Student Brokeback parody finds success on Internet

by Beacon Staff • February 22, 2006

The controversial film has become both a financial success and a cultural phenomenon, with phrases like "I wish I knew how to quit you" quickly entering the national lexicon.,Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain has changed the way America views the typical love story.

The controversial film has become both a financial success and a cultural phenomenon, with phrases like "I wish I knew how to quit you" quickly entering the national lexicon.

And when something becomes that popular, it becomes ripe for satire.

Imagine what would happen if, instead of two cowboys, a forbidden relationship blossomed between a young boy and an older man, united ... by their time-traveling DeLorean?

Two members of the Emerson comedy troupe Chocolate Cake City (CCC) did exactly that, creating the parody trailer Brokeback to the Future, which has since become a breakout success on the Internet.

The idea came from Chocolate Cake City (CCC) president Patrick De Nicola, an acting and film double major. He pitched the idea to his roommate (and CCC treasurer) Jonathan Ade, a film major, and the two agreed it had potential.

"We're huge fans of the Back to the Future films," De Nicola said, noting that the themes would relate themselves to the parody.

The pair was tight on time, however; they came up with the idea one weekend, but they wanted to debut the clip at NoBoozaPalooza, a comedy event scheduled for that Friday, Jan. 29 as part of Emerson's "Free for the Weekend."

As a result, they ended up watching all three films that Monday and Tuesday prior, taking notes, gathering appropriate scenes and focusing on quotes, so the trailer wouldn't rely on "suggestive shots," as De Nicola put it.

"The hardest part was collecting all the material," he added. "We were Back to the Futured out by the end."

The two stuck with it, however, and edited the trailer together that Wednesday.

"The longer we worked on it, the easier it became," Ade said.

Before the trailer's debut at NoBoozaPalooza, De Nicola had some apprehension about what his fellow students would think.

"We were worried that we'd be the only ones who found it funny," he said.

After it screened, however, De Nicola was quite pleased with the audience's reaction.

"It was like the Red Sox winning the World Series," he said.

Soon after, someone suggested that the group put the trailer on the Internet.

According to De Nicola, the group did not have a proper Web site at the time, but one was created to accommodate the trailer.

Through unknown sources, the video made its way onto sites driven by viewer-contributed media like boingboing.net and YouTube.com.

The result is a veritable Internet success.

At press time, Brokeback to the Future was the number one spoof on iFilm's Web site. The trailer has also made waves on YouTube, as both the number two video of the month, and the seventh most viewed in the site's history (although this statistic is affected by multiple versions of Future being posted, which are each logged individually).

The press has been cognizant of its popularity as well; Brokeback to the Future has been mentioned in the Boston Herald, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek and also on CNN and NPR.

Despite all the publicity, the masterminds of Internet phenomena like this can often be forgotten; however, fellow students have been helpful in making sure this did not happen.

"The Emerson community has been great about getting our name out there," De Nicola said.

Clips have popped up all over the Internet using the same formula as Future-subtle editing to create unintended innuendos supplanted by Gustavo Santaolalla's soft acoustic guitars-parodying everything from the bond between Iceman and Maverick (Top Gun 2: Brokeback Squadron) to the amorous feelings that can arise from cold metal in a galaxy far, far away (Star Wars: The Empire Brokeback).

The Internet has always been a breeding ground for hilarious (but often asinine) videos on random subjects; however, corporate America has only recently caught on to its potential.

VH1, in conjunction with iFilm, debuted a show recently called "Web Junk 20," which showcases the best short movies of the week interspersed with commentary from stand-up comic Patrice O'Neal.

The USA network is currently creating a pilot based on the content of ebaumsworld.com, a Web site known for its "viral videos," named for the way that friends will spread the links to each other.

Having already experienced its benefits of its exposure, Chocolate Cake City plans to utilize the Web to its fullest potential.

"I think the Internet is going to be a huge source [for CCC]," De Nicola said.

However, the group still plans to remain active in the real world as well; the troupe performed their sketch comedy at the National Comedy Theatre in New York City on Feb. 12, and despite a blizzard, Ade was impressed with the turnout.

"We still got a really good response," he said.

Chocolate Cake City fans are not the only ones taking notice.

The success of Brokeback to the Future has also led some "professional entertainment" sources, as Ade puts it, to contact CCC about potential work in the future.

Taking Chocolate Cake City outside of the Emerson community like this is part of De Nicola's plans for the future of the comedy troupe.

The group holds weekly meetings in order to brainstorm ideas for future material that, according to Ade, could possibly include other trailers (which is something that he does not want to force).

Despite the success of Brokeback to the Future, Chocolate Cake City is intent to prove the group is not a one-trick pony.,Bryan O'Toole