Mumford & Sons' Viral Video Doesn't Change the Fact They Suck (or Don't Suck)
The weird fuss people are making over Mumford & Sons' recent self-parodic music video -- "Hopeless Wanderer," embedded here after the jump -- has taken two forms, in particular. One: People seem to be glad that Mumford & Sons is "self-aware" and therefore can be liked without fear of not seeming self-aware themselves. Two: People seem to be annoyed that the band is "self-aware" and found it much more satisfying to dislike them when they seemed unaware of how easy it was to parody them.
from "Hopeless Wanderer"
Both of those are understandable, but both of them are missing something really important about famous musicians: They know what you think about them. Of course they do! That's their job! From the first moment you realized Mumford & Sons' sound's ascendence into car-commercial heaven, they were undoubtedly worried about it.
Here's the important thing about that: It doesn't make them any better or worse as a band or a cultural force.
Actors have been clued into how good self-parody can be for PR for years already; Ricky Gervais' post-Office sitcom, Extras, was basically built around it.
Here's Ben Stiller, another star who had to navigate the gap between cult-stardom and overexposure, making himself look like an astoundingly bad person and, haha, laughing about his performances in Starsky and Hutch and Meet the Fockers:
Because he's acting and he's an actor, it's easier to see the gears turning in this than it is in the fake-Mumfords sketch: He's not really making himself look like a bad person at all.
He's making himself look like a funny, self-aware actor who can laugh about doing unnecessary reboots (although teenaged-me enjoyed Starsky and Hutch at the time, I think) and late-in-the-game sequels.
Despite all that, he's still making the reboots and the sequels.