When I saw the words "Ray Rice-Inspired Makeup Tutorial," my stomach twisted into knots. The subject of domestic violence and abuse—thrown into the spotlight in the past several days due to the horrific actions of the NFL superstar—is so fraught, so intense, and so deeply important that I had a visceral, gut-kicking reaction. I was prepared to watch the video and be deeply offended.
Instead, I watched the video, and the unexpected happened: I laughed. And then immediately emailed the creator, Megan MacKay, to see if she'd be willing to do an interview with me. Her three-minute video is both bitingly funny and bitterly angry, qualities that are incredibly difficult to blend effectively. She does it beautifully and with style.
If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship abuse, please head to Love Is Respect.
MTV STYLE: Hi, Megan! We’d love to know a bit more about you.
MEGAN MACKAY: Hi! I’m 22 and I’m from Toronto, Canada. I studied Radio and Television at Ryerson University with a focus on comedy screenwriting. My most brag-worthy training would be the semester I spent in Chicago completing the Comedy Studies program which—no big deal—is the same program Aidy Bryant did. It makes it real easy to pretend we’re best friends.
I see that the Ray Rice video isn't the first of your makeup tutorial videos. When did you start making them? What made you decide that the idea of the 'makeup tutorial' was ready for a comedian's viewpoint?
I LOVE watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. YouTuber Lauren Luke basically taught me everything I know about makeup. When I launched my channel about a year ago, I really wanted to try making parodies, so I started thinking about what kinds of videos populate YouTube. From there, doing a makeup tutorial parody seemed like the most logical place to go.
I also really liked the fact that makeup tutorials have clear steps (eyeshadow, blush, lipstick, etc.), so the setup/punchline pacing felt really natural and consistent. For every makeup step, you can create an awesome setup and a couple of punchlines without losing your audience in the fray.
You tackled a difficult subject with humor as well as anger, which is a tricky balance to strike. Can you talk about the process of creating this video?
Generally, when I'm making a video, I start with picking a news story that I’m really passionate about. I'm a big-time feminist and the NFL just botched the hell out of the Rice scandal, so the choice for me was pretty clear. I really wanted to pull apart and examine the way we were talking about the Rice incident and compare it to how we speak about and treat abuse victims in general.
To me, good satire takes a bad thing and says, "This is bad." Great satire takes a bad thing, pulls it apart, and points out all of the specific reasons why the thing is bad—including some of the more nebulous, nuanced reasons that are difficult to put into words. My goal with every video is to create great satire. Well, OK, not every video—sometimes in videos I just eat chocolate and cry. But I try to make most of them resonate.
And how would you say this video has been received so far?
The video's reception has been absolutely crazy for me. Almost all of the comments have been positive, and the people I've been e-meeting have been straight-up lovely. I'm totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I'm getting from complete strangers. Someone called me their girl crush on Twitter yesterday and I was like "What? No! Tina Fey is girl crush-worthy. I complain when I have to put on pants for work. Thank you, though."
Who do you hope will see this video? What do you hope viewers might walk away from it with?
In general, I'm happy when a viewer walks away thinking, "Huh, that was funny and interesting. I’m glad I watched that," even if they don’t share it and never think about it again. As a comedian, you get used to your content being semi-disposable. My jokes about the 2012 Grammys just don’t kill like they used to, y'know?
Coming from that mindset, it's mind-blowing to see people liking and sharing the video, and talking about it in the comments and on Twitter. I'm so glad it resonated with people, and I'm happy I could contribute a little bit to what I believe is a very important conversation.
For more information and vital facts about gender-based violence, including dating violence, head over to Look Different.