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  1. WARNING: This post discusses a song with lyrics that explicitly refer to homosexual sex. In the interest of art criticism, I'll quote when necessary to make my points, but in the interest of my readers, I'll keep those quotes to a minimum. Some of the words, themselves, are very common vulgar terms for male anatomy. As an addendum to my thread on Charles Tew, I am going to provide some thoughts on Rucka's parody music. I'll start with his video entitled "Am I Gay?", which Tew simply called "vile," after watching "about fifteen seconds of it." Before getting into the heart of my critique, I'll note that, literally speaking, the first fifteen seconds are not vile, unless you can find vileness in the first line: "Never been up inside of any man." Maybe that meets your standard for vile language, but keep in mind that this is supposed to be a humorous song about gay sex. Frankly, I'm not that easily disturbed by jokers. The music itself is lifted from Fuel's song "Hemorrhage," which is a rock ballad. So I doubt that Tew finds the music particularly vile. Perhaps he actually made it through the second vocal line, where we do get our first vulgar word for penis: "dick." However, it seems unlikely that this rather mild vulgarity caused him to stop watching, when he endured other, much more foul-mouthed Rucka songs. I'm guessing he simply couldn't stomach the explicit talk about sex, which in the second line is actually about heterosexual sex. It's not until the third line that Rucka begins crudely describing a first, gay sexual encounter. Now, to fully appreciate any work of parody, we should first be familiar with that thing which it parodies. I suggest you take a few minutes to watch Fuel's video. https://youtu.be/ZbHfgXJKn1Y I note that Fuel's music video is ostensibly about a man whose girlfriend nearly bleeds to death in his hands. It's unclear, but I guess she survives at the end, or maybe he was having some thoughts about her hemorrhaging and then realizes that she's okay. It's not a particularly well-formed plot, and the ambiguous lyrics themselves are even less helpful; I won't try to tease out their metaphorical meanings. The video's story imagery is intercut with scenes of the band performing inside a modern building. The music is a sort of lightly distorted, electric guitar-driven rock ballad, starting softly and cleanly, and then building to a more gritty and aggressive chorus. Wikipedia describes their style as post-grunge. Now, if you don't mind gross humor, check out Rucka's parody. https://youtu.be/hB1LVqIcYVo It seems obvious to me that Rucka intended to make fun of the original video and the band. If taken out of this context, it might appear essentially as an R-rated story satirically and vulgarly poking fun at a man who questions his sexuality after having his first gay experience. However, if left in context, we might also detect some actual, parodical elements. To start, it seems like the central question, "Am I Gay?", is aimed at the band Fuel, particularly the male singer, who, in my opinion, does spend a little too much time pressed up against that window glass looking longingly into the camera. There's also his tight clothing, bead necklace, and the hairdo. But mostly it's the window-glamming, right? Of course, none of that means he's actually a homosexual. In fact, Brett Scallions is married to a woman, Abby Gennet. But parody is about mocking that which deserves ridicule. So here we have Rucka taking this example of a man acting feminine and turning him into the receiver in a gay relationship. To emphasize the point, I guess, note that his partner has a similar hair color and style as Scallions, and Rucka does some window-glamming of his own in the shower scene. If you're looking for real parody, there you have it. It's actually hard to miss when you're not focused on simply trashing Rucka's work. This sort of comedy might not be your cup of tea, but it's there, whether Rucka consciously intended it that way or not. I suspect he did. The mimicking is fairly blatant. Plus, this isn't exactly a unique observation: that some rock bands dress and act like girls sometimes. Rucka, however, has perhaps taken the ridicule to a uniquely explicit level. There is also the purely musical aspect. The original hit song used electric guitar, but Rucka chose to use an acoustic version that the band also released. This might also be a statement on the band's feminine qualities, turning their original sound into something softer. Or, it might be that Rucka simply preferred that version for the video. As for parody songs in general, it's true that laying joke lyrics on top of someone else's music has the appearance of nihilism, because it severs the original music from the original lyrics. But nihilism seeks to destroy the good for being the good. If the original isn't in fact good, then making parodical fun of it serves a valid and rational purpose. I challenge the reader to look up the lyrics to "Hemorrhage" and explain how, by a rational standard, they are good lyrics. They represent disintegrated drivel. Putting aside Rucka's vulgarity, his lyrics tell a clearcut story of a confused man. Furthermore, even if you remove the parody element, the thing he's most mocking is confusion, which is not a value. In terms of clarity alone his lyrics far surpass the original. Also, the original video is a typical modern mess in terms of visual elements. Rucka at least integrates his singing scenes with the story being told in superior photography and composition. In all aspects, except the borrowed music, his parody is more artistic and meaningful than the original. I've watched the original several times now, and I still don't fully get it. I doubt there is much there to understand anyway. It seems intended primarily for stimulating the eyes of zombies. Now, I think we need to accept that using Fuel's music was necessary for the parody to work properly. It's kind of like the movie Spaceballs using very similar characters to Star Wars. It needs to be clear what you're parodying. This is done in movies by mimicking the characters of the original work. And it's typically done in music by copying the music. Rarely do song parodies work by merely imitating the style of the original music. If a particular song is being mocked, then basically that particular music must be used in the parody for people to understand what you're doing. And so I can't really fault Rucka for lifting the music. I do think he's too vulgar and explicit. But, in this case, that's more a matter of personal taste than moral condemnation. I don't see a strong argument for nihilism here, with this particular example of Rucka's art.
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