We admit, 15 minutes or so is on the longish side of normal viral video territory here at Flip the Media. But then, when those 15 minutes are spent cogently explaining and occasionally skewering both sides of the debate over the Scottish independence referendum, who can resist? Particularly when John Oliver, the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, is at the helm. As with his segment last month on the events in Ferguson, Missouri (featured in our August 22 Viral Video post), Oliver has once again proven his mettle at disseminating the news and breaking down complex issues while throwing reverence to the wind.
Earlier today, Scotland’s voters ultimately voted “No” and decided to maintain the country’s 307-year union with Britain. On the surface, the vote was a seemingly simple Yes/No vote. As broken down by Yes/No and campaign slogan, “Yes Scotland” was a vote for independence and to break up the union with Britain. No, or “Better Together” was a vote to maintain the union with Britain. In his segment, Oliver manages to convey the more complex issues surrounding the referendum (for example, the amount and disposition of Scotland’s oil revenue, and the question of the fate of the nuclear weapons that are currently stored in Scotland). His segment also mentions major sources of funding for campaigns on both sides (JK Rowling, $1.6 million toward the “Better Together” campaign and 79% of the Yes Scotland campaign funds from EuroMillions lottery winners Colin and Chris Weir).
Amidst this reporting and analysis, Oliver gleefully offers up more tangential, yet entertaining morsels (who knew that the national animal of Scotland is the unicorn?), and then polishes off his segment with a tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek romantic comedy-style plea for Scotland to continue tolerating Britain. (Spoiler alert: The plea involves haggis eating, Scotch drinking, bagpipe music and, natch, a unicorn.)
However we may feel about the results of the Scottish independence referendum, the video of Oliver’s segment is resoundingly popular, with more than 2.6 million views on YouTube as of this morning. Which just goes to show that in our news diet, we are increasingly hungry for a healthy dash of opinionated wit on top of the more standard factual fare.
Oliver, you do you.