Would you believe me if I told you “Weird Al” Yankovic could teach all of us a thing or two about how to love others?
Yeah. “Weird Al”. The legendary Jewish song parodist. The guy who brought us “Fat”, “Amish Paradise” and “White and Nerdy”.
The guy whose latest album Mandatory Fun boasts parodies like the fantastic “Word Crimes”, a play on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”:
(Click Here if you can’t see the video above)
If you think Robin Thicke is upset about being made fun of by “Weird Al”, you’d be wrong.
In fact, Robin Thicke gave “Weird Al” permission to parody him.
“Weird Al” is famous for seeking out the consent of the artists he parodies before he releases a new album of material, even going to great lengths to seek out artists like Iggy Azalea to get their seal of approval.
Here’s the weird part: Yankovic doesn’t have to get the artist’s permission to do his work. His parodies are protected under the law.
The Fair Use limitation allows others to use copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the original artist in certain situations – news reports, research, commentary, and parody.
Yet even to this day “Weird Al” always seeks out an artist’s consent before he parodies one of their songs. If he can’t get approval from the artist themselves, he won’t release the song.
Perhaps that’s why the world at large has come to respect “Weird Al”. Many musicians have said they knew they truly made it when “Weird Al” parodied them.
It’s a weird, seemingly unnecessary approach to a career. And it’s one we’d be well served to learn from.
Most parody artists are content to create their content behind the backs of others.
Amateur “Al” wannabes post parody videos of songs, movies, tv shows and celebrities on Youtube everyday, finding fame off the creation of others. Many of these videos & songs bash the original artists behind their backs.
What “Weird Al” does is different. He became a respected artist by taking the time to talk to those he parodied, even though he didn’t have to do so.
I guess when you think about it, it’s really not that weird of a concept. After all, Jesus spent time with people before he tried to teach them.
Traveling from city to city Jesus earned the respect and trust of those He encountered. He let them know He wasn’t around to attack or belittle them.
In fact the only people Jesus ever attacked were the religious people too blind to see the love He was bringing.
It’s funny – when you think of song parodies you usually think of something attacking the original work.
Yet “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parodies rarely poke fun at the original artist or song.
Instead, he takes the framework of the original song and rewrites it with a comedic flair that usually has nothing to do with the initial work aside from the melody and musicality.
This is far more difficult than just making fun of a musician. “Weird Al”s music actually stands on its own as a unique and new creation – similar to the original work yet different in the most important ways. There is love and adoration of the original creation but something unique which sets it apart.
What if we took a lesson from “Weird Al”? What if instead of making fun of others, we came beside them, listened to them, respected what they believed, and lovingly showed them a different way of thinking?
It’s far easier to attack the beliefs of others which are different from our own than it is to love and respect them. A lot of our conceptions of “outreach” really amount to attacks, telling others what is wrong about what they believe.
Even worse is our habit of talking bad about the people who are different from us behind their back while putting on a smile to their face.
Let’s rethink how we reach out to others. Let’s ditch the idea of belittling the beliefs of others as a means of ministry.
Let’s stop bashing people behind their back. Let’s win the respect of those we reach out towards. Let’s understand their thoughts and earn the right to share our own.
Let’s make our name from loving people in person.
Let’s get weird.