On Epic Rap Battles of History: Motherly Smotherings

N.V. Jones Story by posted on April 23, 2013. Filed under Opinion and Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Last Thursday evening, my family and I went out for a nice steak dinner. My 12-year-old daughter, attired in a lovely summer dress, laughed as we exited the restaurant when her skirt blew up in the wind. She said, “I just totally had a Marilyn Monroe moment!”

I swung back around towards her in motherly amazement and asked her how she knew about Marilyn Monroe. She rolled her eyes at me and said, “Everyone knows about Marilyn, Mom. Haven’t you ever heard of the Seven Year Itch?” I was stunned. As far as I knew, my daughter had never seen a Monroe movie, nor had we ever talked about her. I asked if she’d learned about her in school. “Nope, I heard about her in Epic Rap Battles of History,” was the succinct reply.

Now, for those who don’t know what “Epic Rap Battles of History” are, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. I had no idea either. The conversation during the car ride home consisted of finding out that “Epic Rap Battles of History” are videos on YouTube wherein fictional and historical are pitted against one another. The videos are a creation of  Nice Peter, epicLLOYD, Dave McCary, and Maker Studios.

The battle my daughter referenced is between Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra. The two engage in a battle of words and the viewers decide who wins.  Anyone can go online and watch them. The videos range from battles between fiction and historical figures such as Darth Vader vs. Hitler, Dr. Seuss vs. Shakespeare and—of course—the Marilyn vs. Cleopatra battle.

At first, I thought the idea great! My children were learning about historical figures via a media which they could relate to.

I decided to investigate this phenomenon which had captured my children’s attention so readily. I was horrified when I sat down at my computer and Googled the video in question. The language is exceptionally vulgar, as are some of the images the language evokes. I could only hope that my daughter did not understand some of the more graphic allusions. However, I did find myself snickering at a few lines. Appropriately or not, the “gutter-section” of my sense of humor did find such lines as “Don’t anger me trick, you’ll lose this battle like your bout with barbiturates” snicker worthy.

While I will not condone, as a mother, the naughty language used in this form of media, it was gratifying to hear my 12-year-old reference Marilyn Monroe correctly and then ask to learn more about her.   I promptly redirected her to more academic websites and Netflix to watch a couple of her more well-known movies.

I still have mixed feelings about ERBoH, and will definitely monitor my children’s internet browsing more closely. I did go through and watch about four or five of the videos. While there is the rare snicker-worthy line, most of the content is just crude and rude and should not be seen by minors.

That being said, I just want to add that Shakespeare definitely stuffed the cat back in his hat during their battle. Trisyllabic meter indeed.

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