It went unnoticed by much of the media, but recently Lady Gaga showed herself to be a paper tiger (and I’m not just saying that because she ate a piece of it on Letterman). In a showdown of Weird vs. Weird, it was one of MTV’s first stalwarts who laid down the gauntlet.
As happens a few times every decade, some sort of kerfuffle erupts over a Weird Al parody, or attempt at a parody gone wrong. Only this time it was different. It wasn’t Yankovic vs. “Coolio” (how soon we forget), or Yankovic vs. Madonna – it was Al vs. Gaga. One was shown to be a pretender to the thrown, and it was the woman riding around in a giant egg who retreated.
Long story short: Weird Al wanted poke fun of pop culture’s newest “it” girl. He asked permission (even though he doesn’t have to). Gaga’s camp made him jump through a series of burdensome hoops, only to deny him. The web went into an uproar, and Gaga blinked. The PR machine went into hyper-drive, a fall guy was dutifully thrown in its path, and Al got his song. But there’s more than that.
Weird Al might be weird, but the dirty little secret is – he’s very sane. To borrow a phrase from Seinfeld’s Kramer, he’s “so sane he blows your mind!” Al picks apart pop culture and points out its absurdities with pinpoint precision. Lady Gaga? She elevates her status by constant attempts to convince others she’s in on something they’re not. Meat dresses: “You don’t get it? How could you not get it? If you don’t understand I’m not even going to bother explaining it to you.”
The litmus test for whether or not you’ve made it is when Weird Al asks to do a parody of your music. The litmus test for whether or not you take yourself way too seriously is how you respond to that request. When you believe the hype about you, it’s over. When you believe everything your handlers tell you, it’s over. When you have handlers…you just might be on the road to over. The guy who started off doing bits for Dr. Demento has always gotten this. The artist formerly known as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta? She’s a slower learner than she would have you believe.
As with any theory, I could be wrong. There’s a small part of me that thinks he’s evil, and that his success has come from a Faustian deal with the Devil. Don’t believe me? Consider this:
1. He nice. Almost too nice.
2. He doesn’t age.
3. Long-lasting, perpetual success after his prime.
I always suspect nice people of being up to nefarious things. Particularly guys like Al, who just ooze a joy for life without ever mentioning a religious or spiritual well that the draws upon. Believers can be hypocrites, but they’re generally not evil. Why no mention of Christ, Yanovic? Is it because you’ve been hanging out with Saaaaatan? Someone get Dana Carvey’s Chruch Lady on the phone.
Think of other successful artists and entertainers from the 80’s who don’t age and have managed to stay in the limelight: Prince and Pee-Wee Herman. Both men have noteworthy sexual pasts, and I’m willing to bet there are some Weird Al groupies with tales to tell. If we don’t dig out a few skeletons from his closet it’s because there’s something Dorian Gray going on with the musician, or perhaps a heart under the floorboards.
And finally, I can’t help but think Weird Al is evil because I’ve wondered what it would be like to have sex with him – not as man or a woman – but just in general. Or perhaps as some sort of David Bowie androgynous she-male figure. Does Al wear those funky Hawaiian shirts as he delivers the goods? Does the famous polka fan have a penis that makes accordion noises as it penetrates? Is he deceivingly chiseled underneath those dorky clothes, much like the Simpsons’ Janitor Willie? I’m not sure, but the part of me that refuses to take responsibility for my own thoughts and actions has determined something evil is afoot.