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Reload the Canons!

This series of articles is an attempt to play through The Canon of videogames: your Metroids, your Marios, your Zeldas, your Pokemons, that kind of thing.

Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gold Trans Am: Ride Through Ke$ha's Parody Career

A guest article by David Timebaum

You sit in your chair. It has been some time since the strange bearded man has come to take it, forcing you to sit in the other chair, and you intend to enjoy it. You crack open another drink, enjoying the comfort that has been so often taken from you. You briefly wonder where the strange, usurping man is, but you can’t keep up with everyone in the world. And it is such a busy world.

And so you sit, enjoying relaxation that you truly feel you deserve. But what’s that sound? A loud, thumping bass. You actually feel it in the floor before you hear it. Suddenly, the bar is alight with panic. The front door bursts open, and inside pours an unusual assortment of characters. In pour men in suits with rubber unicorn heads, teen ravers leaving trails of glitter and colored dust behind them, people in fursuits (some dressed in outlandish attire, others naked), and at the head of the crew is a... man. A man dressed in a skimpy, sparkling jacket covered by a blue, fuzzy vest. A man wearing a blonde wig that goes down past his shoulders. A man wearing a pair of high heels that look absolutely fabulous, though incredibly uncomfortable A man wearing... the shortest jean shorts you have ever seen. 
The leader is the party, the party is the leader's mind. Timebaum had no clue I was doing this drawing, incidentally...                 --Keeper

He heads straight for you, party in tow. He grabs you, says something you don’t quite catch (“Wham, bam, thank you ma’am”?) and drags you outside, clearly saying, “Get inside my fuckin’ gold Trans Am.” It takes you a moment for you to raise your head and realize he’s serious. You get inside the car. He jumps in the driver’s seat and waits. You wonder what's happening, when suddenly the car starts slowly moving forward. Of course. It's a solid gold Trans Am. There's no engine. It's being pulled by the previously mentioned crew of furries and ravers, dragging it with gold chains attached to... solid gold bicycles.

The man turns to you (no sense paying attention to the road while being dragged) and asks “So, what is your opinion on Ke$ha?” Before you have a chance to respond, he begins what sounds like a lecture. 

Oh god, he’s no better than the last one.

Let's start by talking about music videos. Name some of the common tropes of pop music videos now, particularly those of female musicians. Sexualization? Zany outfits? Rave/club scene? Furries? (Seriously, it’s more common than you think.) Religious references? Bright/psychedelic colors? Dark, color-filter scenes? Choreographed dancing?

Passenger, I present to you the ultimate modern pop music video:

The dashboard of this gold car also plays music videos.

So let's look at that video scene-by-scene, shall we? So how does it begin? Our protagonist, Ke$ha herself, is late to her job at Awful House, a diner operated by a man named Ri¢hard. This man's kind of a scumbag, as he slaps her ass as he passes her behind the counter. An older gentleman starts asking for coffee, despite the fact that his cup clearly has some in it.

If it's an empty cup, it won't splash.
She quits. Ri¢hard says she can't quit, being fired (has that ever actually happened in reality?), and she walks out. Then things get fun. She sits on a bench, lightning strikes and spits out the "Dream Maker," a neon green van driven by a man (presumably) in a cat suit. He pops a tape in, the trippy colors start, and the music part of the video begins. So, what were the things we said before?

Oh right. Sexualization, for starters. Well, we had that earlier with Di¢k slapping her ass, showing the negative sides of it. But now we also have it in a more, well, consenting light. Here it's her acting sexy, laying on the bed and playing with bubbles in the tub. Before, it was someone taking advantage of her. The lyrics also go along with the general theme of sexualization.

Hot 'cause the party don't stop,
 I'm in a crop top like I'm working at Hooters.
We been keepin' it PG
But I wanna get a little frisky.

So she's dressed seductively, like a Hooters waitress, but has been keeping her actions clean. Now, however, she's actually consenting and actively wanting to take part in non-PG activities. Sounds like a good message to me.

What was the next one? Zany outfits? I think that one speaks for itself. Same with Furries, really.

Ah, next is the Rave/Club scene. I love how Ke$ha does this. See, she doesn't do it in the traditional way. Instead, she and her furry compatriots have an impromptu rave. Well, two, actually. One in a convenience store they're tearing up, and one in the Awful House.

In case you missed it, the pinata is our good friend Dick.
The "rave" scene is also very different from the typical music video rave of recent Pop. This is a much more lighthearted affair. It's bright, colorful, simple, and small. And it takes place in a diner, primarily. Here we see the bright, psychedelic colors come back, too.

The last two things, Religious stuff and dark color filters only come up briefly, but they do certainly make an appearance. Behind the counter of the store they trash is a large crucifix, and there are a number of them hanging for sale.

She also turns the clerk into a cat, which is clearly a reference to when Jesus turned into a cat.
That happened, right?

The dark color filter, which is generally used to show edgier, more dangerous scenes appears immediately after a clawed hand slaps a big, red button labelled "Engage Dance Mode." She then uses the dramatic lighting to smash some bottles with a baseball bat.

So, my captive audience, what does all this mean? That Ke$ha is capable of copying what everyone else is doing? Does she have no creativity of her own? Is she simply a parrot, mimicking what she sees and hears, albeit in a squawkier accent?

No, I'd say.  Instead, Ke$ha is doing all of this deliberately. She copies what others are doing not for lack of creativity, but to point out that everyone else is doing the same thing. Put simply, she's mocking Pop Music, herself included.

Let's take a look at another of her videos. Personally, I like this one a bit better, both for video and song. It also shows her self-mocking a bit better.

Let me give you a moment for that to sink in.

Ok, moment over. What the hell was that? Genius, that's what. Let's take this step-by-step.
The video starts, once again, without any music. It starts with a disclaimer, saying that no mythological creatures were harmed while making this video. I don't know about you, but my interest is immediately piqued.

So then it cuts to our protagonist, Ke$ha, talking to two very well-dressed unicorns at what appears to be a classy party. She's telling the story of how she was elected to Parliament of Uzbekistan.

Of course.

So, she laughs, a bit psychotically, and the music starts. A waiter comes up and offers her a very small piece of cheese, apparently sent from the only other human at the party, played by James Van Der Beek.

The video then alternates between Ke$ha singing the song and her walking towards the mysterious other human. During this walk over, she takes time to make out with a few of the unicorns along the way. The mysterious man also takes the time to pretty himself up for the oncoming encounter (I have to say that my favorite part of that bit is when he rips the sleeves off of his jacket, making it a vest, and then rips off the vest). Ke$ha, likewise, prepares by ripping out her bra (an act immediately copied by the mysterious man, causing a confused look from out female lead).

Finally, the two meet, and the song takes a backseat to the dialogue. They both make fun of the other's name ("James Van Der Douche" and "Ke Dollar-Sign Ha"), before Ke$ha sarcastically thanks him for the cheese, muenster, which he describes as "like edible, lactose gold." They then begin to "dance," which, naturally, involves them having a laser battle. Many of the unicorns are hit in the process, and they begin bleeding rainbows everywhere. James gets hit in the shoulder, then gets capped by Ke$ha, who mounts his head on the wall on a plaque which states "James Van Der Dead." She and the unicorns laugh, and the video ends.

So what have we learned from this video? Well, simply put, Ke$ha doesn't really care about being serious. In fact, I'd say she actively goes out of her way to make fun of stuff and be absurd and silly.

I believe that finally brings me to what all this has been leading up to: Ke$ha is a parody artist. She parodies not like Weird Al does, by parodying specific songs, but instead makes fun of the whole genre of Pop Music. And she does so in a way that nobody notices without actually analyzing it. To the average person, Ke$ha is a party-girl Pop music singer-songwriter. However, to someone who takes the time to analyze her work, or someone strapped in and unable to escape a lecture, she is a brilliant parody artist. Her work takes on an additional, sarcastic and critical tone. She mocks the genre, but she still enjoys it and has fun with it.

Let's look at another video while that sinks in. This one's for the song "Take It Off."

There's a place downtown in the middle of the desert.

Let's look at this video along side its lyrics, shall we?

"When the dark of the night comes around, that's the time that the animal comes alive, looking for something wild."

This video starts in the evening. The sun is clearly out, and shining bright. There isn't even a cloud in the sky.

"And now we lookin' like pimps in my gold Trans Am. Got a water bottle full of whisky in my handbag. Got my drunk text on. I'll regret it in the morning. But tonight, I don't give a - I don't give a - I don't give"

I don't know how I'd describe the rag-tag assortment of people shown, but none of them are what I'd think of as looking like a pimp. Gold Trans Am? Only car I'm seeing is clearly ancient. It's rusting, and it's missing several windows and tires. Also, she clearly doesn't have any sort of bag, let alone one containing a water bottle full of whisky. She's also phoneless, and seemingly rather sober.

"There's a place downtown where the freaks all come around. It's a hole in the wall, it's a dirty free-for-all. And they turn me on when they take it off. When they take it off. Everybody take it off. There's a place I know if you're looking for a show. Where they go hardcore and there's glitter on the floor. And they turn me on when they take it off. When they take it off. Everybody take it off."

I'm curious to see what the uptown looks like if this is the downtown. This seems to be a motel in the middle of a desert in the middle of nowhere. If I didn't know any better (and given that this is a Ke$ha video, I guess I don't), I'd expect a tire to roll in and start blowing people's heads up. I guess the people could be considered freaks, especially when you keep watching the video. I can kind of see how it's a "dirty free-for-all," and I suppose the motel could be described as a "hole in the wall." I can definitely say, though, that nobody at this point is taking anything off. In fact, they're doing a remarkable job keeping everything on, seeing how loose all of it is. If you're looking for a show, I'd probably keep away from this place, as it seems rather dull and uneventful, really. The only "hardcore" probably only goes on behind the doors, and while I'm sure the floors aren't clean, I highly doubt there's much glitter anywhere. And, again, everyone's keeping their clothes on.

"Lose your mind, lose it now. Lose your clothes in the crowd. We're delirious. Tear it down. 'Til the sun comes back around."

Everyone seems to be holding on to at least most of their sanity, as well as their clothes. Delirious, I think-

Ok, yeah, that... I'm willing to grant you "Delirious."

I guess "tear it down" could refer to the fence, but they seem to be more than happy to just climb over it. But, again, the sun hasn't even gone down yet, let alone come "back around."

"And now we gettin' so smashed. Knockin' over trash cans. Everybody breakin' bottles. It's a filthy, hot mess. Gonna get faded (I can't actually discern the lyrics for that line, but that's what the lyrics site I use says). I'm not the designated driver so I don't give a - I don't give a - I don't give"

They're getting a little smashed, mostly by kind of moshing with each other. Knocking over trash cans... That guy just threw a single trash can for no reason.


Looks like nobody's breaking bottles at all, and while the place is rather filthy, I doubt I'd call it a "hot mess" at this point. Wanna get faded? Provided those are the actual lyrics (again, I'm not sure for that line), I guess you could turn to... dust... or whatever, like that guy kind of did. Also, designated driver? Ke$ha, from what I can tell, you all either live there, walked there, or rode there in cabs.

"There's a place downtown where the freaks all come around. It's a hole in the wall, it's a dirty free-for-all. And they turn me on when they take it off. When they take it off. Everybody take it off. There's a place I know if you're looking for a show. Where they go hardcore and there's glitter on the floor. And they turn me on when they take it off. When they take it off. Everybody take it off."

Ok then! Still arguing about the "downtown" bit, but yeah, freaks coming around, I can see that. I can see where that glitter you mentioned before might have come from, too... Hole in the wall and dirty free-for-all? Yeah, I can see that now. My god, why didn't I listen to you before? Definitely see some stripping, too. And... exploding. Quite the show, I'd say, yeah. Hardcore? Yes. Glitter on the floor? Yeah. I'm sorry I doubted you earlier.

"Everybody take it off! Everybody take it off! Right now. Take it off! Right now. Take it off! Right now. Take it off! Right now. Take it off! Everybody take it off!"

Ke$ha strips her coat, which she never had before this scene. She also... opens her chest... revealing the glitter inside.

Someone's gonna look through my computer, find "Ke$hasglitterhole.png" and get the wrong idea.

I'm pretty sure we all suspected she was full of glitter for years anyway. So at this point, everyone's rolling around, running around, spinning, and exploding into glitter and colored dust. It's even night now.

"There's a place downtown where the freaks all come around. It's a hole in the wall, it's a dirty free-for-all. And they turn me on when they take it off. When they take it off. Everybody take it off. There's a place I know if you're looking for a show. Where they go hardcore and there's glitter on the floor. And they turn me on when they take it off. When they take it off. Everybody take it off."

Ke$ha, I'm sorry I doubted you. You were right the whole time.

So, what did we learn? Don't give me that face! Come'on, what was the lesson of this music video? No, not that Ke$ha is made of glitter. We already knew that. Come'on!

This video shows her self-mocking tendencies. Up until the end, she's pretty much saying the opposite of what the video's actually showing. And, seriously, the trash can thing. You have to admit that was hilarious, and it was obviously intentional. She deliberately made this video to contradict most of what the song says. Based on the lyrics, I'd say the song's about a big rave/nightclub in NYC or something, somewhat trashy but a lot of fun. The video's about a motel in the middle of nowhere with a dried-up pool that people made of colored dust go to explode in. And yet, in many cases, the lyrics sync up with the song. It's clear that this wasn't like some music videos where the song and video are completely unrelated. This was all intentional.

And there we have it. All that Ke$ha does is deliberately self-mocking, or deliberately mocking the genre, or deliberately mocking the party-boy/girl culture. It's all intentional, and it's all rather brilliant.

Alright, so, before you go (Sit down. I know you're eager to get back to your precious chair, but we've only gone, like, a block and a half), I want you to listen to one last song. Sadly, this one doesn't have a music video. Not yet, anyway. Hopefully it will soon, but whatever. I feel like this song on its own perfectly shows Ke$ha's parody nature.

I don't know how anyone could take this song seriously. Ever.

Alright, there you are. You're free to go. Get back to your chair. Good night, and party on.

And while you party on, be sure to check out Timebaum's own strange little blog, where he writes all kinds of odd things. And check me out on Google+ at or on Twitter @SamFateKeeper. As always, you can e-mail me at If you liked this piece please share it on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, Equestria Daily, Xanga, MySpace, or whathaveyou, and leave some thoughts in the comments below. Sorry this wasn't an article on 101 Dalmations.

1 comment:

  1. at LEAST half of those lyrics to "Gold Trans Am" are innuendos, and I DON'T think that was unintentional.


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