Parodies are an aggressive way to put your elbows on the proverbial dinner table of a narrative. This was most evident and loathsome in the 10 or so days following that video of a woman walking around New York City for several hours. The clip’s point—that catcalling is an institutional peril—was ignored in favor of click-baiting spinoffs for bad laughs.
As the Daily Dot wrote about the flood of parody clips:
Some have been clever, and some have been satirical. Others have been hilarious addendums to the original. And many have been dismissive, mocking the intent of the original video and ridiculing the idea that women have anything to fear.
This vein of clips embodied the worst in parodies—opportunism, tonal insensitivity, existing first and foremost for Web traffic. Still, 2014 offered bundles of ingenious, cutting, strange, worthy parody clips. Here are the 10 best—and no, none of them were made by late-night talk show hosts.
10) DurhamAcademyComm — “Durham Academy Weather Announcement”
Here, school officials announce a snow day with a cornball rap. It’s unabashedly lame but exists as a public service for a niche audience. Equal parts earnest and considerate, it went viral seemingly on its own merit. You can’t watch this and not think, “Boy, what pleasant human beings.”
9) The Holderness Family — “Kin and Juice”
This is absolutely the last hip-hop video made by affluent people that do not appear particularly engaged with the genre. It’s something this family does fairly regularly; he’s a former local TV news guy and she’s an actress and I can’t bring myself to dislike their adorable children. I think it’s funny that he’s wearing his University of Virginia T-shirt (this clip dropped shortly before the damning Rolling Stone feature) because it’s probably the whitest individual piece of apparel available in American society. Yes, they did make an “All About That Bass” parody.
8) Zack Galifianakis — Between Two Ferns With Zack Galifianakis: President Obama
Maybe the best state-sanctioned comedy ever, from President Barack Obama’s healthcare.gov-plugging appearance. “Is it going to be hard in two years when you’re no longer president and people will stop letting you win at basketball?” “What are we going to do about North Ikea?” An apex for this long-running talk show parody series.
7) Saturday Night Live — “100 Greatest Guys”
This one, pulled from the regretful James Franco show, didn’t make it to air. But it’s a textbook parody and the best sketch that SNL has churned out this season. The target is innocuous: VH1’s talking-head-driven countdown shows. Yet the final product expertly speaks to the banalities of those arbitrary and generally useless countdowns.
6) Oh My Disney — “DuckTales Theme Song With Real Ducks”
A lot of work went into this, you guys.
5) CBS Follies — “Bitch in Business”
Of all the Meghan Trainor reworkings, this one from Columbia business school students was OK and had nice things to say.
4) Trav G — “WorldStar Through History”
WorldStarHipHop, an aggregating harbor for hip-hop culture’s sweltering and fiesty id, lends its signature treatment to iconic historical tragedies. In a recent interview, creator Lee “Q” O’Denat was defensive about the site’s notorious habit of prominent street fight videos: “Sometimes in life you have to fight it out,” he said. “I’d rather people fight than pull a gun out.”
3) Boyoncé — “7/11”
Released eight days after Beyoncé’s purposefully loose but artfully coordinated “7/11” surprise drop, a bunch of dudes fearlessly recreated the thing with an on-point brand of zestful masculinity that elbows heteronormativity under the basket. Obviously it was cleaned before filming, but extra props for the pristine house.
2) Adult Swim — “Too Many Cooks”
1) Steven Rosenthal — “This Is What Every Celebrity Commercial Sounds Like”
Riffing on an ad from R&B singer Jay Sean, this thing beautifully sticks it to the modern age of celebrity advertising: I’m a real person with dreams, and this product navigates me through everyday life. I’m giving it the slight edge over “Cooks” because it’s so effortless and it bugged me when VH1 countdowns would defer to “American Pie,” “Hey Jude,” “Stairway to Heaven,” and “Free Bird” just because they were long-ass songs.