Jim Ronson didn't expect anything unusual to happen last Friday as he sipped his morning coffee and checked his daily e-mail. But the events that followed quickly served as a sobering reminder of the dangerous and potentially lethal effects of today's technology when coupled with funny viral videos that pull no punches in their intent to mercilessly pummel their victims with yuks and giggles.
It all started when Ronson's friend Dar Davis sent Ronson an e-mail link of a popular YouTube video titled Battle of the Bands, a fast-moving montage of classic album covers that have been strung together in animation for humorous purposes.
"He told us that what started as a chuckle when the owl from the Rush album Fly By Night was blown up, leaving only a pair of comically floating eyes in the tradition of Chuck Jones, had erupted into uncontrollable peals of laughter by the time the Dead Kennedys logo started fighting the Van Halen logo," explained specialist Dr. Ernest Scribbler, who treated Ronson upon his arrival at Finchley Medical. "When Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie plucked one of the poof-haired members of Night Ranger from that band's debut album, Ronson felt a pain in his side and looked down to discover that his side had split and he had busted a gut."
"Why would he send me something like that?" a clearly distraught Ronson later asked from a hospital bed after regaining consciousness. "If he knew it was going to have such a devastating humorous effect he shouldn't have even sent it."
A defiant Davis begged to differ. "I mean, come on," Davis replied. "The dangers were clearly stated in the subject line. I didn't hold a gun to his head. Besides, if the label on a bottle says 'Caution: Poison--Do Not Drink,' and you read that label and drink it anyway, who are you going to blame? Not me! Not me."
Other recipients of the e-mail who were contacted by The Spoof appeared to have been unaffected, with one going so far as to say that the link was "sort of" funny but the warning of its subject line mostly baseless.
"It was certainly creative and it had its moments, but I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it was 'too funny,'" said Mel Aster, a mutual friend of both Davis and Ronson. "I prefer those PowerPoint slide shows with the big boobs in 'em."