Posted by: Dan Beucke on November 22, 2011 at 8:00 AM
Before “Saturday Night Live,” before “Animal House,” there was “Lemmings” — a biting 1973 Off-Broadway musical satire about Woodstock and the peace movement. Written by young comic geniuses from the ranks of National Lampoon magazine, and featuring actors who starred a couple years later in the inaugural season of SNL, “Lemmings” was hilarious for anyone who got the “in” jokes about dead rock musicians, drug culture, and Woodstock PA announcements. It was completely lost on anyone else.
Is it time for Occupy Wall Street’s musical moment? Josh Brown thinks so. The author of “The Reformed Broker” finance blog on Sunday posted his idea for “Occupy Wall Street! The Musical.” Its characters would include Jenny (a young woman who works for Goldman Sachs but is “unsure of what she truly wants for her life”); David, her romantic co-star in a hoodie; Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein; a drum circle; and Mayor Bloomberg with his “winged” New York City police officers. Songs, Brown suggests, might include “The Kid or the Squid?” (a nod to Matt Taibbi’s vampire squid description of Goldman) and “A Hottie in Zuccotti.”
Brown says the idea started as a joke on Twitter (naturally). After he put the post up he was contacted by someone who says they’re interested in producing the show; he’s not sure it will lead anywhere. Brown acknowledged that finding the right satirical tone for a movement that veers from street theatre to street violence is tough: “It oscillates back and forth between funny and scary.” Brown is a frequent critic of the biggest banks and was an early supporter of Occupy Wall Street. These days he’s disappointed the movement has veered off into confrontations with cops instead of focusing more intently on money in politics and too-big-to-fail bank regulation. “If it becomes a player-hater movement, it’s going to lose guys like me.”
The humor that’s already been done around OWS and the wealth debate has its ups and downs. Some cartoons, video, and fake news reports manage to leverage a modicum of insider knowledge — of the banker mindset, the Zuccotti scene, youth culture — or self deprecation. The ones that go for the easy joke — say, Occupiers who win the lottery — fall flat. Here are some of my favorites. Please offer your own candidates in the comments.
This one is from the masters at The Onion. It’s funny because it’s true: it seems like ancient history when Americans were “advanced tool users” who built “distinctive steel and brick structures” where they produced “goods and services” and received “monetary compensation that allowed them to support themselves and their families.”
Another Onion piece — “Bank Executives On 15th Floor Gambling On Which Occupy Wall Street Protester Will Be Arrested Next” — brilliantly plays off the idea that bankers can monetize anything, even a mob calling for their heads. The language is a bit too raunchy for a link here; I’ll let you find it on your own.
This cartoon from Abstruse Goose (on top of this post) captures the disdain for the protests among some well-heeled critics — and the fear that less scruffy, more mainstream Americans may take them seriously. The image of powerful folks viewing the movement from on high is one that pops up frequently in OWS satire.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Colbert Super PAC - Stephen Colbert Occupies Occupy Wall Street Pt. 1|
Stephen blends into the Zuccotti Park scene with his Che Guevara disguise, then gets confused by its leaderless structure. His attempt to co-opt the movement is sidetracked while he digs into steak and champagne.
What’s the next best thing to sending Don Rickles to Zuccotti Park? Send Triumph, the insult comic dog (care of Conan O’Brien). Triumph, the creation/extension of Robert Smigel, works his (very R-rated) routine with a tough crowd. It helps to have a rim shot, courtesy of the drum circle.
Millionaire John Hodgman (“I’m a PC”) defends “his people” against the class warriors. “Hating the wealthy is the last acceptable prejudice in this country,” he tells Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. And don’t call them 1-percenters: “We prefer the term ‘moneyed Americans.’”
This clip from Jest.com nails the mindset of (or at least the industry stereotypes of) such mainstream media as the New York Times, Fox News, the New Yorker, and the New York Post. The only segment that didn’t ring true for me was the scene of wasted High Times staffers. I played softball against these people and they can be every bit as intense as the bankers.