1. Bethany J. says:

    There is definitely such a thing as affectionate parody. I know, because I do it to my own books sometimes. 😀

    Heehee…what is it about the Council of Elrond that allows for so many great spoof gifs? That one always makes me laugh.

  2. Couple things, Stephen. First, Jesus never made fun of the Pharisees. He was rebuking them, correcting them, not making sport of them. He wasn’t deriving pleasure from calling them names or gathering a crowd to point and laugh. They didn’t think it was funny, and clearly Jesus didn’t think it was funny. It was deadly serious that they were being hypocrites. God doesn’t take sin lightly!

    That being said, I question whether it is right to parody something sinful (homosexual activity, abortion, prostitution) or a non-Christian acting like a non-Christian. If a Christian sins against us, we have Scriptural guidelines how to handle such, so I guess I’m saying I don’t think it’s right to parody a Christian who is sinning either.

    That leaves non-sinful stuff and people who might be acting foolishly (political cartoons would work here). If the non-sinful is actually Christian, then we need to be careful we aren’t engaging in blasphemy. If the people are acting foolish, then we need to ask if we are loving them by making fun of them.

    This reminds me a little of teasing. Some people tease, but mean it and use it to get a point across. Consequently, it’s hurtful. (Political commentary may fall in a different category, but only because our culture has put it there).

    Some people don’t mean it at all and only tease about things they don’t believe to be true (my what beautiful green hair you hav or happy birthday — are you ten now?)

    I opt for the latter use, but even that can get old and become hurtful (I know, because I’m the one who overused it and hurt relationships as a result).

    In writing, I think we need to be even more careful simply because there is no twinkle in the eye or inflection in the tone to tip off a reader that the writer is just kidding.

    I’ll be honest, there were parts of Ted’s interview that I had no idea whether he was serious or not. Why? Because of his light-hearted tone and early jokes. Here’s someone I don’t know, so how am I supposed to read him? He starts seriously, swings into jocularity, so from that point on, I wasn’t sure what to take seriously and what was to be considered part of the joke.

    I guess I’d say, we Christians should have a higher standard, and to be honest, parody isn’t all that far up the humor ladder than slapstick. Can’t we do better?


  3. I just thought of something else. Part of the problem of parody is a smug, “I’m better than this” attitude. Think SNL parody of Sarah Palin. It smacks of the cool kids in school making fun of the ones too poor to wear the latest or own the newest. I think the prideful tone of much parody is what is so off-putting to me.


  4. Johne Cook says:

    This is a slight tangent but I think it is germane: Orson Scott Card recently wrote something so profound and yet so basic that I feel it is worth reposting here. In his review of the Gore Verbinksi / Johnny Depp animated film Rango, Card took script writer John Logan to task for not being funny. Card knows things I’m still learning. To whit:

    Rango bears all the earmarks of utter carelessness. Not in the animation — that’s excellent. It’s the writing that is contemptible. Why did anyone read this script and imagine for a moment that they had a movie? The little children in the theater around me were sleeping, talking, running around — but not watching. They knew there was nothing remotely interesting on the screen.

    Then I looked back through the writer’s filmography and realized: He has never written anything with a scrap of humor in it. He truly had no clue of the rule that all good comedy writers know: Comedy only works when we empathize with characters who are suffering.

    I imagine this is an element of parody, as well. The difference is with the SNL folks, they’re the ones making the character suffer for their amusement. So while there is humor there, it is mean-spirited and cruel, and really works best when you become complicit with their torture. That’s disturbing.

  5. Luther says:

    Are there some things that are off limits? Are some things just mean spirited and crass in an effort to get an easy laugh? I often hid my insecurities with sarcasm and hurting others in an effort to make myself look better and I often see the same undertones in much of the parodies that are out there.

    As Christians should we parody someone’s serious work even if we disagree theologically with it? When we do so are we trying elevate our own position at the expense of someone else’s?

    If we cannot do it in love and respect, if it does not have the mind of Christ, does it belong in the body of believers? As one who grew up with SNL as a mainstay of my existence I know the draw of mean spirited humor, and it can be powerful.

  6. I’m surprised no one in this conversation so far has mentioned one of Marcher Lord Press’s first releases, Hero, Second Class (especially since the sequel is set to release next month). That book was specifically written and billed as a parody of the fantasy genre. Just reading the synopsis gives you that clue:

    Hero, Second Class is the story of Cyrus Solburg, a young man who dreams of being a hero in a fantasy land in which Heroes have guild fees and Villains are not allowed more than one solar eclipse per quarter.

    While the book itself had a few pacing/plotting issues, I thought it was hysterical from the very first page. It took the genre and shook it for all it was worth, lovingly mocking all the stuff we love, teasing at the cliches and the overused plot devices, ultimately making points about the very nature of what it means to be a supernatural hero. Mostly, it was a rollicking fun story to read.

    It strikes me that often parody and its more mature sister satire are best delivered by members of the group being mocked. When you’re in a group, you know more of its foibles and how to show them in a humorous way. When Mark Lowry talks about Baptists and religious people, I laugh because I know he’s not saying it out of spite, he’s speaking in love about the very real problems we have in our churches. Oscar Wilde is hilarious in his upraiding of the Brittish middle and upper class, but I don’t think his works would have gone over as well with an American saying the same thing (he had a tough enough time as an Irishman).

    Off the top of my head, I can think of one time a prophet of God used parody: when Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. As the idol’s prophets grew more desperate in their pleas, 1 Kings 18:27 says

    At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”

    Now, Elijah wasn’t a perfect man; shortly after this story he suffered a debilitating depression and crisis of faith. We aren’t called to be like him, but like Christ. Still, God answered his prayers on Mount Carmel and used him to bring the nation of Isreal back to Him that day. Was his taunting part of that strategy, which God honored? I don’t know, but I think it does me we have to consider the question. If metaphor, allegory, and symbolism are allowed authorial techniques, ought not humor, parody, and satire to be considered as well?

  7. Galadriel says:

    I was reading this post in the library–and had to scroll down to make myself stop laughing at the Boromir/LotR clip. That was great. I think that parody works best when it’s done from the inside–I’m not a romance fan, so any attempt of parodying romances on my part would come off as an insult. But if it’s something I like–fantasy, sci-fi–I’m perfectly fine with trying. I even wrote a few parodies of what LotR would look like in the modern world–complete with “Departments of Sword Control” and beauty pagents.

What do you think?