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Howard Dean’s Scream refers to a high-pitched shriek made by red-faced Howard Dean (D) at a post-caucus rally held in West Des Moines, Iowa during the 2004 Democrat presidential primary campaign. Also known as the “I Have A Scream” speech, Dean’s outburst of self-enthusiasm became internet remix fodder shortly after the Iowa caucus held on January 19th, 2004. On YouTube, there are other onomatopoeic references to Dean’s scream as well, including “BYAH!” and “YEARGH!”.
In January 2004, Howard Dean’s campaign team suffered a defeat when a last-minute popularity surge by rival candidates John Kerry and John Edwards led to a disappointing third-place finish for the Vermont congressman at Iowa’s Democratic caucuses, which represents the symbolic beginning of the primary campaign season. In the following days of Iowa caucus results, Howard Dean attended a post-caucus rally for his supporters at the Val-Air Ballroom in West Des Moines, Iowa for concession speech.
Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York … And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!!!
Because of the loud cheers of his enthusiastic audience, Dean was forced to raise his voice in delivery; however, the overwhelming noise from the crowd was filtered out by his unidirectional microphone, thus giving an impression to the audiences at home that he was “loud, peculiar, and unpresidential,” according to Verne Gay’s column article in the Seattle Times.
Dean’s shrieking yell “YEAH!” towards the end of his speech was quickly labeled as a gaffe by political commentators and election reporters across the country. The incident was instantly met by YouTubers’ remixes and mash-ups sampling the audio clip from his public address, further amplifying the news media’s fixation with Howard Dean’s scream.
News stories about Howard Dean remix videos were run by a wide range of national publications and cable news channels, including USA Today, CBS and NPR. On cable and broadcast news networks alone, The scene was shown an estimated 633 times in the span of four days following his speech, excluding similar mentions in talk shows and local news broadcasts. As a result, the repeated broadcast of the “Dean Scream” in the news sparked a debate on the topic of whether Dean was the victim of media bias.
Dean later admitted that the speech did not project the best image for his presidential campaign, referring to it as a “crazy, red-faced rant” during his appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.
A wild variety of spoofs and remixes followed both online and in mainstream media, such as Conan O’Brien and comedian Dave Chapelle who reacted to Dean’s scream incident with parody re-enactments. Most instances were in the form of audio remixes, featuring techno/electronica, AC/DC songs, Ozzy Osborne’s “Crazy Train” and others.
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