Monday, 20 April 2009

The politics of funny

Say 'hello' to Chuck DeVore, California State Assemblyman, candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010 and ex-Reagan appointee to the Pentagon. He's got his camouflage boxers in a twist because he's being sued by The Eagles lead singer Don Henley. You see, Don got upset because Chuck decided to use his songs without authorisation to parody the Obama administration. Taking exception to the fact that fans might misconstrue the use of his song as a sign that he (and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell) are political supporters of DeVore, Don Henley is taking a stand. He's looking for $150,000 in damages and an injunction halting any further use of the song.

You can understand Henley's frustration, after all, he's donated around $750,000 over the years to liberal political causes. The last thing he'd want, therefore, is for people to think that he supports this Reagan-loving little man, who boasts that his 'ditty' is approaching 1,000 views on YouTube. Chuck meanwhile, has been busy blogging up a storm about "the laughless legions of the left" and complaining about the fact that "liberal warriors are notorious for their thin skins".

Irrespective of which side of the political spectrum you happen to occupy, there's no denying the fact that DeVore neglected to obtain the composers' permission for his song parody. So if Henley wants it taken down, he's perfectly within his rights. More importantly though, the real issue here is that the lyrics to DeVore's lampoon have all the incisive wit of an episode of My Family.

For example, here are the opening couple of verses of DeVore's 'Hope of November' sung to the tune 'Boys of Summer'. Hold onto your sides, it's a laugh riot...

Obama overload
Obama overreach
We feel it everywhere
Trillions in the breach
Empty bank, empty Street
Dollar goes down alone
Pelosi’s in the House
So we now all must atone
But we can see through-
Your broken promises oh One
You got your head cocked back and your teleprompter on, maybe
And can we tell you our love for you will still be strong
After the hope of November’s gone?
We never will forget those nights
We wonder if it was a dream
Remember how you made us crazy?
Remember how we made you beam
Now we do understand what happened to our love

If you're going to do a parody, there's only one rule. Be funny. Unfortunately Republican humour is a little like low fat mayonnaise - pointless, unpleasant and desperately unsatisfying.

In the spirit of goodwill, here's how parodies should be done - with full permission granted beforehand and a healthy dose of funny. This is 'Weird Al' Yankovic doing 'Fat' and 'White & Nerdy'. Enjoy.

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