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PARODY. by Don L. F. Nilsen, and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Parodies of ASU: Gammage 2013-2014 Season. “Las Meninas” by Diego Vel ázquez.

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by Don L. F. Nilsen, and

Alleen Pace Nilsen

las meninas by diego vel zquez
“Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez

While we usually think of parodies in relation to written work, art can also be parodied as happened to this 1656 painting of the Spanish court by Diego Velázquez , who was the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age.

The artist is standing to the left with his paintbrush and palette. Especially notice the dog, the children, and the dwarf when you look at the next slide.


Pablo Picasso painted this parody in 1957. Notice how much bigger he made the artist and how he stylized the figures and the windows. __

parodies illustrate deconstruction followed by re construction
Parodies Illustrate Deconstruction Followed by Re-Construction
  • Wolcott Gibbs wrote in The New Yorker that parody is the hardest form of creative writing because the style of the subject must be reproduced in slightly enlarged form, while at the same time holding the interest of people who haven’t read the original.
  • Further complications are posed since it must entertain at the same time that it criticizes and must be written in a style that is not the writer’s own.
  • “The only thing that would make it more difficult,” he concluded, “would be to write it in Cantonese.”
why we like to parody children s literature
Why We Like to Parody Children’s Literature
  • Obviously, it is easier for people to enjoy a parody if they know what the original was.
  • In our increasingly diverse culture, memories of “classic” children’s books may be one of the few things we have in common.
  • Advertisers, broadcasters, cartoonists, journalists, politicians, bloggers, and everyone else who wants to communicate with large numbers of people, therefore turn to the array of exaggerated characters that we remember from childhood books as in the picture on the next slide which parodies Maurice Sendak’s 1962 Where the Wild Things Are to advertise an upcoming comedy festival.
famous children s literature characters and what they represent
Famous Children’s Literature Characters and What They Represent
  • Chicken Little to represent alarmists
  • Pinocchio to stand in for liars.
  • The Big Bad Wolf to warn us of danger.
  • Humpty Dumpty to point out how easy it is to fall from grace.
  • The Frog Prince to give hope to women of all ages.
  • Judith Viorst’s The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to let us know that things might get better.

Besides this Sweet Dream book and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, Michael Rex has written Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody.

identical pieces of children s literature can be parodied for different purposes
Identical Pieces of Children’s Literature Can Be Parodied for Different Purposes

In the 1980s, Alleen’s children’s literature students brought in a full page advertisement from APS (the local power company) showing Dorothy and her friends from The Wizard of Oz happily walking up a brick road with the caption “We’re on our way to more efficient fuel alternatives.”

  • In her most recent class, students brought in a cartoon in which the Wicked Witch was saying, “Forget the slippers. I want the Tin Man’s Oil!”
  • In the saddest cartoon, Dorothy and friends had sold the Tin Man to a recycling center in exchange for bus fare back to Kansas.
humpty dumpty
Humpty Dumpty
  • In the old days when Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, he was always surrounded by sympathetic bystanders trying to put him back together again.
  • A cartoon in the fall of 2009 showed the poor fallen egg being shunned by a donkey and two wizard-like characters saying, “Salmonella!”
the house that jack built
The House That Jack Built
  • In the 1980s, students laughed out loud at a full-page ad for U. S. Plywood showing a darling couple standing in a newly paneled room.
  • The adoring wife was proudly saying, “This is the room that Herb paneled!”
  • A recent Tom Beck cartoon showed the proverbial Jack standing near the house he just built with a big screw through his belly.
  • Nearby a bureaucrat and a Supreme Court Justice are holding up EMINENT DOMAIN and PUBLIC USE signs.
hansel and gretel
Hansel and Gretel
  • In a funny cartoon from the 1990s, Gretel was solemnly quizzing the Witch on the nutritional value of the food in her enticing house.
  • In the fall of 2009, a popular televised advertising campaign showed Hansel and Gretel fearfully wandering into Wall Street and dropping bread crumbs along the way in hopes of being able to find their way out.
the old woman who lived in a shoe
The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe
  • In the 1980s, she was happy to be a huckster for Hawaiian Punch as she happily served it to all of her children while keeping to her modest budget.
  • This year her house is boarded up with a FORECLOSURE sign on it. In a second cartoon a realtor is standing in front of it, and saying to a colleague, “It looked kinda dumpy, but appraised at a million-two.”
whenever a book gets popular enough even if it s a grammar book there is room for a parody
Whenever a book gets popular enough, even if it’s a grammar book, there is room for a parody.
lewis carroll was a master at parodying common poems
LEWIS CARROLL Was a Master at Parodying Common Poems
  • “Twinkle, twinkle, Little Star, How I wonder where you are,” became “Twinkle, twinkle, Little Bat, How I wonder where you’re at.”
  • With most of his parodies, Carroll was protesting the didacticism and the sentimentality imposed on Victorian children and their parents.
g w langford s poem

G. W. Langford’s poem not only preached at parents but threatened them with a reminder of the high mortality rate for young children:

Speak gently to the little child!

Its love be sure to gain;

Teach it in accents soft and mild;

It may not long remain.

As a protest, Carroll turned it into a song for the Duchess to sing to a piglet wrapped in baby clothes:

Speak roughly to your little boy,

And beat him when he sneezes.

He only does it to annoy

Because he knows it teases.

isaac watts original poem against idleness and mischief

How doth the little busy bee

Improve each shining hour

And gather honey all the day

From every opening flower!

Lewis Carroll’s Parody

How doth the little crocodile

Improve his shining tail

And pour the waters of the Nile

On every golden scale?

part of mark twain s war prayer which was a dark parody of self righteousness
Part of Mark Twain’s “WAR PRAYER,” Which Was a “Dark” Parody of Self- Righteousness
  • Oh Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells;
  • Help us to cover their smiling fields with their patriot dead;
  • Help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; . . .
  • Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears.
  • We ask it in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek his aid. Amen.
mel brooks and monty python famous film parodies
MEL BROOKS’ and MONTY PYTHON Famous Film Parodies
  • Blazing Saddles
  • The Producers
  • Robin Hood, Men in Tights
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Monty Python’s Life of Brian
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Monty Python: The Meaning of Life
add to these lists of continuing media parodies
  • Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest: “It was a dark and stormy night.”
  • Harvard Lampoon
  • Julia Moore Poetry Contest (The Sweet Singer of Michigan)
  • MAD Magazine
  • National Lampoon
  • MAD TV
  • The Onion
  • The Colbert Show
  • Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show
different kinds of parodies
Different Kinds of Parodies
  • Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction, parodies the flamboyant characters, mystery, and personal greed found in thriller fiction.
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg worked for the Walt Disney Corporation from 1975 to 1984. He left in disappointment when he did not get the promotion he thought he deserved. In 1994, he joined Steven Spielberg and David Geffen to form Dreamworks. One of the first things they did was to create the “Shrek” film with the purposeful intention of “getting even” with Disney by parodying such Disney icons as Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty.
western tall tales parody the exaggerated fish stories that travelers send home
Western Tall Tales Parody the Exaggerated “Fish Stories” that Travelers Send Home

Alvin Schwartz was a well-known collector and editor of western folklore for kids. Examples include

  • Tomfoolery
  • The Cat’s Elbow
  • Whoppers
  • Chin Music
  • Kickle Snifters.
parodies of the rhythm and rhyme in edgar alan poe s bells

Hear the sledges with the bells—

Silver bells!

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

In the Icy air of night!

While the stars that oversprinkle

All the heavens, seem to twinkle

With a crystalline delight . . . . . .

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells—

From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

demer cape s parody

See the doctors with their pills---

Silver-coated pills.

What a world of misery their calomel instills.

How they twingle, twingle, twingle in the icy-golden night.

You have taken two that mingle.

And you wish you’d had a single;

While your cheeks are ashy white…

Oh, the pills, pills, pills—

Pills, pills, pills, pills.

So ends my rhyming and my chiming on the pills.

barry pain s parody

Here’s a mellow cup of tea, golden tea!

What a world of rapturous thought its fragrance brings to me!

Oh, from out the silver cells

How it wells!

How it smells!

Keeping tune, tune, tune

To the tintinnabulation of the spoon

And the kettle on the fire

Boils its spout off with desire,

But he always came home to tea, tea, tea,

Tea, tea, tea, tea.

anonymous parody of bells

Hear the fluter with his flute,

Silver flute!

Oh, what a world of wailing is awakened by its toot!

How it demi-semi quavers

On the maddened air of night!

And defieth all endeavors

To escape the sound or sight

Of the flute, flute, flute,

With its tootle, tootle, toot…

Of the flute, flewt, fluit, floot, Phlute, Phlewt, Phlewght,

And the tootle, tootle, tooting of its toot.

c f lumis parody of annabel lee

It was many and many a year ago,

On an island near the sea,

That a maiden lived whom you mightn’t know

By the name of Cannibelee;

And this maiden, she lived with no other thought

Than a passionate fondness for me.

(The poem continues by developing the nature of his fondness for Cannibelee and ends with the idea of being eaten. He named it “A Poe-’em of Passion.)

thomas hood jr s parody of annabel lee

It was many and many a year ago

In a District called E.C.,

That a Monster dwelt whom I came to know

By the name of Cannibel Flea,

And the brute was possessed with no other thought

Than to live—and to live on me!

barbara angell s ulabel lume

I was a child and she was a child

And childishly childlike we’d romp.

But we loved with a lovelier love than love

In this old barge on the swamp.

With a love that made the winged seraphs in heaven

Foam at the mouth and stomp.

this is holly chivers original poem written before edgar alan poe wrote the raven
This is Holly Chivers’ original poem, written before Edgar Alan Poe wrote “The Raven”:

While the world lay round me sleeping

I alone for Isadore

Patient Vigils lonely keeping,

Someone said to me while weeping:

“Why this grief forever more?”

And I answered: “I am weeping

for my blessed Isadore.

after poe s the raven holly chivers wrote his humpty dumpty a la poe
After Poe’s “The Raven,” Holly Chivers wrote his “Humpty-Dumpty: A La Poe”

As an egg, when broken, never

Can be mended but must ever

Be the same crushed egg forever—

So shall this dark heart of mine

Which, though broken, is still breaking,

And shall nevermore cease aching

For the sleep which has no waking—

For the sleep which now is thine.

Chivers’ parody of Poe’s “The Raven” is very dark. He wrote it when Poe died, and the death in the poem refers both to the death of Poe, and the death of Chivers’ lover, whose name was Isadore.
  • Chivers felt that Poe had stolen his own poem, entitled, “Isadore.”
  • Chivers’ original poem read as follows:
While the world lay round me sleeping

I alone for Isadore

Patient Vigils lonely keeping,

Someone said to me while weeping:

“Why this grief forever more?”

And I answered: “I am weeping

for my blessed Isadore.”

(Falk 113)

now back to chivers parody

As an egg, when broken, never

Can be mended but must ever

Be the same crushed egg forever—

So shall this dark heart of mine

Which, though broken, is still breaking,

And shall nevermore cease aching

For the sleep which has no waking—

For the sleep which now is thine.

(Falk 114)

parody web sites
Parody Web Sites:

20 Best Movie Parodies:

Auto-Tune the News:

The Life of Brian--Always Look at the Bright Side of Life:

The Producers--Hitler Auditions:


“Weird Al” Yankovic:

Eat it:


White and Nerdy: