Video Digest: November 17, 2006

Spoof or no spoof: Bank of America partners with U2; Laci Petersen is remembered off-key; Office Space reveals the horror of corporate America; Local man takes his picture every day (not really); Sondra Prill gets nasty; Daler Mehndi loves his job.

The clip of the week—and maybe the year—was this corporate Bank of America serenade using U2’s “One” as a blueprint on which to rhyme fierce couplets about specialty themed checks and core values.

The compelling question, aside from which site could host the video longer than a day without getting it yanked, was whether or not it was a knowing spoof. In the age of irony, satire is rarely clear-cut. Just ask anyone who appeared in Borat, or their trial attorneys.

If viral video were a game show (and God, how my mind gambols like a happy foal with the possibility), its nailbiting dilemma would not be “Deal or No Deal” but this: “Joke or No Joke?” Consider this tribute to Laci Petersen. What do you think?

» Listen to “Remembering Laci” by John Strand

At first, I thought it was a joke. And then I noticed it was linked through the Modesto newspaper web site, presumably a straight-faced source for news about pregnant women tragically slain. And then I felt awful for thinking it was a joke. And then I felt awful it was being passed around the Internet. And then I realized I was hungry, so I ordered a bunch of delivery sushi, and tipped my courier mightily.

Maybe I prefer my satire further from the bone. Take this simple recutting of the Office Space trailer into a slasher film ad. At least I know harmless copyright infringement when I see it.

There’s no mistaking the following spoof—of a man taking a photo of himself every day—for anything but mockery. And I appreciate the gesture. If I saw one more time-elapsed YouTube flipbook, I was going to offer up a slow-motion shot of my middle finger craning upward.

But I have to admit: The fun often comes from not knowing whether or not the people involved are in on the joke. A good place to find such tension is public access TV. Enjoy queen of Florida public access, Tampa’s own Sondra Prill—Ms. Prill, if ya nasty.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if a video is meant to be funny or not—it’s just funny regardless. Here’s the video for a song called “Tunak Tunak Tun” by record-breaking Punjabi pop star Daler Mehndi. He’s having so much fun performing the song, and it’s so much fun watching him—how could anything be wrong with that?

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