A parody (pronounced|ˈpɛɹədiː US, [Help:IPA| [ˈpaɹədiː] UK), in contemporary usage, is a work created to mock, comment on, or poke fun at an original work, its subject, or author, by means of humorous or satiric imitation. As the literary theorist Linda Hutcheon (2000: 7) puts it, "parody … is , not always at the expense of the parodied text." Another critic, Simon Dentith (2000: 9), defines parody as "any cultural practice which provides a relatively polemical allusive imitation of another cultural production or practice."

Parody may be found in art or culture, including literature, music, and cinema. Parodies are colloquially referred to as spoofs or lampoons.


According to Aristotle (Poetics, ii. 5) Hegemon of Thasos was the inventor of a kind of parody; by slightly altering the wording in well-known poems he transformed the sublime into the ridiculous. In ancient Greek literature, a "parodia" was a narrative poem imitating the style and prosody of epics "but treat light, satirical or mock-heroic subjects" (Denith, 10). Indeed, the apparent Greek roots of the word are "par-" (which can mean "beside", "counter", or "against") and "-ody" ("song", as in an ode). Thus, the original Greek word "parodia" has sometimes been taken to mean "counter-song", an imitation that is set against the original. The Oxford English Dictionary, for example, defines parody as imitation "turned as to produce a ridiculous effect" (quoted in Hutcheon, 32). Because "par-" also has the non-antagonistic meaning of "beside", "there is nothing in "parodia" to necessitate the inclusion of a concept of ridicule" (Hutcheon, 32).

Roman writers explained parody as an imitation of one poet by another for humorous effect. In French Neoclassical literature, "parody" was also a type of poem where one work imitates the style of another for humorous effect.

Use in classical music

In reference to 15th- to 18th-century music, parody means a reworking of one kind of composition into another (e.g., a motet into a keyboard work as Girolamo Cavazzoni, Antonio de Cabezón, and Alonso Mudarra all did to Josquin motets.) More commonly, a parody mass ("missa parodia") used extensive quotation from other vocal works such as motets; Victoria, Palestrina, Lassus, and other notable composers of the 16th century used this technique, also called marichu chollu. Song parodies can be filled with mishearings known as mondegreens. See also the main article on musical parody.

English term

The first usage of the word "parody" in English cited in the "Oxford English Dictionary" is in Ben Jonson, in "Every Man in His Humour" in 1598: "A Parodie, a parodie! to make it absurder than it was." The next notable citation comes from John Dryden in 1693, who also appended an explanation, suggesting that the word was in common use.

Modernist and post-modernist parody

In the broader sense of Greek "parodia", parody can occur when whole elements of one work are lifted out of their context and reused, not necessarily to be ridiculed. Hutcheon argues that this sense of parody has again become prevalent in the Twentieth Century, as artists have sought to connect with the past while registering differences brought by modernity. Major modernist examples of this recontextualizing parody include James Joyce's "Ulysses", which incorporates elements of Homer's Odyssey in a Twentieth-Century Irish context, and T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land", which incorporates and recontextualizes elements of a vast range of prior texts.

Blank parody, in which an artist takes the skeletal form of an art work and places it in a new context without ridiculing it, is common. Pastiche is a closely related genre, and parody can also occur when characters or settings belonging to one work are used in a humorous or ironic way in another, such as the transformation of minor characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Shakespeare's drama Hamlet into the principal characters in a comedic perspective on the same events in the play (and film) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. In Flann O'Brien's novel "At Swim-Two-Birds", for example, mad King Sweeney, Finn MacCool, a pookah, and an assortment of cowboys all assemble in an inn in Dublin: the mixture of mythic characters, characters from genre fiction, and a quotidian setting combine for a humor that is not directed at any of the characters or their authors. This combination of established and identifiable characters in a new setting is not the same as the post-modernist habit of using historical characters in fiction out of context to provide a metaphoric element.


Sometimes the reputation of a parody outlasts the reputation of what is being parodied. For example, Don Quixote, which mocks the traditional knight errant tales, is much better known than the novel that inspired it, Amadis de Gaula (although Amadis is mentioned in the book). Another notable case is the novel "Shamela" by Henry Fielding (1742), which was a parody of the gloomy epistolary novel "Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded" (1740) by Samuel Richardson. Many of Lewis Carroll's parodies, such as "You Are Old, Father William", are much better known than the originals. In more recent times, the television sitcom 'Allo 'Allo! is much better known than the drama Secret Army that originated it.

Also, some artists carve out careers by making parodies. One of the best-known examples is that of "Weird Al" Yankovic. His career of parodying other musical acts and their songs has outlasted many of the artists or bands he has parodied. It is worth mentioning that while he is not required under law to get permission to parody, as a personal rule, however, he does seek permission to parody a person's song before recording it. This is to help maintain good relations with others in the music industry, and has become something of a badge of honor for other artists, since many artists parodied by Yankovic felt that he would not choose to create a parody of a song or genre that was not successful. There was, however, one incident in which "Weird Al" did not get full permission. This was because of a misunderstanding that Al had with the agent of another music artist.

The point that in most cases a parody of a work constitutes fair use was upheld in the case of Rick Dees, who decided to use 29 seconds of the music from the song "When Sonny Gets Blue" to parody Johnny Mathis' singing style even after being refused permission. An appeals court upheld the trial court's decision that this type of parody represents fair use. "Fisher v. Dees" 794 F.2d 432 (9th Cir. 1986)

New technology, such as MP3 and the internet, have offered new avenues for parody. JibJab, for instance, published a critical video of George W. Bush.

Film parodies

Some genre theorists, following Bakhtin, see parody as a natural development in the life cycle of any genre; this idea has proven especially fruitful for genre film theorists. Such theorists note that Western movies, for example, after the classic stage defined the conventions of the genre, underwent a parody stage, in which those same conventions were ridiculed and critiqued. Because audiences had seen these classic Westerns, they had expectations for any new Westerns, and when these expectations were inverted, the audience laughed.A subset of parody is "self-parody" in which artists satirize themselves (as in Ricky Gervais's "Extras") or their work (such as Antonio Banderas's Puss in Boots in "Shrek 2"), or an artist or genre repeats elements of earlier works to the point that originality is lost.

Copyright issues

Although a parody can be considered a derivative work under United States Copyright Law, it can be protected from claims by the copyright owner of the original work under the fair use doctrine, which is codified in [ 17 USC § 107] . The Supreme Court of the United States stated that parody "is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works." That commentary function provides some justification for use of the older work. See "Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc."

In 2001, the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit, in "Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin", upheld the right of Alice Randall to publish a parody of "Gone with the Wind" called "The Wind Done Gone", which told the same story from the point of view of Scarlett O'Hara's slaves, who were glad to be rid of her.

Parodying music is legal in the U.K, United States, and Canada.

ocial and political uses

Parody is closely related to satire and is often used in conjunction with it to make social and political points. Examples include Swift's A Modest Proposal, which satirizes English neglect of Ireland by parodying emotionally disengaged political tracts, and, in contemporary culture, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which parody a news broadcast and a talk show, respectively, to satirize political and social trends and events. Some events, such as a national tragedy, can be difficult to handle. A 9/11 update of George Orwell's novella Animal FarmSnowball's Chance by U.S. author John Reed—raised the ire of the George Orwell estate, and critics such as Christopher Hitchens. Chet Clem, Editorial Manager of the news parody publication "The Onion", told "Wikinews" in an interview the questions that are raised when addressing difficult topics:

However, satire is usually used when someone is earnestly trying to push for change. Parodies are sometimes done with respect and appreciation of the subject involved, while not being a heedless sarcastic attack.

Parody has also been used to facilitate dialogue between cultures or subcultures. Sociolinguist Mary Louise Pratt identifies parody as one of the "arts of the contact zone," through which marginalized or oppressed groups "selectively appropriate," or imitate and take over, aspects of more empowered cultures. []

Shakespeare often uses a series of parodies to convey his meaning. In the social context of his era the best example can be seen in King Lear were the fool is introduced with his coxcomb to be a parody of the king.

ee also

* Intertextuality
* Literary technique
* Parody advertisement
* Parody music
* Parody religion
* Parody science
* Subvertising
* Joke


Historical examples

* "Sir Thopas" in Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
* "Don Quixote" by Miguel Cervantes
* "Beware the Cat" by William Baldwin
* "The Knight of the Burning Pestle" by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher
* "Dragon of Wantley", an anonymous 17th century ballad
* "Hudibras" by Samuel Butler
* "MacFlecknoe", by John Dryden
* "A Tale of a Tub" by Jonathan Swift
* "The Rape of the Lock" by Alexander Pope
* "Namby Pamby" by Henry Carey
* "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift
* "The Dunciad" by Alexander Pope
* "Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus" by John Gay, Alexander Pope, John Arbuthnot, "et al."
* "Kat Kong"by Dav Pilkey
* "The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia" ["sic"] by Samuel Johnson
* Mozart's "A Musical Joke" ("Ein musikalischer Spaß"), K.522 (1787) - parody of incompetent contemporaries of Mozart, as assumed by some theorists
* "Sartor Resartus" by Thomas Carlysle
* "Ways and Means", or "The aged, aged man", by Lewis Carroll. Much of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass" is parodic of Victorian schooling.
* "Batrachomuomachia" (battle between frogs and mice), an Iliad parody by an unknown ancient Greek author
* [ "A Sonnet"] by J K Stephen, an example of parody as serious literary criticism in that it draws attention to both the weaknesses and the strengths of the body of work it lampoons.
* "Britannia Sitting On An Egg" a machine-printed illustrated envelope published by the stationer W.R. Hume of Leith, Scotland, parodying the machine-printed illustrated envelope (commissioned by Rowland Hill (postal reformer) and designed by the artist William Mulready) used to launch the British postal service reforms of 1840.

Contemporary examples

* " [ Snowball's Chance] " - by John Reed, a 9/11 update and parody of George Orwell's Animal Farm.
* " [ McDonalds Video Game] " - A parody video game of the McDonald's corporation.
* " [ Latkelicious] " - A Hanukkah parody song of Fergie's song, "Fergalicious".
* "Swiss Family Guy Robinson" - A Canadian play by impressionist Brian Froud that parodies "The Swiss Family Robinson" and "Family Guy". 20th Century Fox issued the show a cease and desist order over the telephone after mistakenly asserting that it relied on copyrighted material from "Family Guy".
* Stan Freberg's, "Weird Al" Yankovic's, Tom Lehrer's, Cledus T. Judd's, Bob Rivers', Art Paul Schlosser's, Allan Sherman's and Steve Goodie's innumerable song parodies
* Barry Trotter - Popular parody of "Harry Potter"
* Mel Brooks films such as "Spaceballs", "", and "Blazing Saddles"
* Christopher Guest's mockumentary films such as "Waiting for Guffman" (parodying theater documentaries) "Best In Show" (parodying dog shows) and "A Mighty Wind" (parodying music documentaries)
* "Airplane!" - parody of airplane disaster movies (namely "Zero Hour!").
* "Austin Powers" series - parodies of spy films, especially the James Bond series, and a broad range of popular culture.
* National Lampoon magazine - numerous parodies in several different media
* "The Boomer Bible" - a book by R. F. Laird, which parodies contemporary society and mores.
* "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" – a parody of all of the plays of William Shakespeare.
* CNNNN - an Australian parody of 24 hours cable news networks, such as CNN and Fox News.
* "The Daily Show" - satirical news show on Comedy Central hosted by Jon Stewart.
* "The Colbert Report" - a parody of pundit programs, particularly "The O'Reilly Factor".
* "Dead Ringers" - Is a BBC satirical radio and tv impressionist show.
* "Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood" - A parody of coming-of-age 'hood movies' such as "Juice", "South Central", "Higher Learning", "Do The Right Thing", "Menace II Society", "Poetic Justice", "New Jack City", "Dead Presidents", and most prominently "Boyz N the Hood".
* "Drawn Together" - parodies the various genres of animation, along with TV reality shows.
* "Facelift (TV series)" - parodies of NZ Celebs, politicians, sports-people , advertisements and tv shows.
* "Gooflumps" - parodies the popular "Goosebumps" series of books
* "Hot Shots!" - A parody about the war film "Top Gun (film)" and other movies.
* "The Institute of Internet History" - a parody of Internet history and, more generally, the veracity of information on the Internet.
* "The Kentucky Fried Movie" - A parody of kung-fu movies, courtroom TV shows, women-in-prison movies, pornography, etc.
* "Kung Fu Hustle" - a movie by Steven Chow parodying Chinese wuxia films, as well as gangster films in general
* "Landover Baptist Church" - Parody of Southern Baptist hyper-religiosity.
* "MAD Magazine" - magazine that features parodies of movies, music, video games, and television shows.
* "MADtv " - an american show which parodies tv shows, celebs, inventions and everyday life problems
* Chris Morris's "The Day Today" and "Brass Eye" - parodies of high paced self-important genre of TV news programmes
* "The Naked Gun" series - A parody of police movies and TV shows (based upon the "Police Squad!" TV series).
* "Not Another Teen Movie", a movie that parodies teen flicks such as "She's All That", "American Pie", "The Breakfast Club", "Bring It On" and various others.
* "The Onion" - parody of newspaper and magazine journalism
* "The Regal Seagull" - parody of news based on the strangeness of Utah politics, people, and events journalism
* "Parodius" - parody of the side-scrolling video game Gradius as well as other Konami franchises
* "Perfect Hair Forever"- an anime parody on adult swim.
* "El Privilegio de Mandar" - is a Mexican politic parody. It's also the most popular parody in the country.
* "Radio Active" - BBC parody of poorly funded rural local commercial radio
* "Real Stories" - a parody of Australian current affairs television.
* "Reno 911!" - a parody of the reality series COPS (TV series).
* "Eating Media Lunch" - a parody of New Zealand current affairs television.
* "Restart" - theatrical parody of British politics by the UK's Komedy Kollective.
* "The Rutles - parody of The Beatles
* "Scary Movie" (Quadrilogy) - Parodies of horror movies such as "Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Exorcist, The Haunting, Signs, The Ring, The Grudge, Saw" etc. Followed by "Epic Movie" and "Date Movie"
* "Second City Television" - parody of North American network television programming.
* Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - A cult favorite parody of monster movies and musicals that spawned three sequels, a video game, and a TV series
* "Soap" - soap-opera parody
* "The Twelfth Man" - Australian parody of Nine Network Cricket TV coverage.
* "The Sunday Format" - BBC radio parody of vacuous lifestyle journalism
* "This Is Spinal Tap", a spoof of the heavy metal music business, by Rob Reiner
* "Underneath the Bunker", a parody of a European literary journal
* "Uncyclopedia", a spoof of Wikipedia by Wikia.
* " National Lampoon" - series of movies.
* " Paral & Piped" - French songs parodies.
* The Discworld series by Terry Prattchet parodies many different genre, from adventure to fantasy, to fairytales, detective police stories, to ancient myths
* Get Smart parodies the spy genre
* "Excel Saga" - a parody anime series that mocks a wide variety of genres.
* "Gintama" - a parody of Japanese culture, economy, and history.

Visual examples

Marcel Duchamp's Dadaist readymade L.H.O.O.Q. parodies DaVinci's Mona Lisa by marring it with a goatee and moustache. In keeping with his Dadaist practices, which called artistic conventions and aesthetic assumptions into question, Duchamp paired his visual parody with a low pun; in French, when the letters "L.H.O.O.Q." are pronounced one after the other, the phrase sounds like "elle a chaud au cul", or "her ass is hot".


* Bakhtin, Mikhail (1981). "The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays". Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1981. ISBN 0-292-71527-7.
* Caponi, Gena Dagel (1999). "Signifyin(g), Sanctifyin', & Slam Dunking: A Reader in African American Expressive Culture". University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 1-55849-183-X.
*Dentith, Simon. "Parody (The New Critical Idiom)". Routledge. ISBN 0-415-18221-2.
* Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (1988) "The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism". Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-503463-5.
* Gray, Jonathan. (2006) "Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality". New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-4153-6202-4.
* Harries, Dan. (2000) "Film Parody". London: BFI. ISBN 0-851-70802-1.
* Hutcheon, Linda. "A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms' (1985). New York: Methuen. ISBN 0-252-06938-2.
* Pratt, Mary Louise. [ "Arts of the Contact Zone"]
* Rose, Margaret. (1993) "Parody: Ancient, Modern and Post-Modern". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41860-7.
* [ Tnuva Spoof]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • parody — I noun amphigory, apery, buffoonery, burlesque, caricature, cartoon, comical representation, distortion, exaggeration, farce, imitation, lampoon, ludicrous imitation, mime, mimicry, mockery, mummery, pasquinade, ridicula imitatio, ridicule,… …   Law dictionary

  • parody — par o*dy (p[a^]r [ o]*d[y^]), n.; pl. {Parodies} (p[a^]r [ o]*d[i^]z). [L. parodia, Gr. parw,di a; para beside + w,dh a song: cf. F. parodie. See {Para }, and {Ode}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A writing in which the language or sentiment of an author is… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • parody — par o*dy, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {parodied}; p. pr. & vb. n. {parodying}.] [Cf. F. parodier.] To write a parody upon; to burlesque. [1913 Webster] I have translated, or rather parodied, a poem of Horace. Pope. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • parody# — parody n travesty, *caricature, burlesque Analogous words: skit, squib, lampoon, *libel parody vb travesty, caricature, burlesque (see under CARICATURE n) …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • parody — [n] imitation, spoof apology, burlesque, caricature, cartoon, copy, derision, farce, irony, jest, joke, lampoon, mime, mimicry, misrepresentation, mockery, mock heroic*, pastiche, play on*, raillery, rib*, ridicule, roast*, satire, send up*, skit …   New thesaurus

  • parody — ► NOUN (pl. parodies) 1) an amusingly exaggerated imitation of the style of a writer, artist, or genre. 2) a feeble imitation. ► VERB (parodies, parodied) ▪ produce a parody of. DERIVATIVES paro …   English terms dictionary

  • parody — [par′ə dē] n. pl. parodies [Fr parodie < L parodia < Gr parōidia, burlesque song < para , beside (see PARA 1) + ōidē, song (see ODE)] 1. a) a literary or musical work imitating the characteristic style of some other work or of a writer… …   English World dictionary

  • parody — parodiable, adj. /par euh dee/, n., pl. parodies, v., parodied, parodying. n. 1. a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing: his hilarious parody of Hamlet s soliloquy. 2. the genre of literary composition… …   Universalium

  • parody — noun 1 writing/speech/music ADJECTIVE ▪ brilliant, clever ▪ funny, hilarious ▪ cruel ▪ song (esp. AmE) …   Collocations dictionary

  • parody — par|o|dy1 [ˈpærədi] n plural parodies [Date: 1500 1600; : Latin; Origin: parodia, from Greek, from para ( PARA ) + aidein to sing ] 1.) [U and C] a piece of writing, music etc or an action that copies someone or something in an amusing way parody …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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