The Enduring D-Art-h of Parody
I sometimes think that parody is a higher art form than the original.
Not that it is artistically better, necessarily, but that it aspires to something greater than the original by not only encompassing the original, but by saying something else as well. And good parodies, when the art approaches the original, or when the satirist has really nailed his subject, these may truly surpass the original because this new art form has succeeded both upon its own ground and also the original's.
Consider that most parodies, being a form of satire, are comedic. It is widely acknowledged that comedy is more difficult than many other forms of expression. To succeed comically is to master an art form unto itself. To succeed comically and to succeed in aping another cultural artifact in a way which is both true to the original narrative, and yet also true to the new narrative which is being constructed, is surely -- in some ways -- a greater feat even than the original.
Indeed, in the case of the very best parodies, we may come to actually prefer the parody as being somehow more real than the original, because it speaks more deeply, or because it is speaking on multiple levels simultaneously. In a logos-centric world, parody simply offers more λoʊɡoʊσ.
We hope to unpack this theme at greater length when time permits. For the moment, consider an example of parody-done-pretty-well, here of Gotye’s Somebody that I Used to Know. The parody, The Star Wars that I Used to Know is not only clever, but also cathartic. Someone is finally capturing what many have long felt, but had not the talent nor venue to express.
Artistically, it aspires, even approaches the visual brilliance of the original. There are a few places where the lyric is perhaps a bit tortured; even so, little of the original style has been lost. It is more than a surface similarity. Parodies both pretend to be the original and do not pretend to be the original. In this, I think it succeeds ably.
The content conveys something culturally relevant, speaking true to the experience of Star Wars fans the world-over. The conversational aspect invokes the logos; those words which speak our creative energy into the world and give birth to our reality. In this case, one walks away thinking that culturally important ideas have been exchanged; and whether or not we like or agree with the result, we are glad they have been spoken.
If you’re unfamiliar with the song, watch the original first.
(Oh, and, that goes for Star Wars as well.)