Aug 22 2005

That Parody Which Is Not One

The concept of parody is enjoying, if that’s the word I want, an upsurge in deployment as a weapon in the Dudes Take Back The Blog movement. Unfortunately for us connoisseurs, the trend appears to have shifted away from actual parody — which, after all, requires the commitment of time and dedication, if not actual talent — to become a parody of parody, manifesting in the practice of parody accusation. Here’s how it works:

Chick blames patriarchy. Dude perceives chick speaking mind, believes life to be in danger. Dude would ordinarily attempt control of mind-speaking chick via symbolic rape à la classic “you just need a good fuck” response, but remembers new kind of snappy put-down he’s been seeing on dude-centric blogs with erection-shaped logos written by date-rapist college sophomores. Dude attempts to neutralize dangerous chick threat by sardonically impugning chick’s post as parody.

It’s the hot new bit that tells a chick she’s full of shit! To wit:

Reader Glinda The Good Bitch, Ph.D recently alerted me to Phyllis Barone’s amusing essay, The Quotidian Miasma of Discrimination, which chronicles the author’s exasperating experiences with sexism in the halls of academia. A gripping tale, yes, but it’s the associated comments to which I wish particularly to draw your attention. In addition to the generic “Quit nagging and go get laid” / “You’re obviously an ugly lesbian” squalling expected of internet wankers who are desperate to tame the shrew, there are multiple responses containing the jokey but sneering imputation that Barone’s article “must be a parody” because of its surfeit of “feminist clichés.” The commenters pretend to have cleverly spotted the spoof, and congratulate the author on her brilliance at having so perfectly nailed the tone of the hysterical victimized feminist.

Check out this Einstein, who drives the point home with an allusion to a tired academic in-joke so lame I’ve even invoked it myself:

“Like Sokal’s famous article, ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward A Progressive Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity’ published in 1996, I think this must be a parody of the angry feminist genre. I called it first.”

Zing! By dismissing as parody an essay which is not parody, the writer assumes the superior role of literary critic and impeaches Barone’s legitimate content as having been purposely exaggerated for comic effect. By way of demonstrating to the rest of the field that he can totally whack an emasculating cunt, he then lifts his leg and claims the kill for himself (sadly for him, by abusing the Sokal reference he reveals himself as an amateur, and by including the Sokal essay’s publish date he reveals himself as an amateur with a tiny dong. Better luck next time, chump!).

Parody-accusation is all well and good, but the gambit is becoming so commonplace I fear for the very future of vitriolic anti-feminist commentary. Note the anaemic invective in the following comment, left on my patriarchy-blaming blog yesterday afternoon:

“I can’t figure out if you’re a real feminist or a guy doing a parody of a nutty misandrist feminist. Maybe if I had more time to dig into your posts, I could divine the answer. However, I have better things to do.”

(As is the case with 90% of commenters who have better things to do than read some stupid blog, this one reappeared later to further embarrass himself).

As parody-accusation takes only a few seconds and requires only the most primitive of brains, it necessarily loses points against actual parody on the hilar-o-meter, for which reason I postulate that it is endangering the art and science of the misogynist blogular insult.

[cross-posted at Bitch.Ph.D.]


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  1. Tony Patti

    I like that picture. It’s a little moment of magic. It always makes me happy to think that you have a little niece about the same age as my little girl. So any tiny flashes of joy you feel can mirror mine!

    But I would rather throw myself off Eads Bridge than forgo any of your cynical anti-children wisecracks. They are necessary adjuncts to the lifestyle of the spinster aunt!

  2. Chris Clarke

    Is it OK with you, Twisty, if I just start formally worshiping you from this point on?

    The funniest thing: he could have defended his dongitude just by doing proper citation, to wit: “Social Text #46/47, pp. 217-252 (spring/summer 1996).”

  3. Twisty

    The funniest thing: he could have defended his dongitude just by doing proper citation, to wit: “Social Text #46/47, pp. 217-252 (spring/summer 1996).”


  4. Twisty

    Yeah Tony, it was pretty funny, because I was teachin the kid how to shake her moneymaker to KC and the Sunshine Band and she was wearing that hilarious pink tutu in that hilarious overstuffed nursery. Whenever I sat down, which was frequently, since I’m old, she’d yell “Jill! Shake your booty!”

    I’m not anti-kid, though. I’m anti-reproduction. I consider the difference significant.

  5. Dean

    I confess, O Twisty one, that I have wondered at times in the past if you were writing parody.

    But I have since come to the conclusion that you’re not, except for those times when you are. So, now that’s all cleared up, right?

    On a parenthetical note, I have noticed during my long career as a cover-band musician that lots of little kids seem to dig KC and the Sunshine Band, or even approximate renditions of his tunes performed by surly, semi-intoxicated musicians who’d probably rather be playing something else. Not that suprising, though, since his tunes are simple, memorable and you can dance to ’em.

    Ol’ KC ought to cut himself a full-fledged children’s album; I would think the hours playing for the tykes would have to be much better than the casino-and-state-fair circuit he’s currently traveling.

  6. jc.

    What´s the complaint? WE live in the time where life imitates parody. The elections are a parody, the president and his reich are a parody, their war against terrorism is a fantastic parody of competence and meaning, religious leaders are parodies of wise men and their followers live lives that are parodies of morality and meaning, democracy in the middle east is a parody of reality and lets face it most of us are living parodies of real life. Accusing something of being a parody is praise because parody succeeds and dominates the power structure of the world.So by that measuring stick maybe feminist bloggers are poised to take over the patriarchy. Congratulations.

    Ps. As a father of 2 I find that I can`t look at any child without thinking “Condoms.”

  7. Twisty

    Well, strictly speaking, JC, what you are describing above is travesty, but I grasp your gist.

  8. Lauren

    My, oh my. I’ve been finding parodies all over the place. Usually conservative blogs.

  9. John M. Burt

    I’ve been thinking for awhile that I’m trapped in the periphery of a parody. Specifically, a parody of Republican attempts to bring down Bill Clinton, which are being wittily parodied in right-wing efforts to bring down Ugo Chaves.

    Everything is exaggerated for comic effect, thus impeachment turns into a coup attempt, and Evangelical verbal abuse turns into calls for assassination, &c.

    I’m just glad I’m on the periphery of the story and not, say, the novel’s stand-in for Monica.

  10. Twisty

    Nice one, John M. Burt.

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