There is a widespread bipartisan feeling that the January 6, Washington, DC political rally for supporters of President Trump—which turned into a violent insurrection at the Capitol building, endangering members of Congress and causing the deaths of five people—was a supremely dangerous moment in American history.
So, it was also a very serious moment—at least until the internet got involved. Apparently, even footage of authorities arresting rioters at airports, with the arrestees freaking out and incredulous that they were in trouble, can become a hilarious video online.
In the viral compilation clip above (note: some of the arrests were people who refused to wear anti-COVID-19 masks, so not riot-related but part of the same political ideology), the addition of the piano breakdown from Eric Clapton's "Layla" not only adds a dark comedy element but it is also a solid nod to Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece Goodfellas, which famously used the same music in a four-minute montage—as a result, the movie's title was trending on social media for a good part of the day on Monday, Jan. 11.
In the Goodfellas montage, Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill narrates scenes of events after the Lufthansa heist, a real crime that happened in 1978 at JFK International Airport. The caper netted Hill's pal Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and accomplices $5 million. The accomplices, however, went crazy with the money, and Conway, afraid their spending would get police attention, began having everyone knocked off.
So the Goodfellas footage ironically contrasts the dreamy Clapton instrumental over scenes of blood-soaked dead henchmen in cars and getting dumped with the garbage.
Using the same song for the arrest videos is some pretty sharp satire, as it highlights one thing the arrested "domestic terrorists" seemed to have in common with the dead mobsters: an apparent feeling they'd never have to answer for anything they did.
Of course, the arrest video produced its own spinoffs, like the one above from Instagram-savvy comedian Kyle Dunnigan.
Dunnigan went the extra mile, however, with a deepfake-style Ray Liotta digital mask and a Liotta-like voiceover. The overall effect of Dunnigan's video has a creepy edge not found in the original, but it's still laugh-out-loud funny.
In the meme-making here there's a certain amount of everyone whistling past the graveyard, as the mood in the US is still tense, despite the considerable blowback against the rioters as well as the administration of the outgoing president, Donald Trump.
As more and more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and the government changes hands, it may be that a lot of things, even these already very funny videos, will seem even easier to laugh about.