My research project for my literature class this semester was to choose two adaptations and find a thesis about them. I chose Lolita and a self-proclaimed parody of Lolita called Roger Fishbite. All in all, it was a fun project, but it made me think about how parody is used today and why.
One scholar I found, Linda Hutcheon, states that parodies "both legitimize and subvert that which it parodies." The legitimize part is what interests me. Roger Fishbite certainly undermined Lolita, but it did not ever add to the legitimacy of the issues that were present. It seemed to only make fun of them. Parody should have a point, rather than just making jokes at the expense of a great book or movie or song.
Another term I've been thinking about is satire. Satire is supposed to be a social critique, but anymore it seems like it is often used to just make fun of people or works as well. The biggest problem with satire and parody is the confusion of what they should do. When making fun of something or somebody is framed as parody or satire, the parody or satire gets away with being rude under the guise of being funny. It also undermines the authority of whatever it's making fun of, without admitting that it has good points as well.
Another problem with this is sometimes the satirist or parody creator does not make it clear that they are writing parody or satire. Both of these should be easy to spot and identify. If somebody writes satire critiquing the government, but it only comes across as being a snobby republican/democrat, the point is lost, the writer is personally attacked, and real people can be hurt. Writing satire about somebody in a small town can lose them respect or even their jobs if it's not clear that it is satire. Parody not being clear also causes personal attacks on the author's views as well as dismissal of the work altogether because it seems ridiculous.
People should be free to write about whatever they want however they want, but if they can't be clear about their writing being humorous and a social critique or legitimization they should consider making it clearer, labelling it, or step down from the project for a while. Even labelling is not the best fix, as being humorous at the expense of others and claiming that it was 'parody' is as bad as harming somebody and saying 'it was just a prank!'. If it is supposed to be real parody or satire, a label with clarity of the critique should be sufficient and helpful, and might even help curb the confusion of these two genres being purely humorous with no point. Both should have points - if it doesn't, it's no more than being disrespectful.