Big Bad John Gay Parody
I came across this web site recently and wanted to devote a short post to it because it is a big gay story, with respect to gay culture, and it revolves around the kind of parody I’ve sometimes done with books like An Officer and His Gentleman, or Pretty Man. And when I write posts like this I’m trying to show people who don’t know these things that there is more to gay culture than what you normally read online these days. This is a typical discussion I might have with any number of gay authors during the course of a week…always in private.
There are a few very interesting comments on this web site that all support/explain gay parody in general, and it’s a topic I think gay men find interesting because we’ve been so ignored in music, books, and films for so long we craved something…anything…mainstream that we could call our own. Even the gayest authors of their time like Truman Capote were not able to write anything with gay main characters. The same goes for the gayest performers and actors. Men like Capote did the best they could with books like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and took what they could get during a time when gays were considered either clowns, court jesters, or mentally unsound.
Here’s the most interesting (and true) comment I found in a commentary by Randy Sparks:
This parody was all in good humor, and it became one of the best-requested numbers in my solo act. I quickly discovered that most Gay men had no problem with laughing at the ditty, but any Lesbians in my audiences seemed to immediately take offense, so I was careful where I sang it. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.
It’s the fundamental difference I’ve always found in writing gay parodies of mainstream films. And it’s a huge problem for some who are not gay men and want to read about us or listen to our music, but not on our terms.
In any event, I’m not going to elaborate on that because this post would never end. But here’s a link to 13 gay parodies of the hit song, Big Bad John, by Jimmy Dean. According to the site, there may even be more. If you click on the small music notes with each recording you can hear the songs to understand how they were done.
Gay culture is evolving and it is changing, especially with respect to assimilation, and I embrace all those changes completely. But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to lose all that we’ve created.