Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parody, Satire, and Genre

Often, true mastery of genre is best seen in our ability to mimic the genre forms while breaking our expectations in terms of the message.

Of Related Interest: Music Videos - Parody Videos

Groups for Project 1
Today we're going to form our groups for Project 1.  For this project, you'll be capturing voices from multiple sources in order to reveal the events surrounding a single event.  Once you're in your groups, discuss the type of event you'd like to write about as a group.

Weekend Assignment: You'll be conducting a second research ethnography over the weekend.  This time, however, you'll be focusing on the event your group has chosen for Project 1.

Note: If your group has a student who is out-of-town due to varsity sports, you'll need to contact this individual on the Facebook group to coordinate your assignment.

Parody: Humor through Mimicry
One reason parody is such a wonderful tool for studying genre is that it depends on genre in order to be funny.  In order to craft a successful work of parody, you must first determine the theme and style expectations for a given form of art, and then you switch the message toward humorous ends.

Unlike parody, which focuses on mimicry in order to poke fun at art, satire criticizes specific aspects of culture.  And this is a subtle distinction - many people miss it because satire, too, often depends upon imitation, though the imitation is centered more on revealing a type of person or situation.

Stephen Colbert: Parody and Satire Rolled Together
It's very common for Satire and Parody to exist together - they are very complimentary approaches to art.  In order to critique social conventions, one must often critique the genre conventions used in sharing a given ideology.

Watch the following interview between Stephen Colbert and Bill O'Reilly, one of the political commentators he imitates:
During this interview, note that Colbert never breaks character - throughout the interview, he posits political opinions behaves in ways that are not naturally his own.  Which aspects would you consider satire?  Which aspects parody?  Why do we need to differentiate between the two?
Now in this next video, let's take a look at what it takes to produce humor.  In this interview with Tim Russert, Colbert breaks character to discuss how and why he produces his show:
In this interview, pay particular attention as to why Colbert doesn't let his children watch his show.  Also consider his views on the news.  How much research does he do for his show?  What does he say about his intended audience?
Apparently, Not Everyone Realizes that Stephen Colbert is Joking.  And this is something to consider as you put together your own works of satire.  What aspect of society and culture are you taking on?  Who is your intended audience?  What do you want your audience to feel after experiencing your work?

Researching the Norms of Your Genre
Now that you've seen an example of satiric parody, conduct some research in your groups.  Start with the event you'll be describing - find examples of satire and/or parody which also address a similar event.  If you find that there are very few examples, you may adjust your story as needed.

Weekend Assignment
Once again, each group should set up a single Facebook document with which to share your research.  This document will serve as the "hub" for your research collaboration.  Over the weekend, I'd like you each to consider which resources are relevant for your project and how to find them.  Explain why they are relevant in terms of the following areas:
Illustrating Genre Conventions
Providing Background Information
Revealing Emotional Impact
In your research, you are looking for materials which are both serious and comedic.  Good satire and parody require that the author have a solid understanding of reality and the reasons why it deserves to be made fun of.

Of Related Interest: Music Videos - Parody Videos


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