Unexpected fruits of mockery and malice
December 22, 2011 7:56 PM   Subscribe

The man can be overbearing, inserting his opinion instead of closing his mouth and opening his wallet, am I right? According to Michael Ian Black on a recent, awkward episode of WTF, the cast of The State bristled at MTV's suggestion that they add recurring characters to their sketches. As a fuck you to MTV, they created a character whose catch phrase, "I want to dip my balls in it" became a sensation. Know of any other creative fuck yous that have become cultural phenomena or were otherwise successful despite their intent?
posted by drzz to Media & Arts (57 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
Potato chips were supposedly invented when a grouchy customer at the Saratoga Inn kept sending the potatoes back because they were too soggy. The chef, exasperated by his repeated demands, sliced the potato into stupidly thin slices and fried it for stupidly long. The grouchy customer was finally appeased at the tasty new dish, and the chef's prank became the Saratoga Inn's speciality.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:09 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Funny you asked this. I just read tthis article on Wired about Cow Clicker, a facebook game meant as a dig at facebook games but instead got wildly popular.
posted by jquinby at 8:11 PM on December 22, 2011 [13 favorites]

Marvin Gaye tried to write a "lazy, bad" record to pay for alimony, and wound up with Here, My Dear.
posted by gwint at 8:17 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

...and of course, there's the Sex Pistols.
posted by gwint at 8:18 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Carly Simon's You're So Vain is a classic.
posted by elizeh at 8:19 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

This was a one-time thing, but what first comes to mind is Nirvana at the '92 MTV VMAs. They were asked to play "Teen Spirit," but wanted to play something newer, like "Rape Me." Then they compromised and played "Lithium," but started the performance by teasing the execs with "Rape Me." One of the top comments on that video sums it up fairly succinctly.

And I gotta think the Beatles did something(s) that fits your question more closely, particularly Lennon.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:26 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Arrested Development episode "Pier Pressure" was made after FOX executives sent a note to the writers suggesting that in one of the episodes, Michael should "teach his son a nice lesson". Plot Summary (via IMDB): When Michael suspects that his son has been smoking marijuana, he enlists the help of a one-armed man his father used to scare them as children. GOB and Buster participate in the bust, which also enlists the help of a local stripper agency.
posted by littlesq at 8:34 PM on December 22, 2011 [11 favorites]

The lead singer on Ain't Seen Nothing Yet recorded the song with a stutter as a joke to mock his brother, who stuttered.

Apparently Jonny Greenwood got irritated when Thom Yorke wanted to do tons of takes of Creep, and wanted to fuck up the song, so he made those three loud sounds before the chorus.

I also seem to recall reading that Van Morrison was forced to record Brown Eyed Girl and hated it, so deliberately tried to sing badly on it.
posted by cairdeas at 8:55 PM on December 22, 2011

Elvis Costello defied both Columbia Records and NBC to play "Radio Radio" on SNL... he was banned from the show outright until 1989.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:59 PM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" was recorded with the intent to be a B-side - the artists wanted to record something so bad that DJs wouldn't mistake it for the A-side of the single. No one in the group wanted their names associated with the song, so they credited it to a (then non-existent) band called Steam.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:10 PM on December 22, 2011

elizeh: "Carly Simon's You're So Vain is a classic."

In the same vein: You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:15 PM on December 22, 2011

I recall an interview with Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot, who said that the band really didn't like the idea of covering "Cum On Feel the Noize," which was an idea presented to them by the album's producer, Spencer Proffer. The album's version of the song was supposedly the band's one and only take, with DuBrow deliberately singing it sarcastically, with the band playing it as a throwaway afterthought.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:20 PM on December 22, 2011

Harrison Ford recorded an unnecessary voice-over for a 1982 film at the insistence of the studio and intentionally gave a wooden performance so that the voice-over wouldn't be used. But the studio used it anyway and ended up with an iconic film. So that kind of backfired, I guess.

A better example might be the song 'I Do' by Lisa Loeb.
posted by Jeff Howard at 9:21 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

The entire oeuvre of the KLF, especially The Manual. (Previously on metafilter)
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:21 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Sara Bareilles' ubiquitous Love Song.
posted by wondermouse at 9:24 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

The DUMBO neighborhood in Brooklyn (stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), a former waterfront industrial area that's now filled with some of the priciest co-op apartments in the city, was named by a bunch of artist-squatters who were being displaced by developers. They purposely tried to come up with the stupidest name possible:

In 1978, as the inevitability of development became apparent, the community decided that, if we were to die, at least we should be buried under a name of our choosing.

The choice was presented to the community at a huge loft party and the results weren’t even close. It was DUMBO by a landslide. Everyone agreed that it had just the right kind of Dadaist anti-marketing positioning to protect our turf from developers: who, after all, would spend a million dollars for a loft in a place called DUMBO?

posted by neroli at 9:39 PM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

I don't want to post spoilers, but I've always heard that the insane cliffhanger ending of the 2nd season of Twin Peaks was meant by David Lynch as a big fuck-off to the network that had canceled his show.
posted by vytae at 10:22 PM on December 22, 2011

Alan Sokal submitted a mockery of science studies that was published in a respected journal. It is now known as the "Sokal hoax," and it is definitely a phenomenon, although a misunderstood one. Sokal is much more famous than he otherwise woulda been.

Does Colbert count? I've heard that some conservatives don't get the joke and they like what Colbert has to say. I don't really believe that though.

Michael Lewis wrote a critique of Wall Street called Liar's Poker, which was meant to discredit that culture but his descriptions actually made people more likely to want to get involved.
posted by Jagz-Mario at 10:51 PM on December 22, 2011

It is now known as the "Sokal hoax," and it is definitely a phenomenon, although a misunderstood one.

How is it misunderstood?

Anyway, a couple examples:

A critic named Louis Leroy wrote a long, novelistic review of an art exhibit, focusing on one Monet painting, "Impression, Sunrise." He titled the review "Exhibition of the Impressionists." You can read it in full here. Notice the repeated, snide use of the words "impression" and "impressionist," which he intended as a put-down. ("I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it ... Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.") This was in 1874, and thanks to this review, "impressionism" is known as one of the great movements in art.

Shostakovich composed his String Quartet No. 8 as a farewell to the world when he was reportedly planning to commit suicide. He had recently joined the Communist Party (probably just out of convenience, not true belief), and he dedicated the score "to the victims of fascism and war," which his son interpreted as a jab at totalitarianism. Today, it's one of his most popular works, and many would say one of the most moving classical works of the 20th century. (Fortunately, Shostakovich didn't commit suicide and continued composing for a long time.)
posted by John Cohen at 10:56 PM on December 22, 2011

"...none of the band members particularly liked "Dance to the Music" when it was first recorded and released. The song, and the accompanying LP, were made at the insistence of CBS Records executive Clive Davis, who wanted something more commercially viable than the band's 1967 debut. ...The result was what saxophonist Jerry Martini called 'glorified Motown beats. Dance to the Music was such an unhip thing for us to do.'"
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:02 PM on December 22, 2011

I've heard that Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber basically just crapped out the song "You Must Love Me" for the film version of Evita, under pressure to make sure the film would be eligible for "Best Original Music" award considerations. Sure enough, the song got them an Oscar.
posted by hermitosis at 11:07 PM on December 22, 2011

It is now known as the "Sokal hoax," and it is definitely a phenomenon, although a misunderstood one.

How is it misunderstood?

A lot of people don't know that the journal he selected to submit to was one of the few that did not utilize peer review, that he refused to make revisions recommended by the editors, and that the editors included it as an artifact of real, ongoing shifts in thinking among physicists. Obviously still a dumb move by the editors but, yes, in my opinion, misunderstood.
posted by Jagz-Mario at 11:14 PM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

In 1967 a record company executive ranted that the pop songs of the day were all about protest or sex. that good old-fashioned values had gone out of the window and what he wanted was "songs about going to the movies, pride and joy, etc."

The response from one of his company's bands was this.
posted by essexjan at 11:23 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

barracuda is a fuck you to the record company after they tried to make up a lesbian affair between the sisters.
posted by nadawi at 12:06 AM on December 23, 2011

There were a succession of horrible summer songs in the UK in the 80s, so the satirical show Spitting Image produced a parody - The Chicken Song. It ended up going to number 1 for 3 weeks. You can find it on YT, but once heard it can't be unheard.
posted by crocomancer at 12:43 AM on December 23, 2011

Elvis Costello defied both Columbia Records and NBC to play "Radio Radio" on SNL... he was banned from the show outright until 1989

a couple more SNL incidents:

Sinead O'Connor

Rage Against The Machine
posted by mannequito at 1:06 AM on December 23, 2011

The Apple / Mac alert chime "sosumi" was named as a jab at the Beatles suing Apple. The original (joking) name for it was "Let it Beep".
posted by Mchelly at 4:40 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, previously - Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall commentary (probably contractually obligated) couldn't possibly be that daft by accident... could it?
posted by Mchelly at 4:42 AM on December 23, 2011

I don't want to post spoilers, but I've always heard that the insane cliffhanger ending of the 2nd season of Twin Peaks was meant by David Lynch as a big fuck-off to the network that had canceled his show.
posted by vytae

Actually they did that hoping to be renewed. In the first season they created some cliffhangers in hopes that the network would renew the show for a second season, which worked. They ratings were in a slump end of second season so they decided to put in as many cliffhangers as possible. Sadly it didn't work the second time around.
posted by littlesq at 4:48 AM on December 23, 2011

Ben Folds talks about his contractual obligation for 4.6 songs (about 3/4 down the page).
posted by bwilms at 5:06 AM on December 23, 2011

Bloom County's Bill the Cat was supposed to be a gross mangy non-talking Garfield parody nobody would ever want to put on a t-shirt or purchase in stuffed doll form, but there turned out to be a substantial market for anti-Garfield merchandise in the 1980s.
posted by Adventurer at 5:21 AM on December 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music (a double album of guitar feedback sounds) was widely dismissed at the time of its release as either an unlistenable joke or a massive middle finger raised at Reed's record company, but has become a minor classic of sorts, and is considered to be a forerunner of later equally-unpleasant musical forms (like industrial). Reed claimed at the time (and still claims) he was being totally serious.
posted by orthicon halo at 5:49 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Citizen Kane may be considered a fuck-you to several different people, most notably William Randolph Hearst--it's certainly a deliberately unflattering portrait.

Screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz was once a critic for The New York Times, which had a feud with Hearst's New York Journal. When he moved to Hollywood to become a screenwriter, he became friends with Charles Lederer, who was the nephew of Hearst's girlfriend, Marion Davies. Mankiewicz had attended Hearst's Hollywood parties until his drinking resulted in him being permanently barred. According to Simon Callow's book on Orson Welles, this angered Mankiewicz and he became fixated on Hearst. Roger Ebert and Gore Vidal assert that 'Rosebud' was known to Mankiewicz to be Hearst's pet name for a certain part of Marion Davies' anatomy.

While Welles is often thought of the sole auteur of Kane, there's a fair amount of evidence that he had little, or nothing, to do with the screenplay itself.
posted by heatvision at 6:14 AM on December 23, 2011

Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)
posted by mintcake! at 6:17 AM on December 23, 2011

I remember hearing that the song "Teen Angel" was written as a parody of all the cheesy bubblegum high school songs being written at the time. It ended up being a hit anyway.

I read in an interview with the band Low that their sound evolved as a reaction to the Minnesota punk scene at the time. Every time the band got booed on stage, they would would play a little more slowly, and a little more quietly.
posted by Gilbert at 6:25 AM on December 23, 2011

I'm told that the Sara Bareilles song Love Song was written in response to the label's demand that she put a love song on the album.
posted by gauche at 6:28 AM on December 23, 2011

Van Morrison made a contractual obligation album (http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2005/09/van_morrisons_c.html). According to the link, some of the intentionally terrible tracks are now being included on best-of albums.
posted by attercoppe at 7:05 AM on December 23, 2011

Nick Lowe tried to get out of his record contract by recording several songs mocking the Bay City Rollers, who were his label's biggest band at the time. "Bay City Rollers We Love You" became a hit in Japan.
posted by Gortuk at 7:13 AM on December 23, 2011

The greatest movie line of all time? Frankly, my dear, I don't GIVE a damn. It has been suggested that Clark Gable put the stress on "give" not "damn" as a compromise with censors at the time.
posted by londongeezer at 7:16 AM on December 23, 2011

Another catchphrase story. The very funny "Goon Show" (British, radio, 1950s). Spike Milligan, the main writer, claimed that any catchphrase would become funny if repeated often enough. The phrase he chose was: "I've fallen in the water." The show ran for about 10 years, and you can hear that line go from getting no response to getting huge applause and laughter.
posted by largecorp at 8:04 AM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

When I worked at Transworld Skateboarding Magazine in the 1980s, we were making fun of all the action sports magazines that put things like "HOT NEW ISSUE" on their covers. The cover of our next issue had only the words "Cold Boring Issue" and a photo on the cover. People loved it.
posted by perhapses at 9:31 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Creep, by Radiohead.

Johnny Greenwood hated the song. So when they were recording it, as a show of his hatred for it, he tried to 'mess up' the chorus with those palmed string chords right before the chorus kicks in. It ended up being the hallmark of the song, and it was Radiohead's breakout hit.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:40 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

...and of course, there's the Sex Pistols.

More specifically, there's the Sex Pistols song "Submission": Malcolm MacLaren wanted the band to write a song about S&M, and suggested the title as a jumping-off point. The resulting song, about a submarine mission, was the band rolling their eyes at their supposed Svengali.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:04 AM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Fictional example: Wacky Delly.
posted by dekathelon at 10:22 AM on December 23, 2011

Rick Nelson wrote Garden Party after being booed off the stage at a Rock 'n Roll Revival concert at Madison Square Garden when he performed one of his new songs instead of one of his previous hits.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:58 AM on December 23, 2011

'Toad the Wet Sprocket' was a band name created by Monty Python for their sketch 'Rock Notes' - the group wanted to come up with a name so ridiculous no one would ever want to steal it, and that was the result. Flash forward to Santa Barbara, CA, when a group of nerdy teen boys formed a band, thought the name was great, and used it. Eric Idle said he nearly drove off the road when he heard a song by the band on the radio years later.
posted by AthenaPolias at 11:20 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised that Ern Malley hasn't come up yet.
posted by N-stoff at 11:32 AM on December 23, 2011

A startup called Nosh might be having this problem with Jotly, right now.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 1:00 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Come to Daddy by Aphex Twin basically began life as a ridiculous parody of death metal. It ended up becoming one of his most popular songs.
posted by dephlogisticated at 1:47 AM on December 24, 2011

Above the entrance to the Max Euweplein in Amsterdam (near Leidseplein) the text "homo sapiens non urinat in ventum" (supposedly Latin for "a wise man does not piss against the wind") is shown. I seem to recall that it was put there by the architects after a conflict with the investors. As far as I can remember the inscription originally consisted of large gold-coloured metal letters that have since been removed, but as the linked image shows the indentations are still visible.
posted by rjs at 4:09 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Fight Club:
The original "pillow talk"-scene had Marla saying "I want to have your abortion". When this was objected to by Fox 2000 Pictures President of Production Laura Ziskin, David Fincher said he would change it on the proviso that the new line couldn't be cut. Ziskin agreed and Fincher wrote the replacement line, "I haven't been fucked like that since grade school". When Ziskin saw the new line, she was even more outraged and asked for the original line to be put back, but, as per their deal, Fincher refused.
posted by chazlarson at 6:52 AM on December 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

DC Comics' Lobo character was meant to be a parody of Marvel's Wolverine, but became popular in his own right.
posted by kimota at 8:54 AM on December 24, 2011

Ted's band, from Scrubs, was hated by the network executives after it was first featured. Show creator Bill Lawrence kept bringing them in as fuck you to the network. Though they were an existing band before the show, it's undoubtedly propelled them to a much larger cult following.
posted by ElfWord at 10:38 AM on December 29, 2011

Late to this party - but there's also Monty Python's Contractual Obligations Album.
posted by andraste at 6:10 PM on January 2, 2012

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