Friday, February 10, 2006


"Too Much Time On My Hands"

...was a song by Styx, but it also seems to describe the modern condition.

How else to explain a Wikipedia entry for "Lazy Sunday" -- the first "instant classic" to hit Saturday Night Live in years? Wikipedia!?!?!? And not just a brief item either -- a well-annotated entry with a whole lot of history and plenty of links! From a comic video that lasts all of 2:22?

Nearly two months after it first aired, the Andy Parnell/Adam Samberg old-school rap send-up of white boys heading to see the Chronicles of Narnia has people talking: "Is it indicative of a creative revival of SNL?" Um, maybe not. "Does it suggest an audience pining for the light-heartedness of rap's heyday?" Possibly, given the places
too many rappers end up these days.

Toss in the fact that the video (which, in an admittedly self-censored way, does drop an MF-bomb in the middle) ends up on a site devoted to C.S. Lewis' Narnia tales, inspires response, tribute and parody versions (including one by a 7 and 11 year old kids) and it's clear that a runaway phenomenon is here.

But, the question is: Before the mass democratization of the Internet, where could all of these odd strands of pop culture have found a place to germinate in such rapid fashion? Yeah, SNL has been around for thirty years and managed to do weird juxtapositions like Jesse Jackson reading Dr. Seuss, but previously there had never been a place where the masses had easy access to reinterpret and deconstruct pop culture almost instantly.

Now, it's here -- which frankly may explain why SNL isn't as funny as it was 'back in the day.' It's not just that the current cast isn't as talented as their predecessors (that's partly true. However, "Lazy Sunday" demonstrates that the show can, on occasion, still throw a speedball by you). It's also that more people now have the means to recraft pop culture in varied and bizarre ways.

SNL was once pretty much the sole home to the nerdy-cool, funny kids who were in on their own little joke.

Now, technology has given everyone ways of sharing their own in-jokes with as few or as many people as they wish."Lazy Sunday," which first appeared on a broadcast television show, strikes a chord with "the masses" precisely because it has managed to appeal to the discreet, narrowcast technological networks that now exist. ITunes made it available for download; NBC put it on its site, so people can watch it at their leisure. As an easily digestible bit of comical art, the song "works" because Parnell and Samberg are not pondering weighty subjects; instead, they are thinking small about what's in their own neighborhoods and and their lives -- while rapping honestly and with a sense of fun. Parnell and Samberg are "keeping it real" moreso one could add, than the hardest gangsta rapper.

Of course, it helps that they can still toss off witty lines like, "You can call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons." Take my word for it -- that's guaranteed to make an editorial writer for the Hamilton-founded New York Post just fall out of his chair.

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