Saturday, 1 March 2008

89: The Pied Piper of Burbank

The “Pied Piper of Burbank” by Sean Kelly and Michel Choquette in “National Lampoon” March 1971
Illustrations by Gahan Wilson

Well first, I must admit it’s an excellent parody of Browning’s poem, which you can read at

Secondly, it’s not just a parody but also a very well-executed piece of satire. The governor in question is of course Ronald Reagan, who was attempting to spearhead a conservative moral revolution in free-living California. The piece also exposes conservative hatred and political machinations throughout, as homosexuals, whose influence is limited to fashion and the media, are made scapegoats for the decay in society’s morality. An unknowing foreshadowing there of the later 70s and Anita Bryant. The poem manages to work in a broad array of gay stereotypes and representations of what a gay lifestyle might have been at the time. But while lightly mocking of homosexuals, the real satire is aimed at the bigotry of the conservatives.

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