By Lauren Mayer, on Wed May 27, 2015 at 8:30 AM ET
When I started posting weekly political comedy songs on youTube, my teenage son tried to caution me against unrealistic expectations. “You know, Mom, anything over 100 views is viral for old people.” But it turns out there are more fans of political comedy out there than he thought, and even some of us ‘old people’ know how to use computers to check out videos. Not that I’ve rivaled Gangnam Style, or even most funny cat videos, but most of mine get into the mid 3-digits, and some go quite a bit higher.
So far I haven’t been able to draw too many conclusions about what makes one of my videos hit higher numbers – I’ve gotten into 4 figures with ones I really worked on, ones I threw together, some are parodies of recognizeable songs but other recogizeable parodies don’t seem to hit. But there are certain hot button issues I can count on, and none more reliably than gun control.
Of course, most of the increased number of views come from people who really, really, REALLY disagree with me, and let me know in the comments. The first time I did a gun control song, the comments were quite disturbing – tons of horrible language, vile insults and even threats. But then I realized that if the spelling and grammar were any indication, these folks were not going to be able to figure out where I lived. (More importantly, I also realized that they were showing off for each other more than anything else.)
The Waco shooting last week only made Texas loosen gun restrictions even more, but it did inspire me to tackle the subject once again, so let’s see what it does to my views (and my comments!):
The latest arguments against marriage equality remind me of a scene from the Mel Brooks’ classic “Blazing Saddles,” where Sherriff Bart is trying to keep the citizens of Rock Ridge from caving into Hedly Lamarr’s efforts to get them to leave and says, “Can’t you see this is the last act of a desperate man?” Howard Johnson’s response is, “We don’t care if it’s the first act of Henry V, we’re leaving!” The tide has turned so quickly and definitively, opponents of same-sex marriage are running out of usable tactics. “This is how marriage has been for millenia” is easily countered by the fact that for most of those millenia, marriage involved men owning women, and “It will hurt traditional marriage” doesn’t hold up against the evidence from all the states where marriage equality hasn’t produced higher divorce rates, polygamy, or people marrying their pets.
Some opponents cite Biblical passages (as though the Bible were in fact the US Constitution), but even those arguments only expose more hypocrisy, given that they ignore all sorts of other Biblical edicts. (The one on ‘gluttonous children should be put to death’ sure raised my eyebrows when I heard about it in Hebrew School. Fortunately, even the most observant Jews let that one slip . . . ) So here’s a musical response, in the hopes that gospel-style music might help marriage equality opponents finally see the light:
By Lauren Mayer, on Wed Apr 22, 2015 at 8:30 AM ET
One indication of super-sized celebrity is being so famous that your first name alone is enough to identify you. Think of such iconic performers as Madonna, Cher, or . . . actually, those are the only clear examples I can think of (okay, maybe ‘Giselle,’ as in the super model, but that’s stretching it). But now they can welcome a new member to this very small club. Hillary Rodham Clinton is starting her campaign much more humbly than in ’08, doing small events, featuring mostly other people in her announcement video, and encouraging everyone to call her Hillary instead of Senator or Secretary Clinton. And because she is such an iconic and polarizing figure, just her first name is more than enough to identify her and to elicit a huge range of responses, from outrage & conspiracy theories on the right, to ‘I’m for Hillary’ cheers on the center/left, to ‘Well, she’s our best hope since Elizabeth Warren won’t run’ on the farther left.
So I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate her announcement by parodying an iconic showtune all about a character’s first name. (Hint, this is from a musical taking place in Iowa, appropriately enough!)
By Lauren Mayer, on Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 8:30 AM ET
Senator Paul’s presidential campaign got off to a rocky start last week, with his constant issues with the media (and reminding everyone of the episode several weeks ago where he patronizingly ‘shushhed’ a female journalist). He may not have been quite so patronizing to male reporters, but at least he managed to prove that his obnoxious behavior wasn’t limited to women.
I’m far more offended by his actual policies than his behavior – for a supposedly libertarian renegade, he hews quite closely to the far-right agenda of trampling on reproductive choice, gay rights, etc. – but as a satirist, I have to acknowledge him for said behavior, since it is what we in the business call ‘comedy gold’.
Frequently, in political satire truth is so much stranger than fiction that it makes my job a simple matter of setting reality to music. If I were to write a fictional character who was so clueless, he didn’t bother to secure basic variations of his domain name, and so egotistical that he compared his science denial to the principled stance of Galileo (and then completely mis-represent Galileo’s breakthroughs), no one would take me seriously. Which is why satire is almost always the best response to political shenanigans.
Ted Cruz’s first week as a declared candidate was like something out of a Monty Python routine. So here’s a fitting musical tribute:
By Lauren Mayer, on Wed Mar 25, 2015 at 8:30 AM ET
I don’t generally take pleasure in the woes of others, but every now and then it is delicious to see someone get a much-deserved come-uppance. Like when that speeding shmuck who cut you off 2 miles ago gets pulled over by a cop, or when a morality-preaching evangelical gets caught with his pants down. So you can’t blame people for gloating a bit about the spectacular (and quick) downfall of resigned Congressman Aaron Schock – he used taxpayers and donors to finance a glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle having nothing to do with his district, and flaunted his exploits – and his abs – at every opportunity, on social media and magazine covers. Not to mention his homophobic voting record, which as Barney Frank pointed out, actually does make his sexuality at least somewhat germaine.
And how fitting that Schock was a fan of Downton Abbey, a show about the lavish, glamorous lives of a soon-to-be-obsolete upper class . . .
By Lauren Mayer, on Wed Mar 18, 2015 at 8:30 AM ET
Public approval for marriage equality has skyrocketed, as state after state joins the accelerating trend. But a few states are holding on to the past, this time by trying a bit of clumsy obfuscation – framing discrimination as ‘religious freedom,’ as though bigoted florists and bakers are the real victims. They aren’t losing the right to worship the way they want, but when you do business in public, you follow basic laws. For example, what if my religion disapproved of being Mormon?, or left-handed, or homophobic? I still couldn’t turn away those clients. (On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine a homophobic client wanting to hire a liberal musical satirist, but still, you never know!)
Clearly these feeble attempts are the last frantic sputters of dying-out resistence to gay marriage. (Which always reminds me of the scene in Blazing Saddles where Sheriff Bart tries to keep the put-upon residents of Rock Ridge from leaving town and giving into Hedly Lamarr’s evil plot. He says, “Can’t you see that’s the last act of a desperate man?,” and Howard Johnson replies, “We don’t care if it’s the first act of Henry V. We’re leaving!”) So here’s a musical reminder to opponents of marriage equality that we see through their feeble attempts to disguise what they’re doing:
Retro is in! The fun of nostalgia is that we can romanticize the aspects we liked (e.g. Downton Abbey’s fabulous costumes and Maggie Smith’s great lines) while ignoring those we wouldn’t really want to resume (servants with no lives of their own, no antibiotics or disposable diapers, etc.). So it was only fitting that the controversy around Bill O’Reilly’s exaggerations erupted the week before Downton Abbey’s Season 5 finale. Here’s my tribute to the 1920s/commentary on O’Reilly’s reaction (which was, shall we say, just a tad different from Brian Williams’), and it’s up to you if you want to consider it as also being a commentary on the age of O’Reilly’s target audience.
By Lauren Mayer, on Wed Feb 18, 2015 at 8:30 AM ET
Not only is E.L. James’ fan-fiction’ trilogy a runaway success, the movie version is also setting box office records. Meanwhile, critics, literary analysts, BDSM experts, and all of us with any basic sense of logic and writing are scratching our heads. How on earth could so many people embrace soft-core porn that expects us to believe a beautiful 21-year-old English major has never been kissed, has never thought about sex, and has never decided to use her supposed experience reading Thomas Hardy novels to update her vocabulary from “jeez” and “triple crap”?
Since women are the bulk of the audience (including those of us who read a book or two ‘just to see what all the fuss was about’, honest!), it’s easy to dismiss the whole phenomenon as an illustration of suburban sexual frustration, of lonely moms yearning for some kink in their lives. But I’m firmly convinced it’s really because the books tapped into the suburban mother’s deepest fantasy – of having someone ELSE take charge for a few hours.
For that we’d put up with awful writing, a hero who is more abusive-stalker than charming, and a lousy representation of consensual sexual experimentation. Just think how successful we’d make any example of ‘mommy porn’ that skipped the contract delibrations and references to “my inner goddess”?
By Lauren Mayer, on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 8:30 AM ET
Even though I am an unabashedly liberal political satirist, I have immense respect for any efforts at bipartisanship. (I was a competitive debater in high school and college, where we had to argue both sides of any given topic, and it was great training not just for politics but for marriage . . . . but I digress.) Which is why I’ve always been proud to contribute to this site whose whole foundation is to encourage bipartisan discourse.
However, my admiration for seeing both sides of an issue has largely been theoretical. On the issues that matter to me, from women’s reproductive choice to marriage equality to the environment to income inequality, I have had a very hard time seeing any validity to the arguments on the opposing side. And when that opposing side is based on a wholesale denial of facts, evidence, and science, it’s even harder to remain balanced.
However, an issue has recently come up where science denial originated on the left – the ant-vaccination movement. And while a few right-wingers have made idiotic, pandering remarks about parental choice, or a ‘temporal link’ between vaccines and autism, just as many diehard conservatives have come down squarely on the side of science. Who knew we’d find a subject on which Hillary Clinton and Ben Carson express the same point of view?
So for a change, the sarcasm and disdain in my political satire song is aimed equally at Democrats and Republicans who persist in willful ignorance: