Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Parody, Pygmalion, and Retelling Classic Storylines

Although most people know what parody is, I find that there are some who don't. So I wanted to write a short post about it, keeping it as simple as possible. (Even though writing parody isn't simple to do.)

According to Wiki, this is parody:

A parody ( /ˈpærədi/; also called pastiche, spoof, send-up or lampoon), in current use, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation. You can read more about it here.

A good example of parody would be the logo above, of MTM Enterprises. This was a parody of the old MGM logo, and clearly done very well.

Parody is something that has been done for a long time, and will continue to be used over and over again.

Pygmalion comes from Greece. The story has been retold many, many times by authors like George Bernard Shaw.

In George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, a modern variant of the myth with a subtle hint of feminism, the underclass flower-girl Eliza Doolittle is metaphorically "brought to life" by a phonetics professor, Henry Higgins, who teaches her to refine her accent and conversation in social situations.

Retelling this story isn't something new. I did it, with a cast of all gay characters, in my book "My Fair Laddie." The title of my book was a parody of the play, "My Fair Lady," and I retold the story just like Shaw did, with gay characters, plenty of erotica, and distinct differences in the storyline so that it would work for gay men. You can read more about Pygmalion here.

The film, "Pretty Woman," is a classic retelling of the Cinderella story.

A modern-day retelling of the Cinderella story, PRETTY WOMAN catapulted its star, the then 23-year-old Julia Roberts, into the film stratosphere. Her portrayal of Vivian, the call girl whose low self-esteem disallows her from thinking she can live any other way, was popular not only with men but also women, seeing in her their own insecurities and vulnerabilities.

You can read more about it here.

When I wrote "Pretty Man," I did the same thing, with all gay characters, a bulter, and plenty of erotica that no one's done before. I changed the characters completely, changed the setting, reworked the entire storyline. But I did use parody with the title. I thought my gay readers would enjoy reading the Cinderella story about gay men for a change. We rarely get an opportunity like that. All those deep, emotional, dark books about gay men are great. We love m/m romances with cupackes, cute kiddies, and ribbons and bows and picnic baskets filled with puppies and kittens. We really love them. But we like to have a little fun every now and then, too...with plenty of sex!!

These are just basic concepts of parody and retelling. For those who already know this, I hope I added something in the links that said something new so I didn't bore you to death. For those who don't know anything about parody, or how classic stories have been retold in very different ways, I hope I taught you something.


T.D. McFrost said...

My sister is doing some sort of linguistics course in Uni and she asked me to help her understand satire and parody. As smart as she is, it was difficult for her to grasp, so I understand the need to refresh our memories.

This was very well done Ryan. And I think it's amazing that you retold the story of Pretty Woman. Oh ho, this is a definite bestseller!

ryan field said...

Thanks for stopping by :)