Parks and Recreation: A Feat in Satire

Starting in 2009 and coming to a close less than a week ago, after six years of airtime, Parks and Recreation, a television show on the NBC Network, featuring some of the currently, and previously, biggest-named actors and comedians (such as: Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Amy Poehler, and Rob Lowe), among countless popular guest stars, has accumulated a rather large and dedicated fanbase over it’s years airing, partly due to the cast and partly due to the creative joke writing in the show.

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In gaining its large fanbase, Parks & Rec has built up an intricate story over the years, but building its foundation with political and social satire, with absolutely brilliant writing, hilariously commenting on all types of current issues. For the most part of the show, the story revolves around Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler), a citizen of Pawnee, Indiana and a government worker first assigned to the Parks and Recreation department. Leslie’s story also involves her nine other friends and co-workers, who, altogether are complete polar opposites of one another; however, as seen throughout the show, they typically come together as one cohesive unit.

Throughout the last few seasons of Parks & Rec, viewers have seen many worldly famous American political figures with guest spots, such as: Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, and plenty more. The use of figures like Joe Biden and Michelle Obama also puts an extremely human side to them, making them appear as something that’s not just a decision maker, but also a human being with a sense of humor, while also drawing attention to the show to people who normally wouldn’t care about a satirical program. In having these powerful political figures/tastemakers on the show, Parks & Rec broke boundaries on how to promote a satirical show such as itself. It’s been done on talk shows millions of times, but never, not that I can recall, in a sitcom.

Pop culture and American media are inextricably linked—it’s no coincidence that Jenny Lind, the Beatles, and American Idol were each promoted using a then-new technology—photography for Lind; television for the Beatles; the Internet and text messaging for American Idol. For as long as mass media have existed in the United States, they have helped to create and fuel mass crazes, skyrocketing celebrities, and pop culture manias of all kinds. Whether through newspaper advertisements, live television broadcasts, or integrated Internet marketing, media industry “tastemakers” help to shape what we care about. – Jack Lule

It seems as though, to build its fanbase and appearance in pop culture, Parks & Rec has clearly utilized social media outlets and tastemakers, along with political tastemakers. For example: Barack and Michelle Obama are two of the most important people in the United State, with a strong presence on social media, enabling the word about Michelle Obama on Parks & Rec to get out fast and generate an audience for the show.

Among its political credibility and media presence, Parks & Rec also has a cult internet following, with million of memes gifs, youtube videos, and tumblr fan pages. Although someone hasn’t watched more than an episode of the show, a lot of the times they’ll have seen a video on youtube of the hilarious blooper reels released with the season DVDs.

  

In closing, I believe that, although Parks and Recreation is now off the air, it will never be forgotten and will be looked at as a landmark in satire and comedy, hopefully paving the way for shows like it to come. And if you haven’t watched Parks & Rec yet, then I hope this article and the clips will persuade you to watch it. It’s certainly worth the invested time. If not for me, or even yourself, watch it for Ron Swanson.

Crowdfunding: Invest Before You Request

With growing popularity, crowdfunding is becoming a new and innovative way to raise funds for independent projects or other means. To raise money for a project on a crowdfunding website, someone must first make a video in which they talk about and explain the ultimate goal of their plausible and evidently practical and doable project. In the project, for the people funding, there needs to be rewards for donating a certain amount of money, such as 10, 20, or 50 dollars. Rewards can vary to any and everything from limited edition merchandise mailed to you, to more intimate rewards that would be given personally from the person raising the money.

Projects that are asking for funds can vary from things such as some guy from Columbus, Ohio that wants to make a potato salad, which makes a huge statement to everyone across America and the world, all the way to people very sincerely and genuinely asking for funds to help them pay a hospital bill for a life-saving surgery, which touches the hearts of thousands of people and rallies them together for a good cause.

The utter lack of importance of the underlying subject, in fact, is exactly what tells you how close to the surface and at how high a temperature these conflicts are simmering. (Linda Holmes)

            While the potato salad guy and the person asking for help with a hospital bill are essentially on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, certainly, there’s got to be a little ugliness in between them. While much of crowdfunding isn’t done in ill will, there are plenty of people using crowdfunding as means to make as much money as possible in a way that’s not genuine at all that just exploits the system and the people giving them their own earned money, which was brought to my attention a while ago in an article from noisey. Those people are the lazy and greedy people giving crowdfunding a bad reputation. A large group of the people abusing that are starting musicians that want to be “DIY” or don’t want restrictions from record labels. As that sounds well and fine, they’re starting a crowdfunding project and asking for an absurd or unnecessary amount of money, while offering completely ridiculous rewards, which is unjustifiable.

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There’s some bands crowdfunding that are looking for absurd funds to make a debut album or EP, or even go on tour. In asking for funds, they’ll completely exaggerate a price for something like reserving a studio or the recording process of their album, while giving ridiculous rewards for donation such as things like writing a song about the person that donated, if they donated five hundred or more dollars, or a member of a band taking someone on a tour of the studio they’re going to be recording in, with the trip expenses not covered by the band offering the reward. That may sound awesome at first, but a song written about you, no matter the price, without any true or intimate feelings, you’ll soon find out isn’t worth the time or money. No one wants a bunch of meaningless words written and sung about them.

For starting bands, with my own prior experience in making music, and with friends that make music, I can confidently say that, for a starting band, you don’t need twelve thousand dollars to make a record, nor do you need to raise money to go on tour. Growing up and making music in bands with a punk-rock ethic, no one thought of crowdfunding or asking for ten-thousand dollars to make music. Instead, we put together our own money to buy recording hardware, got the software (I don’t condone illegal downloading, but you can find recording software anywhere, take it where it’s free), and made music for under a few hundred dollars. For a group of 15-year-old kids to be able to make a demo on almost no budget, there’s no excuse for anyone to ask for thousands of dollars for a piece of music, that isn’t even written yet, to be made in a highly and unnecessarily professional studio for a debut album that, more than likely, won’t support the band.

If you’re absolutely serious and passionate about making music for a living, then put some heart and effort into it to tour and sustain yourself, not by using someone else’s money; that’s not how you make music. Don’t result to bleeding your fanbase dry of their money with ridiculous and overpriced crowdfunding rewards, especially when you haven’t even released an album yet. Make your own music and, instead, reward your loyal fans with that. Don’t directly make your income through fans. Follow the simple steps to make your music, make t-shirts and merch to get your brand out there, get a van and rent a trailer to go on tour, struggle when you have to, but don’t exploit your fans by raising twelve-thousand dollars to produce and album, and then adding on to it after you’ve reached your goal amount to make a music video.

See? Even South Park noticed the misuse of crowdfunding is a big deal. So much so that they made an episode about it.

If you’re a musician or band, and you’re going to crowdfund: just be completely honest, if the cause is good enough. Whether you’re a veteran band that’s not on a label, or an unsigned underground band raising money for a project, be honest and give people the decent rewards they deserve without ripping them off. Don’t charge 15 dollars for a low-quality MP3 download of the new album that you haven’t even written yet. Just be smart, professional, and genuine.

Finally, if you’re a consumer, a supporter of any crowdfunding site, or a supporter of a cause, do your best to make sure you’re provided with genuine and correct information and not a sad or sketchy story. Crowdfunding is a very powerful thing with a very creative way of making money, at the forefront of a new way of independent project funding, but that doesn’t mean the people asking for money should be exploiting it and being rewarded in their skeevy, slimy ways. If crowdfunding is making way into the mainstream world, let’s present the world with crowdfunding as a method of community funding for genuine and professional projects, without having to make an excuse about the idiots that are using it in a way to only help themselves and not everyone involved with helping them.