Suffering From Delusions of Adequacy
June 21, 2006

Ahhhhhhhhh, the smell of parody in the morning ... is there anything better?

Ever since I was warped by Rocky and Bullwinkle, I've loved sarcasm, parody, dry humour and general smart-ass-ness. The concept of taking something familiar and re-thinking it ... generally in a really warped way ... was just utter brilliance to me. Naturally, when I discovered Monty Python, I thought I'd found the height of comedy (well, for some of the skits anyway).

Sure, it takes talent to create something new, whether it's a novel, a painting or a song. But it takes another kind of brilliant creativity to come up with really good parody.

When I was in high school, we had a poetry test every Friday, followed by a discussion of the previous week's poetry readings. I hated it with a passion. It just about ruined Fridays for me during senior year. I've never been one much for poetry and have been known to say on more than one occasion: "Poetry is like a bodily function. You don't mean for it to come out, it just does." (Sure, you can quote me ... just trackback or otherwise attribute it to me :) )

So, despite being in Honours English, my teacher wasn't overly impressed with me as I ran through the poetry and the tests as absolutely quickly as I possibly could in order to minimize the pain. And then, after two weeks of hurrying through the test quickly so I could then write a parody of the poem we were supposed to be analyzing and showing them to my friends, I finally said, "screw it," and started turning those parodies in along with my exam.

The teacher was frustrated and yet, still amused. What was funny to me, though, was that she seemed to assume that I couldn't analyze the poetry because I wrote parodies. I'm not sure why the two things were mutually exclusive, but there it was. When I did make a "brilliant" analysis of one poem (her word, not mine), she began discussing it in class after handing back the exams. It was hysterical to watch her flounder with the author of this "brilliant" analysis. First, she was sure that Kyungah, our valedictorian, was the author.

"Well, this person thought that 'Mr. Z' must be a reference to the fact that black people during this time period were considered last and lowest."

I almost laughed outloud. Let's see ... black ... poem about oppression ... this seemed like a no-brainer to me. Evidently this was not obvious to the rest of the class (I wish I remembered the name of the poem so I could look it up). The teacher quickly ran through the top brains of the class, but no one claimed the interpretation. As the teacher got more frustrated trying to remember, I finally said that this had been my idea. She looked pole-axed. Despite having a class FULL of smart-asses, she'd tagged me as a harmless, lazy and not-really-bright student. She'd pegged me as a B honours student with no new ideas. I didn't really care what she thought, actually, but I did find it interesting how she viewed parody and intelligence. After one particularly brilliant parody (my word this time), she told me after class that she'd started showing the parodies to some of her college professor friends who thought I was really talented. But, she hastened to add, I was not -- say it with me now, folks -- "living up to your full potential."

Because, of course, parody is essentially a waste. At least in the eyes of people like that instructor.

I'm not sure why parody and intelligence are not more closely linked to more people, but I was the kid with the parodies, not the kid with the brains. Ah well.

My life is brilliant, your life's a joke, you're just pathetic, you're always broke

While attempting to catch up on blog reading yesterday, I discovered Capn Platy's Depressing Link-o-Rama which included a reference to Weird Al's new free MP3 download. It's a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" ... a song that I love even though it really doesn't make much sense. Weird Al has done one of his most stellar jobs since "that Anakin guy" version of "American Pie."

You're suffering from delusions of adequacy

Check out Weird Al. You'll love the song. It's brilliant.

Posted by Red Monkey at June 21, 2006 5:09 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

 

blueyes said:

Aww some teachers just shouldn't be teaching if they are not going ot help the bright students. I'm also glad I didnt have a curriculum like that because I despise writing poetry much less having it inflicted upon me on a daily or even weekly basis.

June 21, 2006 9:05 AM

 

Chris said:

Poetry is like a bodily function. You don't mean for it to come out, it just does

Love that! I'll be sure to give you credit whenever I use it.

June 21, 2006 10:42 AM

 

Matt Vella said:

A world without parody is a world I don't want a part of.

Funny how teachers sometimes get stuck in their own patterns of thought rather than being open to allowing their students to explore. God forbid that children should explore new avenues...

What's amusing to me even further is that parody is really the only thing left on television that's even remotely telling it how it is (Daily Show, Colbert Report).

Red Monkey said: AMEN!
June 21, 2006 6:46 PM

 

Laura said:

Not everyone gets parody. They see it as an attack on something they love. I've always found satire and parody to be my among my favorite forms of writing/entertainment. Sadly, it's rarely done well anymore.

June 22, 2006 9:54 AM
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