A new muppet hip-hop video has taken renewed aim at Sun News Network blowhard Ezra Levant – six months after ex-CTV journalist Kai Nagata came under national fire for his first satirical “puppet rap” about tar sands lobbyists.
Under the banner of Deep Rogue Ram (a spoof on 'de-progam'), Nagata and his crew have this time devoted an entire rap video to Levant himself, one of the foremost apologists for Alberta's oil sands – the largest industrial project in the world – and his successful attempts to have Canada investigate so-called “foreign-funded radicals” in the environmental movement. (Video embedded below interview).
The video mocks Levant's tar sands advocacy, but also his anti-Muslim rhetoric and overall philosophy, with lyrics such as:
"First you get the money, then the whip, then you get them hoes / Get in my path, and you get bulldozed. / We rollin from the patch to the rugged West Coast.”
Nagata was CTV's Quebec bureau chief – until he went rogue last July, quitting his high-profile television job and criticizing the “elephant in the room,” money's influence on media. In response to his first puppet rap last march, mocking an Ethical Oil interview on CBC's Power and Politics with Evan Solomon, Levant devoted several shows to attacking the video, Nagata, The Tyee (who linked to the video), and Tides Canada foundation.
The Left Coast Post caught up with Nagata this morning, as he launched “Tar Sands Pimpin': A Puppet Rap.”
LEFT COAST POST: Why did you decide to do another video starring an Ezra Levant muppet?
KAI NAGATA: It’s a rich vein. I don’t think – with Ezra especially going on the way he does – we’ll ever run out of material! It’s fun having our own Canadian Glen Beck. His hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty, bombast and bluster, gives a satirist a lot to work with.
KN: The first one was really a response to Kathryn Marshall's trainwreck of an interview with Evan Solomon. Ezra was just a guest rapper on the first one, but I realized he really deserves his own track – to expound his own philosophy in hip-hop form.
LCP: Has he responded yet, or do expect he will?
KN: No, I don’t expect him to. It wouldn't be in his interest, unless he’s really desperate for content. I know that advertisers are leaving Sun News, though; it’s not really a news channel.
LCP: Although Marshall laughed off your first video, Levant really aimed his guns – not just at you, but at The Tyee for publishing it, at many others. Could you talk about that reaction?
KN: He wanted the [government] to go after foreign-funded radicals, so they tried to draw a connection between my video and Tides Canada. But that trail of breadcrumbs doesn’t lead anywhere, because Tides had nothing to do with it. It was some friends and I, in a buddy's living room! But because of Ezra's attacks, we did a small crowd-funding campaign, and we managed to break even on the video.
LCP: Why did you decide to use satire instead of just making a serious documentary?
KN: It was both fun and rewarding. It’s fun to do it with plush muppets – I couldn't see a downside! I also realized I’m not a great documentary filmmaker. There are some really great ones out there. There are also some great satirists, but a lot of the good ones are in the States. We could always use more. The whole point is to base everything in fact. I posted annotated lyrics on my blog, giving back up to the jokes and references.
LCP: Is satire effective, do you think?
KN: I realize that people question whether it changes your legitimacy to operate as a journalist, if you also dabble in satire. I think that’s really up to the audience. It's a blend worth exploring. At times, it’s hard to get outside the echo chamber – the clique of people who follow an issue, who like the inside-baseball type of reporting... But some people might not follow the issue at all. I hope satire can spark their curiosity to get informed on the issues.