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