ABC’s “Schoolhouse Rock” educational shorts were never anything close to rock, but they sure were catchy little things, remembered fondly by people who were in their prime Saturday Morning Cartoon watching years in the 1970s. (Note to youngsters: The three broadcast networks — yes, three, damn it — used to run half-hour cartoon shows for several hours each Saturday morning.) When the first bunch of animations in the “Schoolhouse” series, “Multiplication Rock,” started running in 1973, I was starting to age out of cartoons (before aging right back into them when Ralph Bakshi released Wizards in 1977). Made by advertising people who knew how to put together a catchy jingle, those three-minute “Schoolhouse Rock” cartoons were far more memorable than most of the programs they accompanied, and they’re still very much around on the YouTubes and in endless parodies.
Probably the best-known of the bunch was “I’m Just a Bill,” which explains how a bill becomes a law, and probably did more than any social studies class to educate Americans on that topic. It was lovingly parodied on “The Simpsons,” with the not-inaccurate observation that “if we change the Constitution… then we can make all kinds of crazy laws!” (That little vignette even featured Jack Sheldon, the voice actor who played “Bill” in the original.) It’s also been spoofed by “Family Guy” (with Jack Sheldon again) and on SNL. It’s actually pretty darn good 40 years later:
All of which is by way of longer than necessary preface to this thing that no one will ever feel nostalgia for, but which exists for no discernible reason: a video titled “Fresh Prints of Bills Here, Get It, GET IT??!!” by the Utah House of Representatives on the very same topic, only specifically about the process in the Utah legislature, featuring a bunch of embarrassed white people talking in something not entirely unlike rhythm over a beatbox. The legislative session ends March 8, and perhaps the video was made in the name of “blowing off steam” or “team building.” Or maybe everyone involved lost a bet and had to be in it.
The Utah House of Representatives made a rap video about how a bill becomes law, and somehow it's worse than you would expect pic.twitter.com/Dq3U7RwGBu
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) March 1, 2018
The Comic Sans is a nice touch, as is the complete absence, thank goodness, of any attempt to rap. Nothing really rhymes, and the whole thing feels like it was something they were assigned to do. Happily, it seems unlikely they’ll ever be accused of wasting $60,000 on it like that stupid IRS Star Trek parody video made for a conference several years back. Then again, we were given pause by a comment on our story about the IRS video, by long-disappeared Alert Wonkette Operative “Ali Davis” (or are you still here with a different username?). Ali made a very astute point, reminding us that however tacky this thing looks to us outsiders, that’s only because we’re not the audience it was made for:
Sadly, I have been to enough offsite company offsite/all-hands meetings to recognize this species of video. I guarantee you that every single line and shot of this video got an ENORMOUS laugh. Yes, it’s terrible. But this thing killed. KILLED.
Now we’re imagining all those Utah Republicans watching this and telling each other how goofy they looked, and laughing like anything at their colleagues’ antics, and we’re smiling. Some of those folks may even end up having fond memories of that time they made the silly rap thing about passing a bill.
[Robert Maguire on Twitter]
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