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Chapter 9 Postmodernism, Indie Media, and Popular Culture

I have been thinking a lot about how parody as a postmodern tactic can cause audiences to take a critical look at some of the readily accepted norms and mores presented to them. My initial reaction in thinking about parody is that it may have outgrown its original purpose. Perhaps parody is such a common occurrence that its potency is diminished and rather than seeing the parody for the issue presented, it is instead seen as a venue for comedy rather than informative comedy.

I think there could be some ground to this. For example, I doubt that many people watch the Colbert Report to gain actually useful insights into the political world. Colbert (though very funny) promotes such a strong character that parodies a right-wing pundit, that the valuse in watching seems to be seeing him be overtly ridiculous. But the more I got to thinking about it (and in doing some reading for my 467 class) we take lessons from parody in more places that political news shows. South Park went through a huge revamp after season 4, moving plot line focus from Kenny dieing in every episode to the protagonists engaging current social and political issues. Their heavy parodying of issues such as scientology and the aftermath of the Obama/McCain election enable audiences to look at issues in a reframed context. I suppose that that is important too in parody, that what is presented isn’t a single counterpoint, but rather a single one that can be shown. Either way, I think that post-modern attitude that parody tries to convey is creating an informed and questioning audience member.

I also thought hyperreality was kind of interesting because I didn’t realize that I too would more readily accept something as reality if it is presented with amateurish reporting and camera motion. I think though that even if we could assume that what we were seeing was “real,” what is being shown would still be subjective to the bias of the videographer and the reporter who frame the event through their words, tone, and portrayal of the event taking place. I am reminded of a report of Bush telling a foreign leader that God wanted him to fight the war in Iraq. A photo was provided of Bush cupping his ear and looking into space. The report framed Bush as insane, when they could have framed him completely different. I do not recall which leader Bush spoke to, but in some cultures, it is customary to fight a battle as a part of God’s work or at the behest of God. Bush could merely have been appealing to that leader and their culture. The photo was also likely placed out of context and supported the illusion that the reporter wanted to impress upon the audience.

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November 18, 2009 - Posted by | Eng 350

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