PVV – Parodies (Part 3): when the joke’s on you, or the second definition of “parody”

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

So for last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking about parody and porn parodies. Specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out what they are and why consumers seem to really like them all of a sudden (well “all of a sudden” since ’05 or so). Here’s a little recap of what I’ve found so far about parody in general:

– Parody is about taking a familiar entity (a film, book, sub/culture, phrase, whatever) and using it as a platform to say something new.

– Parody is not about simply “remaking” something, nor is it about copying or plagiarizing.

– There are two general types of parody: the comedic and the grotesque (something strange or fantastic that induces both fear and pity). (full article here)

I decided to take a closer look at comedic porn parodies first through consideration of 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.

Basically what I found is that authenticity, quality, and timeliness contribute, in part, to the success of comedic parody re/interpretation.  The effective porn parodies craft an authentic, quality narrative, and some of them even offer us a new spin on a super timely piece of media – the effort that goes into making comedic porn parodies well is easily apparent. (full article here)

Parodies are booming in adult, but they’re not all fun and games. Adult parodies have also engaged the second, not-so-fun dimension of parody – the grotesque. Consider the following two examples of grotesque or “dark” parodies: Gia: Portrait of a Pornstar (2010) from Vivid Entertainment/SunLust Pictures and The Twilight Zone Porn Parody (2010) from Paul Thomas/Hustler.

According to the definition, a grotesque parody should both horrify and incite pity while simultaneously providing something new via a familiar vehicle. We shall see…

We all remember the biopic Gia (1998), an account of the life and death of “America’s first supermodel” Gia Marie Carangi starring serial succubus Angelina Jolie, yes? Well Gia: Portrait of a Pornstar is a parody of that account wherein a somewhat different Gia (played by the trés jolie Sunny Leone) starts off as a somewhat different sort of model, ends up doing hardcore, and eventually dies.  She even has a torrid love affair with a beautiful make-up artist (Tori Black).  It’s really very similar to Gia (1998), but with a porn star narrative trajectory twist (ie girl-girl only to boy-girl to diva to directing, you know). Check it out the trailer:

 

Porn Gia does a couple of really interesting things.  First and foremost, director Spencer Benedict sprinkles “interviews” with real live industry people throughout the film.  Ron Jeremy, Janine, Mark Kernes, and Marci Hirsch (among others) react to the *death* of Gia …like she was a real porn star that had actually died!!  There are also “interviews” done in character with, for example, Gia’s ex-boyfriend and her make-up artist lover. These followed the form of the model Gia film, while simultaneously giving viewers something new.  Cleverness!!

And secondly, Sunny Leone does the unthinkable in porn Gia– she gets… ugly.  Now I know, I know – 1) who’s to say what’s “ugly” anyway, and 2) there is no way that Sunny Leone could ever even begin to approach conventional definitions of it. I agree with you on both; but by the end of the film, Ms. Leone (pictured, as her porn-regular self) has got some pretty hollow eyes and is wearing some rather janky looking jammies after getting all kinds of sick. “Ugly.”

I really hate to do that whole “this beautiful woman actress is so brave and wonderful and did such a good job because she let herself be shown not pretty and/or pretty sloppy” (think Charlize Theron in Monster (2003) or Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball (2002)), but I’m gonna anyway. I cannot think of another instance wherein talent of Leone’s caliber and/or place in the industry has done such a thing. That’s just not the way it works, and its incidence is certainly worth note. Porn Gia provides something familiar (hardcore and the model Gia narrative) alongside something new.

And I’ll tell you something else: although porn Gia wasn’t nearly as despicably off-putting as model Gia, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted that little trainwreck in my house (thus, horrified).  And in the end, I felt sorry for Leone’s Gia, who was bratty and misguided but not a bad person… which is exactly what was supposed to happen.

The Twilight Zone Porn Parody (2010) does “grotesque” in a slightly different manner.  Director Paul Thomas engages the late ‘50s/early ‘60s television series “The Twilight Zone” as a platform to explore sexual double-standards and hypocrisy.  In it, a new couple, the Stones, move in to a conservative Eisenhower-era neighborhood, and three other couples worth of everyone is instantly fascinated with their palpable sexual energy.  People start talking about the sexual revolution, swinging, and lesbian sex – it’s just scandalous!!

…except everyone in the neighborhood is already well on their way to a “scandalous” sexual revolution.  Two of the wives are already hooking up, but one of them is also hooking up with Patty McGruber (Kimberly Kane) and the other clearly is after her girl’s husband Scott (and by the end of the film she gets him on the kitchen table). Eventually Patty and the bible-touting peeper/neighbor Morgan Roberts (played by the ever-fantastic Eric Masterson) march their selves over to the Stone’s to figure out what’s really going on, resulting in a swinging four-way amongst and between them all.

In the last scene, Morgan confesses that he had spilt a little semen with some help from both Mrs. Stone and Mrs. McGruber, much to the anger of his wife Terry (who had herself been hooking up with Scott and his wife) and Bob McGruber.  Some ass kicking ensues as the Stones slyly leave town. (the triangles are a little confusing to explain as I could never catch Scott’s wife’s name – sorry!!) Check out the trailer:

 

The Twilight Zone Porn Parody has some great touches that really add to the ’50s-era feel (big panties and old cars), but it’s definitely not perfect in its authenticity (tatted up chics and a rather amusing cameo from a contemporary dildo).  What this film really does well, however, is explore hypocrisy – the McGrubers, the Roberts, and Scott and his unnamed wife are all ready to brand the Stones as sexual deviants… while they themselves are engaging in all sorts of “deviance.”

Terry and Bob are particularly problematic as they get really pissed when they find out that their respective spouses fucked the Stones, but neither one of them admits to their own sexual proclivities and indiscretions.  Proclivities and “indiscretions” that are, apparently, only ok when kept hidden.  It’s such an interesting commentary on the US cultural ambivalence regarding sexual exploration and freedom that existed in the 1950s but is still prevalent today …and I myself find that sort of ambivalence and hypocrisy rather grotesque.

On the basis of porn Gia (2010) and The Twilight Zone Porn Parody (2010), it seems like grotesque porn parody is even more complex than the comedic iterations.  I did not find either of these films to be as “good” as, for example, Batman XXX (2010), but I did have a more visceral reaction to each.  What constitutes “good” or “bad” and what brings up such reactions in individual persons is highly variable and points to the complexity of this genre overall.

So there you have it folks – comedic and grotesque porn parody in all their respective glory.  But what’s the point?  I guess, in the end, it’s really about what you like.  If you like your porn to have overt, crafty connections with wider cultural elements, then porn parodies are for you.  If you like a little sass, go for the comedic; if you like a little ick, go for the grotesque.  Lucky for you, there are plenty of fantastic options available!!

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A note on the films informing PVV’s “Parodies” series

In preparation for this story, I did a quick search for “spoofs & parodies” (predefined search term) on AdultDVDEmpire.com and made note of all the companies currently producing this genre. I then contacted each company, requesting parody films to inform this series of stories.

The films I discuss in “PVV – Parodies (Parts 1-3)” represent the sum total of the responses I received minus one (one company sent me two funny ones, however I opted to use only one of their offerings in an attempt to give them equal weight… but look for something that’s surely rather humorous in PVV’s “Reviews” section soon!).

Although these films tell us much about the current state of adult parody content, this collection of films cannot be considered representative of all adult parodies.  If you want examples of more titles, simply follow the process outlined above.

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You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”