Cult fandom and teen taste can be potent combination. (Two words: “New Moon.”)
Taking a cue from the trend, Internet personalities the Fine Brothers and Shane Dawson posted an 11-minute parody of the Canadian teen drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation” — filmed in just one day — on YouTube Nov. 21. In less than a week, the video has amassed over two million views.
The parody, titled “Hot Teens Gone Wild on Degrassi!,” spoofs the long-running show, which is infamous for its grown-up storylines, ranging from date rape, oral sex, school violence and just about anything else taboo. The video plays up the show’s litany of parental nightmares, using camp to highlight the scandalous reasons young people love the show.Dawson, now YouTube’s fifth most subscribed performer, is used to millions of hits and is one of the top satirists on a site where parody is bread and butter. But the Degrassi video is on the longer side of his online oeuvre and another step in the star’s ambitious bid to break into traditional media.
“We are developing content for TV with Shane,” the video’s writer-directors Benny and Rafi Fine said in an email interview, “and hope to find the networks who understand the power and value of what Shane can do.”
The spoof instantly resonated with several of the cast and crew involved with “Degrassi;” Lauren Collins tweeted about the video. Given its apparent success, the collaborators say they hope to do more. Dawson says some of the cast members have even reached out to say they’d like to make cameos in any future projects.
Videos like Dawson’s spoof, which can rack up ratings that rival the original shows, are starting to get noticed by Hollywood and major advertisers; the Fine Brothers say their video will ultimately have more views than any single episode of the show. But more than just a business decision, the parody arose from the producers’ own fandom. Dawson and the Fine Brothers, whom Speakeasy readers know from their TV spoilers video, are both self-professed “Degrassi” devotees. Dawson’s enthusiasm dates back six years to season one, while the Fine Brothers caught on during season two. Benny Fine acknowledges the show’s raw nature instantly attracted him. “Rafi was in college and called me up having seen the episode where Emma gets her first period and they actually show the stain on her white skirt. From there, I got completely obsessed,” he said.
The Fine Brothers have established a name for themselves as viral video impresarios, but they have bigger plans. “At the end of the day, online video is not a place to go to ‘make it,’” Benny said. “It’s important to have a foot in both new and traditional media doors.”