Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Are You a Good Parody? Or a Bad Parody?

[Now That's Good Parody] From Homotracker, here are a couple of TV spots that not only illustrate the folly of California Proposition 8, but also nicely parody Apple's "Mac vs. PC" ads.

Part I:

Part II:

It's good parody because it keeps a light touch and pays attention to detail: The "Mac vs. PC" ads are multipartite and depict the "PC" character in various silly and unfortunate circumstances that he has brought upon himself by his own neuroses. The "Mac" character is sympathetic but maintains a polite distance, since PC is prone to misunderstand and vaguely rebuff Mac's attempts at helpfulness.

The fact that right-wingers are incapable of parody is no secret, although why this is so remains a mystery. As evidenced by attempts such as Fox News' failed The 1/2 Hour News Hour [note] or the ersatz Michael Moore parody An American Carol, right-wingers know that they should be parodying the left in some way, any way--their studies have shown that it's "the hip thing to do" or something--but they just can't seem to figure out exactly how to pull it off.

The right-wing sense of humor is angry and heavy-handed, motivated by a sense of fear and impotent rage. It is the nasty taunt hurled, not by a 10-year-old playground bully, but by the 10-year-old victim of that playground bully--in retaliation, from behind Teacher's plaid skirts.

If the anti-gays had produced these ads, PC would be flouncing around limp-wristedly in a black-leather harness and pink tutu, attacking married couples with little kids. At some point, Mac would break the fourth wall and address the camera directly, asking, "Is this what you want for your children?"

And what a laugh that would be.

Humor requires self-awareness, curiosity, a certain amount of intellect and a good measure of empathy--all of which seem to be in short supply among self-styled "conservatives."

The reason the left is so good at parody is that, for decades, freethinkers and creative types were trapped in the postmodern dilemma--a reality in which it became impossible to express oneself genuinely, without sarcasm. Things moved on; the rediscovery of earnestness received much acclaim, and eventually the left managed to recapture a certain amount of sincerity.

Right-wingers will, eventually, develop a knack for parody. But what a multilayered irony it is that, by the time they do so, it will have become utterly passé.

(Brandon Burt)

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