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Seth Rogen, Call Me: Our Own Parody List

Maybe you’ve been hibernating lately, catching up on that R&R, getting ready for the holidays. Whatever you’ve been doing doesn’t really matter (sorry), you’d have to have been living under a huge e-rock to have not caught James Franco and Seth Rogen’s lolsome recreation of Kimye’s steamy, over-share video for ‘Bound 2‘. As with pretty much any eyebrow-raising bit of content to ride the re-blog, retweet wave to internet notoriety, it’s opened up a whole new discussion over the state of parodies in postmodern pop culture.

We felt it was time to take a look back at the continued rise of the parody in musical culture over the last couple of decades, celebrating the good, the strange and the downright nasty of the moments when pastiche has become, as Hansel would put it, “so hot right now”. So, throw on some headphones, make sure your boss isn’t around, and get ready for some lolz. Hell, you might just learn a little something, too.

[Words: Caroline Murphy (CM), Alex Cull (AC), James Embiricos (JE).]

Eminem – ‘The Real Slim Shady’

Once upon a time – well, Detroit at the turn of the century – Eminem was the king of parodies. While Em’s recent work has taken a more serious turn from that of his early days (think: ‘Just Lose It’), it remains an undisputed fact that Em has the ability to make fun of everyone and everything. Eminem stepped into parody culture with a leap and then a bound. The Interscope man’s early approach to rap while indisputably hilarious, held cultural insight and unlocked some truths. No one was safe, and through comedy Eminem was able to say a lot about our culture. If he hadn’t had done it this way and if we weren’t laughing, would we have listened? – CM

Steve Kardynal – ‘Call Me Maybe’ (Chatroulette Version)

This video brings the lolz with the best of them, but not just because of Steven Kardynal’s approach to an already over-done track. It’s mostly through the way in which he uses a – regrettable – culture staple: Chatroulette. By adding Chatroulette to the mix, Steve shows how far reaching [and ultimately ridiculous - Ed.] social media can be; just look how how many views this video’s had… – CM

The Lonely Island and Natalie Portman- ‘Natalie’s Rap’

I feel comfortable enough with who I am as a woman to say that Natalie Portman is damn sexy, but also just how fierce this video is. Natalie comes out and does it with no holding back. It’s quite possibly the most postmodern of all pastiches: the self-parody. Yeah, she’s Harvard educated but whatever, she just wants to drink and fight. You know what, that’s alright. – CM

Flight of the Conchords – ‘Bowie’

There was a brief period in the mid-noughties where it felt like Kiwi comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. Truthfully though, with their all-too-short-lived TV series, it was often the awkward moments between songs where the pair’s shuffling comedy was at its most effective. That being said, if ‘Bowie’ with its glorious send-up of the Brit troubadour’s “nipple antennae” doesn’t have you laughing into the stratosphere then you’re probably an alien. – AC

Beastie Boys – ‘Body Movin”

Nathaniel Hornblower was a special child, opting to spend his time alone in a barn and speaking to the animals in a series of grunts and snorts. While the name plays pseudonym for the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch (RIP Sweet Prince), his work as a director attributes the estranged mindset. The video for ‘Body Movin’’ is perhaps the greatest nod to his filmography, parodying scenes from the 1968 Italian spy film Danger: Diabolik. – JE

The Lonely Island (feat. Seth Rogen) – ‘Like a Boss’

Bosses, man; they can be the worst (except mine, I really like mine). With power comes the temptation to abuse that power. The Lonely Island’s ‘Like a Boss’ makes me NSFW-ROFL a lot, but it also sheds a light on the dirty truth of power in the workplace – that sometimes things are not what they seem, or that the ones in power are taking their status too far.  Why can’t they just leave Debra alone? – CM

Portlandia – ‘I Dream of the ’90s’

Portlandia might be the most elaborate, all-encompassing parody of all: it’s one gargantuan satire of America’s great indie city, Portland. Or, as the show would have it: “the place where young people go to retire.” Subversive and irreverent with the best of them, it would come as no surprise if the majority of the show’s viewers were from the Rose City itself. – AC

Belizean James – ‘NO GOLD ANYTHING’

I have watched a lot of rap music videos over the years, and it’s come to my attention that some of the images depicted in the videos are, for about 99.9% of the world, highly unrealistic. Bands do not make me dance, nor do I have all gold everything. I’m in my twenties so I have nothing gold, at all. The scary thought is whether people don’t realise how unrealistic some rap videos are. What if Lil Bobby starts believing that all gold everything is achievable and that one more molly is a completely correct decision. Then what will our world be like? Tell me Mr. Trinidad James, TELL ME. – CM

Fuse -’32′

“It feels like one of those days, where I’ll just go to work. That’s probably all. It feels like one of those days, I’ll start a diet maybe Weight Watchers; I’ve heard good things. Yeah, I got wrinkles and acne at the same time. It’s miserable. Oh, yeah, tonight’s the night I’ll finally find myself a dentist.” ‘Nuff said. – CM

The Shins – ‘New Slang’

Okay, so this is hardly the biggest belly-shaker on this list; what it is, though, is a treasure trove of geeky indie references for the inner anorak to enjoy. With this, the video for their breakout 2001 single ‘New Slang’, the Albuquerque five-piece send up their own record collection, recreating the covers of The Replacements’ Let It Be, Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade and everyone’s favourite Will Oldham-snapped packshot, Slint’s Spiderland. – AC

Miley Cyrus and Saturday Night Live – ‘We Did Stop’

Being from America at times does come with some perks.  We’ve got dat super sized golden arch level and Bob Ross, but you know what, sometimes being American really sucks. For example, that time our government SHUT DOWN; that was bad. Really, really bad. Leave it to Miley to show just how comical the whole Government shut down thing was. So funny congress, so funny. – CM

Ricky Sauce – Love Sosa (Love Waffles)

Everybody likes waffles. Waffles are a symbol of peace in our crazy world. Preach, Ricky Sauce, preach. – CM

James Franco & Seth Rogen – ‘Bound 3′

Kanye’s enforced deity status reached its continually-fluctuating peak with the ‘Bound 2′ video, which – despite its naysayers – presented cultural stigmas that let Kanye into his zone. It highlighted some of the most typical American stereotypes (the stallions, the lone ranger, the desert, the bootylicious girlfriend) and portrays them in the least inspiring of formats (a green screen). The only thing that doesn’t add up is the lone ranger himself – a “black skinhead”. Cultural statements 101 – a lifetime of Kanye West. Oh, and then there’s ‘Bound 3′, but you already knew about that anyway. – JE

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