include you in the Jan. 15th debate. I want to make a video that contains phone and email instructions for all of us to band together to make 50 THOUSAND PHONE CALLS and send 100 Thousand emails to NBC and HOWARD DEAN in the next three days.”
Kucinich said simply: “YES.” And Fleetwood went to work, mounting his own version of agit prop. This video, got the attention of Howard Dean – who personally called Kucinich and demanded that the campaign distance itself rom such a message.
NBC RIGGS DEBATE-ACT NOW/ LET DK DEBATE
Kucinich’s National Press Secretary, Andy Juniewicz ordered Fleetwood to take the video down from his personal YouTube page, claiming the video was doing harm to the candidate and the campaign. Juniewicz, emailed Fleetwood:
“The Kucinich for President campaign did not authorize or approve this video and strongly objects to its content. Take it down now.” Fleetwood refused, and fired off his angry defense to Juniewicz:
“I’m doing harm to the campaign? You must be fucking kidding me. It is hard for me to imagine damaging the campaign with this video. The media is ignoring Dennis, Mr. press Secratary. For all of the campaign’s efforts he got 1% of the vote in New Hampshire. NH… If the net result is a massive amount of calls to NBC (as your own campaign email requested) and the DNC- then this is a good thing. I know you don’t see it that way.… I was hired because of videos like this. This is what I do- in form and content- and have been doing on youtube for some time. I was suprised when a campaign wanted to work with me- while allowing me creative freedom- and knew a day might come where I would be fired for the same reason that I was hired. I hope that day has NOT come- but I suspect that it has. “
The campaign officially distanced itself from the video, even as it stayed on you tube. The fight proved to little, to late, and facing dwindling funds, Kucinich shut down his 2008 presidential run. Juniewicz never had the opportunity to officially fire Fleetwood.
Fleetwood went back to doing what he does best, sport reporting:
And many people feeling as if Davis “jumped the shark” when he started campaigning for 3 SuperDelegates to vote for him at the Democratic National Convention
Even with well over 150,000 views, the Superdelage campaign never took off. The nation was hungry for Obama floavored changes, and Davis never got his votes. Season one shut down almost a year after it began, on April 16, 2008.