Parody, popularity and pay days…

 Picture 58

(Screenshot image of the ‘Socialblade.com’ website 13th October, 2014)

In contemporary media it seems parody is everywhere. Though the origins of this type of humour date back to ancient times – consider the early Greek word “parodia” and that the first recorded usage of the word parody occurred in Aristotle (Dentith 2000, p. 40). Today, ‘Youtube’ is full of clips, aimed at a youth audience, made with the intention to make light of someone else’s work, or just to get laughs. For teenagers parody is seen as being so popular, Hollywood has worked hard to cash in, producing a range of big budget parody films in the last decade (Scary Movie 1, 2, 3, 4, Scream 1,2, Team America, Not Another Teen Movie, Superhero Movie, Happily N’ever After – Ranker.com 2014). Though you do not need to be based in Hollywood, to earn an income by making teenagers laugh.

For the non-teenager of modern times it can sometimes be difficult to ‘get’ the joke – just as it is when attempting to understand the historical context of Shakespearean comedies like “The Tempest” or “The Comedy of Errors”. Recognising the parody can become an issue and it can be challenging to make “judgements about its force or direction” (Dentith 2000, p. 39) . This possibly explains why I don’t ‘get’ many of the teenage clips or find very much humour in them – I don’t know who they are referencing to begin with so am ‘outside’ of the joke. Another reason could be that I am outside of the target demographic (polite for too old) as the clips are made by teens for teens. In Australia, one teenage youtube producer who I really don’t get (mostly because due to the amount of swearing he uses in his clips and I don’t like the direction of his sketches), who is hugely popular amongst many teenagers is Perth resident, ‘Maxmoefoe’. He has almost one million subscribers to his four youtube channels, and manages to earn a living by posting about three different videos most weeks, usually prank phone calls or clips of himself opening gifts from his fans. I recently asked a teenage high school student about this producer. “ You often mention the name ‘Maxmoefoe’ in conversations, what do you like about him?” His response was, “I don’t like him. We sometimes talk about his pranks or how much he earns. He is mostly followed by twelve-year-olds who find his stupid jokes really funny.”

“How do you know how much he earns?” was my next question.

“That’s easy, by checking on ‘SocialBlade’” (http://socialblade.com/).

“That’s quite a lot of money for posting a few videos each week”, was my response (estimated $14,000 to $100,000 per year).

“Oh that’s nothing! Compared with a Swedish guy called ‘Pewdiepie’.

“Does he make funny clips too?”

“Kind of… (Enters ‘Pewdiepie’ into the “Socialblade” search button)…He makes clips of himself playing scary video games, with mostly himself screaming whenever he gets a fright and uploads them every week. He earns about $10 million per year”.

That’s no joke.

Which parody producers or youtube channels, have you heard, are popular with today’s youth?

 

(Clip by Sarah Ada -New York State Reading Association Published on Jun 21, 2012)

References:

Dentith, P. S. (2002). Parody. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

http://www.ranker.com

http://socialblade.com/

“Don’t confuse mercy for weakness”…

 

IMG_2286

“League of Legends” Tournament, Supanova Gold Coast, April 2014- original photograph by author.

“Don’t confuse mercy for weakness,” these are the words that I heard over and over as I played my first ever “League of Legends” Game today. I am not much of a gamer, however, with the help and guidance of my twelve-year-old stepson, I somehow had a victory. I can’t say this initial experience was fun, it was too fast and too confusing but it has given me a healthy respect for the ease in which the two male gamers in our household play this complex team game. I also now have some insight as to why they love playing this ‘MOBA’ – Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.

Up until earlier this year, I had never really heard of this game. “Minecraft” was the preferred game being played in our house (I am yet to play that one). My son used to tell me how much he enjoyed playing “League”. He would mention it was a team sport and that some teams compete for huge prize money. My first actual viewing of a game was at the Gold Coast Supanova Pop Culture festival in April, 2014. I was really surprised, at that time, that so many of the crowd were so obviously “into” it. The game was being played by two teams, each with four members. The teams sat on opposite sides of a huge stage, each member’s head popping out from behind a computer screen. Not much to watch really, for the uninitiated but the roar of the crowd and the sheer numbers following every move on the big screens did make me realise this was indeed a popular “sport”. It had all of the hallmarks of being at a live soccer match or MMA bout: roaring crowd, knowledgeable of moves; instant replays; half time interviews; presentation of trophies and fulltime interviews. Doubting what I was really seeing and hearing (I was astonished that an audience would actually cheer the outcome of a computer game), I made my way to a young organisor to ask a few questions. “My son says that these winners are vying for a prize of $50,000 and a trip to compete at the world championships to win US$2 million. Is this true?” I was assured that all of this was the case.

“If the game is free, how can they come up with this amount of prize money?”, was my next question. This is what I was told: “Oh that is because of the micro transactions.” My querying, dumbfounded, unknowing look in response, compelled him to further explain. “The game is totally free. You don’t have to pay to play or compete. There are 121 characters, ‘champions’. You don’t need to pay in real cash to play as a ‘champion’ because you can win points and buy them with that. Though there is an option to buy them, if you don’t want to wait and earn points. Most players will play on average as 14 to 16 of the characters. You can customize the look of your character. To do this you buy a ‘skin’. Most players buy about six to eight skins – cost varies $5 to $10. Last year total revenue for purchases from around the world was US$628 million.”

“Wow,” was my response. (That is a lot of micro-transactions).

I am not yet a convert to this “League”, though I will give it another try because I enjoyed being part of the action and “in the know” with a game my children love.

Which games are popular at your house?

What does getting chased and philosophy have in common?

Picture 19

(Photo obtained 6th October, 2014 from http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-26/brisbane-parkcour-crew-push-local-limits/)

 

For teenagers who are into Parkour, everything! Wikipeadea describes Parkour as “a holistic training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training”. The past time is becoming so popular in Brisbane, that the City Council has recently dedicated a section of a Spring Hill park for these young dare devil athletes to practice their human body propulsions including running, vaulting, jumping and rolling. The Parkour ‘playground’ was funded by Energex. The Brisbane City Council is hoping it will give a place for youngsters to practice, instead of trespassing onto private property which is unsafe and illegal.

The aim of Parkour is to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. Practitioners say that Parkour is much more than a method of physical training. It develops one’s abilities to overcome physical and mental obstacles. It is used if one needs to help others in an emergency or if one needs to quickly escape an immediate danger – being chased by an aggressive dog or dangerous human. Underpinning all of this is a philosophy of altruism, useful strength, longevity, self-improvement and self-understanding (Parkourpedia.com, 2012)

The founder of Parkour is Frenchman David Belle, who in 1988- aged fifteen- started teaching his friends how to jump, climb and clear obstacles. Belle attributes many of the movement’s used to the ones his father – a child soldier in Vietnam- taught him and the principles of Herbertism taught to him by his grandfather. George Herbit developed a holistic training method developed to emphasise the integration of the human mind and body to overcome obstacles. His work lead to development of the French military obstacle course (Lawrence, 2011).

The ABC recently showed a segment on Parkour: “Brisbane teens turn city into Parkour playground”. It is definitely worth a watch if you are interested in understanding what motivates these teenagers to follow this high energy passion. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-26/brisbane-teens-turn-city-into-parkour-playground/5773186)

After viewing the clip, I wondered what other physical activities do teenagers pursue that also have a strong philosophy that is integral to the practice? Here is a short list that I came up with. If you can think of any others please let me know via a comment.

Yoga – various influences depending on the school: Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism

Kung Fu- Discipline, respect and correct interaction with others

Tai Chi- Taoism, living in harmony.

Capoeira- Understand the futility of fighting with force instead uses creativity to get around the established rules of a system.

Ballet – discipline to give you control over your body and a way of conquering it’s limitations.

References:

http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/urban-sports/parkour1.htm

http://capoeira-connection.com/capoeira/2011/10/what-are-capoeiras-main-philosophies/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkour

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-26/brisbane-parkcour-crew-push-local-limits/

http://parkourpedia.com/about/what-is-parkour