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R.I.P. American popular culture.

October 30th, 2008 by Bill Corbett · 52 Comments

When future historians write of this time, they may well pinpoint the video below as the precise moment when U.S. pop culture gasped its last. Oh sure, there will be countless other candidates for final-nail-in-the-coffin, and even radical theorists who insist that pop culture never really died — it’s just resting.

But I say it happened. And it happened just last month, when most of us were reeling from the news that our financial markets were collapsing like a Tokyo apartment building under Godzilla’s right foot.

It happened during the so-called “Emmy” awards, which apparently were the 60th such annual affair. A pleasant young man with a nice voice, who we’ll randomly call “Josh Groban,” wandered out onstage to sing. The Spirit of Pop Culture Itself, haunting the auditorium, floating aimlessly through the air, weary from years of overwork and abuse, made a quick decision: I’m done with this, man. And this very Spirit decided to go out in a blaze of anti-glory, in the equivalent of suicide by cop. It inhabited this Josh Groban’s body, and began blurting out tiny snippets of TV theme songs past and present, lurching wildly and artlessly from one to the other.

For better or worse, there is a record of this kamikaze attack, and it’s directly below. But STAND WARNED: those of you who love irony will not come out of this feeling well, at all. If you’re a fan of the funny and irreverent — i.e., shows like THE SIMPSONS and SOUTH PARK — know that these slayers of pop culture sacred cows are thrown into this stewpot with everything else, resulting in disorientation and nausea. And for our pop culture, of course, death.

STAND (also) WARNED: the reanimated corpse of Ed MacMahon makes a sudden and alarming cameo.

STAND (further) WARNED: judging by the end of the performance, Carol Burnett appears to be dead, as well. So much death… Oh, so much death…

Happy Halloween! (I’m going as a slutty Supreme Court Justice this year!)

And now, already dead things re-killing themselves, for your seasonal entertainment:

Tags: RiffTrax

52 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Krud on Oct 30, 2008 at 10:52 am

    *has a moment of ironic silence for the passing of American pop culture*

  • 2 Chris on Oct 30, 2008 at 10:53 am

    well… I am now dead.

  • 3 kerry on Oct 30, 2008 at 10:59 am

    oh. my. god.

  • 4 jim on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:00 am

    You made me google Josh Groban. Goddamnit.

  • 5 Kim on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:11 am

    wait…the emmys are still going on? that is highly disturbing in itself.

  • 6 Bill Corbett on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:15 am

    “wait…the emmys are still going on?”

    Even as we speak. It never, ever stops, for it is damned. *

    [*pronounced "DAMN-ed;" two syllables]

  • 7 DohXs on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Josh Groban lights up my life. Well, he made me set myself on fire at at 1:30 to ease my pain. Counts for sumpin’.

  • 8 JoshWay on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:22 am

    9/21. Never Forget.

  • 9 Katie M. on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Heeyyyyy, I thought this was kinda cute! ………………

    Oh my god, Bill, you’re RIGHT!!! It just sneaks up on you!!! Oh the pain, the pain…..

  • 10 Suzanne on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I didn’t make it past the credits.

  • 11 Heather on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Funny, I started singing “Suicide Is Painless” about 20 seconds in– at least 3 minutes BEFORE Josh Groban did. Now where did I leave my ritual seppuku kit?

  • 12 Robyn on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    The Law and Order DUH DUH was my favorite part.

  • 13 Conor Lastowka on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Dear god. I didn’t think anything could top Will.I.Am at last years grammys, but this is much worse.

  • 14 Mystok on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Oh what great evil hath men brought unto this world. What pain… what anguish… what earsplitting horror has been unleashed upon the unwashed masses by this… this diabolical entity called the Emmy Awards Show. Damn their eyes and their offspring!

  • 15 Ben on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Who is Emmy and why is she getting awards every year?

  • 16 Queen Shadowrama on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I’m pretty sure my soul fell out of my body once he got to the South Park bit…

  • 17 RemmieBarrow on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Oooooooh….my head hurts!

    Oh, by the way, I will NOT be your neighbor.

  • 18 RemmieBarrow on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    One more thing, I was kind of insulted that the theme song from MST3K was not in that thing. Oh wait, insulted is not the right word for this. The word I am looking for is relieved.

  • 19 NanoRiffite on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Eh, I’d say that pop culture died before this event. Sure this is a weird montage, but I think it’s significant that in a review of “well-loved TV shows”, they couldn’t think of anything newer than “Two and a Half Men”.

    It won’t be too long before they’ll have an award shows for the top TV shows of the year — and the audience won’t recognize the names of any of the shows up for the award.

  • 20 TeeJay on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    The Hoff running in swimming trunks *shudders*

    I think that alone killed me….

  • 21 DustyV on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    THIS should’ve been delayed 30mins, 30mins over this part.

  • 22 herkamur on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I am now dead inside. I am nothing more than an empty shell forever doomed to roam this reality aimlessly searching for meaning.

  • 23 kt on Oct 30, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I can’t decide if I was more freaked out by the gospel choir during “The Jeffersons” or the showgirls during “M.A.S.H.”. I guess I have to go with the showgirls; a chorus line during a song about suicide is weird. Does this kind of thing only go on in America? I feel guilty and I don’t know why!

  • 24 Racerâ„¢ on Oct 30, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    When the South Park theme came up, I… I think I died inside. It felt just like when I first saw Batman & Robin.

    Damn you Corbett. I know it’s wrong, but some things should just be bottled up inside and never be shared with others.

    The pain.

  • 25 R.A. Roth on Oct 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I withstood two seconds and stopped the video. Too much for my sensitive constitution to take.

    Excuse me, I have to boot up the video of the guy who gets f**ked to death by a horse.


    PS There IS such a video. Remember: if you watch it, you can’t un-see it.

  • 26 High Off Pixels on Oct 30, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    You know, after seeing M*A*S*H segment, I agree!

    Suicide would be painless compared to this.

  • 27 Steve-O on Oct 30, 2008 at 3:05 pm


  • 28 MSTJedi on Oct 30, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I stopped after Mister Rogers . . . Is nothing sacred?

  • 29 Onil on Oct 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    He’s like a robot. I’m picturing some poor schmuck sitting in the control room pushing a button to make Josh switch songs.

  • 30 Chip Foucault on Oct 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    This deconstruction of pop-cultural spheres connotes the dualistic nature of media. By engaging the audience in self-reference, a post-structural enclave is created. If examined, the semiotic niche of the individual is co-opted immediately upon emergence. The capitalist system exists as an ouroborotic mechanism that devours without digesting. Thus, the Cartesian split or Fall of Man functions as an illustrative mercantile vehicle.

  • 31 MonkeyCheezPants on Oct 30, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Once again, America’s Loudest Lounge Singer is ahead of the curve. Friend of the show Richard Cheese released his album of TV themes, “Dick at Night”, a few months ago.

  • 32 Darth Chimay on Oct 30, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    This is just further evidence for my theory of creativity… if you’re having fun while in the creative process, you’re doing it wrong, and this is the inevitable outcome.

    On the other hand, I have to say, that singing ferret does a passable Cartman.

  • 33 Bullwinkle on Oct 30, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    It’s got a whole ghost riders in the sky-ness to it.

  • 34 Barry on Oct 30, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I always said you’d make a good Anthony Kennedy!

  • 35 Marty (Gromit) on Oct 30, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    How big are the applause signs at that place? Must be high voltage hooked up to the seats as well…

    If I were in the audience I doubt my reaction would have been different than sitting in front of the computer, sitting thinking: WTF was that???

  • 36 RobtheBarbarian on Oct 30, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    South Park knocked me senseless and I ended up sitting through the whole thing.

    I need to get to my bunker before the cannibals show up.

  • 37 Mario "Asteroid" Panighetti on Oct 30, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Dignity suicide is painless.

  • 38 Thersites on Oct 31, 2008 at 3:44 am

    And to top off this whole shameful affair, did they really have to string up Animal’s dessicated corpse before a live audience? This psychological aggression will not stand, man.

  • 39 doggans on Oct 31, 2008 at 5:37 am

    *shrug* I saw this a month ago and thought it was pretty funny. And I was surprised at how good at vocal mimicry Groban is.

    I guess I’m alone in my principles.

  • 40 Clint on Oct 31, 2008 at 8:35 am

    R.I.P., Carol. Thanks for the memories.

  • 41 Karen Han on Oct 31, 2008 at 9:19 am

    me no watch emmys. just easier to spare the pain to read it in the papers. its really about the famous folk in any case. and us wee folk who SQUEE if they see someone they like. haven’t they noticed the ratings has gone down? its also a 3 hours deathtrap.

    good thing there is cable. and scrubs.

  • 42 OmegaRowsdower on Oct 31, 2008 at 10:10 am

    You said SQUEE…. Nny may be coming…
    Tell him Happy Halloween for me

  • 43 ShawnBoy on Oct 31, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Look everybody I’m on crack and watched way too much TV growing up!!!!!


    Never have I seen so many TV Intro’s that I like being totally screwed up in such a horrific way. This proves why some white men can’t rap, intro to Fresh Prince … oh for crying out loud.

  • 44 ShawnBoy on Oct 31, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Well at least they didn’t use the scene where his balls are hanging out for almost 3 seconds…. oh snap… thought you said Heff.

  • 45 ShawnBoy on Oct 31, 2008 at 11:09 am

    You haven’t seen Cat’s have you?

  • 46 Amanda on Nov 1, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you Josh Groban for ruining many many wonderful things. Sigh.

    Also, that was the Emmys? That giant statue made me think it was for the Oscars, which now that I really think about it, wouldn’t make very much sense. Although, in a way, it would, because it didn’t make any sense having it in the Emmys. As if those stupid award shows aren’t long enough, they then include stupid meaningless montages that don’t in anyway have anything to do with each other.

    I would like to know who put that montage in that order, cause they suck.

    Also, Josh Groban again, you could be an NBC announcer guy. You really nailed saying words. Except when you said the Fresh Prince Theme Rap words.

  • 47 Sam on Nov 2, 2008 at 7:48 am

    It could have been worse. I don’t think I saw Full House in there anywhere.

  • 48 mrbasehart on Nov 2, 2008 at 8:03 am

    I didn’t think it was *that* bad. Groban has a pretty good voice, but the constant lurching around was irritating.

  • 49 Ron on Nov 2, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    as i watched this video, i felt as helpless as a ham sandwich in George Kennedy’s kitchen.

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  • 51 whatever on Jan 4, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I hated the two and a half men bit the most. Where the hell did that come from?