On Beck, 112, Clipse, peaches and cream, onions, and men's grooming products
The best satire is able to parody something BEFORE it actually happens out in the real world. Beck's hilarious pastiche Midnight Vultures, released in 1999, fit this bill perfectly. It was one of the few albums I owned at the time that was actually acceptable to crank up in your vehicle, if you were suburban and in high school, which meant you were probably disaffected, ironic, sarcastic, and self-conscious--all qualities that the album shared. Midnight Vultures, which I could write about at length but won't, included the track "Peaches and Cream," which is a dirty piece of slang that I will leave for you to look up on Urban Dictionary, if you are unaware of its meaning.
In 2001, two years after Beck's song came out, the R&B group 112 released their own single, also titled "Peaches and Cream." The songs shared more than just the same title: Beck's mocking song was sung from the perspective of a guy bragging about his affinity for a certain activity, while 112's song boasted about the same thing--minus the mocking part. Here are some lyrics from 112's version:
Won't stop girl you know I can't get enough
Wanna taste it in the morning when I'm waking up
Like peach cobbler in my stomach when I eat it up
Got your legs around my neck so I can't get up
Oh girl I need it
I gotta have it
It's always on my mind
Know what I mean?
Peaches and cream
I like it in my car
Or even in my bed
Or baby on the stairs
Know what I mean?
Peaches and cream
Apparently people didn't know what they meant, to answer their question--and neither did the radio censors. In this way, "peaches and cream" was 2001's "skeet"--a slang term that artists undoubtedly relished getting past older, probably whiter, censors.
Not that I want to make this site into a repository of dirty lyrics--I just find it interesting that all these songs are played heavily on the radio, including ClearChannel Top 40 stations, which white 13 year-olds listen to the most. But regardless of age, there are a lot of people who hear these songs in a bar, on the radio, or in a club, and "like" the song without having any idea what they're really about. Not to exclude myself from this--I had to ask a friend what, exactly, Clipse were talking about on their 2002 single "Grindin":
Clipse: Grinding, and you know what I keep in the lining...
Me: What, exactly, do they keep in the lining? A flask?
Friend: No, a gat. That means gun. You actually thought it was a flask?
I actually did. Anyway--getting back to my original point, which was this: the tone of Beck's version really nailed the boasting tone of 112's track of the same name--and Beck's parody came out first. When I heard 112's song on the radio, I felt that the genius of Beck was confirmed.
And then, here in 2005, I'm disappointed by Beck's new album, and find out he's become a scientologist, which kind of ends his career in my eyes. I hope not.
After a ridiculously long lead-in, we now proceed to another piece of satire that nailed something before it actually happened: The Onion's article Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades, which was published a year and a half ago, back in The Onion's heyday. These days The Onion is still funny, but a lot of its writers left a couple of years ago and it hasn't been nearly as consistent since (many of them reportedly went to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which is not-coincidentally consistently genius now). Here's an excerpt from the Onion article, narrated by fake Gillette CEO James M. Kilts:
[Then Schick] came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened--the bastards went to four blades. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades.
The whole piece is so pinpoint-accurate that I had a hard time picking out a single block quote--in fact, I may venture so far as to call the article genius. "Genius" is a word I normally don't like to throw around a lot, but I already used it once in this post to refer to a singer who got his career started by singing "Soy un perdedor," so my genius-proclaiming credibility is shot anyway.
Well here, now, a year and a half after the Onion article was published, Gillette is indeed releasing a five-blade razor (seen above). The New York Times article that covered the product launch is eerily reminiscent of a certain Onion article, in terms of the language used and the boasts made by the real, actual head honchos at Gillette:
[Peter K. Hoffman, president of Gillette's blades and razors unit] promised that come early 2006, when the Fusion products hit stores, Gillette will mount a "blockbuster marketing program, absolutely huge, the biggest launch of a Gillette shaving system in history." And, yes, that is true even if adjusted for inflation, [James M. Kilts, Gillette's CEO] chimed in.
Note that it's not called a razor, it's called a "shaving system." And it's the most expensive launch ever, even adjusted for inflation? Wow. That's big. That's manly. That has balls. Which you can shave. Or not--after all, it's not "Gillette: the best a metrosexual can get."
Until I just pulled his name from the NY Times article, I didn't realize that The Onion had used Gillette CEO James M. Kilts' real name atop their own piece--which is completely legal under parody law, since he's a public figure--which makes their article seem even that much more prescient.
I think that covers it--how Gillette, Beck, 112, Clipse, peaches and cream, and The Onion (kinda cheated by saying "onions" in the title) connect. That is, not at all, except for the fact that I wrote about all of them here, in a meandering, unfocused, and largely pointless post.
Here, then, a final quote from Mr. Kilts. At this point, it doesn't really matter if it's a real quote or not; if it's fake, it might as well be real, and if it's real, it might as well be parody:
"Put another aloe strip on that fucker, too. That's right. Five blades, two strips, and make the second one lather. You heard me--the second strip lathers."