In response to the suicides of five gay teenagers within the last three weeks, sex-advice columnist and gay activist Dan Savage launched the “It Gets Better” campaign on Sept. 23. The ItGetsBetterProject YouTube channel features nearly 500 videos; primarily of gay men and women describing their harassment and ridicule.
In the wake of 15-year-old Billy Lucas’ suicide, Savage asked this question on his blog:
“Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.“
The videos are intended to remind their young homosexual, bisexual and transsexual viewers that, amidst the bullying, there is hope and help. Currently, the channel is YouTube’s second most popular in September with 11,465 subscribers. Additionally, a growing number of celebrities, including Ciara, Nicki Minaj, Eve, Neil Patrick Harris, Lance Bass, Perez Hilton, Michel Urie and Jay Manuel have recorded their own videos of encouragement for the cause.
Savage’s campaign was timely and reactive by nature. It lacked the preparation, budget and time allotted for traditional campaigns; the absence of which, I believe, contributes to its authenticity. Despite this, the project lacks cohesion. Apart from the YouTube channel, no Website has been created to further the message and encourage action. The YouTube channel provides “other resources” that direct viewers to related sites promoting similar messages. Though the campaign has received significant media attention and Internet dissemination, the lack of updating will cause the message to quickly fade.
To contribute to the inconsistency, the celebrity videos cannot be found on a uniform site. Some are listed on the MTV Website while others are posted to the celebrities’ individual YouTube channels; causing a disruption in the accessibility of the videos and rupturing the cohesion of the campaign.
How do you feel about the “It Gets Better” project’s campaign tactics? Though the purpose was to create and disseminate the message immediately to prevent suicides, what could Savage have done to create a more cohesive campaign? Or do you believe the campaign was successful simply by its existence?
Here are a few links to the relevant pages provided on the campaign’s YouTube channel: