Understanding 2 effects of parody will help you understand Trumpisms huckster ‘prophets’

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Photo by Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

Parody packs a double punch, especially when it passes for the real thing. Especially these days, I don’t think we can understand parody without understanding both intentional and unintentional self-parody.

1. Parody Powerfully Discourages Parodied Behavior

On the front end, parody makes something laughable and embarrassing, and so it drives people away from it. Basically, it is a way of saying, “Don’t do that” because “that” (whatever is parodied) is so embarrassing that you should stay very far from it.

For example, I remember the excruciating feeling of watching the British Office while working as a manager, and wondering at every turn if I had ever acted anything at all like David Brent. This was especially powerful because David Brent was played as such a stone cold self-parody. It was brutal. That’s only the front end of self-parody, the first part of its one-two punch.

2. Parody Creates Confusion About Everything Related to the Parodied Behavior

The second part of the combo involves getting people to mistake the parody for the entirety of the thing parodied. For example, watching the British office doesn’t just produce squeamishness about being a horrible boss, but it can produce the sense that managers are all really just David Brents. Those of us who have had great and inspiring managers (I have) understand that great leadership can help you achieve things that you want to achieve. (And quite a few of them get paid less per hour than the ‘subordinates’ who they serve well.) But when I watch the British Office, this reality starts to cede from view: it can start to feel like they’re all David Brents and that’s all they can ever be.

Now Let’s Apply these Insights

These are my thoughts on the 12/14 Jericho March. They help me understand that this movement, so ripe with self-parody, is going to be deeply self-defeating. But it is going to smear everything that even superficially resembles it on its way down.

And now I’m going to go and buy a MyPillow so that God’s wrath will pass over my household.

Community Organizer. Enemy Lover. Pastor. Practices honest, serious, loving and fun discourse. (Yes, still just practicing.) Author of According to Folly, etc.

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