Although the two words are used interchangeably, there’s a difference between satire and parody.
For one thing, parody is considered an element of satire. Both use exaggeration humor, and irony. But HG.org considers parody to fit within satire.
Or as, British writer Luke Edley said, “parody is a brick, and satire is the wall.”
So what’s the difference?
In essence, parody makes fun of an original work. The Copyright Alliance says it’s a comedic commentary about a work, that requires an imitation of the work. On the other hand, satire makes fun of an aspect of the world but doesn’t rely on a previous work to do it.
So parody uses (usually) copyrighted work for its commentary, while satire doesn’t.
Bored Of The Rings is a rip-roaring retelling of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings and Barry Trotter rips off the more popular Harry Potter series. Meanwhile, Mackinac Island Nation is an original work that does not draw on any previously copyrighted work at all. (And it sold a lot less than either of the books. Shut up.)
Mackinac Island Nation makes fun of, and draw attention to, the attitude of a certain segment of American society, while Bored Of The Rings and Barry Trotter just make fun of popular fantasy/urban fantasy novels.
(Also, both parodies rely on the cardinal sin of using joke names, which, to my mind, is the lowest form of humor. Lower than puns even! I can deal with puns, but Frito Bugger and Spam Gangree, or Barry Trotter and Lon Measley of Hogwash School of Witchcrap? BLEAH! Joke names are never funny and the authors should be ashamed.)
Parody can also make fun of public figures, such as politicians and celebrities, in order to make its (satirical) point. Saturday Night Live is an example of parody and satire coming together, and it will sometimes parody characters, TV shows, and popular movies.
On the other hand, South Park is usually satire without being parody. They don’t borrow from original source material, but they do make fun of public figures and current events.
Are parody and satire considered protected speech?
Satire and parody are used primarily, says the Freedom Forum Institute, “to attack and ridicule individuals’ moral and character flaws, such as vice, unfairness, stupidity or vanity.”
According to the website HG.org, satire is certainly protected by the First Amendment:
This makes both satire and parody powerful tools when making fun of, and pointing out the foibles of, politicians, celebrities, athletes, and other public figures, as well as certain political attitudes and beliefs.
Just remember that the First Amendment only applies to the government and government agencies limiting your freedom of expression. Private entities, like a social media site, retail store, or even an individual, can make rules about what you can and can’t say when you’re on their website, in their store, or in their home.
Even if you wrote a great parody about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg (and called him — God help me — Fart Zucker-booger), Facebook would be allowed to delete your otherwise brilliant parody from their website. Even though Mark Zuckerberg is a public figure, and you’re allowed to parody him in a story, Facebook is a private entity and they can remove your content.
But if you hosted it on your own website, then there’s nothing Facebook could do about it.
What’s the difference between pastiche and parody?
A pastiche is like a parody, only there’s no intent to ridicule or attack. The whole point is to recreate and replicate the original work, and to recreate the original experience.
For example, there are hundreds of Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Bill Peschel (who said the above line) over at Peschel Press has published a couple hundred of them, while Otto Penzler of Mysterious Press published The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories.
There is even a database of over 9,000 entries of different Sherlock Holmes pastiches, as maintained by Philip K. Jones (link downloads an Excel [.xls] file).
The whole point of reading most of these pastiches is to make you think there are some additional Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. You’re meant to experience those same feelings that you had when you read the original 60 stories in the Sherlockian canon.
A parody is not meant to create that feeling, it’s meant to (usually) get a laugh by using the original source material.
In other words, a parody could be considered a pastiche, but not all pastiches are parodies, simply because they’re trying to replicate the original work and recreate the original experience.
Photo credit: Austin Kleon (Flickr, Creative Commons)
Photo credit: Utente:M1ka1L (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)