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For a while, there were many good satires/parodies, such as Naked Gun, Hot Shots, and the early Scary movie films. However, we see them beginning more in decline, and also the rise of so many terrible "satires" such as Disaster Movie and so on.

Having ideas myself, and thinking about what went wrong, I came up with a few theories on why they fail:

  • Too much product placement. Product placement does not necessarily have to be bad itself, but it's mostly done poorly.

  • Too much toilet humor

  • Too many pop culture references

  • Just poorly written in general

  • Parody/Satire may be too close to original film, like Meet the Spartans. However, there are exceptions like Spaceballs

  • While it was more towards satire, I wanted to point out The Simspons episode, Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy. While I have seen claims that they were trying to make fun of BOTH sides, it felt that the writers were siding too closely with the "feminists"

What are ways that the genre began to fail and how it can be fixed? I will also accept some criticisms and also more thoughts to what caused them to decline.

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  • I think this question is off-topic for this exchange. Maybe try movies.stackexchange.com
    – wetcircuit
    Nov 25, 2022 at 9:51
  • I'm not sure this is entirely off-topic, as how to write good parody movie would be on-topic. But analysis of movie trends and existing movies is off-topic (although movies can be discussed as "how-to-write" examples). So it could be re-focussed. (And while revising the question, note that whining about feminists is likely to get you downvoted, especially when it's not relevant.)
    – Stuart F
    Nov 28, 2022 at 12:21

2 Answers 2

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So Parody and Satire are not the same thing. While Satire can take the form of Parody, not all Parody is Satire. For example, in Family Guy's "Blue Harvest" (as well as two later episodes that are collectively referred to as the "Laugh It Up, Fuzzball" Trilogy) are parodies of Star Wars that place the characters and personalities of the Family Guy characters into various roles in the Star Wars film and tell the story as if they were typical Family Guy episodes. It's clear from the jokes that are made that the work is coming from a place of love and they aren't mocking the Star Wars in a way that was mean spirited. Another example of a Parody that is coming from a place where it's clear the purpose is to show a love and respect for the source or inspirational material is the film "Who Framed Rodger Rabbit" which is a parody of the Noir Film genre and the Golden Age of Animation era. As such, it's not mocking a single story, but holds the premise that in the setting, Golden Age Cartoons are played by toon actors and filmed on sets similar to how real people are filmed on sets in Live Action films. As such, it uses genre conventions of both, in that Toon Physics is actually integrated into the world and in certain conditions, real people can be subject to toon physics and the story checks many boxes for a Noir, to the point that I've heard some people say that the film is a straight example of Noir, not a parody. This is because the film draws much of it's humor is typical of a buddy cop and it rarely draws humor from mocking the conventions of the genres of Noir (and while it does make some humor at Toon Logic, it's explicitly stated that the cartoons we know and love are the way they are because that's how they are off screen... and we wouldn't have it any other way).

Satire on the other hand uses humor to mock and belittle aspects of reality. To take this to "Blue Harvest" which, while being a love letter to Star Wars, also takes it's time to mock different aspects of real culture (to the obsessiveness of the Star Wars fandom, which dips into self-satire, to some aspects not related to Star Wars (such as a radio show heard by Luke while in his speeder that is parodying Rush Limbaugh's show and satirizing common talking points in American Conservative Politics, in this case by claiming that "Hoth is Melting is a lie from the Liberal Media". It helps that Limbaugh is actually providing the voice, showing that while it's both parody and satire, he's at least in on the joke.).

But Satire need not be parody and can be original unto itself. Consider Thomas Swift's essay A Modest Proposal, which is considered the definitive apex of Satire in English Literature. The work addresses the then current British policies to the Irish and the general attitude of the British people to the Irish. It sets itself up by offering a compromise solution by outlining the valid points both sides of the issue have as well as the criticism of both sides and then provides the proposed solution: Just Eat the Irish. The rest of the article is entirely written in support of the cannibalizations of the Irish people (including the finance benefits that switching to an Irish Meat based diet to the nation) and at one point, changing tone to read like a recipe book more than a political persuasion piece. Here the satire works because it not only fairly points out the argument on both sides, and then concludes with such an over the top solution of human cannibalism as the solution that is the one that makes the most sense and achieves everything both sides want to have happen. And in doing so, he essentially points out that both sides are clearly ignoring the human nature of the Irish People and if we're going to that, than treating them the same as we would live stock is still an improving conditions for them.

In this case, he's not making any mockery of another work, but is clearly using humor to shame people who hold the ideas he addresses prior to his straight defense of the titular position, which is anything but what it claims to be.

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The whole point of parodies and satire is that it pokes fun at a genre or specific story. Usually, they do this by overexaggerating the source material or pointing out some particular flaw.

To properly do this, though, you need to know the source material inside and out. You need to know how the genre works, properly identify its flaws and poke fun at them without sounding bitter or mean-spirited toward the person who wrote it.

The parody itself also needs to be entertaining in its own right. What's the point of criticizing a more successful franchise if you as the author can't even get a few chuckles out of the audience?

  1. Know the source material
  2. Mock the tired tropes they use
  3. Be respectful
  4. Don't take yourself too seriously

Let's pick some genres and brainstorm ideas for writing parodies of them:

Horror

First, think of some common horror movie tropes. Probably a bunch of jump scares. A monster. A house in the woods. A killer in a mask. Protagonists with little common sense.

Now how could we make fun of that? Ramp up the ridiculousness as much as you'd like, and turn the tropes on their head.

The serial killer is actually a cereal killer. He only wanted your Cheerios.

The monster's made of spaghetti. You should have finished your pasta.

Tell the story from the monster's perspective. Now it's a horror story about a monster running from a group of teens, or a whole group of monsters running from a single kid.

Fantasy

Common tropes in this genre include things like having your character be the Chosen One bound by fate to defeat the Dark Lord who can only be defeated by some ancient magic item that probably has a piece of his soul tied to it. There's probably a prophecy of some type binding the character's soul. Also, your character will probably be trained by a wise old wizard.

I know this is the plot of Lord of the Rings, but you'd be amazed how many times people use this exact formula.

If your story is urban fantasy, it'll probably be very similar except they started out as a normal person and are then thrown into this unknown world where they are probably the Chosen One or at least special in some way, like being a wizard or a half-elf or part demon or demigod. Etc.

Personally, the Chosen One trope is one of my least favorites. My proposal for a funny satire would be the following.

"You're the Chosen One, Felicia," Greybeard the wizard said.

"Really? Who chose me?"

"You were chosen by the goddess of Pufferfish because you're 1/16th elf on your mother's side, born on a leap year under a full moon, and had your soul bargained away to a gnome on the year of the Crocodile."

"Yes, but what am I chosen for?"

"Chosen to steal a plate of spaghetti from Dark Lord Smellsalot's table."

"Why? Because he's evil?"

"No, because I'm hungry."

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