Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Dear Sister and Its Spoofs

Of the many popular digital shorts the Lonely Island trio has created since joining SNL (Lazy Sunday, Dick in a Box, Natalie Portman Raps, etc.), the most aggressively memed vid has been Dear Sister. A mock murder gunplay spoof of The OC’s second season finale, co-starring SNL guest host Shia LaBeouf, the vid itself has been spoofed in over 1,000 separate YouTube videos.

The brief, absurdist sequence goes like this: Andy Samberg nonchalantly walks into a living room, where Bill Hader is writing a letter to his sister. With his face in half-profile to Samberg, Hader begins explaining his letter, when suddenly Samberg shoots him in the back. The action shifts into slow motion as the song Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap plays — the same dramatic tune that plays over the gun violence in The OC’s second season finale.

The non sequitur action then gets stranger. As Samberg laments over shooting Hader, Hader shoots Samberg. Video goes slow motion, Hide and Seek plays. LaBeouf runs into the room; Hader and Samberg shoot him. Video goes slow motion, Hide and Seek plays. Kristin Wiig walks into the room; Hader, Samberg and LaBeouf shoot her. Video goes slow motion, Hide and Seek plays.

The action continues, but the point’s been made: It’s not the plot that matters, but the melodrama of the song. The use of song snippets in this efficient, scene-popping manner seems, to me, to owe its origin to the longer song montages popularized in films of the ’80s. But after being initially used to provide dramatic resonance to a violent scene, repeating Hide and Seek reveals the use of song as a maudlin shortcut, a simple (but brilliant) way to magnify a scene’s impact.

The tiny genius of Dear Sister lay in isolating that single dramatic trope and bringing it into full relief. YouTube auteurs — who uploaded the original clip in the first place, since rights issues prevented NBC from doing so — immediately realized the spoof potential and applied the trope to a host of subjects: Dear Snatch, Dear Matrix, Dear Boromir, Dear Duck Hunt, Dear Sparta, Dear Skywalker, even Dear 9/11. Searching for “Dear Sister” and/or “snlocmeme” reveals hundreds more.

The cultural resonance of Dear Sister also received an unfortunate bump when, two days after the vid was uploaded to YouTube, a troubled student named Cho Seung-Hoi shot and killed 32 students at Virginia Tech. Despite that unfortunate confluence of events, the parodies kept coming.


1 comment: said...

It cannot succeed as a matter of fact, that's what I suppose.

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