Arts



December 4, 2008, 1:19 pm

Marc Shaiman on ‘Prop 8 — The Musical’

In just one day of online existence, the Funny Or Die video “Prop 8­ — The Musical” has received more than 1.2 million hits. The comedic song-and-dance diatribe about the California ballot initiative to define marriage as existing only between a man and a woman stars a cast of dozens, including John C. Reilly, Neil Patrick Harris, Maya Rudolph, and Jack Black as Jesus Christ.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

The musical itself is the brainchild of Marc Shaiman, the composer of the film and stage musical “Hairspray,” as well as some of the filthier songs in “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.” Assembled in a week, it’s also the result of a process that began when Mr. Shaiman, who splits his time between New York and Los Angeles, alerted his friends and colleagues that Scott Eckern, the musical director of Sacramento’s California Musical Theater, had donated money to a Yes-on-Prop 8 campaign. The proposition has already passed, and Mr. Eckern has since resigned, so what has Mr. Shaiman gained from this video? He discusses the creation of “Prop 8­–The Musical” in a Q&A below.

How did your mass e-mail message about Scott Eckern and the California Musical Theater end up spawning this video?
I sent an e-mail to a lot of people, anyone who’s in my phone book, and said, “Can you believe this guy?” I’d rather almost not talk about him and that situation anymore, because he’s certainly gone through enough. But that e-mail, one of the people it went to was Adam McKay [a co-founder of FunnyOrDie.com]. He wrote me back, basically, just saying, “Why don’t you write a song about it for Funny Or Die?” Which was like, the slapping-my-head moment. Oh yeah, why didn’t I think of that? Or why didn’t I do that in the first place?

It took a few weeks to calm down enough to be able to find the humor in it all. So once he planted that seed in my head, I basically went the next day to the piano and started to write – a week later we were filming it.

Is this the first time you’ve created a viral video for the Internet?
I’m so old, I can’t remember. To this extent, certainly. I have done things that have ended up on the Internet. Luckily, nothing sexual. Yet. But the night is still young.

How do you feel, given that it took the passage of Proposition 8 to motivate you to create a video opposing it?
In my credit, it says, “Written (six weeks too late) by Marc Shaiman.” I mean, yeah, it’s totally bittersweet. Barack Obama’s ascension just had us all so giddy. We were thinking of how to film it, and I said, “Well, maybe that first section should be all of us on a hill, with poppies, and it snows and we’re put to sleep, and then the Proposition 8 people are looking through the crystal ball, like the Wicked Witch of the West in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’” Because that’s what happened. We stupidly allowed ourselves to be lulled into a sense of, everything’s fantastic now, look – everything’s changing. And this couldn’t possibly be voted into law. This is just like some little pesky thing that we’re swatting at, and it will go away immediately.

How did you react to the news that Mr. Eckern had resigned from the theater?
There’s certainly nothing joyous about being partially responsible for a man resigning from his job. I mean, I did not ask for his resignation, nor would it be my place to ask for someone’s resignation. He resigned, though, and I was part of that, and that is a very heavy weight, and I don’t take it lightly. But it has certainly opened up our eyes, and made me get off the couch and out on the street with a picket sign, for the first time in my life. And it felt fantastic.

So this experience has made you more of an activist?
Yeah, I was marching in New York, and that was just the greatest experience. And of course this video is just a viral picket sign. And hopefully funny. I hope that doesn’t get lost. I hope that’s what most people get out of it.


From 1 to 25 of 116 Comments

1 2 3 ... 5
  1. 1. December 4, 2008 1:44 pm Link

    Bravo, Marc Shaiman!!!! Brilliant video. Keep up the great work!

    — Nance`
  2. 2. December 4, 2008 1:47 pm Link

    While I LOVE this video, I am more excited about the fact that it paints the issues in a very palatable way, it spells out the fact that the Bible says a lot of things and folks pick and choose whatever parts they want in order to OPPRESS OTHERS!!! And most importantly, the video highlights again that our nation was built on the SEPARATION of church and state. Policy can’t be based on a religion that millions of us don’t practice!!!

    — JDub
  3. 3. December 4, 2008 1:56 pm Link

    Brilliant!

    — Brett Peace
  4. 4. December 4, 2008 2:10 pm Link

    Wow…so incredibly offensive. Those who think supporters of prop 8 did so out of hatred of gays or a desire to oppress others have clearly not thought about the issue.

    “If you can’t make them approve, make them laugh and eventually they’ll approve.” This has been the theme of the gay rights movement since the 1970s.

    — Matthew
  5. 5. December 4, 2008 2:12 pm Link

    I voted against Obama. I don’t have people telling me I am a racist…

    I supported prop 8, but for some reason that automatically makes me a bigot in the eyes of the gay community. It doesn’t make much sense…

    I think the musical/video is sacrilegious. That is all I will say.

    — Anonymous
  6. 6. December 4, 2008 2:16 pm Link

    The video is short and sweet and amusing, but the sad fact is that this horrible law has now been enacted in California.

    The good news is that under Obama and the Democrats, we’re not likely to get one of those Bush-like “Gee, those Gays are so witty and clever, but we sure put the fear of God into them, the slime” moments. Out of this will come, one hopes, better separation of church and state, and maybe all those wonderful people in Utah who helped finance the campaign (the Normans? the Mormen? uh….) will learn that it’s not nice to fool around with the Constitutional separations. Maybe. I hope. Yes, I really do…

    — Andrew Porter
  7. 7. December 4, 2008 2:22 pm Link

    It’s a sad commentary on the moral bankruptcy of those who support gay rights that they cannot engage in an actual, fair discussion about the issue.

    This film, with its one-sided presentation that fails even to engage with the arguments of those who support traditional marriage, is typical of the intellectual blindness of the gay rights movement.

    — Michael Williams
  8. 8. December 4, 2008 2:27 pm Link

    The video is, of course, brilliant. I join others in wishing that we had put this kind of energy and creativity in to anti-8 measures before 8 was passed.

    To 4, 5 and all the others who will follow: Can you give me one reason, aside from cherry-picked biblical references, why gay marriage threatens straight marriage, society, or anything else? This is what I have yet to see, anywhere.

    — ZNV
  9. 9. December 4, 2008 2:32 pm Link

    To #5 (Anonymous),

    Why does it matter to you if two people get married? Do you have the right to oppose the marriage of a man and a woman? If not, then why should it be any different for a same-sex couple?

    You are a bigot and should be called out at one. I would love to hear why you do not believe this is an accurate label. Please enlighten me.

    — DSK
  10. 10. December 4, 2008 2:32 pm Link

    It’s incredible how many people in California think the will of the people shouldn’t count. What a terrible opinion the liberal establishment must have about a majority of voting citizens of California. GROW UP. YOU LOST. MOVE ON. Stop whinning. I did not vote for Obama. My side lost. I’m moving on.

    — Steve
  11. 11. December 4, 2008 2:34 pm Link

    Marvelous piece! Bravo!!!

    Let’s see if the Mormons manage to get the Tabernacle Choir to come up with a rebuttal.

    — Jan
  12. 12. December 4, 2008 2:35 pm Link

    wonderful!
    just wonderful!

    — asparry
  13. 13. December 4, 2008 2:37 pm Link

    This video is certainly more factual than the lies that were put out by the Yes On 8 campaign. Those commercials and robo-calls were full of lies and half truths.

    Gay marriage IS a civil-rights issue. You can’t say you’re pro-gay rights (or even human rights) and support taking away the rights of a targeted minority. The fact that people who did vote to make a group of Californians second class citizens are trying to paint themselves as victims is just pathetic.

    — db
  14. 14. December 4, 2008 2:37 pm Link

    Marc Shaiman is very brave to speak out about this nightmare. The fact that a theater director voted for Prop 8 is the definition of irony (not to mention disgusting). I am pleased Eckern resigned and I hope he spends his days searching his soul.

    One another note: how funny is Jennifer Lewis in this video? “OBAMA-NATION!” lol

    — Shelly
  15. 15. December 4, 2008 2:41 pm Link

    Steve, the courts have the right to overturn the will of a tyrannical majority–which is exactly what the voters in California are. If the majority wants to infringe on the rights of an entire group of people (as they did when interracial marriage was illegal), the measure should be overturned. Obviously there must be some safeguards preventing the majority from doing whatever they wish with regards to minority rights.

    — Aubree
  16. 16. December 4, 2008 2:42 pm Link

    As a piece of satirical entertainment, we should not devolve into flippancy about whether it’s ’sacrilegious’ or ‘a sad commentary on the moral bankruptcy of those who support gay rights.’ The unfortunate truth is that whilst we’ve made progress in certain areas (almost racial parity) we still lag so far behind in others (gender equality, gay rights, etc). The election of Obama doesn’t mean that suddenly we’ve become a tolerant nation (just as it doesn’t mean the end of racism in this country).

    You needn’t agree with the video, but to flatly reject it based on it’s ‘defamatory’ merits, without being considerate to the fact that it is a piece of social commentary, reflects poor judgement on those who would rather choose to be ignorant than have a serious discussion on minority rights. Perhaps indeed the culture wars of which pundits routinely inform us are far from over, and with banter like this, there seems to be no end in sight.

    — David Kramer
  17. 17. December 4, 2008 2:43 pm Link

    Steve, go look up what the will of the majority was in, say, 1860 in Georgia. The court system exists so the will of the majority can’t suppress the minority.

    — Anon
  18. 18. December 4, 2008 2:47 pm Link

    If you supported prop 8, that doesn’t make you a bigot in the eyes of the gay community. I’m not gay. And you’re still a bigot. If you’re having trouble with the word, a dictionary should help you. When I looked it up, the word did not seem to have any exemptions for you.

    — Paul D.
  19. 19. December 4, 2008 2:48 pm Link

    To Comment #5: There are a lot of issues involved in your presidential choice, and people get that, so they don’t assume you a racist for voting against Obama. But there’s only one issue involved in Prop 8 that I know of, and that’s whether or not you’ll extend the same rights to gays and lesbians that straight people enjoy. So from the point of view of that community (and myself), voting for it at all is a form of bigotry, even if it’s not out of hatred or a desire to oppress people (in #4’s words). If the word “bigot” seems strong, think about how you’d feel if someone withheld your right to marry who you wanted.

    — Tom
  20. 20. December 4, 2008 2:55 pm Link

    VERY FUNNY! GOOD JOB! Someday prop 8 will be overturned. Someday everyone will be able to marry the person they love in all 50 states. No one will be able to stop it no matter how hard they try. When all the children of america grow up (ages 0-21) and start living life, running for office, and become the new senators and congress persons of america, the power that the religious right think they have will completely vanish. Melt away just like the wicked witch of the west! The world is changing, American is changing. But don’t worry there is still room for all of us!

    — Ted G.
  21. 21. December 4, 2008 3:00 pm Link

    To 8: the burden of proof is not on the status quo, but on those who would initiate change. You ask me to demonstrate how gay marriage threatens society. I ask you to demonstrate how it contributes.

    Heterosexual marriage contributes to society by providing a stable environment in which children can be born and raised to be responsible citizens (which is in the government’s best interest). By providing this benefit to society, married couples qualify for certain benefits in return (tax breaks, for example). Homosexual couples, by definition, can not have children on their own and have no potential to provide this benefit to society. This is the logical reason they do not qualify for marriage.

    Many argue that you can’t legislate morality, but by saying we approve of gay marriage as a society, are we not doing the same? In matters of morality, then, public opinion must prevail. And it has prevailed in 30 out of 30 states where it has been on the ballot. The American people have made it overwhelmingly clear that they do not support gay marriage.

    Again, I ask: what does gay marriage contribute to society? What reason can you give me to SUPPORT it?

    For the record, I have gay friends whom I love. Unlike many vocal opponents of prop 8, I do not believe that loving someone equals approving of their behavior.

    — Matthew
  22. 22. December 4, 2008 3:01 pm Link

    For those commenting their concern that the video paints Prop 8 supporters as bigots, I have news for you:
    If you voted for Prop 8, you are either a bigot, or were stupid enough to get conned by bigots. Contrary to popular belief, this is not an issue on which reasonable people can disagree. Your “traditional values” arguments can go back to the Jim Crow dustbin of history, where they belong.

    — Andrew
  23. 23. December 4, 2008 3:03 pm Link

    Michael - # 7,

    Regarding “arguments of those who support traditional marriage” - I’ve yet to hear any rational argument for how gay marriage negatively affects ANYTHING.

    — Scott
  24. 24. December 4, 2008 3:11 pm Link

    Enough with the “bigot comments.” ANYONE who is unwilling to consider the other side’s view is a bigot. Clearly there are bigots on both sides of the aisle.

    — Matthew
  25. 25. December 4, 2008 3:11 pm Link

    It amazes me, we call a majority anything between 51% and 59% of the population. I am not in favor of Gay Marriage, let me get that “straight” and YES, I am GAY. BUT, I “DO” believe in the Right of the Individual to choose. That is the fundamental foundation this country was created on, NOT Religious Value. This country was based on Separation of “Church” and “State” as the individuals who braved the wilderness came here, planned to escape “religious” persecution. Let those who now persecute should know - their day will also come. This is not an issue of your personal “Religious” beliefs, but an issue of Government establishing Rights over the Individual. Next we are going to establish that “Certain” Religions are not worthy of Rights because they don’t follow the excepted beliefs. AND, if you do not believe this can happen - Look to History, a subject most of you have not ever even ventured. Can you say “Spanish Inquisition?”

    — RLee
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