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I Must Take Issue With The Wikipedia Entry For 'Weird Al' Yankovic

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I Must Take Issue With The Wikipedia Entry For 'Weird Al' Yankovic

To whomever or whatever is currently in charge of the free encyclopedia and online community portal at Wikipedia.org, I demand that you remove the mask of anonymity and account for the gross oversights to be found on your site. I must take issue with your entry for "Weird Al" Yankovic—for in allowing it to remain active, you are perpetrating a great injustice.

You most likely recognize my username, misterhand43. If you do not, you at the least recall my flame war with SoulblighterEric—I speak, of course, of the altercation which led to my ignoble suspension as a Wikipedia editor. As penance for my immaturity on the Admiral Akbar talk-page thread last March, I have held my tongue for eight months now.

I did not point out the whole-cloth omission of Ralph Snart and his creator Marc Hansen, though it's a gross understatement to say the absence left me incredulous. I did not refer to the woeful lack of an article on the subject of popular Farscape actress Virginia Hey, nor did I send out a strongly worded e-mail about the merely passing mention of Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelizations, even though two were written by Richie Tankersley Cusick, and anyone who has read his adaptation of "The Harvest" would agree that its inclusion on any list on the subject is critical. (And anyone who has not read this fine book has no business writing an overview of the show, but I digress.)

I remained silent in regard to those smaller matters, but I cannot ignore the travesty you call a copyleft encyclopedia article on "Weird Al." Those who know me either by reputation or through IRC know that I do not suffer fools gladly. If you have been on the business end of one of my notorious outbursts of Internet anger, I do sympathize. And, for what is to come forthwith, I offer you my grim condolence. En garde.

To start: Your entry for "Weird Al" is laughably brief, and fails to account for the grand impact and scope of his career. How can you justify a "Weird Al" biography of only a paltry 850 words?

Particularly galling to this author is the fact that Madonna and U2 were given articles two and three times the length of the Weird One's. Yes, those artists may have sold more records than "Weird Al," but surely the Wikipedia community is not one to confuse net profits with artistic merit. Nevertheless, while we are on the loathsome subject of money, I might point out that nowhere in the article is it mentioned that Yankovic has earned no less than four gold and four platinum records.

Put plainly: The "Weird Al" entry contains omissions so glaring, I can only assume that they are the result of laziness, indifference, or complete incompetence. The article does not even hint at the immeasurable output of Alfred Matthew Yankovic, the man who has dominated the parody-song form since "My Bologna" first topped Dr. Demento's "Funny Five." And, although it did not gain national acclaim, "School Cafeteria," released as the B-side of the "My Bologna" single, is not to be overlooked. The live version, to be found on Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes, contains several amusing riffs, as well. But again I digress.

Your entry makes no mention of Al's considerable directorial gifts. Not only has he directed many of his own uproarious videos, but he also directed videos for such artists as Hanson, The Black Crowes, and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Admittedly, the article covers Yankovic's spoof film UHF, featuring Michael Richards in the breakout role of Stanley "Bag Of Moldy Tangerines" Spadowski, but what of Yankovic's "This Is The Life," featured on the soundtrack for Johnny Dangerously? More upsetting is the Wikipedia omission of Yankovic's spot-on parody of the James Bond title sequences in Spy Hard, Rick Friedberg's 1996 Leslie Nielsen vehicle.

While it may be nitpicking, the Wikipedia article states that "Weird Al" appears in The Naked Gun. It would be more accurate to say that "Weird Al" has appeared in all three Naked Gun films. More troubling yet is the treatment of Yankovic's groundbreaking TV work on The Weird Al Show, which is summed up in three paragraphs of puff. There is no mention anywhere of the WAS's recurring cast of characters, including the Hooded Avenger (Brian Haley), Madame Judy (Judy Tenuta), J.B. Toppersmith (Stan Freberg), and, of course, Harvey The Wonder Hamster.

Worst of all, the entry makes no mention of Al's controversial decision to get LASIK eye surgery and shave off his mustache, radically changing the trademark "Weird Al" look.

There are many more facts I could contribute, such as the Dr. Demento Society's yearly Christmas re-release of material from Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes, which often includes an unreleased track from Mr. Yankovic's vaults, such as "Pacman," "It's Still Billy Joel To Me," or the demos for "I Love Rocky Road." In an ideal world, an entry on "Weird Al" might remark on the subtleties of "Happy Birthday," which can only be found on the extremely rare 1981 Placebo EP release of "Another One Rides The Bus," but I certainly no longer believe this world to be ideal.

An even greater case could be made for Yankovic as cultural barometer—Nirvana, an extremely popular '90s grunge band, publicly stated that they knew they had "made it" after Yankovic chose to parody "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and the polka medleys that appear on Yankovic's albums provide the consummate pastiche of popular songwriting styles for our times. But I believe I have already made my point. A radical overhaul of this particular entry is necessary to befit a man who has bestowed upon us the gift of laughter for more than two decades. However, I could not forgive myself if I failed to mention that, by deftly aping the musical stylings of such a wide variety of bands, Yankovic shows that his talents supercede those of the artists he parodies.

While this missive may not improve my chances of being reinstated as a Wikipedia-community editor, sometimes it's necessary to make sacrifices for the larger cause. You can make the additions I have suggested, or you can "dare to be stupid" in the eyes of the "Weird Al" fan base.

I leave the choice to you.

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