So last week I started talking about parodies… Here’s a little recap:
– Parody is all about taking a familiar entity – a film, book, sub/culture, phrase, whatever – and using it as a platform to say something new.
– There are two general types of parody: the comedic and the grotesque (something strange or fantastic that induces both fear and pity).
– Parody is not about simply “remaking” something, nor is it about copying or plagiarizing.
– Parodies are booming in adult, apparently especially since the mid-2000s, and people totally love them!!
…so let’s try and figure out “Why?” shall we, starting with comedic parody.
Consider the following three contemporary adult parody blockbusters: The A-Team XXX: A Parody (2010) from Adam & Eve Pictures; Batman XXX: A Porn Parody (2010) from Vivid Entertainment; and This Ain’t Avatar XXX (2010) from Hustler Video.
In The A-Team XXX, cute cute cute Amy the reporter (played by cute cute cute Bree Olson) hires the A-Team to rescue her slightly douchey “husband” (they’re separated), who is also a reporter and has been kidnapped by drug dealers. The entire team is ready to lend a hand …for a small fee – Cannibal (Randy Spears), B.A. (or “Bare Ass,” played by Tyler Knight), Ace (Evan Stone), and Morecock (Scotty Lyons). The painfully cheesy action is punctuated by five anal scenes… because, you know, they’re The A-Team… as in The A for anal-Team… I totally didn’t get that until bcfj explained it to me. Whatever.
But wait, “painfully cheesy”? Forgive me – I should have said “gloriously cheesy.” Think about it: “The A-Team” series aired in the early 1980s; and at the time, it was a-ma-zing… but one only need watch approximately 90 seconds worth of “The A-Team” today to realize that times, tastes, and technology have chaaanged. Herein lies the beauty of The A-Team XXX. Director David Lord was able to recreate that cheese – cheesy fights, cheesy effects, cheesy plot, and cheesy catch phrases – and give viewers the anal action that apparently everyone but my naïve self had been dreaming about. Check out the trailer, which is pretty darn similar to the opening credits for “The A-Team” program.
Hilarious!! (I really like the part where B.A. tackles two dudes… and a pile of boxes) But there is something artful in representing the character of a piece of cult media authentically, while simultaneously creating something new. Pretty perfect comedic parody centered on nostalgia, that A-Team XXX.
In Batman XXX, parody operates at a different level. A take on the 1960s “Batman” television series, the story line is simple: Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend/fiancé Miss Carson (Kimberly Kane) is kidnapped by The Riddler (Evan Stone). Batman (Dale DaBone) must rescue her, and Robin (James Deen) and Batgirl (Lexi Belle) lend a hand. The Joker (Randy Spears), Catwoman (Tori Black), and some Sugar-like seductress named Molly (Alexis Texas) try to get in the way. Hyperbolic onomatopoeia-based battles ensue!! There are also some sassy porno-takes on the series’ patented camp, such as Robin’s exclamation of “Holy Hedgehog, Batman!! Who’s this?!” when the dynamic duo encounter Ron Jeremy whilst climbing up the side of a building – zow-wee!!
Now you may be thinking: “No way… messing with ‘The A-Team’ is one thing, but ‘Batman’? (inevitable) Fail.” Whereas “The A-Team” is a piece of cult media, “Batman” is culturally iconic, which adds a seemingly insurmountable measure of complexity to the whole parody endeavor… but let me tell you, Batman XXX is awesome. The costumes are great, the credits and transitions are amazing, and all of the main characters are perfectly played. I mean seriously, check out this trailer:
(fyi – this is the second Batman XXX trailer… the one that doesn’t require you to log in to YouTube to watch it)
Heee!! I think the success of this parody has to do with both authenticity and quality. Not to suggest that it isn’t difficult to recreate cheesy 1980s acting, because I imagine that it is; but I don’t think the expectations for The A-Team XXX are as high as they are for Batman XXX. Although it’s certainly very meaningful to fans and specific audiences, “The A-Team” hasn’t garnered the level of wider cultural significance that “Batman” has; and, as a consequence, Batman XXX’s director Axel Braun had more riding on the quality of his film.
Which brings us to the third and final film in this mini-sample: This Ain’t Avatar XXX. Now I’m gonna be honest here: I hated Avatar (2009). I found it to be preachy, racist, sexist, anti-military (and anti-“people who serve and die in the military so people like me can write silly little essays about porn parodies” too!), far too long, obnoxiously expensive, and gimmicky – pinchy 3D glasses seasickness bullshit!* Consequently, I was completely prepared to hate This Ain’t Avatar XXX …but I didn’t. Check out this trailer:
bahahaha plus *snap*!!
The exploration of the Na’bi (not a typo) people’s darker side, especially their keeping-of-humans-for-pets and capitalist trickery, appealed to my feminist “fuck you” sensibilities and unabashed love of the prevailing underdog. And director Axel Braun (him again) replaced all of the “gag me” moments in Avatar with comedic honest awesome – from Jake’s confession that he had accepted the mission, in part, with the hopes of banging some hott blue chics with tails to the “mating” scene between Jake and his Na’bi honey. This Ain’t Avatar XXX was so effective, in fact, that I would have to say that reinterpreting a timely and potentially problematic narrative such as Avatar is another dimension that lends to parody success.
So there you have it!! On the basis of my glorious and brilliant assessment of Adam & Eve Pictures’ The A-Team XXX, Vivid Entertainment’s Batman XXX, and Hustler Video’s This Ain’t Avatar XXX, three things contribute (in part) to the success of comedic parody re/interpretations: authenticity, quality, and timeliness.
But there’s one other thing that, on the basis of this mini-sample, contributes to the success of comedic parody – Evan Stone.
Evan Stone is in each of these films playing (respectively) Ace, The Riddler, and the ridiculously over the top military leader who tries to rally his troops by (nonsensically) asserting: “We are going to teach these savages that if you do shoot arrows at our tires then we will fry your prehistoric ass village like Tijuana during Cinco de Mayo.” There is no way that this phrase is even one eighteenth as funny written as it is spoken with pure amazing comedic bravado by Stone. His presence is the only consistency amongst these three films (minus the whole porn parody thing), thus he clearly is the ringer link!
(pictured: Evan Stone = win!)
Coming Soon… Parodies (Part 3): when the jokes on you, or the second definition of “parody.”
* I do, however, also understand that Avatar (2009) was able to get anti-imperialism and “don’t destroy the environment” messages to an unprecedented amount of people… well, I understood that after my friend CP pointed it out to me… so I guess it wasn’t all bad.
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