I love the writing in the first two paragraphs of Richard Rushfield's L.A. Times story, Muppets Gone Wild:
SWEEPING through the debris field that makes up today's YouTube catalog, a few emerging schools of webcamography are evident: confessional videos by teenage girls, stolen footage of Jon Stewart and Asian game shows, caught-on-camera car accidents and faux pas, adorable pet moments and rampaging, ultra-violent, foul-mouthed Muppets.
Not surprisingly, it is that final genre that is attracting the great auteurs of the Internet today. Suddenly, everywhere you look across the Internet, Kermit and Miss Piggy, Ernie and Bert are cussing each other out like gangstas, battling to the death with armored weapons and restaging the edgiest films of our time.. The Muppet remix features the likes of "The Muppet Matrix" and "Murdah Muppets." The Web and its accompanying tools of low-budget editing have granted filmmakers the power to manipulate and reframe the great characters of entertainment to their hearts' desire. But with this freedom, an arms race has also begun, sending filmmakers in a competitive frenzy to place the Snuffleupagus in ever more compromising positions.
I was unaware of the upsurge in this particular parodic genre but look forward to exploring it further. Rushfield points out this kind of work dates back to at least 1987, but it's the socially networked 'Net that provides the audience factor. On related legal fronts, see:
- Leslie J. Lott and Brett M. Hutton, Trademark Parody
- Marty Schwimmer, Discuss Parody Defense To Inevitable Demand Letter and More on the Parody Defense to Trademark Infringement
- Baila H. Celedonia, Parody as Fair Use
- James S. Huggin, Parody and "Fair Use"
- Stanford Copyright and Fair Use, summaries of parody cases