I’m an adult who happens to enjoy Diary of a Wimpy Kid, ok? The books put me in touch with my inner adolescent, back when I enjoyed reading Calvin and Hobbes. There’s something innocent about the humor in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, while the narratives always feel fresh and provocative. Maybe it’s like fast-food of the reading world. But if it’s fast food, it doesn’t give you a hangover nor a queasy feeling. Rather, reading Jeff Kinney is time well-spent.
Diper Overlode cleverly captures the adolescent experience of forming a rock band and dreaming of conquering the world. Unfortunately, the band Loded Diper attempt this in an era which is not particularly hospitable to the artform of rock and roll–especially not their form of rock and roll.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Diper Overlode begins with the protagonist and narrator Greg Heffley reflecting on the nature of fame. He desires fame. But ultimately he concludes, “I just wouldn’t want to deal with the downside of fame” (6). It would be better to just know someone who’s famous. That’s where Greg’s older brother comes in.
Rodrick is the drummer for a fledgling rock band, Loded Diper. Fronted by Bill, a suspiciously older front man who lives in his grandma’s basement, Loded Diper is ambitious. The group’s inspiration is Metallichihuahua, yet success has thus far eluded them. They are thirsty for more attention and clout, but they don’t quite know how to get it.
First they try their hand at social media, but the clips they post don’t get much traction. In fact, the audience prefers bloopers in which the band members fall or otherwise harm themselves. This is not the kind of fame they had in mind, and it’s ultimately unsustainable. This episode reads as a commentary on social media and the vapid notoriety which it affords.
The band’s desire to appear to be rock stars is a source of continuing hilarity in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. After various misfires, they decide that they need to shoot a proper video, which in turn means they have to record a song in a studio. Diper Overlode shows how being in a band can get expensive–each endeavor garners new expenditures.
The one thing that the band can’t seem to understand is that no one likes their music, despite their efforts to impose their music on the general public through increasingly creative means. Whenever they do inflict their music on the public, Kinney’s illustrations indicate that those who happen to be in their vicinity are not particularly pleased.
But through a massive marketing campaign (posting stickers everywhere), they finally manage to get their first gig. Loded Diper’s first gig, however, is beset by mishaps. From forgotten drumsticks to forgotten lyrics, the band does not please the crowd.
After a little stalking, the members of Loded Diper manage to meet the washed out rock star drummer from Metallichihuahua. Waiting outside the gates of his dilapidated mansion, the band is desperate for some advice on how to make it. Surprisingly, Sebastian considers their hankering for success in the music industry to be futile:
“He said that nowadays there’s no place on the radio for a band that writes their own songs and plays their own music. So if Loded Diper REALLY wanted to make it big, he said they need to ditch their instruments, learn how to lip-synch, and hire a choreographer” (158).
Initially, the band is discouraged by the ex-rock star drummer’s advice. But then Rodrick rallies the band, and they return to their delusions of grandeur– more ambitious than ever.
Bill’s new girlfriend emerges as a Yoko-like figure when she begins attending rehearsal. Her suggestion that the band depart from its strictly scatological lyrical themes is not well received by the band. Her well-meaning goal is to make the music more “female-friendly.” For example, she suggests they rename the song, “Can You Smell Us Now?” to “Can You *Hear* Us Now?” She is banned from further interaction with Bill until after the battle of the bands.
When the band receives a cease and desist due to a copyright infringement surrounding the band-name, things only go downhill. Yet the battle of the bands proves to be a climactic event, where many loose ends are tied, ending in a reunion performance by Metallichihuahua.
Loded Diper can be considered a satire on the plight of bands desperate to make it, while the public is reluctant to indulge them in their rock star fantasies. That even a former rock star would advise them that there’s nothing in the game of writing your own songs anymore is a commentary on the music industry. There is no more musicianship or organic building of a following. Rather the whole industry is manufactured, as demonstrated by Sebastian’s cynical advice that the band learns to lip-synch. Yet no one could say that a band named “Loded Diper” takes themselves too seriously either.
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