Earlier this summer, editorial blogs and the editors’ corner of the Twitterverse focused on “Weird Al” Yankovic’s music video “Word Crimes,” with its list of grammatical errors and its condemnation of those benighted individuals who make them.
Everyone from the Daily Beast to the New Yorker commented on the video, and many criticized the song for being humourless, prescriptivist, mean, and full of its own word crimes (e.g., split infinitives, shaky usage). As I prepared to write this piece, I thought I could make the case that Weird Al is a parodist, not a prescriptivist, but then I found that that argument has already been shot down, repeatedly.
So I clicked over to some of the other videos from the new album—Weird Al released eight, one a day from July 14 to 21, to promote the release of his 14th album, Mandatory Fun. My favourite is “Tacky,” in part because it and its inspiration, Pharrell Williams’s “Happy,” are such catchy, bouncy tunes (there’s a cute puppy parody of “Happy” as well). I also admit I have a soft spot for lip-synching and those single-take videos that wander through interesting buildings. (According to Wikipedia, Weird Al’s video was filmed at the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles.)
Watching “Tacky” reminded me of another video, shot in what seems like a single take, involving a strange Rube Goldberg machine. It took me some searching, and a detour through Tom Allen’s disquisition on the Dies Irae (filmed in what looks like a dungeon and chapel at Bishop Strachan School in Toronto), but I finally tracked down OK Go’s insanely complex meander around a warehouse—and also discovered two more of this group’s clever videos: one with optical illusions and mirrors and the other with (again) dogs.
What does all this have to do with editing? Not a lot directly, though it does reflect what often happens when I try to check a fact for an editing project. With so many distractions on the Internet, it’s easy to be led astray.
I hope this post is also a reminder that it’s good to take a break sometimes and just have fun, especially in the dog days of summer. (And even better might be to follow the lead of my colleague, Ruth Wilson, and step away from the computer for that break, doing your own singing and dancing, rather than watching people, and dogs, on YouTube.)