A parody, I would think, cannot exist without humor- whether it be through intent or execution of such comedy. Without humor, parody is reduced to mocking. It’s a relatively thin line, however, as audience interpretations and delivery may be factors in creating “effective” parodies. So then, what makes parodies effective? Or better yet, what purpose do they serve, if any, other than to entertain? I suppose that may depend on a parody’s objective but not necessarily. For example, a parody created with no intention to spark civic activism could, potentially, spur relevant conversations and vice-versa.
Some quick research revealed that the parody is nothing new, dating back to the ancient Greeks. It’s meaning, I found, is derived from the Greek word, parōidía, “a song sung alongside another.”
This is interesting considering one of this week’s DDA’s was to remix a recent youtube video with the 1971 Coca-Cola commercial. When I did this task, it didn’t register to me as a “parody” per se, but in context, I can better appreciate the relevance of the assignment. Listening to lyrics such as “I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love……white turtle doves….in perfect harmony…” contrasted with disturbing images of violent Walmart shoppers on Black Friday definitely falls under the parodic umbrella. It’s the kind of thing that makes you shake you head and wonder: “Where did we, as a society (or species?), go wrong? How did we end up like this? Is it funny? I’m not sure. Amusing? Maybe. The ironic lyric/image juxtaposition creates a ridiculousness that, perhaps, forces you to chuckle so you don’t cry. (Maybe.) Comedic relief or not, parodies such as this, SNL skits, late-night spoofs and the McSweeny’s article, urge you to ponder current issues with either new insights or renewed/new enthusiasm. Purpose-Intent teeter-totter.
Coincidentally, I watched two stand-up comedy specials on Netflix this weekend: Dave Chappelle and Louis C.K. Both specials were very funny. Both tackled hot-button social issues in a way that only comedy can. Abortion. Religion. Politics. Sexual identity. Race relations. Drugs. Rape. Life. Death. You name it, they talked about it. Both dialogues were anchored in parody. Prior to our discussion, I would not have identified it as such, but it was clear as I viewed both programs that they were, in fact, parodic. Again, in addition to the laughs (I realize this type of comedy may not be everyone’s taste), both stand-up routines made me think about these sensitive topics from a slightly different angle. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t by accident.
I’ll leave the meme review to Laurus_Vagus’s blog, but let’s just say it’s an art form in which I am not particularly skilled. In a nutshell, the intentions were not executed effectively and the memes felt insensitive, mean, rude and not funny. While they didn’t tackle a super-sensitive issue, it fell under the “parking lot” example, the online social media etiquette of my “online sphere” is a growing pet-peeve of mine.