PVV – Parodies (Part 1): can’t you porn people think up anything on your own?!!

par·o·dy (par-ǒ-dee) n. 1. a comic imitation of a well-known person or literary work or style etc.  2. a grotesque imitation, a travesty

A while back, PVV reviewed Vouyer Media’s Taxi (2010), an extremely cute and rather authentic parody of the ABC/NBC sitcom classic.

…and then, not so long ago, RJ brought my attention to this mini-take on superhero inspired porn parodies from my newest addiction, ToplessRobot.com. So I went to one of my oldest addictions (AdultDVDEmpire.com), and looked into the genre “spoofs and parodies” – 421 titles came up.  When I sorted by release date, I found that almost 75% of them had been released since 2006 (305/421) – holy crap!!

Now this little assessment isn’t perfect. One cannot assume that Adult DVD Empire distributes everything (it doesn’t) and I also noticed that some of their cataloging was inconsistent, but that’s not the point! The point is that it’s clear that the adult parody genre has blown up in the late 2000s – producers are making ‘em and we’re… umm… “enjoying” them. But why?

Once again, the universe has spoken to PVV and is pleading with Dr. Chauntelle to please discuss – Why all the porn parodies all of a sudden? Why all the homage, why all the imitation? I mean really… can’t you porn people think up anything on your own?!! (jk)

Charles Caleb Colton (1780 – 1832) once said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and man-oh-man has US culture embraced that in all sorts of good and less-than-good ways. For example, notorious charlatan James Frey was called out by God and Oprah and eventually his publisher after having “borrowed” familiar elements from addiction and recovery narratives to bulk up the drama driving his “memoir” A Million Little Pieces (2003) – because it’s flattering to have one’s recovery story co-opted, you know?

But plagiary is not parody, so let’s consider a man who has spent his life mimicking and poking fun with, via, and occasionally at some of the most iconic images and music shaping US culture. That’s right, I’m talking about “Weird Al” Yankovic.  Weird Al has effectively parodied the works of Michael Jackson, Nirvana, and even poor sad MC Hammer (please Hammer… don’t hurt ‘em) among many many others; but, in my humble opinion, his take on Chamillionaire’s “Ridin” is about as brilliant and hilarious as something can possibly be.

 

In case you were too busy laughing at every perfect reference to notice, Weird Al simply spins off Chamillionaire; he doesn’t make fun of him. “Ridin’” thus functions as a vehicle and platform to poke fun at… nerdy white people (ToplessRobot.com woot woot!!).  Thus, rather than out-and-out mockery a la “South Park” (which operates on its own singular level of genius that is almost too great for mere mortals and Kanye West to comprehend), Yankovic provides us with a familiar tune that aids individuals in participating in their own ridicule and/or critique – genius!

Although many pouters have said that Weird Al should stuff his copy-cat ways and polka on back to Lynwood, his renditions are always a completely new take on something familiar – sometimes painfully so – and often iconic. This is not to say that Yankovic’s work is always fantastic or always achieves the same maximum level of brilliance as “White & Nerdy,” but it is to say that he is consistently original (unlike James Frey).

And, incidentally, parody is far more complex than just craftily making fun. As the definition listed above states, parody can involve both the humorous and/or the grotesque, which is something strange, fantastic, or ugly that induces fear and pity.  Think Edward Scissorhands, Gollum, Frankenstein’s monster, or even Precious (eeesh that’s a rough one, but think about it at the level of social and cultural construction, middle-class white normativity, and structural inequality before you get your panties in bunch!).  To take an entity that is generally feared or loathed and then show that same entity in a light that is capable of sparking empathy and is also saying something new and original… well I’m just gonna go ahead and say that’s damn difficult!

My point here is that true parody is an art. Finding something that the wider culture connects with, and then reshaping its meaning as humor or travesty (or tragically humorous), while keeping the overall framework intact, is truly challenging.  This is one of the reasons I think parody is generally so popular – you get something you recognize, but with a new and different spin.

Porn parodies have always been around and have always been popular (can you say Miami Spice (1986) – awesome!), however I think the surge in popularity that they are experiencing is further augmented by the plague of remakes currently gripping the mainstream film industry. I mean seriously – there are only so many times I can watch unconscionable remakes like Clash of the Titans (2010) or hear the blasphemy of a slated-to-be-remade mockery of Footloose featuring Zac Efron before I want to settle down with some nice, steamy, sassy, maybe sometimes dark and disturbing parody porn. I’m just sayin’…

Coming Soon… Parodies (Part 3): when the jokes on you, or the second definition of “parody.

Coming Sooner… Parodies (Part 2): what’s so funny about parodies?

fyi: with tabs like “Impressive Acts of Nerdery,” “Transformers” and “Mean-spiritedness,” ToplessRobot.com can best be described as a site dedicated to “nerds’ takes on pop culture” – and I f’ing love it!

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