It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since JibJab launched This Land, its first presidential campaign parody starring Dubya and John Kerry. The parody was as viral as anything that has spread across the internet since Hotmail defined the category when it launched back in the day. Well hold on to your banjo, ’cause JibJab just launched its most recent parody, Time For Some Campaignin’, on the 2008 presidential campaign starring today’s cast of political characters. While I still think “This Land” is funnier, “Time For Some Campaignin’” is LOL.
What is somewhat disturbing to me is that our presidential candidates and their BFFs provide us endless material and opportunities to make fun of them. I’m sure JibJab’s biggest challenge was deciding what — out of hundreds of ridiculous things — they should include in the parody. What does this say about our country? Simmer down now, I am not going to turn this into a political discussion, but it is really unbelievable that our leaders and their actions can be so laughable. One may argue that it’s JibJab creative genius that makes the clip so outrageously funny. While I believe this to be partially true, I think the sheer volume of parody topics our political icons generate is the real source of entertainment. Both Jib Jab videos are at least two minutes long which is considered “Gone With The Wind” in today’s viral world, yet I’m sure editing it to only two minutes was excruciatingly difficult for its creators.
Let’s look at Sarah Silverman’s “I’m F***ing Matt Damon” video — yet another “Gone With The Wind”-like production. While there were many different funny scenes in the video, there was only one comedic thread and it was around her f***ing Matt Damon. In JibJab’s latest video, the comedic threads are so vast you could weave a rug big enough to cover Karl Rove and Dick Cheney’s asses (or heads) and that’s no small feat. Seriously, the points used to amplify humor range from war to recession to bad mortgages to infidelity to dozens of other serious topics. And although it’s been eight years of sliding down the slippery slope, you gotta love the fact that we all still laugh. Why? War and the economy aren’t funny. Do you think it’s the Boiled Frog effect — after years of hearing things like Bush’s quote on “using the google” to Al Gore telling Wolf Blitzer, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet” (yikes!), we are all just unfazed by today’s political dopiness? Let’s face it, these are serious topics that are not inherently funny, yet we still laugh.
What’s your perspective?
My serene morning on the Cape was just destroyed by a CNN Breaking News text message that stated “Former White House press secretary Tony Snow has died of cancer. He was 53.” No. Not again. Although he had most recently been on the other side of the media fence than Tim Russert, like Russert Snow was someone I admired in both my professional and personal life and his death has had a stop-me-in-my-tracks, tear-inducing effect on me.
Politically speaking, Snow and I couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed. It would be a newsworthy event for me to ever find something that would cause me to verbally support President Bush and I certainly can’t think of anything including $10,000,000 that would get me to work in his administration. Moreover, Snow was an ex-Fox news guy, a media property that causes me to react out loud — even when alone – to the outrageously biased news they present to their viewers.
So why do I have such respect and strong feelings towards Snow that I am still teary as I type this? It’s simple. I admired him for the honest human being he was and the consistency he showed when it came to putting his family first through actions, not just lip service. Snow’s candor and commitment to this priority was front and center when he explained his resignation as Bush’s press secretary through his honest reason that he needed to make more money to help his family, which included kids approaching college.
I will never forget the recent NBC interview with Snow when David Gregory asked him about an essay Snow’s sixteen-year-old son wrote about his Dad’s cancer. Snow became flooded with emotion and could barely speak. It took what felt like ten minutes for Snow to compose himself and explain his emotions by saying, ”It’s great to love people this much.” A simple yet amazingly powerful line that said it all. I have had 100+ similar floods of emotion induced by a family-related situation (happy and sad) and my kids tease me about how much I cry over things where most people would never shed a tear. However, in forty-five years I have never been able to explain my reaction in as eloquently yet concise response as Snow did in that moment. In a lifetime, I will never forget that line.
It’s ironic that Snow went form being a member of the media to being a press secretary who was often spinning to the media. Technically speaking Snow would fall under the label of “PR person” — a term that can have tremendous negative association for many media people. Snow is a great example of how we should never stereotype anyone. He was a PR guy who was a exceptionally decent human being, no different than the majority of PR people I know.
Unlike snow that falls silently in the winter, Tony Snow’s passing will be quite explosive. The world lost a great human being today and the PR industry lost a great icon. Sad news on all fronts.
Fortune writer Scott Moritz should “Learn from Stern.” Howard Stern that is. In his article that appeared yesterday entitled Howard Stern May Have A Sirius Dilemma Moritz has a fundamental and serious — no pun intended — problem with the entire premise of his story.
The net/net point Moritz amplifies throughout the article is how if Sirius and XM finally merge that they’ll be running out of cash and Howard Stern will never be able to negotiate anything close to the sweet $700 million, five-year deal he has now that expires in 2010. Earth to terrestrial radio listeners like Moritz…Howard is not coming back. Anyone that listens to the Howard Stern Show knows that he is done with getting up at a ridiculous hour in the morning to do these daily shows. He has more than paid his dues and his fans know that.
With an air of arrogance, Moritz exclaims, “the shock jock may be in for a shock of his own when his deal expires in 2010….Stern could go back to AM-FM radio, but even then it’s unlikely he’d pocket anywhere near his Sirius pay.” Ummmm..I don’t think so fella. Obviously Moritz has never listened to a Howard Stern show. Stern is notorious for jumping on the terrestrial radio pig pile. He despises the outrageous censorship that exists in terrestrial radio world and in a gajillion years would never go back. His audience would lose all respect for him given the rage he has spewed — and rightfully so — at this type of overreaching censorship.
Moritz must have done something right to end up at a well respected magazine like Fortune. But clearly he has done something wrong in researching the facts behind this story. Maybe he should have spoken to a Stern fan — or even better, Howard Stern himself — and asked them what they thought about his story’s premise. He would have learned in a nano-second what all of Stern’s listeners know…Howard is done when his contract is done. The article should have focused on what will happen to the Sirius/XM members like me when Howard leaves. I may bail and I’m sure I’m not alone.
The funny thing is there was a bit of cockiness to Moritz’s tone throughout the article. I wonder who should be more cocky – the guy that made $700 million in five years or the dude who probably won’t make a fraction of that in his lifetime.
Would you consider this sloppy journalism?
Have you heard about The Naked Cowboy suing M&Ms for trademark infringement? This dude may be naked but he sure wasn’t exposed.
The net/net of the story is that Robert Burck, aka The Naked Cowboy, sued Mars in April for $6 million in federal court in NY. The allegation was trademark infringement for an M&Ms video billboard that Burck claimed used his likeness. Clearly Mars underestimated the good looking guy in his underwear who looks like he walked right out of a Calvin Klein ad.
Let’s look at the facts. The Naked Cowboy only wears tighty whities, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and plays the guitar in Times Square. The blue M&M in the ad only wears tighty whities, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and plays the guitar in Times Square. Houston we got a problem. To make matters worse, the M&M video played on a continuous loop every few minutes over a nine month period. Ruh-roh!
In this case, naked does not mean dumb. Burck had the smarts to register trademarks for “The Naked Cowboy” name and likeness. And the dude appears to have a little Web 2.0 flowing through his exposed veins. In addition to his website that sells his famous skivvies, you can download his music on iTunes, check him out on his podcast, MySpace, and Naked Cowboy TV. This guy knows branding better than the candy guys trying to rip him off. He is as entrepreneurial as every venture-backed company on the planet. And (cowboy) hats off to him ’cause he did it all on his own. Yeehaw!
This past week, U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin let the cowboy continue singing his song. In a long and at times humorous ruling, Judge Chin didn’t let the candy melt in his hand as he tossed out Mars’ attempt to dismiss The Naked Cowboy’s lawsuit. The judge noted that Burck has appeared as The Naked Cowboy in numerous movies, TV shows, video games and has a track record of licensing his name and likeness for endorsements, including a Super Bowl XLI ad for Chevrolet. Three cheers for the underdog…and his underwear! You can bet if I put on an M&Ms suit and started running around selling cowboy hats under their brand, they would have their 3 Muskateer lawyers slap a lawsuit on me and certainly would be Snicker(ing) as they tried to destroy me. I hope The Naked Cowboy is awarded a sum of money large enough to launch his likeness into the Milky Way.
Do you think Mars should pony up some money to The Naked Cowboy?