Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Okay, I know I'm insanely late in posting something about this, and I never would have even seen it had Michael Knight not pointed it out to me yesterday. I would imagine you've probably all heard about this already so I won't bore you with any attempts to explain or contextualize this. I honestly don't find it all that funny (other than the caption to explain why he turns his head to the side); this is internet stardom based on cruelty -- people don't actually think this is a good song, they're laughing at him and his freakishly low voice, and most people probably haven't really tried to figure out the lyrics, which are simultaneously cryptic/not cryptic tirades against institutionalized racism. They just think he sounds like a freak and can't grasp any music that isn't structured verse/chorus/bridge/verse/chorus/chorus, and somehow it's struck a chord and they think it's hilarious to laugh at him. It's the Star Wars kid all over again. It gets a little old after awhile.

But let me get to the real issue here. I just read this interview with him, and it contained this quote:
"This reminds me of an interview with William Shatner that I found online," he said. "It's two or three hours long, and you're watching it and you think, 'OK, he's Captain Kirk, let's hear about that.' But then you realize Bill Shatner has had quite a life outside 'Star Trek' and you didn't know all about that."
Okay, he's 25, he's a grad student, and it's taken him this long to grasp the concept that celebrities who get typecast actually have careers outside of the one thing they're really known for? Obviously he's not a media studies major. But kudos for giving The One True Shatner some lip service.

Truly, this is why God created YouTube.


Anonymous Michael Knight said...

Dear JohnEats,

I have to disagree with your assessment of both Tay and "Chocolate Rain" as it seems your cynicism has blurred your perspective.

Though I can not speak for the over 5 million people who have watched "Chocolate Rain" on the interweb or the doubtless millions who have seen it performed on television, let me say that my admiration for this video is not at all condescending. I don't think he sounds like a freak and I think I can grasp music that goes beyond simple pop song structure. I AM NOT LAUGHING AT TAY.

There is a big difference between Tay and the StarWars Kid; unlike Tay, the StarWars Kid made a video for himself that he had no intention of showing another soul on Earth. Tay, on the other hand, created something made for public consumption.

Which brings me to why I really think people have responded so enthusiastically to this song/video:

First, yes, it is funny to watch him sing with that ridiculously deep voice but, as you say, it is not hysterical, and the video's popularity could not be sustained by this alone. What I think people are responding to is the fact that Tay is being 100% sincere. He is obviously not a great artistic genius but he is creative and is putting himself out there. He is not posturing or trying to put something "cool" on the web. He is just being himself. There is no shame in his performance and not even a hint of irony. Though people could try and point a finger and laugh at him, it would be pointless. He is not trying to do anything impressive. He is not the nerdy kid trying to be cool. He is the nerdy kid just being himself.

We all have that nerd inside of us that we try to keep hidden from view, but Tay literally broadcasts his. Watching this perhaps makes the viewer feel a little uncomfortable and the external reaction is laughter. However, I have no doubt that the inner nerd inside of us is cheering Tay on and singing along to every word of "Chocolate Rain."

11:11 AM  
Blogger John Eats said...

I actually totally agree with everything you've said. You're right, my cynicism has a big impact on what I wrote. And I certainly know that you don't fit the category of lack of musical acceptance that I described. I just don't see Jimmy Kimmel and most of the 7 million+ viewers of this being as open-minded and thoughtful as you.

The creation of the video itself is definitely different than the Star Wars kid; but just reading the MTV news story I linked to makes me think that popular opinion on this is that he's a freak, and it's funny for the rest of the hipster world to laugh their asses off at him. And that bugs the f*ck out of me.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Gene K. said...

This is relevant to our interests.

11:34 AM  

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