(CNSNews.com) – Within three weeks of its July 6 release, more than a million and a half viewers, three fourths of them Millennials, watched Love Gov: From First Date to Mandate – a series of satirical videos on YouTube that portray the federal government as an obnoxiously pushy boyfriend and the average American as his long-suffering girlfriend.
“We are thrilled that our Love Gov series has found a large audience so quickly,” said David Theroux, founder and president of the Independent Institute, an Oakland, California-based think tank which produced the video series in association with Emergent Order, a digital media production firm.
The short, five-minute videos feature three main characters: overbearing Scott “Gov” Govinksy (Government), his trusting girlfriend, Alexis (Alexis de Tocqueville), and Alexis’ best friend, Libby (Liberty), who vainly tries to get Alexis to ignore Gov’s bad advice.
“People relate to stories, especially personal stories about relationships, so it seemed to be an easy way to get people to learn about the effects of government intrusiveness,” Theroux told CNSNews.com.
“We wanted to come up with a way to reach out to young people, Millennials in particular, but anybody, to sort of dramatize and personalize the effects of big government,” he explained.
“And the idea came up of how about putting it into a girl-meets-boy love story? And the boy represents a[n] overbearing boyfriend and the young woman…is a college student. So she meets this guy who is handsome and clever and seems to care, so she falls in love with him. And he starts to proceed to intervene in her life, and sequentially ruins everything in her life.”
The video series is “something I think that resonates very well,” Theroux continued. “It doesn’t require anybody to have any special knowledge about economics, so that makes it very easy to access. It’s lighthearted, but it definitely gets into the reality of a lot of these policies, whether it’s the cost of education or health care, being able to afford a house, government spying on your cell phones, that kind of thing.”
Theroux described Gov as “a handsome, clever” villain who “seems to care about others. He’s conscientious, but he’s a menace. He’s arrogant and condescending, and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” he said. Alexis, on the other hand, is “a good person trying to make her way in life, but doesn’t know who to trust.
“Libby is well versed in moral philosophy, economics, and the policy aspects of all these issues, and so whenever something happens and she comments on it, Gov dismisses it and tries to twist it.
“The comic component of it is part of the way to explain the absurdities of big government, the really kind of preposterous belief that people have that government somehow is going to solve their problems, when really it’s just a form of blind belief and trust that really cannot be substantiated,” Theroux said.
The series was specifically aimed at young Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 often referred to as the Millennial Generation. “They’re not free market advocates. They just don’t know what to believe or who to trust,” especially when it comes to economic issues like federal spending and the national debt, Theroux said.
“Millennials have become, according to different surveys, more concerned about [economic issues] than other previous generations. And the ages we’re talking about is 18-34, about 80 million Americans, the largest generation in American history.
“So these are people who either voted overwhelmingly for Obama or are so apathetic [they] didn’t vote. And what happened pretty much is that the White House and the Congress, before the Republicans took over, were pretty much counting that this generation was going to fund Obamacare.
“So when the HealthCare.gov fight came on beginning of October 2013, the expectation was that all these people would sign up. And there was a huge number of them. That, by the way… even if all the Millennials signed up, that still wouldn’t pay for Obamacare. That’s one of the things that’s known, and in Jonathan Gruber’s videos, he admitted this.
“Anyway, the point is that they were hoping they were going to sign up in October 2013. They go to the HealthCare.gov site and it’s a debacle - they can’t sign up. So it’s very frustrating. And they begin to wonder: Should they trust the government to run their health care when it can’t even create a website? Because most of these kids are very tech-oriented.
“So they began to start questioning other things, like how am I ever going to pay off my student loan debt? How can I afford a house? How can I get a good job?
“And then by December, there are the revelations [that] start coming out about the NSA spying on their cell phones. And a lot of these people were questioning why are they going to intercept my text message to my girlfriend at Starbucks? What’s that about?
“So the trust in Washington really started to cave, and so they didn’t get the massive numbers to sign up [for Obamacare]. And this group of people is sitting on the fence, they sort of lean left, but they are disillusioned and they’re skeptical.
“So one of the ideas in the series is to reach out to them where they go to get their information, in ways that would be enjoyable, make them want to share with their friends, and so on, but also have serious back-up information, that this is not someone’s opinion, this is really the way it is and here’s the evidence to show you.
“And so I think there’s a real opportunity to turn the future if we can connect with huge numbers of people and win hearts and minds in the process. So that was the idea of the large-scale outreach project that was free to anyone who wants to enter the YouTube story, and gives them access to information they probably wouldn’t get otherwise.”
At the end of each episode, viewers are directed to www.mygovcost.org, and encouraged to download an app “as a way to dig deeper into these issues,” Theroux explained.
“The numbers we’re talking about….What’s a billion dollars? What’s a trillion dollars? It’s incomprehensible. So when you get past a certain point, it’s not something we deal with in our day-to-day lives.
“The purpose of the mygovcost website and the app is to personalize it. It shows you what you personally owe the federal government for the rest of your life. It’s very shocking. And it’s even more shocking when people see how much they would have if the money was conservatively invested.”
Theroux added that feedback from the video series has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
“We’ve gotten many, many very favorable comments. People love the series. They think it’s funny. They think it’s right on the mark. They want to share it with their friends, their children, their colleagues. And many people have asked us: ‘When’s the next season?’”