A Parody, by definition, is a satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature. You’ve seen them before at the movies. But have you ever seen a parody in advance of the original film’s success? Sounds like the sort of exercise that requires a time machine. But not in this case. Follow me here…
In 1996, “Scream” was a slasher box office sensation. In 2000, Hollywood parodied it with “Scary Movie”. “Spaceballs” did the same for the original Star Wars trilogy 4 years after the fact. Even Porn is into the act. “Shaving Ryan’s Privates” is an entire film based on Porn’s parody successes (a friend told me).
Making a funny version of something super-nova-successful in order to resell it to a rabid fan base is not a new concept. Keep in mind: Spaceballs and Scary Movie wouldn’t have made a dime if audiences didn’t already have a frame of reference on the content. Dark Helmet is only comedy genius because we know who Darth Vader is. This is where it gets interesting.
In 1993, comedian Chris Rock starred in CB4. A parody, in large part, about the story of NWA. Yes. Straight Outta Compton, the #1 movie in North America during the month of August in 2015, had it’s successful parody released 22 years in advance. Rock plays MC Gusto (a spin off of Eazy-E) and Allan Payne is “Dead Mike” (an Ice Cube riff).
The 22 year difference speaks volumes. Here was a story so powerful and culturally significant that the parody came first: perhaps because North American audiences weren’t ready for the real thing in 1993.