Austin Powers Cameos Jumped The Shark With The Osbournes

A little context on the Osbournes. Ozzy, the lead man of the metal band Black Sabbath, had become notorious for his on-stage shenanigans, including a well-publicized event in 1982 when he — without really understanding that he was holding a real animal — bit the head off of a bat live on stage. Ozzy’s stage persona was threatening and demonic, and he was often seen with wild eyes and a big grimace on his face. Also in 1982, Ozzy married his wife Sharon, and by 2002, they had three teenage kids named Aimee, Jack, and Kelly. MTV, seeing that Ozzy was a family man, figured audiences might be entertained seeing the shock rocker in a domestic situation and launched “The Osbournes,” a reality TV show that merely followed Ozzy, Sharon, Jack, and Kelly around with cameras and made note of their propensity for profanity and off-kilter personalities. 

“The Osbournes” only aired from 2002 to 2005, but it took hold of the popular consciousness in a big way. In the early 2000s, a lot of reality TV was not-so-subtly based in schadenfreude, and audiences regularly tuned in to laugh with — but also to laugh at — the Osbourne family. Ozzy (for the second time) and his wife and kids (for the first time) all became celebrities. 

Striking while the iron was hot, the makers of “Goldmember” managed to snag the Osbournes for a cameo. Even at the time, the cameo felt like pandering, the filmmakers clearly trying to bank in on a hot trendy TV show rather than write quality comedy. It’s an early example of “comedy of recognition,” a tactic that hopes to elicit laughs merely by presenting a specific reference out of context. The Friedberg/Seltzer comedies of the 2000s used this tactic ad nauseum. 

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