Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Neurodiversity, Weird Al Style

I have to confess: Weird Al cracks me up.

The guy has been doing hilarious music video parodies for more than two decades, poking fun at everyone from Michael Jackson to Madonna. As Lori mentioned in a recent post, Weird Al has a new video, White & Nerdy, which parodies the hip-hop song Ridin' Dirty.

The video is chock-full of nerd stereotypes, from wearing a pocket protector to being equally fluent in JavaScript and Klingon, as well as exaggerated autistic body language (such as walking stiffly in time with the music). But even though Weird Al makes fun of the nerdy main character in just about every way imaginable, the stereotypes don't come across as insulting. The humor in the video doesn't come from nerd-bashing, but from the clash of cultures (and total mutual incomprehension) between the nerd and the "gangstas" to whom he cheerfully waves as he zips by on his Segway scooter.

It's clear that from Weird Al's point of view, nerd/geek/autistic culture is no more or less valid than gangsta culture, and any subculture is fair game for a parody. He has a refreshingly egalitarian attitude in his choice of targets; nobody's immune from being lampooned. I have no doubt that when Weird Al was in high school, he wasn't one of the popular kids who tormented the nerds, but was one of the nonconformist outsiders who had friends from all social groups. Human diversity, to him, is an endlessly fascinating source of amusement and creative inspiration.

What a contrast between Weird Al's lighthearted humor, which shows that nerds are just as funny and just as human as everyone else, and the politically correct epidemic-mongers with a pickle up their butts who piously declare that autistics must be called "people with autism" while otherwise denying the humanity of the autistic population.

I wish I could send the "combating autism" folks out to have a beer with Weird Al. It might improve their attitude.



  • Oh, yeah. Weird Al is my secret heart-throb...we "grew up together" on Highway 101, him at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and I at UC Santa Barbara. At the time, he did some live presentations on a comedy radio show based in LA - a program I religiously listened to on Sunday nights. Now we've all grown up (and Al, you didn't wait for me - I hear you married a few years ago and have a child!!!). And he was definitely the nerdy one - have you ever been to a concert or seen his parody autobiography - The Compleat Al? Definitely a nerd. I've always had a thing for musicians and nerds - and he is both!

    By Blogger Susan, at 1:43 AM  

  • Oops, forgot to add...

    I first saw this video when my grown daughter showed it to me, because the "nerd" loves Star Trek (that's me), drives a Prius (that's me), and has braces as an adult (yeah, that's me).


    By Blogger Susan, at 1:44 AM  

  • That was great.

    Hey, what girl wouldn't appreciate the gift of a surge protector power strip? Those can come in very handy.

    By Blogger notmercury, at 11:10 AM  

  • Alex recently discovered YouTube (as if my slow speed connection wasn't already slow enough... Alex is networked with my PC). The first the video he shared with me was game show bloopers, the second was Frank Shorter's Olympic Gold (Marathon) highlights, the next 13 were Weird Al...

    By Blogger jypsy, at 11:33 AM  

  • "White & Nerdy" has become B's anthem. He adores it... (so do we, his parents- I see myself in there, for sure) & I can tell that all's right with his world when I hear him humming it under his breath or singing it at the top of his lungs :)

    By Blogger Lisa/Jedi, at 1:50 PM  

  • This video is cool - I love it and so does my son!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:06 PM  

  • Weird Al is da bomb-diggity. I've always thought writing lyrics to existing tunes took a special kind of brilliance.

    If Weird Al, Tom Lehrer and They Might Be Giants ever gave a concert together, I think my heart would explode ;-)

    I love the scene where he goes to his "dealer" for a bootleg copy of "Star Wars." I would *so* do something like that.

    By Anonymous Tera, at 12:24 AM  

  • Thanks for the pointer to this fun. i referenced you as a lighthearted link at the end of a neurodiversity posting of mine at my blog.

    By Blogger dysamoria, at 5:01 AM  

  • right on.

    i had to smile at the pickle up the butt comment.

    By Blogger Joy, at 9:10 PM  

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