As soon as a song becomes a #1 hit, it is inevitable that satirical parodies of the track are going to start popping up everywhere on sites like YouTube. Generally the theme of the parodies are tied to making fun of the song itself (One Directions’ “WhatMakes You Beautiful”), the weirdness of the original video (Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”) or of something totally different (Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” turned “Call Me Batman”). Rarely is the parody used to demonstrate dissatisfaction with a political policy. However, the reinterpretation of fun.’s “We Are Young,” by students and teachers from Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kansas, was created for just that reason. So far it has gotten over 700,000 hits on YouTube, as well as substantial amount of media coverage.
The parody, titled “We Are Hungry,” is aimed at the Obama administration’s “The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,” part of which stipulated that school lunches stay within certain caloric boundaries. As the video itself points out, the act mandates that lunches for teenagers be regulated to between 750 and 850 calories. This is enforced as part of Michelle Obama’s national “Let’s Move” campaign, which attempts to tackle some of the issues responsible for childhood obesity in America, which affects a staggering 20% of children. The video, which actually sets fire to a copy of the new policy, shows kids falling asleep during class, passing out at volleyball practice, and lyrically lamenting the fact that they are so hungry after lunch that they can barely function. The justification for this, as the video spells out in its opening, is that the average active teenager needs between “2000-5000 calories a day.” That is enough to make you think Michelle is off her rocker forcing these poor famished kids to subsist on a meager 800 calories for their mid-day meal. Until, of course, you stop to think about how absurd that claim is.
To get an actual gauge of how many calories a teen should be eating I looked to sites like WebMD, the CDC, the FDA, and Livestrong. Overall the average suggestion ranged from about 2,000 to 2,400 calories. On the absolute highest end, Livestrong recommended that a moderately active teenage boy take in between 1,800 and 2,800 calories daily. The video cites the website www.kidshealth.org for its outrageously broad figure of 2,000-5000. The video, which shows sporty, active kids staggering around, drives home the fact that kids need food to fuel them for these rigorous sports. However, on the website the parody itself references, they are sure to make it clear that, “It may take 2 minutes to eat a 350-calorie piece of cake, but someone who weighs 100 lbs would need to walk for more than 2 hours to burn it off. If you grab a burger, fries, and milkshake after school, and your body doesn't need those calories, you'd have to spend the rest of the day on the treadmill walking it off.” Obviously, the harm to these kids lightheaded with hunger that the creators of “We Are Hungry” would like you to fight against, just isn’t based in reality. If you ate the same amount of calories as the new act dictates, for all three meals, you’d be right in the middle of the average recommended caloric intake. And, let's not forget, you're free to bring any snacks you want to school with you. Oh, and the policy also ensures that kids get unlimited helpings of fruit and vegetables. So, in an age where obesity is a real problem looming over the youth of America, is it really a smart move to start grieving over not getting enough processed cheese on our tater tots?
In the end, once you get past the mildly amusing image of the volleyball player crashing into the ground, it’s clear that this parody is poorly sung, poorly researched, and undeserving of the massive amount of attention it's been given.
By: Darianne Dobbie