It's not hard to imagine those times when parody or humor is misunderstood by an audience.
Today, one of the most searched for items on the spectacular Youtube is a farewell song by Connie Chung, a swan song performance which confused and outraged her viewing audience.
I once heard a story how shock jock Howard Stern at his height of popularity had his staff pen a ditty for Robert Palmer to sing, a little parody, some kind of jab at Connie Chung who then still held her TV broadcast job worked into the lyrics, and she by all reports responded with a televised retort to Mr. Palmer. Shadowboxing through media.
That's all free associative speculation and I've learned of all these events far after the fact, not immersing myself at the time in media.
But such ivory tower detachment, a form of philosophical distance, can afford a focus now and again. I fully understood George Michael's self-parody, which I happened to catch as a music video. One which so incensed the arresting policeman that he sued the rich rock star for damage to his reputation, emotional damage, and some sort of psychic suffering.
And I am quite distant from media. Merely the occasional and anonymous recipient of their broadcast material, and though caught occasionally by the spitfire usually I can escape unharmed. For instance, a woman I met recently who was once heavily entrenched, attached to, or making money from the classical music world in distant New York, was in the habit of commandeering dinner table conversation. And she was telling me why she loved Rush Limbaugh. My fettucini became instantly unappetizing and uninteresting when she voiced that name, and I recoiled instantly. Once again, I say to myself, I find myself seated in a very wrong place. Unlike a radio, there was no convenient dial to switch.
Rush is funny, she insisted. The funniest man in the world. A genius. She would laugh out loud in her car stuck in traffic listening to Rush. His greatest comedic coup, she believed, was during the rising hysteria in America after 9-11, and she was in New York at the time. She described his skit about the terrorists coming ashore in rubber boats and unloading. And she described this, what she was presenting as an on the spot improvised skit which would only prove his genius to me, nearly word for word, and those words were horrifically familiar to me.
Well, I remembered that skit! Vaughn Marlowe
, a who had once hosted a KPFK radio show in Los Angeles in the sixties, had developed that whole skit during the Viet Nam war, or maybe a little before!! Vaughn spun discs by Lord Buckley and Ken Nordine and word jazz and humorous stuff. Rush who was a DJ in California himself at the time or some of Rush's writers must have listened to some early California competitor radio! And took this whole piece of radio history on as their current own creation ... I was duly appalled!
Vaughn, if he is alive, should sue! And so should KPFK if they have the money and want to waste some going up against the great satan of the broadcast world, or ever bothered taping any of their broadcasts.
Anyway, I was quiet as I listened to her spiel. And then I asked her why she would believe anything that comes out of the mouth of a motor mouthed goof simply because he's hogging up the microphone, broadcast countless thousands of hours a day everywhere throughout the nation, fueled as he was on whitetrash heroin. Especially when he can't even come up with his own original material. I merely said, "Hey, Vaughn Marlowe wrote that" and went back to my salad.