Tag: parodies


Posted on by Scott Delahunt

A break in the usual madness around here to address the current madness. Thanks to COVID-19, everyone is – or should be – in self-isolation to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Trips out of the home are for necessities, and distancing from other people is not just a good idea, but in some places rigorously enforced. There’s only so many hours of television to watch, no matter the source.

There is a bright side. Creativity is getting a real work out. People are taking the extra time and putting it to good use. In Italy, balcony serenades and arias are overcoming the social distancing and keeping people together despite being apart. An American man has done the same thing in California.

For those without balconies or the ability to project like an opera singer, the other option is video cameras and the Internet. After COVID-19 broke, there has been a deluge of parodies. The Internet and the World Wide Web has given people a way to discover new things, some that are wonderful, some that require a butt ton of brain bleach. During this pandemic, the Internet has become the main way for people to maintain contact with each other. Parodies bring in humour during a time that really needs some. A simple search on YouTube alone brings up a long list to listen to.

Naturally, The Knack’s “My Sharona” is getting the lion’s share of parodies, having a title that rhymes with “corona“. COVID-19, however, works well with Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen“. “Everything is Awesome”, from The LEGO Movie, leads easily to “Everything is Cancelled“. The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” is also popular, either with the original title or going with “Stayin’ Inside“. Even Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” has had a number of parodies. “Sweet Caroline” gets a special callout, with parodies such as “Sweet Quarantine” and with Neil Diamond himself rewriting the lyrics.

That’s just scratching the surface. The Bare-Naked Ladies’ “One Week“, The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)“, AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)“, the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo“, and MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” all have had parodies. And there’s room for more.

That’s just music. Because restaurants are closing their dining rooms, people are eating in more, leading to experimentation in cooking. Flour is disappearing off the shelves and people are trying to figure out what to do with it. Art of all sorts is getting created. And people don’t have to be good to get started.

Case in point – my own painting of a shark miniature.

Everyone, even the masters, had to start somewhere. Now is a good time to be creative. You don’t have to show your work, but take the spare time you have and get creative. Get involved in a creative community. We’re all in this together, even if we have to stay apart.

Posted on by Scott Delahunt

Lost in Translation hasn’t looked at many parodies in the past, just four. Parodies are unusual cases when it comes to adaptations. Without an original work, a parody couldn’t exist, yet the nature of parodies means that changes happen. The goal of the parody is humour, not accuracy.

There are three of types of parodies. The broadest is the genre or style parody, where the goal is to have fun with a number of works, not just one. A good example of this sort is Blazing Saddles, parodying the Western genre as a whole. Another example is Top Secret!, a parody of both spy movies set during the Second World War and of movies starring Elvis Presley. Genre parodies take the tropes of the genre and twist them around, holding them up in a new light. A successful parody can even shape how future regular films in the genre use the tropes. This sort of parody is generally not an adaptation. No specific work is used as the base; these parodies draw from several works, pulling out common themes.

Narrowing in, the next type of parody does use a specific work, but no specific story from the work. This happens when the original is a series or franchise. Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, The Orville, and Quark all parody Star Trek. Star Wreck and The Orville use The Next Generation as the base while Quark, because it first aired in 1977*, only had the original Trek to work from. All three have different takes on Star Trek; all three have their own plotlines separate from but similar to Trek. Licensing tends to be the issue with these parodies. If not official, the creators don’t have access to likenesses from the original. Details get changed to keep lawyers happy. Once the parody gets going, it also takes on its own life, with characters developing away from the ones they were based on. This sort of parody may explore ideas from the original work, but for humour instead of the original intent. The Trek episode, “The Enemy Within”, where a transporter accident separated Kirk into two beings, one good, one evil, explores the nature of humanity, the yin and yang inherent in all of us. The Quark episode, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ficus”, takes the idea of the characters being separated into good and evil and uses it for humour, with Ficus, the Spock equivalent except being a plant, not affected at all. Ficus was unaffected because, “there are no good or evil plants, there are just plants.” For this type of parody, the focus is humour, not accuracy, but will use themes from the original.

Galaxy Quest falls under this sort of parody, but instead of using Star Trek episodes as the base, it uses the the industry and the fanbase as the source. Again, licensing and likenesses are a key factor. Because Galaxy Quest deals with the life of the actors long after their show was cancelled, care needs to be taken to not say or imply anything that could be misconstrued. At the same time, the movie also took pains to get the fandom right. Galaxy Quest used ideas from Trek‘s fandom to create its own narrative, yet still be a parody of the TV series. In particular, Guy was well aware of the redshirt effect and was desperate to not suffer the same fate. Galaxy Quest is not a typical parody, but still falls under the narrower form.

Finally, there are the parodies that use the original work’s story. These are rare and tend to happen with older works that have fallen into the public domain. Wayne and Shuster’s “Rinse the Blood Off My Toga” is a good example here. The sketch takes Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and turns it into a film noir mystery. The few parodies that use a work that falls under copyright get around the issue in one of two ways. First, the original work is used as a base, building a new story off it without using it directly. Young Frankenstein uses this method, The other way is to just license the original. Airplane! is the exemplar here, with creators Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker having licensed Zero Hour to use the work’s script to pile on with jokes.

This last type of parody is very close to being an adaptation. The difference here is intent. The main goal of a parody is humour, whether through slapstick or satire. Adding humour doesn’t necessarily mean a work is a parody. Gnomeo and Juliet is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet aimed for a younger audience, using humour to keep the attention of viewers. It’s not a parody, though; the aim wasn’t to spoof the play, just make it accessable to a younger audience. The line between the two can be fine, with Airplane! madly hopping over it, scuffing any trace the line may have had.

The end result is that, no matter what type of parody a work may be, it can’t be held to the same standards as an adaptation. With most adaptations, the effort is to keep to the original, putting in little twists to keep the work fresh, with humour a possible addition but not the focus. Parodies ultimately have a goal that is separate from bringing a work from one medium into another or rebooting a work. Accuracy isn’t as important as the humour. It is unfair to judge a parody by the same standards of other adaptations.

* Quark may have been the first to parody /Star Wars/, with the episode “May the Source Be With You”, given its timing.

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