Parodies are also used to or comment on an element of existing work, or perhaps the person who created it. Parodies can be created around anything from a novel to a movie, song, or speech. Other interesting subjects can also be parodied, especially if they are well-known to a wide variety of people.
Definition and Explanation of Parody
The writer of the parody takes the work, a speech, book, poem, movie, song, etc., and changes it to make it funny, outrageous, and different. The differences draw attention to the construction and content of the original. This might be a weakness or something strange or silly about the work. This kind of criticism is entertaining and should be fun to read and/or listen to. The audience should laugh and find new ways to look at
Examples of Parody in Literature
Pride and Prejudice with Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Pride and Prejudice with Zombies is a popular example of a parodied work, specifically Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Grahame-Smith changes the novel in fundamental ways, making it more entertaining for contemporary audiences and poking fun at the style of Austen’s prose and the sometimes ridiculous natures of her characters. The opening line is a great example of how parody can take existing work and turn it into something new. Here is the first line from Jane Austen’s novel:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Here is the parodied like from Pride and Prejudice with Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.
The famous line is transformed into something entirely different. It is easy to see how someone who is particular attached to the work of an author might find this example of parody, and others like it, to be more offensive than humorous. This is the risk that writers often take when engaging in comedic writing.
Fifty Shames of Earl Gray: A Parody by Fanny Merkin and Andrew Shaffer
This amusing parody is written to make fun of the well-loved series, Fifty Shades of Grey. The main character in the parody is “Earl Grey,” a young tycoon intent on winning the heart of Anna Steal. But, in the way of their romance are his “fifty shames,” fifty things that might deter her. These include shopping at Walmart and bondage.
Nightlight: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon
As the title suggests, this work is a parody of the popular Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. The book follows Belle Goose when she falls in love with Edwart Mullen, a computer nerd with no interest in girls. The writers include the vampire elements of the original but took out the idealism and romanticism Meyer infused the original with.
Examples of Parodies in Film and Music
Films are a popular place to find parodies, with some more obvious than others. On the list of the best-known and loved parodies are Austin Powers, a parody of James Bond, Young Frankenstein, a parody of the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and Shaun of the Dead, a parody of Dawn of the Dead.
In the realm of music, some popular parodies include those written by Weird Al Yankovic who made his career writing parodies of American music. Other examples are Smells Like Nirvana, a parody of Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana and Eat It a parody of Beat it.
Types of Parody
Lighthearted Parody: pokes fun at a topic in order to entertain and amuse, rather than to criticize or change a behavior. This is the kind of parodying that might occur between friends, family members, and close colleagues. One of the first noted parodists was named Hegemon of Thasos, a Greek writer who was the author of a comedy called Philinne. He is best remembered for his clever and humorous alternations of poems in order to make them more entertaining.
Satirical Parody: mocks social topics, events, and politics in order to entertain as well as change opinion. This type of parody points out hypocrisy and wrong. It dates back to the second century with Lucian of Samosata who parodied works like Odyssey. There are numerous contemporary examples of satirical parodies, such as late-night shows, stand-up performances, and more.
Parody or Satire
Parody and satire share many features that mean the two are often related to one another, sometimes even confused for one another. Parody is based on original work, something created by an artist, speaker, or something that’s part of a broader genre. It usually exists only for entertainment while satire is more commonly aimed at addressing a topic and commenting on it. Satire always involves this to some degree. The two sides contain elements of the other, with parody sometimes feeling satirical and satire sometimes using parody within it.
Why Do Writers Use Parody?
Parody is one way in which writers, whether they be comedians, columnists, or novelists, can discuss topics that are otherwise difficult to address. For instance, another author’s style, a musician’s eccentricities, an actor’s personal life, a politician’s style of speech, and more. The writer of the parody takes the work, a speech, book, poem, movie, song, etc., and changes it to make it funny, outrageous, and different. The differences draw attention to the construction and content of the original.
Related Literary Devices
- Satire/ Satirical Comedy: used to analyze behaviors to make fun of, criticize, or chastise them in a humorous way.
- Aphorism: short, serious, humorous, and philosophical truths about life.
- Black Humor: a literary device that’s used in all forms of literature in order to discuss taboo subjects in a less distressing way.
- Comedy: a humorous and entertaining genre of literature, film, and television.
- Read: The Nine Greatest Parody Movies of All Time
- Watch: Top 10 Music Video Parodies of All Time
- Read: Satire Definition Merriam Webster