SNL Parody = Less Funny Than Real Life

2 05 2010

So I really promised myself that I wasn’t going to post anything about ICP’s “Miracles.” At this point, the meme’s beyond tired. But when I was scanning through my favorites folder, I found this:

Skip ahead to any portion of the video and wait 30 seconds. See something ridiculous/inexplicable/ soul-crushingly stupid? Don’t bother answering. Just hang your head in shame and think about what you’ve become.

I usually don’t go out of my way to ridicule juggalos. They’ve never done me any harm. But since I ran across that video in my favorites folder, I was piqued enough to check the Encyclopedia Dramatica’s entry for “Fuckin Magnets.” In it, they mentioned that there was a SNL skit parodying the infamous “Miracles” video. Turns out, they were kind of parodying the “Gathering of the Juggalos” infomercial format, too.

Do an exercise with me, won’t you? Go back to the legitimate infomercial, and skip to 2:17, where the hosts introduce themselves. Isn’t it the most painful, awkward, degrading thing you’ve ever seen in your life? Don’t you feel sorry for everybody in the room? Don’t you feel sorry for the editors and voice over guys that put this together? Don’t you feel kind of dirty for watching it and deriving snide pleasure from it? Isn’t the name “Sugar Slam” the greatest thing ever?

Similarly, compare the SNL parody to the actual “Miracles” video.

Isn’t it amazing how every single aspect of this video seems to be shot/written/timed like it was a punchline? In a world full of ironic hipsters, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope seem to be the last two people alive who lack any sort of self-awareness. It’s sad that SNL tackled ICP, because there’s really nothing funny left to say. Everything’s been blown to cartoonish proportions in the first place. There’s absolutely no way that SNL could make this more absurd for comic effect. Essentially, joking about ICP is like joking about the Holocaust. You either have to be so funny that you totally shed a new shaft of sunlight into the dark corners of the human psyche, or you just have to be coarse for the sake of coarse. Saturday Night Live did neither.


They Tampered in God’s Domain: Pat Boone

5 02 2010

So far with this blog, I’ve tried to show the virtuous side of  cultural recycling. I think there’s a lot to be said for expanding another person’s artistic endeavors beyond the scope which they had originally intended. I think that our copyright laws go too far in “building a fence” around works of cultural import, when they should really be concerned with protecting our creativity.

But, there is a dark side to the homage, the re-envisioning, and the rip-off.  Often it is little more than the final refuge of the man who has lost all hint of artistic integrity. It’s with this in mind that I introduce my new reoccurring feature “They Tampered in God’s Domain” as a dire warning of what is possible when no-talent jerks get their mitts on  somebody else’s good idea. It also functions as a grim memorial service to works of art that were mangled beyond recognition by unmitigated hacks.

I was eight or nine in 1997, and I think I first learned the term “cover album” in connection with Pat Boone’s 1997 release In a Metal Mood. Today, it is hard for me to use the phrase “cover album” without using the modifier “terrible.”

For those of you young folks who don’t know, Pat Boone was the most whitebread thing to come out of the 50’s. Please take a moment to let that statement sink in. Pat Boone’s job was to re-record popular R&B hits of the day. Usually, the actual authors these songs had committed the unforgivable crimes of “Not being the correct race,” “Just being a little swarthy,” or occasionally “Looking at an A&R rep sideways.” Black musicians couldn’t get on the white record charts. Luckily, Pat Boone was there to swoop in and sprinkle a little of his magical whiteness on these pop classics so that button-down middle-Americans could bop at sock hops to their heart’s content without fear of having their ideologies challenged.

To describe Pat Boone in a series of humorous metaphors:

Pat Boone was to pop music what a veterinary dentist is to a zoo- he made his living defanging dangerous creatures.

Pat Boone was to pop music what liquid paper is to a typewritten document- everything he touched got a little bit whiter.

Pat Boone was to pop music what potatoes were to the Irish- despite being bland and flavorless, they were a staple for a long time.

At the time of In a Metal Mood’s release, Pat Boone had gone 16 years without a release (Note: Thousands died in the great “Pat Boone Famine of 1981-1997”). Come 1997, Pat Boone knew that it was time to start ruining other people’s music again. He’d been gone too long. The result was Boone’s first hit album in 35 years, and the fourth funniest comedy album of all time (Behind George Carlin’s Indecent Exposure, Mitch Hedburg’s Mitch All Together, and Macho Man Randy Savage’s Be a Man.)

Boone released a gimmicky metal cover album in his trademark jazzy swing style. It features mostly oldies “hard rock” acts like AC/DC, Van Halen, and Dio. Boone’s cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” is guaranteed to bring any party to a screeching halt as your guests try to figure out exactly what’s going on here.

I’d try to describe the hilarity and the horror, but it defines explanation. Better to just experience it for yourself, dear