The Gaga Girls Behind The "Calls to Repeal DADT" Viral Video
Their latest, however, has over 37,000.
That's because the pair of 19-year-old University of Colorado sophomores have become Internet famous as the girls who got their friends to fill up a senator's voicemail box with pleas to repeal the United States' "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gays in the military.
The video is remarkably simple. Zulkoski and DePue, who asked male friends who lived in their building to help them flood Senator Michael Bennet's inbox, are political beginners. They don't try and pretend otherwise; one shot has them Googling the name of their senator before making the call.
In a joint telephone interview, the girls admitted they initially took action at the behest of their favorite pop star, Lady Gaga, who tweeted for her fans to call their senators and ask that the policy be repealed.
"We always felt strongly about this issue, but we just didn't take action," DePue said. The video opens on her standing in front of a poster of Gaga and the girls' Youtube channel lists her as their sole favorite music. Gaga has also since made her own video calling her senator and asking that her followers send her videos of themselves doing the same.
"We were like, 'Lady Gaga, you stole our idea!'" DePue joked.
The girls' video is a one-two punch; it shows democracy in its truest form and it touches on a hot-button, emotional issue -- factors that DePue and Zulkoski agree contributed to its popularity.
"Some people were criticizing us because we didn't know our senator," Zulkoski said. "But we wanted to show that even if you know nothing about politics, but you have an inkling about something you think isn't right, that there's a way to get involved. You don't need to know 100 percent about everything. You can learn about it. It was our first time calling a senator."
The girls tweeted their video to SLDN.org, the website for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, who then helped spread it around the Internet. In the morning, the video, which had 20 hits when DePue and Zulkoski went to bed, had over 20,000.
Then, something amazing happened: Bennet made a video in response, agreeing to vote to end DADT.
"We can't believe that it actually worked," DePue said. "It's hard to take it all in."
The girls were cheered by the Internet community and called "heroes" and "role models." Perusing the comments on their video shows people wishing their kids would "grow up to be this awesome" and saying the video made them cry. Former military members who were discharged for their sexualities have also shared their personal stories.
"Those are probably our favorite comments to read," Zulkoski said. "We didn't realize how much it changes people."
In the past 48 hours since the video went viral, DePue and Zulkoski have already started working on a follow-up for a campaign called "Vote Again 2010." The "silly but informative" video, to be released on Monday, will encourage young people to vote for equal rights "because Lady Gaga wants them to."
"Our generation, younger people, we understand that it's wrong and it makes perfect sense to us," Zulkoski said. "The politicians are all older and a different generation than us. The politicians don't see eye to eye with the young public."
Zulkoski said the friends and neighbors they asked to call in the video didn't need any convincing to participate.
"We just believe in equality for everyone. We don't think what's going on is constitutional at all and it's not what America stands for," DePue said. "We don't even understand how people are against it."